Strawbale Gardening (Part 16)

Wake Forest, NC

Here's a link to Part 1 - Part 12 - http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/724771/
Here's a link to Part 13 - http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/729253/
Here's a link to Part 14 - http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/734190/
Here's a link to Part 15 - http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/742072/

Put your garden on the map: www.frappr.com/strawbalegardeners

Let's continue our discussion here.

Kent

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Kent. I was going to ask but decided maybe it was too soon for others.

Jeanette

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Jeanett; Do you have a Farm home type store like Menards? Its like a big box store that mainly sells lumber . They have the larger Poly or like rubber maid. they have them all the way up to walk in to store a large rider mower and all your garden tools hoses, and still have room for a picnic table. An I saw one in Sams Club. ( just another division for Wal-Mart) If that isn't any help I can check next time I'm in town. as to the manufacture. so you could look them up on the net. Home depot might even have them. We have a friend that works at HD in the city, so we can ask her. Good luck
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`Russ

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Just found the ad that Menards sends out in the Sunday paper. One of the brands, ( the only one in this ad) Is Suncrest.
The advertised ones are 7'6"x5'L $444.- - -10' W x 7' 6"L $658. and a 7' x 7' $549.
The Menards ad is also on line. Not real sure how to access it though.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Jeanette. I just run onto some usefull info for me. This was in another segment of DG on tomatoes. It interested me because of one or two of my plants in the bales. that had BER. And that mine were the san marzano ( a paste tomato ).
All of the early tomatoes on those plants had BER But now that summer has come in, almost with a vengence, the newer tomatoes that those two plants are produceing, are looking much better.
The ones that I didn't take off the vine, and had ber are still ripening. but have the black damaged area on the bottom. but while picking the ripe maters, when I find one of those I can nibble off the top part, and have a tasty treat while picking and save the good ones for the table, or canning.
Also I do agree with her on the taste part. My other tomatoes are not ripening yet so I have to be satisfied with what are ripe. LOL


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
While it's true that paste tomatoes as a group are more susceptible to BER it varies from season to season and I don't think that's reason enough to give up on paste tomatoes.

However I'm one of many who encourages folks to use great tasting meaty, non-paste varieties for taste since again, as a group paste tomatoes are not that tasty.

Carolyn

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

One of my 4th of July plants has BER. I had seen something in the Gardens Alive catalog for it so looked at it and it said the cause was a lack of calcium. So I got out my Cal-Mag and gave all the plants a dose of that. We'll see what happens.

4th of July is not a paste. I don't think.

Thanks for the heads up on the storage units Russ. I'll keep looking. I googled Rubbermaid and didn't find what I was looking for there.

Jeanette

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I just googled that name suncrest. and came up with a bunch.There were, also suncast, and arrow sheds, I even saw one I liked,~~~ but can't afford! Oh well.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks Russ, I will take a look tonight. I have to go out and tend the tomatoes right now. Also, that melon sure does not look like the one that I had and kept the seeds from. It is still not very big but it is taking on more the look of a watermelon. LOL. That is the biggest one. I will have to take a look at the others. I think most of the strength from the plant is going into the largest one. The others didn't seem to be growing very big.

Maybe in a day or 2 I will take a picture of it and send.

Jeanette

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Russ, I found one on Suncast at Sears that is kind of what I want. Thanks. I have to do some measuring first. But I think that might work. I also have to see if I can't find some gutters and parts to go around my kitchen deck. Because of the way the roof is, it gets awfully wet in that area. Just awful. But, I have to get gutters that will clip off for the ice. I think. Anybody got any ideas???

Jeanette

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Have you checked out if gutter helmet would work? Their advertisement sounds good. I think that you might be looking for something that may not be there, I don't know this. I'm just guessing. That be the case, It could be done though. You would probably have to design it. I have a problem area as well, that is causing some settling of the foundation. I need to do some dirt work to change the natural flow of things. so the run-off will not stand in this one spot.

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Yeah, yours sounds like a digging kind of job. Some of that drain pipe with gravel for you.

Jeanette

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Yeah. But I think I can handle it. This thing works in dirt too.

Thumbnail by randbponder
Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

That looks like it might just do the trick.

Jeanette

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

WHEW! I just spent an unreasonable amount of time reading ALL 16 threads. I absolutely cannot wait to try this next year! It's way to late in my zone 5b/6a area. I was planning on moving my 3 raised beds to a sunnier, easier to water area but I'm going to do the bales instead.

I'm at work, it's an incredibly s-l-o-w night, except that the meteor shower seems to be effecting the crazies. My good friend that is also at work with me (her hubby is a farmer) told me she can get me as many bales as I need!! Wooo hoooo.

On another note: to combat Blossom End Rot (it's a calcium deficiency) put a Tums (antacid) in the hole when you plant your tomatoes. Been doing it for years.

Michelle in Michigan

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Hmmmmmm Does that make a burpless tomato ROLOL.

No really I will have to try that, as I have quite a few ( first tomatoes of the season) have BER.
I also Would like more info on the ( Box car willie) tomato.
I have a couple of those that I picked up at the IARU this spring.
The fruits are huge, Softball size, and meaty. The seeds are very small. I picked my first one last week. and had to wait till today to show it off. Then we shared it for dinner. I saved a bunch of the seeds. an am wondering if they will reproduce true or are they going to be sterile?
I also picked a couple that had the name , Mule team, They are also a large tomato. Haven't cut into any of those yet. Size wise they compare to the box car, but slightly lighter. I will save some of those as well, but don't know if it will do me any good. I have to try tho.
I only had one Dr. Caroline, and the long eared rodents got it. so I don't know how it would have been. I may be asking on the wrong forum since these weren't in straw bales sorry.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`Russ
edited for correction, Mule team, instead of train. Oh what tricks the mind can play.

This message was edited Aug 13, 2007 3:06 PM

Wake Forest, NC

Michelle: welcome, aboard. Looking forward to hearing about your 1st time with the bales!

lovedirtynails: wrote in Part 12: "I am so excited about this thread - I had just watched a garden show where they demonstrated growing strawberries in bales of straw, but they didn't say how to do it. I noted that you recommend watering the bales very well. Do I add soil in little pockets before putting the strawberries in? Do I cover them with more straw in the winter?"

No experience with strawberries, but I wouldn't use any SOIL; I would add some potting mix. The soil could have all sorts of problems with it that would be harmful to the plants.

Kent

This message was edited Aug 13, 2007 10:46 PM

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Russ,

In saving those seeds, remember what happened with the melons????? Jeanette

Sure a lot of time and space wasted.

BTW, I don't like the new format. Most I give a try, but this one I don't like right off the bat.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Same here Jeanett. It took me a lot longer to find the plant files.
Some times change is good, Then again- - - - -!

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Russ,

The craziest thing is going on with that melon. I thought it was a melon like a cantaloupe. But, it is getting a smooth exterior and stripes kind of like a watermelon. Then today, we went over to the Farmer's Market where my friend got the melon that I sent you the seeds from, and from which I planted seeds, my daughter planted seeds, and Glenda I think planted seeds, and guess what!!! The ones that look like mine, are little watermelons. I would have sworn they were cantaloups.

I am thinking that I am going to keep seeds from this one, it might just be a throwback from the Genetically Engineered seeds????

What do you think??? Should I spend another summer next year feeding and watering that hybrid weed??? LOL

Michelle in Michigan, HI!!!! Good to hear from some new people too. The tums idea is great!. Gotta start making a list of these good ideas for next year.

Jeanette.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Jeanette; It sounds like a plan to me. As long as you are going to have a garden any way. All you would be out is actually the space it would take.
The one that germinated for me, never got past the two leaves. So I had no way of telling what came up.
Now as for the tomatoes that I was wondering about. One of the ladies that was helping spearhead the IA. RU this spring, gave me a name, as to who may have brought those particular tomatoes. So now I need to check with her, to see where she got them. Or I'LL just have to save the seeds and hope for the best.
I know that next year I will relocate the spot for the bales. They will not be so close together either. I will also pinch off any suckers. I have trouble getting between the peppers and the tomatoes, without some fancy high stepping. Some of the suckers are leaning over and filling up the space between the two rows of bales.
I planted ( something) in the last bale in the row. I was remembering it to be muskmelon. They are starting to develop little fruit. But it looks to me more like butternut squash, setting on. Trouble is I didn't label them, and now I don't remember for sure what the seeds looked like.
How dumb is that??
The watermelons that I planted, are doing ok. Though I got anxious, and picked one. It was good but the rest are going to stay on the vine a little longer, at least untill the stem starts to dry. The one I picked was more like the store bought ones. Otherwise I can say we had our first watermelon from the garden this year. LOL
I picked enough tomatoes today to do some canning. It is a mix between the San Marzanos and some of the other ones I got at the RU.

If I can get the seed for those softball size maters I'll share with you.
If those little melons are round and small, kind of between tennis bal, and baseball. They may be the vine peach that I remember eating skin and all. That is almost to many years ago to remember. I must have about in the 2nd or 3rd grade at the time. Anyway those seeds didn't looke like watermelon seeds. so we will just have to wait and see. Post a pic, I'de like to see what they look like.
Russ

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Russ,

So far every tomato that has ripened on my plants have been HALF almost exactly, eaten by something. I can see the teeth marks. Some of them are high on the plant so the culprit is fairly small and climbing up there without breaking the plant. At first I thought it was a rabbit, we have Snowshoe rabbits wild. But, they would break the plant if they tried going that high up.

Anyway, today we wrapped a lot of the plants in netting. So, if whoever is doing it gets inside that netting they are going to have one fine time trying to get out. Probably will tear up a lot of plants, but so far I have not gotten many tomatoes so it might be worth it.

Will take a picture of the melon for you. Maybe a captive animal too. LOL

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

That's weird . Do you have chipmunks?
That was just the first little thief I could think of.
I sprayed around all my plants, early, with deer and rabbit repellent, as the rabbits were eating some of the plants right to ground level.
Some birds might eat the tomatoes, but you said they had teeth marks.
Another thought; fruit bats! We have a few of them around here, but they mostly stay near the creeks and rivers. There is enough wild grapes and such for them there.

Portland, OR

Hope I"m in the right thread.

Has anyone tried using certified seedless hay to avoid weeds on your bales?

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

Squirrels! Those little #@$#%& things kept eating my tomatoes last year. They would take a big bite out of them and leave the rest.

Michelle in Michigan

Rocky Mount, VA(Zone 7a)

From what I have read the squirrels are only after the moisture in the matters and if you fill a birdbath for them they will drink from there instead. I think but am not sure that it was in "Mother Earth News" that I read this.

Charlevoix, MI(Zone 4b)

Oh....could be, but my garden is less than 500 ft from a three season pond and less than 30 ft from a chlorine-free swiming pool. Dang squirrels. :)

Wake Forest, NC

lovedirtynails: I don't have any weeds in my bales. Never have. But the wheat does sprout some, but it's not a big problem.

As for the certified seedless hay, I'm not familiar with that. It sounds like it would be more expensive, but I haven't used hay yet, so I don't know.

I really haven't heard of anyone having problems with weeds in their bales no matter what type of bale.

Share more with us if you are familiar with this.

Kent

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

We do have chipmunks Russ, but I would be more apt to think these might be squirrels. We were driving past the tomatoes, down the driveway this morning and one went running out from that area. These squirrels are very territorial and I have a fountain on my deck, I also have sunflower seeds in the feeder and sunflower plants. One squirrel 'cause it won't let the others on the deck.

We do have a river across the 2 lane highway. I just don't know. This is the first time we have had this problem.

Don't know anything about the certified weed free straw. I would bet if that were the case it probably is treated with herbicide. Don't know how they would certify it otherwise.

I'm like Kent tho, I have never, NEVER, had any weeds in my bales. Last year I had a few sprigs of oats that were easily pulled. I think placing the bales with the strings on the ground help a lot. Don't you Kent?

Certainly appreciate all of your opinions on my tomato thief. If I find out what it is I will sure let you know. I ran out of netting (gosh it is expensive) (the bird netting, not the deer) so I didn't get all of the tomatoes covered. The guy at the farm and seed store says, "well, I guess it depends on how badly you want your tomatoes." Creep. LOL

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Jeanette With what you have seen so far. I think it would be a safe bet that it is squirrels. Chipmunks are little thieves too, but they like to carry what they want to a safe place. There are several things you could try, However squirrels are very hard to outsmart. Once they have found something they like, or think it is theirs. It is like getting congress to take a pay cut. I had a friend at work, lived in town, parked on the street by his house. He had let his car set for a week. went to start it, It would only hit on three cylinders. His wife brought him to work. Checked the car over , the spark plug wires were chewed up, Well easy repair, got it running. very next morning, car would not start. Same problem. I told him to get the hottest pepper sauce he could and smear all the wires on top of the engine. Only one more wire was chewed. end of problem.
But hanging aluminium pie pans around in the garden so the turn and flop with a light breeze, may help. I don't know about those fake owls. Possibly a scare crow with some clothing that you haven't washed. and change clothes with it every other day or so. might work. Unless you have been feeding them by hand. I heard of one person using the pinwheels on a stick. She thought it it was doing the job, but wasn't absolutely positive.
I am afraid I would be a little more the get even type though. I would probably sacrifice a couple tomatoes, at about the ripeness they have been chewing them. and inject them with the hottest pepper sauce i could get. But possibly spraying the plant and the ground around it with squirrel repellent, might do the trick. Then of course give them another source of water. One of the neighbors down town trapped a bunch of them. I think he used a live trap. and relocated them. His boys raise pigeons and chickens. The squirrels were raiding the pens by chewing through the cages just to get at the feed. I will have to check with him to be sure of how he caught them. Anybody have a rat terrier you could stake out there for a few days???? Hmmmm.
On the squirrel repellent, I'm not sure if that is powdered only and in a bag or just one that you sprinkle around every so often. I've got squirrel's here too, but then I raise enough extra tomatoes, that I don't really miss any. I think I have had one or two that got chewed, but I always had enough, and never really pursued the cause. I don't know if any of this is any help but I do hope you get some tomatoes. and I will check on how the guy downtown caught them.

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Here is a little added information. Who knows it may work. Some say that there isn't any such thing as a squirrel repellent that works.


Tree bark, fruits, and nuts are important food sources for squirrels. Although squirrels can cause damage to vegetation they also have their advantages, as natural tree trimmers. They prune branches & twigs when feeding & making nests which promotes vegetation growth.

If, however, you want to keep squirrels away from your plants, try the following ideas:-

Plant your bulbs in a coating of cayenne pepper.

Spray squirrel repellent directly on the plants.

Place a 2 foot band of sheet metal (forming a cone, large opening downwards) around the trunk approximately 6 ft. off the ground. (For this to be effective, the tree needs to be at least 10 ft. from other trees.)

To deter squirrels from buildings -

rags soaked in ammonia

socks filled with mothballs (be careful with children/pets**)

cayenne pepper squirrel repellent

Recipe for squirrel repellent:-

1) 1 bottle (small) hot pepper sauce

2) 1 gallon water

3) water retentive (available from plant nursery) or 1 teaspoon of mild liquid detergent such as dishwashing detergent.

Spray this repellent on plants or anything you would like protected from chewing. Many commercial products designed to repel rodents are not effective. In fact, some say the animals actually eat more of the plants after the repellent is applied.

**Please remember that mothballs are toxic when ingested. Children's curiosity and bird's lack of smell can increase their chances of ingesting mothballs. Children and birds should not have access to the mothball filled socks.

Gardeners can make their own repellent by placing a handful of hot peppers in a large container and adding a quart of boiling water. Allow the peppers to soak overnight. Strain the peppers from the water and add a few drops of mild dish detergent to make a spray to protect the plants.

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

I grow my tomatoes in hog wire cages supported with metal stakes. This year because I was afraid the guineas would start pecking into the tomatoes when they got ripe and develop a liking for them, I put old bird netting around the row of tomatoes ( I only have 11 tomato plants) so didn't try to cover each cage, just up each side of the row. I know I have many cotton tail guys, and lots of quail who will eat tomatoes. So that worked for this year, the netting is only as high as the metal cages, about 36". So I either reach under the netting or over the top and down to the maters.

Donna

Wake Forest, NC

Jeanette: yes, I think string side down works best for me. No where near the water runoff this year as opposed the last two years when the bales were on their side, strings off the ground.

Kent

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

Thanks Kent; I will remember that one too. I couldn't put all my tomatoes in bales. I was talked into planting more than I had bale room for. Also next year I will have to prune more of the suckers off, even if there planted in the dirt. In one garden, ( thank God I put a thick mulch down) I left 4 ft. between the rows. the tomatoes grew up over their cages and the steel posts. and kind of grew together at the tops. Since I can't reach all the maters from the outside of the rows I get to crawl on hands and knees, to pick what is the middle. I am not complaining I just have to laugh about it. The tomatoes in the bales are doing just as good. as the sucker branches have filled up the space between the rows as well. as the other side of the cattle panels. Last night I took a bunch down to the restaurant so every body could have some. I will have plenty to share, up until we get a hard freeze.
Next year the suckers get pinched off though. I was doing it for a while, but then I slacked off. Oh well!!!!!

Rose Lodge, OR(Zone 8b)

I have rabbits & squirrels galore. They do very little damage to my garden because I also have 5 cats & a dog who hang out in the veggies too.

To me that's the best & only foolproof method.

Wake Forest, NC

Russ: Yeah, this year I suckered all of my tomatoes until they got about 6 ft. tall and then I slacked off. I've had a great crop. Just picked a 5 gal. bucket full earlier. Just about everybody else's tomatoes look terrible due to the high heat and no rain. My tomatoes are stressed but still producing.

Any suckers coming out now I'm letting go to see if they will produce anything.

Kent

Northeast, WA(Zone 5a)

Thanks for all of your suggestions Russ. That was a lot of work for you. I appreciate it. I have my fingers crossed but I might have taken care of the problem with the bird netting.
I did it the same way you did Donna.

I never sucker my tomatoes because I get just as many tomatoes on them as the main plant I did cut back the lower leaves this year tho because it made it easier to fertilize on the bales. In another week or 2, depending on the weather, I will cut a lot of the leaves off to let the plants know it is about time to get their act together and get those tomatoes ripe.

Jeanette

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

By the middle of Aug. I usually clip off all the tips of the tom. vines as I know any blooms after that will not have time to ripen. Today feels like fall is about here. Rained a little, thankgoodness, in the night and smells wonderful outside.

Donna

Hornick, IA(Zone 4b)

I got a huge yellow tomato, off of a plant labeled Dr. Wyche's yellow tomato. I'm not a big fan of yellow tomatoes. Although it was good, we ate it for dinner today. For me a little salt brought out the flavor. It was milder but then I guess that was the idea of yellow tomatoes. By huge I mean 3-1/2 to 4" across. I am going to try save some of those seeds. just to see what happens. There are more coming on but are still green. I just have to get my tomatoes out earlier.

rutholive; Was that you that made domed tunnels over your tomatoes to protect them form frosts? I am only asking as I think I will try that next spring. We had such a goofy spring this year, an I waited and waited for better weather. So my tomatoes didn't get planted till nearly June. I don't remember the exact date, just that it was later. I may try cutting back some of those tops, too. I do know someone that wants some green tomatoes though. but I think there will be plenty.

Portland, OR

Thanks, Kent. BTW, does anyone out there in portland oregon know of a place that will deliver hay?

And, can I use ammonium sulphate instead of ammonium nitrate?

thanks

Tonasket, WA(Zone 5a)

I only made one cover over one early tomato in a cage to protect from cold, used Remay netting-cloth. I had grown that particular tomato in the greenhouse, seed planted late Jan. I kept repotting it until reached about a two gal. size, then after hardening off planted it out in garden the end of April. It did grow 6 or 7 smallish tomatoes before going into a decline. Not very satisfactory.

I use large vented plastic hotkaps for all my tomatoes , most planted out in garden in late April. Had ripe tomatoes on 2 varieties of cherry tom. and Stupice, plus the few on the Mortgage Lifter (the one in the cage above) around July 4.

Donna

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