Doug Oster's gardening chat transcript 5.30.13

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Doug Oster:

Back from London with jet lag and a cold. Had a coughing fit on live TV this morning, it's the start of another great day. What's going on in your gardens?

Doug Oster:

I posted something yesterday with photos of daffodils on display at the Chelsea Flower Show. Check out some of the pictures when you can. http://blogs.post-gazette.com/living/gardening-with-doug/38080-amazing-daffodils-from-100th-chelsea-flower-show

Thom:

Welcome back!

Doug Oster:

It's great to be back. The gardens were amazing and were my fellow travelers. This hot weather means it's time to mulch. Get something down on the ground to preserve the spring moisture.

Mark in Ross:

Doug: Welcome back. While you were out potato bugs discovered my radishes and commenced carving little curly tunnels into them. What's a feller to do?

Doug Oster:

It might not be the potato bugs, they eat dead and decomposing matter. Try a little Capt. Jack's Dead Bug Brew. It's organic and should do the job.

Doug Oster:

The weather will make tomato and pepper plants happy. If you haven't planted yet, wait until the end of the day so the plants can catch hold before the next day's heat.

Doug Oster:

Lettuce and other cool weather greens might bolt and go to seed in the heat. That's what's happening with some of mine which overwintered. Keep planting lettuce every few weeks to keep the harvest going.

Guest:

I bet you're loving this heat and humidity.

Doug Oster:

No, I like it cool, just like in London.

Thom:

Doug, I'm frustrated. We moved into a new house last year with a tiny south-facing front lawn. No real place to put veggies. I get a few hours in the back in the morning, and could grow some tomatoes in containers, but have had poor results doing so in the past.

Thom:

What size container do I need for tomatoes?

Thom:

And will they do ok on the north side of the house?

Doug Oster:

You need to choose the right container for the right plant. Tomatoes need something big. I recommend a self watering container like the Earth Box. If you're handy, you could build your own. There are lots of plans online. Are you handy?
http://earthbox.com/
I've seen lots of great gardens made out of this type of container.

Doug Oster:

They will be OK on the north side as long as they get 6 hours of sun.

Mark in Ross:

Thank you. As for the bugs, I actually saw the beggars on the radishes, in the little channels they were carving, not "into" the radish but actually just boring little trenches along the surface of the exposed flesh. Didn't know they did that (or perhaps its characteristic of some other insect). In any case, thanks for the tip. And I suppose Capt. Jack's is available a someplace like Hahn's?

Doug Oster:

Yes, Hahn Nursery has the stuff.

Thom:

Reasonably so.

Doug Oster:

I thought so. The key to growing tomatoes in containers is not letting them dry out. If they do, that's when they get blossom end rot. Take a look at the design of the Earth Box, it works. Two tomatoes in each box, or four peppers.

Megan:

Loved all the updates that you gave us from London.

Doug Oster:

Thanks, it's all over at my PG blog and on my Facebook page. It was an amazing trip. Of all the gardens I saw, this bed with tulips and forget me nots might have been the most stunning. http://blogs.post-gazette.com/living/gardening-with-doug/38031-hampton-court-inspires-garden-ideas

Robin:

Do you know anyone selling water pond plants in South Hills or Wash County?

Doug Oster:

Try Chapon's or Trax, one of those two should be able to help you out. How big is the area you want to plant?

Thom:

That's great. Thank you.

Mark in Ross:

As for "south-facing," I have a few bean plants that a friend started from seed. I'm debating where to put them. Any guidance/limitations re. where they will/won't thrive? I've got lots of fairly shady spots, but I've hesitant to try them there.

Doug Oster:

They love full sun, but will grow in some shade. For the most part they like to be sown directly in the garden, so be gentle when you move them. Do it at the end of the day and water at the base as they are prone to fungal diseases.

Robin:

Do you know anyone selling water garden plants in South Hills or Wash Co

Dora from Dayton, PA:

Welcome back Doug. I enjoy all your garden info. I was wondering if we are suppose to get the cicadas or is it just going on the East Coast?

Doug Oster:

I've heard we're going to get them, but it won't be as bad for us as Eastern PA. Time will tell. I don't remember them being bad last time around, anyone else?

Carina:

Hi! What's eating holes in the spicy organic salad greens we grow every year?

Doug Oster:

Are the holes perfectly round or jagged?

Robin:

They say we aren't part of this cycle...that's what I heard anyway...

Carina:

Hmm...I'd have to double check. Right now, I'll say perfectly round.

Doug Oster:

Probably flea beetles. No big deal and they are a pain to control. If you can stand the holes try and live with them, if not, try the suggestions here. Take a look as see if these look like the pests. http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/flea-beetles

Mark in Ross:

And finally, per previous comment here, any chance your IT folks will capture the content of these chats and make them available (even searchable?) in an archive? TONS of good information here to be captured. I can't usually stay for the entire hour, yet I hate to think about all the great tidbits I'm missing when I unplug. That's all for this week. Thanks again for all the great guidance.

Doug Oster:

I'm going to post them on my blog from now on, you can see them there.

Guest:

I'd like to know too ... I have both jagged and perfectly round

Doug Oster:

We always need to ID the pest before we start on control. Take the leaf in a Ziploc bag to your favorite nursery and they will be able to figure it out by seeing the damage.

Carina:

Correction...they're jagged!

Melissa:

I'd like to know too I have both round and jagged

Doug Oster:

I like to go out in the morning and look for the insect itself. Then I can figure out how to control them.

Doug Oster:

I keep planting tomatoes all the way through 7/4 to extend the season. They love the warm soil.

Doug Oster:

When it's hot like this I'll also sow cool weather crops under the tomatoes so they get a little shade and form a living mulch for the tomatoes.

Carina:

How come these flea beetles only eat the spicy greens, like arugula, and not the others?

Doug Oster:

Because the have a great taste!

Doug Oster:

They love eggplant too. More than anything.

Molly:

Doug, I'm reading your Tomatos, Garlic, and Basil book and I love it! I never thought about growing garlic myself before but now I'm very excited to try it. I don't know many places in NH where I live to buy the varieties you mention in the book. Do you have recommendations for how to get started with bulbs or seeds?

Doug Oster:

Thanks Molly, that book was a labor of love. You can order garlic for fall planting from my fav farm, Bobba-Mike's http://www.garlicfarm.com/
I've been buying my garlic off them for over 15 years.
It's best to plant cloves in the fall.
You might be able to find a nursery who started some garlic in the fall and are selling it in pots now. There are two in the Pittsburgh area, Hahn Nursery and Chapon's Greenhouse.

Doug Oster:

There's nothing like home grown garlic, in fact I better eat a few cloves to try and get rid of this cold!

Doug Oster:

Anyone else eat raw garlic? Or am I the only crazy one?

Megan:

I did like your garlic ice cream.

Doug Oster:

The first time I visited Bobba-Mike's they were drying the garlic in a barn and aroma was intoxicating (at least for me).

Doug Oster:

I served garlic ice cream at a Giant Eagle Market District store for one of the monthly cooking/gardening demos I do with my radio partner Jessica Walliser. It was not a hit, but it brought in the people. We're back at all four stores on June 9.

Guest:

Doug,

Doug Oster:

Yes?

Carina:

Thanks! We eat raw garlic in home-made hummus. You better eat some parsley afterward!

Doug Oster:

When you meet in person, you'll see, there's not enough parsley in the world to cover the garlic I'm eating, right Megan?

Molly:

Thanks for the link! So they send you the cloves in boxes? I went to the Phipps conservatory for a visit while I was there and your book stuck out to me since I'm just starting my first garden this year. I'm afraid I've gone a little overboard on tomato planting but I want to try them all! Eating raw garlic sounds tempting if I grew it myself but not as exiting when you buy it from the store.

Doug Oster:

We all go overboard in the garden, that's what makes it so fun. I can't wait to hear how things turn out for you. Try and track some garlic down, you might be able to find some to plant now.

Anna:

I am finding white foam on a couple of my perennials in the back. I am suspecting spittle bugs but wanted your opinion. I hear the bugs like rosemary but they don't seem to have gained a foothold on my rosemary plant yet. Any ideas as to how to get rid of the pests? Thanks

Doug Oster:

You're right, it's the spittle bug. No worries, just wipe off the plants or hit them with the hose.

Megan:

LOL. Maybe I'm immune to the garlic smell on you since I like it also.

Doug Oster:

As I always say, other garlic lovers can never smell it, it's like working in a gas station. Those guys can't smell the gas.

Doug Oster:

Pretty soon garlic plants will start sending up a seed head called a scape. It's wonderful to eat and must be removed so the plant's energy goes to the bulb. Here's a recipe for scape pesto. You'll also find the scapes at the farmers market or in CSA;s.
http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sectionfront/life/garlic-shoots-give-tender-flavor-to-early-summer-dishes-437219/

Doug Oster:

I'm thinking of taking gardeners to either Costa Rica (cheap trip) or Amsterdam to see the tulips. Which one sounds better to you guys?

Carina:

We planted organic mellons this year. Any tips?

Doug Oster:

Lots of mulch, feed them with organic liquid fertilizer and give them plenty of water and you'll be happy at the end of the season.

Carolyn:

IF onions do that should they be removed or are they done growing?

Doug Oster:

Remove the seed head from onions too. They are done when the greens flop over and start to turn brown. I have a heck of a time growing onions, but I'm hoping this is my year!

Doug Oster:

I've got lots of cool seeds to plant which are from England including a purple sprouting broccoli. I'll start the seed now and transplant out in about a month.

Carolyn:

I haven't had any luck with them either. My sister in her little area gets great big onions...very discouraging but I am determined to get it right!

Doug Oster:

Mulch, Bulbtone, lots of water and sun. Bulbtone is cheap, organic and easy to find.

Carina:

Being from the Netherlands, I'd say Amsterdam! Lots of other stuff to do as well, but you may not be lucky with the weather.

Doug Oster:

Have you ever seen the tulips blooming?

Molly:

After reading your story about Fred's Potato Top Tomatos I really want to try growing some from seed. Is it too late this season to try growing from seed and put them in the garden? Would it be better to wait until next year?

Doug Oster:

I'm giving the plants away on 6/16 in North Park if you're local.
http://blogs.post-gazette.com/living/gardening-with-doug/37805-free-tomato-plants-at-11th-annual-pg-plant-swap-june-16-2013

If you can't get there, I'll announce where you can get any left over plants.

Carina:

Oh sure! I'm from a rural area and there are lots of tulip fields.

Doug Oster:

Sounds cool, that might be the better location for gardeners. Favorite local food?

Doug Oster:

There's still plenty of time to plant anything you're interested in growing. I'll plant all summer long, filling in empty patches in both the veggie garden and flower beds.

Doug Oster:

Here's a tip for containers. I first heard it from my radio partner Jessica Walliser. When building a container, in the center goes the thriller, then the filler and lastly the spiller over the edges. You can make a lot of cool looking pots using that philosophy.

Doug Oster:

We're getting towards the end, how about a few more questions or comments?

Carina:

Here's a link to enjoy the tulips in bloom in the Netherlands. http://goamsterdam.about.com/od/daytripsexcursions/tp/guidetotuliptimekeukenhof.htm

Doug Oster:

Very cool, thanks.

Dora from Dayton, PA:

I'm just beginning to start a raised garden using cement blocks. Any tips would be appreciated. Believe me I'm just beginning.

Doug Oster:

There are a few concerns with cement block and food crops, just so you know. Some are made out of a material called fly ash. It's the stuff that scrubbers catch from coal powered plants. Maybe seal them with something first? How many do you have?

Molly:

I tried using the black fabric you suggested but noticed that water kind of floats over the top and doesn't sink in. Is that supposed to happen?

Doug Oster:

It should be permeable, maybe a few slices with a razor might help.

Doug Oster:

My raised beds don't have anything around them, I just build up with soil.

Dora from Dayton, PA:

I have about 50 blocks that we had left from the foundation of our home.

Doug Oster:

Any idea how old they are? The older, the better, then they might not have fly ash in them.

Dora from Dayton, PA:

They are about 20 years old.

Doug Oster:

That's certainly better than new block. They can be used to surround a bed, when you're creating the bed, make sure you can get to both sides..make sense?

Dora from Dayton, PA:

Thanks Doug, Ill keep you updated on my progress.

Doug Oster:

Sounds good, anything else from anyone? We're just about to wrap up.

Doug Oster:

Please join me every Thursday at 11am for this weekly garden chat. Hope to see you next week.

lifestyle


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