Lauren Ritz

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since Aug 18, 2018
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Recent posts by Lauren Ritz

I don't see why not. When I did my watermelon I initially planted three varieties and manually crossed them. You'll only get one cross per seed regardless of how many possible combinations there are. I have two varieties of green beans and will add a third (or more) when I plant green beans again. If you can get two established grexes or landraces to start that will greatly increase your diversity.

The problem isn't creating a low-diversity landrace, it's continuing it without going inbred again. That's the difficult part in small spaces.
2 hours ago
Sorry it took me so long to respond. No, no floods or swamp. The watermelons are planted in this area because it's higher and the soil has a little less clay. At this point I'm thinking there might be something wrong with the soil, because everything else planted in here is struggling as well. The weird thing is that they're all showing different symptoms.

The elderberry just died within days of being planted. The sweet potatoes are showing leaf necrosis, almost like sunscald which makes no sense at all since they're only in full sun in the afternoon. The blueberries have growing tip dieback. The watermelons cotyledons turned white, and have now fallen off, but the true leaves are coming out twisted and deformed like sulfur toxicity. The other three watermelons still look perfectly normal.
5 days ago

Greg Payton wrote:I've been told by a couple of folks now that feed fermentation is saving a lot of money in terms of having to feed less during the colder months when they can't free range them. Does anyone have some cost analysis figures in this area?

I can only give you my own experience. I gave three chickens about 1/2 cup of feed per day. I fermented it four days.

The chickens usually left a little. So assuming that the "normal" ration is 1/2 c per chicken per day, I should have been feeding them 3 times as much.

Even if your experience turns out different, I think it's well worth a try.
1 week ago
Chopped onion, hamburger and cheese on toast. An egg on top if I'm feeling ambitious.

Or tacos. Cheese toast-wich. Cheese on bread. Quesadilla. I'm seeing a trend here...
1 week ago

Debbie Ann wrote:Wow. The only plant I have that the pill bugs has never touched are my tomatoes. Just posted this. Hope it helps you too.

I'll try it. I've never had them touch tomatoes either, but I wasn't working in a moist area before so there weren't a lot of them. They got one of the small purchased tomatoes, but just cut through the stem and it came back from underneath. For some reason these drought tolerant tomatoes are acting like a trap-crop. They seem to like the sage and basil as well, but they don't eat it. Just hide under it during the day.

The other day I scooped out several hundred from under the sage plant, into a bucket of water, and there don't seem to be as many now.
1 week ago
As far as broadening the edges, consider using sweet potatoes, which love heat. You say you're already watering your gardens, so plant sweet potatoes at the edges with the plan to leave them in the ground to rot over the winter. Then each year keep just enough to start again the following spring and plan to expand just a little. If it doesn't get cold enough to kill them, they'll spread. You'll also have a living mulch to cover the soil and keep the area around your boxes a little cooler.

I did this at my last house, although I sold it this year so I didn't get to really keep records. This area usually gets 0 water between May and September, summer highs usually in the high 90's and low 100's, and the sweet potatoes did great under deep mulch with no additional water at all. Not a lot of tubers, but a huge mass of feeder roots. Last year I did my first real trial with the sweet potatoes, but never got to see how it improved the soil.

Worth a try, in any case. Other plants that did well under those conditions (deep mulch, sand, no additional water) :

Rosemary (but it didn't like our cold winters)
Chives in shade
Oats, lettuce and spinach as spring ephemeral, reseeded themselves each year
Horseradish in the wetter areas.
Gooseberry in shade
Apricot trees
Almond trees (seedlings for almond and apricot thrived, but seldom survived the winter without protection)
Saffron crocuses (fall bloomer, died back in the summer)
Lemon Balm in the shade
Grapes need water until established but otherwise survived on winter rains

None of these got additional water during the summer.

I had planned to do a pistachio grove, but gave away my baby trees when I moved to a much wetter area.
1 week ago
I've thought about it. I think I'll put one of the tomatoes in the hydroponics in place of the pepper. The others, I'm not sure. The other stuff I've put in pots with the native soil has turned out to have pillbugs in it. I'm out of the smaller pots, I think the smallest I have left is 20 gallons or so. If I had a couple months I could make sure the soil was clean of insects, but I'm not sure how do to that short term. These plants really need to go in within the next few days. Maybe DE, although that means a trip to the store.

I really, really want to save the strong genetics of these plants if I can.
1 week ago
This year I have 8 buckets set up. Still using eggshell and urine, but I was unable to bring my supply of ash to my new location. I need to start a fire. I also lost my source of phosphorus (almond shell ferment) in my move so I need to find a new source for that. I used a tiny bit of epsom salt in each bucket to forestall any sulfur deficiency. I won't be working on my sulfur additive this year, but it's on the plans once I'm at my permanent location. Each bucket has a rusty nail, a dime, and a penny.

In the 8 buckets I have one squash, three tomatoes, two beans in one bucket, and three peppers. Two peppers and two of the tomatoes were purchased, the others I started myself and they're just getting established (long story).

The beans and squash are sucking up the water without a problem. Good root systems. The purchased tomatoes and peppers were root bound but seem to be recovering. I'm not sure how the purchased plants will work long term, but I lost most of my seedlings in the move to my current location. One pepper and one tomato were survivors of the move and they're struggling to adjust--both are bred for drought tolerance, so I should have expected that.

One tomato and the two purchased peppers already have developing fruit on them, and more blossoms coming.

One of the main problems at this location is that it has been raining a LOT, so the buckets are full to the brim. I need to work out something to drain them, so the plants don't drown, but still allow me to use the same buckets for the project next year.
1 week ago
Life happened this past year. In January, in order to keep my sanity, I planted 36 tomato seeds and 12 pepper seeds on a sunny windowsill in a house kept at 60 degrees F. No bottom heat, sandy garden soil. 27 tomatoes came up. I don't remember the germination rate on the peppers, but after a month in a dark box, sporadic water, heat, cold, and me forgetting about them for lengths of time, I ended up with 2 peppers and 6 tomatoes when I got here. All of them recovered relatively quickly once they started getting actual sun and water.

The tomatoes appear to be a pillbug magnet. Literally, the pillbugs will pile up around them in a mound until there's nothing left, completely ignoring everything else they could eat. So I now have 3 tomatoes left, one in the hydroponics and two that I haven't planted yet because I know the pillbugs will get them.

On the other hand, I have one pepper in the hydroponics (one of the 2 that survived, the other is thriving in acidic clay soil) that really doesn't want to put roots down in the water. It has plenty of roots in the sphegnum moss I use as a base, but only one stringy root in the water. I suspect it's drought tolerant enough that it's resisting the transition.

My brain says, Hm. Possibly drought tolerant pepper that doesn't like the hydroponics, and tomatoes that the pillbugs will feast on if I set them out...

I'm thinking I'll take the pepper and put it in the ground, then put one of the tomatoes in the hydroponics in its place. Not sure, though. The pillbugs really like these tomatoes, and I'm not sure if that's something I want to encourage. I could get seeds off these tomatoes, then lose them all next spring because the pillbugs still like them. A lot.

I guess I'll find out.
1 week ago
I am in a new area, with acidic soil. Since there is so much water, I decided to put plants that do not like wet feet on the mound around the tornado shelter.

One of those items was the watermelons, since they are technically a desert plant. I apologize that there are no pictures (I can't get my cell phone to transfer anything to my computer, or to the cloud) but I planted six watermelons of two different varieties. Three of those watermelons now have white cotyledons and the true leaves are starting to bleach out. It rained a few days ago so there should be plenty of water. They get morning and afternoon sun. The mound is directly under a female red cedar (juniper) but I can't find anything about this particular symptom under problems with acid soil. The water amount isn't so high that I think it might be drowning them.

Any ideas about what might be happening? The other three watermelons appear to be healthy enough, as do the peppers planted on the far side of the same mound and the blueberries planted downhill.

If these die I will seed more of another variety in the same locations.
1 week ago