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Gardening Articles for week ending 11th August 2018

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Written by Wally Richards.

The Internet of all things comes up with some interesting aspects and during the week a title that was on a gardening related site read, 'Soil Your Undies'.
Certainly an attention gaining title so I just had to read the article thinking that maybe this is a twist on the past Chinese use of human manure use as fertiliser in the garden. Like ' bury your soiled panties grow a lettuce'.
Actually I was not far wrong but a different use of the same words:

The Soil Conservation Council of Canada is encouraging people to bury their underwear in the garden.
This comes as part of national soil conservation week and the Soil Your Undies Campaign.
The campaign is based on a scientifically recognized test that was developed by one of the council's member organizations in Ontario.
They found that by burying undyed 100 per cent cotton underwear for two months, farmers and gardeners will get a good indication of how much organic matter exists in their soil.
If there is a good amount of organic matter in the earth, after the underwear is underground for two months all that should be left is the waist band.
If they come out intact it means the soil doesn't have much life.
This is a easy way to find out if you have good soil microbial activity or not.
Use white cotton briefs or cotton material that is old or has been wash a few times to ensure that there is no chemicals from when the cotton was grown or in manufacture of the material.
You may not be aware that about 85% of the cotton products these days contain glyphosate (Roundup or other brands) this is because much of the cotton gown is GE Roundup Ready Cotton or if not so; Monsanto suggests descanting the crop with Roundup pre-harvest to enable ease of harvest.
Think about that for a moment; it means hygiene products such as pads and menstrual cotton made vaginal inserts could well contain weed killer unless organic certified cotton.
Medical cotton products for wounds? Cotton clothes? Cotton undies? You get the picture I am sure, so old cotton well washed other wise you are going to kill the microbes in the soil when you do your 2 month test.
(Note we have panty liners and hygiene pads certified organic in our mail order web site)
When you dig up your cotton panties if there is not much left of them you get a star for being a great gardener. If they are fairly much intact then you need to do something about the health of your soil.
Apply the likes of natural manures, Mycorrcin, our Bio Marinus Liquid Fish Fertiliser Plus (which already contains beneficial microbes) drench soil with a weak solution of molasses and unrefined sugar.
Avoid using tap water that contains chlorine, all chemical weed killers, chemical sprays and be very sparing on the use of any man made chemical Fertilisers as they are acidic.
As a Lawyer would say, 'Thats your Briefs for Great Soil'
Every now and then I have a wee look at what is happening on Face Book pages of NZ Vege Gardeners and just recently I commented on a few items which are currently seasonal.
One was a picture of a cat sleeping on a seedling tray which was in front of a window inside the house.
The seedlings had sprouted, this is what I noticed: Hi the problem is not the cat sitting on the seedling trays look at the seedlings... they are stretching to the light coming from the window.
This has already made them weak and likely it would not be many days before they damp off. Seeds can be successfully germinated indoors but as soon as there is a show they must go out to where they are getting overhead light such as in a glasshouse. If you do not have a glass house then the easiest way is to have a deep drawer which you put the trays into and a sheet of glass over the drawer (keeps cats off also) and then outside so they do not stretch. Do not over water at this time of the year in fact they should be a little on the dry side.
I find meat trays (supermarket meat trays) are ideal; sitting the punnets or peat pots in and just place some water in the tray in the morning and mist the seedlings if need be.
Unfortunately too many do not realise the importance of over head light for seedlings.
Obviously the seedlings would not be any good and the cat was doing the owner a favour.
A question was asked about germinating seeds in the garden at this time of the year:

To germinate peas and beans in gardens simply make a furrow deeper than normal and cut the lawn, put the clippings into the bottom of the furrow and compress so a good thick layer about an inch deep.
Sprinkle some soil or compost over the grass clippings (about another inch layer) and place your seeds into the layer and if you have it spray them with Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) then cover with more compost.
The heat from the decomposing grass below will warm the moist seeds and they will germinate very quickly. Water to keep moist but dont over water. To know when is the best time to germinate tomatoes outdoors?
Do this at the end of the season; leave a ripe tomato in the garden and in the spring when you see some young plants appearing then you know its is time.
You can carefully lift these seedlings when they are big enough to handle and plant them out.
I have yet to find any tomato that does not come true to form even hybrids. (Likely because they are self pollinating)
Remember when you plant a tomato plant plant it deep as then it will root all the way up the soil covered trunk making a bigger stronger root system.
If you have tomato psyllid problems you will need to use the Cell Strengthening kit we have to harden up the plants cells with silicon.
Grape Pruning: If you prune grapes about now as the sap is starting to rise then the cuts will pour liquid out. Pruning is always done in winter not spring. If you have not done so then do a thinning later on after fruit set.
A gardener was complaining that their recently planted Pak Choy was going to seed prematurely:

The reason for pre-mature seedlings going to seed is because the young plant has suffered stress which has threatened its life and so it wants to reproduce itself.
It could have happened in the nursery where it was grown or more likely in the garden shop while waiting for a customer to buy and during that time the following could have happened.
Not hardened off before leaving the nursery, allowed to dry out too long before it was watered, became soft in the garden shop and was not hardened off when you got it home.
Also I often see vegetable plants on sale in punnets or cell packs which have already over grown their current growing space.
That means they dry out too quickly and droop. That is stressed to max for a baby seedling.
When buying vegetable seedlings that do not fruit always buy the smallest seedlings possible as they are unlikely to have been stressed.
You grow them on in a sheltered sunny place at home and do not let them dry out but also do not over water.
When big enough to handle they can be potted up or planted out. With any flowering or fruiting plants it is actually an advantage if they have been stressed as you want then to flower.
Fianally a lady gardener emailed me with a list of products and asked which ones see should be giving to her Buxom. (Dont you hate those PC spelling checkers that change words) I suggested that likely it was Buxus rather than Buxom!