Sunday, September 7, 2008

Preparing for Fall

Sunday 7th September

A lovely sunny day here in Oklahomegrownvegland, a day to lift the spirits of the Happy Gardener and inspire him to start preparing for the coming Fall.
I already have a number of established seedlings in the growing room but I need to prepare somewhere for them to grow outside.
The chosen place to start is Plot 5 where the potatoes were.
I'd pulled the remaining spuds a couple of days ago and today I gave the plot a really good digging over and a thorough weeding. It then got a liberal sprinkling of Iron Phosphate to deter any woodlice.
Then I was off to the local lumberyard to pick up a few things for the covering.

I purchased 4 pieces of lattice, 1.75" x .25" x 7ft and some screws. I already had some clear plastic sheet left over from when I last did some decorating. It was only medium thickness but I thought I'd give it a try. The plastic sheet was 12ft x 12ft approx.

Two opposite edges of the sheet were sandwiched between the two lasts and then screwed together.........

Here's a bit closer view.

The framework is simply 18 inch long pieces of rebar driven into the edges of the plot then 7ft lengths of plastic piping (which I already had) bent over in an arch and pushed over the rebar.... shown above.
The plastic sheet is then laid over the supports.......... this. The lattice strips makes it easier to roll the cover up when you want to remove it for planting/weeding/watering etc. I'm going to leave this plot covered like this for a week then dig it over again before transplanting any seedlings.

While I was out there I checked out some local wildlife..............

This friendly Garden Spider refused to pose for a snap and ran for cover in the tomato plants.
But, these guys were too busy working to bother about me and my camera...............

Honey Bees, there must have been around 30 on the Basil plants, a heartening sight indeed. They were joined............................. a number of Carpenter Bees.

Next, a project I began last weekend
I've started saving seeds from the tomatoes and here is how I'm doing it...........

Take your chosen tomato and slice it in half across the middle (its "equator").
With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and their gelatinous "goo" into a clean cup or container. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to the seeds. Cover the container with a piece of plastic-wrap and then poke the plastic-wrap with a paring knife or pen point to put a few small holes in it...this is to allow for air-transpiration. (A little fresh air needs to get in and out of the cup to help foster fermentation.)

Place the container of seeds in a warm location (I use the top of the refrigerator).
Now you must wait for fermentation to start and this usually takes a few days. Each night remove the plastic-wrap, stir the seed and water mixture, and then replace the plastic-wrap.
After a few days you get a scummy film form on the top surface.............. shown above. This helps destroy many of the possible tomato diseases that can be harbored by seeds. Take the container of fermented seeds to the sink and with a spoon carefully remove the scummy surface. Then pour the container's contents into a fine kitchen sieve and rinse well with running water. Shake to remove as much moisture as possible. Put a coffee filter paper onto a plate and spread the seeds evenly onto it. Leave to dry thoroughly, about a week, then store in paper packets.