Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Garden Poll

Please help us continue to better serve our community by filling out the following poll!  If you choose other, please comment below and tell us what you are interested in.

Monday, August 5, 2013

How to create Super vinegar weed killer or Vinegar-Up

How to concentrate vinegar for garden use : We use a concentrated vinegar instead of a roundup ready type poison for weed killing. Most household vinegar sold in stores is found to be 5% acidity and can usually be good enough for the creation of the weed killer. This means that you might have to use multiple applications to kill denser or stronger weed patches ( just like with roundup ) but that can get annoying and in the case of roundup too excessive.This system is minimalist so if you are anal retentive or OCD and after reading this you INSTANTLY have a better idea and want to design all kinds of gadgets you think will work better than this.... do it ! As far as my life is concerned the less specialty equipment I have, the better. Most equipment i use and keep around me have multipurpose uses but that's how i do things, you of course are different. You are only limited by your imagination and of course your storage capacity.  
Here is our system and it works for us .

Materials : Enough empty two liter bottles to accommodate all your vinegar plus a general storage container for the concentrate , a large funnel, an empty five gallon bucket, a couple of empty two liter bottles, a couple of pounds of gravel of any kind. a long screwdriver or dowel rod long enough to reach NEAR the bottom of the bottle. a old towel or a bunch of rags, a mix bowl and two ounces of dish soap and a mix ounces of regular vinegar 

First of all you will be cold distilling because most folks do not own a home still with a condensing column but if you do have one or are creative enough to make one, skip this part. Put your vinegar into two liter bottles and plais is your weep hole from which your acid will drain out of. Make sure your empty two liter with funnel is nearest to the corner. Push the towel in the five gallon bucket in front of the two liter ( this is a support trick to help support the empty bottle from tipping. You want to design something else...do it ). Place the frozen two liter upside down into the funnel and allow it to drain.The corner is used so you can lean the upside down frozen bottle up against it aiding you in supporting the inverted frozen bottle.. If you want to come up with a support mechanism of your own ...do it. As the bottle warms up to room temperature the acetic acid will melt first before the water will draining into the funnel and into the empty two liter below. When a head space is created at the top of the frozen bottle ( which is actually the inverted bottom of the bottle ) of about 1.5-2 inches more than your original frozen head space  , then that bottle is done. You may now proceed to repeat the process with another frozen bottle of vinegar.

Be very careful with handling this material and do not splash it around. This is acetic acid and can be VERY dangerous when concentrated.You are COMPLETELY responsible for what you do yourself if you act stupid and we are in no way responsible for your actions.

You may now proceed to part two and that requires you take about 3 ounces of vinegar ( unconcentrated ) and add two ounce of a dish soap in a separate container. Carefully mix the two together until the dish soap is dispersed into the vinegar. You are NOT trying to create suds but instead just mixing the two into one. Take your pump action sprayer and remove the pumping head. Place this mix into your sprayer and then CAREFULLY add a gallon of your concentrate. Your vinegar/soap mix will be easily dispersed into your concentrate effectively and you may now begin spraying.... that is after you have replaced your top. Be very careful as to what you spray and that also means yourself. Concentrated vinegar can be very painful to get in your eyes and mucous membranes and you way want to wear safety glasses and a respirator. Another effective way is to use a heavy duty kitchen glove that you wear and dip a rag into this mixure ,wiping it on the leaves of those plants you want to kill. Some plants like yucca may still require multiple treatments . Since the removal of the plants ( pulling, burning , mowing ) means the removal of most of the acid , there's no PH change . If you got sloppy a dusting of hardwood ashes would counteract the acid residue and you would also be  adding potassium , a necessary nutrient . 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farmer Browns supercharged Willow water

Willow Water is a method to extract the rooting hormones indolebutyric acid (IBA) and Salicylicacid( SA), which are present in sufficient quantities in the Willow(Salix) trees to use as a liquid that stimulates root growth. 
Old world methods often suggest soaking the cut stems for up to a month in water. Most new methods suggest using 48 to 72 hour extraction process and those are available. What both of these systems lack is that most scientists agree the hormone itself is alcohol soluble. Our method fixes that and make a more concentrated tea. 

Carondelet Willow tea 
Gather willow branches from the first or second years growth that are green and yellow do not harvest any brown branches. Cut these branches into 1-2 inch pieces and place at the bottom of the 5 gallon bucket filling that bucket about a third of the way loosely. Pour a gallon and a half of boiling water on top of these branches and carefully place a dinner plate on top those branches. Safely use something to force the dinner plate down , making sure that the Willow branches are below the surface of the water. Allow this to sit overnight and cool. The next day add 2 shots of vodka 2 to gallons of water and pour this mixture over the dinnerplate making sure again that the plate is forcing the material below the surface of the water. Allow this to sit for 4 to 5 days. The alcohol will not only help you extract more of the hormone but after a few days time it would begin to disappear from the solution altogether. You may now remove the dinner plate and remove the cut Willow branches. Then what's next is  pouring off your liquid rooting supercharger into recycled ( if possible ) gallon jugs that you can store in the refrigerator for months.You can use this to water cuttings or use it to stimulate root growth when planting starters. We use it when transplanting anything to help reduce system shock and to encourage quick root growth. We have proven through experiments that seedlings watered with this grew faster than those that weren't. However you make your tea just remember that science in the garden can be fun as well as rewarding.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Perennial Vegetable Corner: Asparagus

Asparagus officinalis
Asparagus is one of the more familiar offerings on this visitation to various choices in perennial vegetable gardening.  This succulent vegetable is loved or hated in our American cuisine.  One of the oldest vegetables on record, it grows well in our region.  The following website has an excellent overview of establishing your asparagus patch:
Varieties original to the United States are Mary, Martha, and Waltham Washington.  Hybrid varieties provide more male plants than female and are the Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight, Jersey Supreme and Jersey Gem varieties.  Other varieties are available in the southern United States and Canada, but the Canadian varieties may not be available to the home gardener at this time.  Purple passion, pacific purple and other purple varieties have been selected for a genetic color mutation but turn green with cooking.  White varieties are the normal varieties that have been "blanched" by mechanical means by the gardener.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Garlic of the Day: Inchelium Red

Found at the Colville Indian Reservation in Inchelium, Washington, this variety is a winner among braidable artichoke type garlics.  Large bulbs with up to 20 cloves in layers.  Stores well and the flavor increases during storage.  This bulb is a national taste test winner in the softneck division and has a robust but not overwhelming flavor.  Good in many climates.

Territorial Seed Company
High Mowing Seeds
Southern Exposure Exchange

Monday, July 15, 2013

Perennial Vegetable Corner: Groundnut

Apios americana also known as Groundnut

A vine native to North America, the groundnut has edible beans and tubers.  Tubers are crunchy and nutritious and have high quantities of starch and protein.  Before the European settlement of this continent, native Americans got the majority of their crop from the wild.  Documentation does show that some tribes did transplant these vines near their settlements to make harvesting easier.  I have not tried to cultivate these but it appears that they would be a good companion plant with the ramps we talked about recently.  Interested in starting a growth of these in the city?  Let us know how it goes for you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Garlic of the Day: Siciliano

Excellent for sauces and pestos, Siciliano is a tasty favorite among garlic varieties.  This is another softneck artichoke type that is good for braiding.  Richly flavored and mildly pungent, this variety is a good keeper for a home cook who enjoys flavoring with garlic.  An old world variety, it has only been available in the US for about a decade.  This is a moderate garlic and pairs readily with tomato, pasta and olive oil.  By infusing olive oil with it's flavor the home cook can have a superior cooking oil.  Early harvester, 10 to 12 cloves per bulb, and keeps for 5-6 months.