Welcome 2 SJGC Blog

The St John Indiana Garden Club is a niche club that focus on gardening in and around St John, Indiana. The member contributes their personal background, hands on experience and formal educations, to meet the common interest of gardening.

We hope that you find our blog an asset to your gardening, personal growth and invite you to join us online.

Radish

Radishes mature incredibly quickly with some varieties taking only three weeks from seed to maturity and they are very hardy. Their peppery flavor adds a kick to soups and salads, and they take up very little space in the garden. Learning how to grow radishes is a process that can be accomplished by following these steps.

Like many vegetables, there are innumerable varieties of radishes at your disposal, both hybrid and open-pollinated. If you are a novice gardener, consider growing Cherry Belle radishes; they mature in just 22 days and have a very pleasant, mild flavor. Other popular varieties include White Icicle, which has a very pungent taste, and Daikon, which can grow to 18 inches long and takes 60 days to mature.

Radishes should be planted in an area with full sun or partial shade, and loose, well-drained soil. Remove any rocks from the soil, as the roots will bifurcate around any rocks in their way. Add organic matter to the soil before planting

Growing radishes during the hot summer months will cause them to bolt . You can plant your first crop a full two weeks before the last frost in spring, as radishes endure frost well. Successive plantings can be planted every two weeks. Because radishes grow so quickly, they will act as convenient row markers in your garden, so consider inter-cropping them with slow-growing vegetables. Radishes prefer slightly alkaline soil.

Sow the radish seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart. As they germinate, thin the successful seedlings to about 2 inches apart, allowing more space for bigger varieties. Rows should be planted about 1 foot.

Keep the radish beds moist, but not soaked. Watering radishes frequently and evenly will result in quick growth; if radishes grow too slowly, they will develop a hot, woody taste. Add compost to the radish bed as desired.

Radishes are ready to harvest when their roots are about 1 inch in diameter, although you should refer to the seed packet for the time to maturity as well. To harvest, lift the entire plant out of the ground with your hand. Unlike many root vegetables, radishes cannot be left in the ground, as doing so will cause them to become tough and pithy. Clean and store your radishes. Brush the soil off your radishes using your hand, and then store them in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

Propagate With Potato

Potatoes provide just the right amount of nutrients and moisture to propagate cuttings and other wood stemmed plants. I was recently reminded of this common practice for roses and have a few hydrangea that resulted from this method.

  1. Cut an eight inch tip piece of healthy plant at a 45-degree angle using clean pruning clippers. Use plant pieces immediately or place them in a plastic bag on ice if you are not going to use them immediately.
  2. Remove any dead flower heads and hips down to the first set of healthy leaves.
  3. Fill a medium-size flower-pot with high-quality potting medium and moisten. You can also plant directly into the garden using the same method using medium, compost and soil.
  4. Remove all eyes from the potato and create a three-inch hole that will allow the stem to fit firmly. Before placing the cutting apply rooting compound on the cutting and insert the stem cutting into the potato.
  5. Place the potato into the planting hole with only the cutting being exposed or above ground. Cover the cutting with an empty and clean one liter soda bottle to create a mini-greenhouse. Twist the bottle slightly to be sure that it is solid in the soil.
  6. Place the pot in a warm and light location away from direct sunlight. Remove the bottle from the cutting for a few minutes daily to allow the cutting to breathe. Do not disturb the cutting until you see new growth forming remembering to keep the soil moist. Pull lightly on the cutting and if you feel resistance, roots have developed.
  7. Relocate the propagated pot, without the bottle, to a sunny location with more direct light and keep the soil moist. Conti cutting to grow until you will harden it off. Keep the soil moist..
  8. Harden off the cutting by gradually exposing it to outdoor temperatures, starting with a few hours each day in a sheltered location with plenty of light but no direct sun. Keep the soil moist. Transplant planting into the garden after ten days of hardening off.

 

Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is a viable and useful by-product of mushroom farming. Those edible mushrooms found in the produce section of your grocery store are grown in a specific medium. This growth media is a mixture of agricultural materials, such as straw from horse stables, hay, poultry litter, ground corn cobs, cottonseed hulls, cocoa shells, peat moss, and other natural organic substances. These products are formed into a rich organic media that serves as the nutrient source for mushrooms. After the mushroom crop is harvested, this organic material is removed from the production house, where it is processed into a consistent homogeneous by-product called “mushroom compost.”

In general, good organic compost, if used properly, can improve plant growth in poor or marginal soils. This is because compost amended into those soils will improve the structure of clay soils, reduce surface crusting and compaction and therefore improve drainage, increase beneficial soil microbial activity, and provide nutrients to plants which can reduce the need for fertilizer. Overall, compost can be very beneficial to the soil, and mushroom compost is no exception.

The visual appearance of a good quality, thoroughly processed mushroom compost typically resembles dark topsoil, has a loose crumbly structure, and has an “earthy” aroma. Recent research conducted at the Pennsylvania State University showed that mushroom compost contains an average of 25 percent organic matter and 58 percent moisture on a wet volume basis. Where uniform application and good mixing with soil is required, this amount of organic matter and moisture in mushroom compost is ideal for handling and making surface applications or incorporating into the soil. Mushroom compost contains an average of 1.12 percent nitrogen in a mostly organic form that slowly is available to plants. Also, mushroom compost contains an average of 0.67 percent phosphate (phosphorous) and 1.24 percent potash (potassium), as well as other plant nutrients such as calcium (2.29 percent) magnesium (0.35 percent) and iron (1.07 percent). The average pH of mushroom compost is 6.6 (6.0 to 7.0 is an ideal range for most plants). The amount of carbon relative to nitrogen is an important indicator of nitrogen availability for plant growth, and an ideal compost should have a ratio of 30:1 or lower. Mushroom compost has an excellent 13:1 ratio, indicating outstanding nutrient availability and mature and stable organic compost.

The best approach would be to apply mushroom compost uniformly and evenly at a one to three inch thickness (three to nine cubic yards per 1,000 square feet) on the surface of the intended site, and then incorporate into the existing soil below. Next, seed or transplant the desired vegetation. For example, with turf grass, sow the grass seed uniformly at a rate recommended for the turf grass species used, and water thoroughly. For sites with steep slopes, erosion blankets or netting may be helpful to reduce further the possibility of soil erosion.

Excessive amounts of soluble salts (for example, calcium, magnesium, potassium and others) in the soil can cause injury to turf grasses and other groundcover-type plants. However, research at Penn State shows that good quality mushroom compost does not contain soluble salt concentrations high enough to impede turf grass seed germination or cause damage to an existing turf stand. Also, when mushroom compost is tilled or incorporated into the soil, the salt concentration is diluted greatly, and irrigation or natural rainfall will further reduce salt concentrations by leaching those salts from the root zone. Ask your mushroom compost supplier to provide you with a detailed laboratory analysis to ensure you’re getting good quality and a reliable compost product.

Time 2 Plant Dahlias

If you can answer the following four questions with a yes it’s time to plant your dahlias:

  • Is your ground temperature around 60 degrees?
  • Is it time to put the vegetables in your garden?
  • Would you like to be out on a daily basis working in my yard?
  • Is your soil workable, not too soggy?

If you can answer yes to those questions, then your dahlias are ready to be planted. It is important to remember that dahlias don’t like cold or wet feet. So, if you get one beautiful day and the rest are wet and cold, don’t plant. Dahlias for the northern half of the United States can be planted anytime from late April through early June.

Most customers find that Mother’s Day is a safe and appropriate time to plant. If you receive your dahlias and you are not ready to plant them, just open the bag allowing for air ventilation, but leave them in their packing material. They can remain in the peat moss for up to two months.

When you are ready to plant, if your dahlias have long sprouts – they are just telling you that they are ready to grow. Trim these sprouts back to 1-2″ in length, to allow for a strong start. If a sprout should happen to break off, do not panic, these sprouts will grow again.

Dahlias should be planted 4″-6″ deep and laying horizontally in the hole. Do not water your dahlias when you plant them in the ground, unless you are in a location where rain is scarce. We are counting on Mother Nature to give them a little water after planting, so do not add any additional water.

Once your dahlias are up and growing above the ground level, they will need to be watered. It is very important to remember the dahlias need deep watering during growing and blooming season to have proper growth. Do not hand water, as the water does not reach the roots.

Presentation and Meeting Monday, April 21, 2014 (Today)

The St. John Garden Club and Alsip Nursery are pleased to have Bryon Angerman talk about “What’s New for the 2014″.  This presentation will take place at Alsip Nursery in St John, Indiana.

This presentation is being offered Monday, April 21, 2014 at 6 PM. The St. John Garden Club’s monthly business meeting will follow Bryon’s presentation. Everyone is welcome, please join us!  New members are always welcome.

Schedule for future Meetings;

  • May 10, 2014 – “Springtime In The Park” Annual Plant Sale
  • May 12, 2014 – Dian Fruth presentation on “Attracting Hummingbirds”
  • June 9, 2014 – Stacey Haskins presentation on “Border Gardening”
  • August 11, 2014 - Debbie Doerr presentation on “Easy Vegetable Gardening”

Perennial Fertilizing

Things 2 remember when considering perennial fertilizing;

Be careful not to apply fertilizer too heavily. Doing so may cause the plant tissue to burn, or even result in plant death. Read product labels carefully and follow directions to avoid toxicity problems.

If over-fertilization of your plants is too much a worry for you, consider easing your mind by using a mild, natural or organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are made with natural ingredients such as composted manures or other organic matter. As a result these mild plant foods are much less-likely to burn your plants.

Perennial plants may grow quicker with excessive nitrogen, however this might decrease bloom production or lead to the onset of damaging or deadly diseases.

Remember the slower the plants habit of growth, the less fertilizer it needs. Some plants, such as sedum and other succulents, require little if any fertilization.

Plants that are producing an abundance of blooms or fruit generally need more fertilizer.

If a perennial plant(s) in your garden appears unhealthy, or is not actively growing, clip off a stem with leaves or a flower and take it to your local nursery and garden center. An experienced professional can often help to identify any problems or deficiencies and provide remedies.

Whenever in doubt about the nutritional needs of a specific perennial plant consult with your local nursery, garden center or ask us.

Shrimp and Fiddlehead Medley

Here is a recipe for those who enjoy shrimp and feddlehead.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fiddleheads
  • 6 ounces linguine, uncooked
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-3/4 pounds Maine shrimp, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon margarine
  • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions:

Cut off ends of fiddleheads. Remove scales and wash thoroughly. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add shrimp and cook three to five minutes, or until done. Drain well, and set aside. Cook fiddleheads in boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain. Coat a large, non-stick skillet with cooking spray; add margarine. Heat until margarine melts. Add onion and green pepper and sauté until crisp-tender. Stir in fiddleheads. Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed, without salt or oil. Drain well, set aside and keep warm.

Add sliced mushrooms, thyme, pepper, salt and celery seeds to vegetable mixture; stir well. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat three to four minutes or until mushrooms are tender, stirring often. Stir in shrimp and lemon juice; cook until heated through, stirring often. Place pasta on a large platter, spoon shrimp mixture on top and serve immediately.