Sunday, April 19, 2009

Growing Grapes in NJ?

I hesitantly picked these up from Lowes yesterday. My daughter advised me it was a good idea. I take her advise quite seriously...she's usually right. It's a little annoying.

Then I get home and start reading up on Mars grapes. They're hardy and disease resistant. Apparently thick skinned, not thrilled with that, but I guess that's part of why they can survive well here.

The problem I'm having is how to trellis them. I had wanted to build an arbor or pergola but that's just not happening this year. So I thought a simple grid type trellis would work.

Some sites say yes, some say no. Some say I need a trellis with posts 8 feet apart! I have the room...but really? I'm very confused. Anyone out there know about grape growing?

The Problem with Newpaper Seedling Cups

I started germinating the seeds in wet paper towels in ziplock bags. That went much better than I anticipated. Seeds that I was sure were gonners, actually turned into seedlings. I was a happy camper.

But as they got bigger I realized they needed soil, air and sunlight. So I decided to make some newspaper cups. The origami ones didn't even kind of work for me, so I used this one instead:

How to Create Seed-Starting Pots From Newspapers -- powered by

And they were great and easy to make. Then this happen:

I'm not sure why I didn't realize that the newspaper would slowly start to develop mold. So I decided to go to the local Dollar Tree and pick up a couple of packs of large plastic cups. $3.21 later, I had this:

Perhaps in the end, this is a more green option. I can reuse the cups every year. And since I don't really read the paper anymore (all the news I need I get from Perez) I don't have to worry about buying the newspaper. At least I got to compost all that moldy newspaper.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

DIY Rain Barrels

I blogged about this setup that Lowes had on their site...but then the link vanished. Now it's back!

The problem with the green movement is that they (the infamous They) try to make you think you need to spend money on all sorts of expensive crap. You don't. You know who really started the green movement? Poor people. Reuse, recycle, repurpose, gardening, food sharing, conservation of resources...yeah...when you don't have a lot of money, this is all your normal way of life. Don't let people con you into believing you have to be rich to be green. I'm not about to spend a hundred dollars plus for a barrel to hold water. What a crock.

Stepping off of my soapbox.

I like Lowes DIY Rain Barrel setup. Although, their old one didn't involve that aerator thing to attach the leader to the garbage can...I think they just cut a hole or something last time. Also...I don't think the overflow holes at the top are the best idea. You don't want water running down around your house. I'd think some tubing of some kind (a hose probably isn't thick enough...maybe more pvc) attached to the top and placed to pour out away from your house is probably a better idea. And definitely mesh on any opening. You don't want mosquitoes getting in.

Once I find someone getting rid of some large, preferably heavy duty garbage cans, I'm going to use the leftover pvc I have laying around and build these.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Great Seed Experiment Continues

The seeds are doing a nice job germinating in the paper towels. As they've been getting bigger and growing leaves, I've transplanted them into these plastic egg cartons with covers. (The seedlings that were covered did much better than the ones that weren't.) Kind of a mini-greenhouse type thing going on.
Here are a couple of pea plants and a spaghetti squash plant.

Of the six cantaloupe seeds that germinated, only this one survived being moved to the carton. I stuck five more seeds in here. I can't only have one plant. We eat a lot of cantaloupe.

The corn seedlings got too big for the egg cartons. I had to make some newspaper cups to move them into so they have some room to wiggle their toes. They seem much happier. Part of me felt like this was more work and the other part of me felt they'd transplant better into the ground if they were bigger and stronger. Plus it's too cold to move them outside just yet.

Allegedly, last frost in my neck of the woods is somewhere between April 3 and 15...depending on where you look and who you ask. My gardening friend said to wait until Mother's Day.
I'm fascinated by Pearl Fryar. He made a comment in the documentary about him that botanists keep telling him that you shouldn't be able to do what he's doing. And he said, "I didn't know I shouldn't be able to do that." So I'm going to listen to his message and do what I'm doing, break the rules and trust my own instincts.
I'll keep you posted.