|Cultivate Kansas City folks were rocking this really cool t-shirt athe Expo..|
Sunday, March 31, 2013
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
This guy has a really powerful message for all of us and not just those of us in the inner city. His TED talk below is just 10 minutes long and well worth your time.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Can you see his eye and beak to the right of the lightbulb?
(Don't let anyone tell you we don't have high standards here at Cranky Puppy Farm.)
Sunday, March 24, 2013
What I'm really excited about is how easy grafting is. After watching a demonstration, it took me about 2 minutes to graft 6 plants. I'm so excited about this - I came home with 6 Cherokee Purple heirlooms grafted onto Maxifort rootstock that I get to baby for the next 10 days. What does that mean? Read on, my friend....
Tomatoes in general are susceptible to a variety of diseases: fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, blight to name a few. In sandy soil, you can also add in soil nematodes that attack the roots. Here in Missouri and Kansas, fusarium and verticillium are the most common and we don't need to worry about bacterial wilt. Verticillium is a cool weather fungal pathogen and the bad news is that, once you have it, it can live in the soil for anywhere from 5 to years!
**By the way, a good way to tell if you have verticillium wilt is a V-shaped lesion (or lesions) on the tomato leaves.
The best way to fight these diseases and pests but still have your yummy, non-GMO tomatoes is to graft an heirloom onto a hybrid,disease resistant rootstock.
Now here's something I learned in the class and haven't found anywhere else. When you buy hybrid tomatoes or rootstock, they normally indicate their resistance levels with a combination of the following codes:
Notice that there are multiple races (or variants) or fusarium wilt listed. There are also now 2 races of verticillium wilt. If you see "V listed as a disease resistane, it is Race 1 only. Currently, there are NO known tomato varieties that are resistant to Race 2! So, if you get that in your garden, you are screwed with a capital S.
Here's a great chart from sare.org that shows the resistance of the rootstocks that are available.
Benefits of Grafting for Heirloom Growers
K-State has been performing research on various rootstocks, growing environments and grafting techniques in an effort to identify the best combinations for optimal growing here in the Midwest. So far, they are seeing a 43 to 52% increase in tomato yields when using grafting (versus standard planting methods). It may not seem so at first, though, as grafted tomatoes usually produce less on the first harvest but then produce more than a non-standard plant on successive harvests. They also tend to produce longer during the season.
In addition to a much bigger yield, you also get the following benefits with grafting:
- Disease an soil-bourne pathogen resistance
- Drought resistance (some rootstocks)
- Salt tolerance
- Higher fruit quality
- Bigger high tunnel production (bigger yield in smaller spaces)
That last one is perhaps the most important for someone like me as a backyard grower!
Buying RootStock or Grafted Vegetables
Determinate varieties are experts at turning grafts into fruit production - they're great at soaking up nutrients and pumping them up the stalk. Cherokee Purple heirlooms are a perfect partner, as they are able to take the increased nutrient and water flow and, since they're also less vegatative, they are able to produce higher yields of tomatoes. Here's a
There are lots of rootstock varieties out there but K-State is focusing on the most popular varieties - Maxifort, Beaufort, Arnold and BHN-589. According to their research so far, Maxifort has proven to provide the best yield so far. You can buy Maxifort and other rootstock varieties at Johnny's Seeds, as well as already-grafted tomato plants and other veggies at Territorial Seeds. You might check your local nurseries also, as many of them are starting to sell grafted plants.
Rootstocks are expensive! You'll probably pay somewhere from 40 cents to $1.70 per seed, depending on the variety. (50 Maxifort seeds are $27.00 at Johnny's.) That's because they are a very specialized hybrid tomato variety and they are often very hard to produce and don't germinate well. If you're considering growing your own rootstock, that's something to consider.
Tips for the Grafting Process
The process for grafting is fairly simple:
1. The rootstock and scion (the plant to be grafted onto the rootstock) must be the same size. Ideally, they will have 2to 4 leaves and the stems will be between 1.5 to 2.0 mm in diameter. You have to keep an eye on the plants, as tomatoes grow extremely fast. There may be only a 24 hour window when they are this size! If you need to slow a plant down to get the sizes right before grafting, put it in a cool place.
2. Always graft inside where you can control the environment - especially the temperature. The best time to graft is early in the morning or oafter dark, when there is little water stress on the plants. Placing the plants in a shaded area or 2 to 4 hours before grafting will also reduce stress.
3. Make sure you disinfect your tools,grafting clips, and hands (or wear gloves - it will keep potting soil out of your fingernails). Rubbing alcohol works fine for this. Also, as your grafting, clean your knife or razor blade every 20 plants.
4. Cut the rootstock right below the cotyledons (first set of 2 leaves) at a 45 degree angle.
5. Slide the grafting lip onto the tip of the rootstock. The clips that we used in class are made of plastic and are designed so that you can pinch them open (see below). As the plant grows, the clips fall off. There are also spring-loaded clips but, if you use those, make sure you pull them off after the graft has healed.
|Flexible grafting clips. These fall off as the tomato heals and grows!|
6. Cut the scion below the cotyledons, but leave enough stem so that the leaves aren't stuck in the clip. You'll need to pay attention to the size of the stem here - if you have to go higher or lower to match up with the size of the rootstock, that's fine. You can also cut off the cotyledon leaves if needed.
7. Slide the scion into the top of the clip and push gently until the two stems are seated against each other.
8. The plants will appear to wilt fairly soon after you graft them. Place the plants in a healing chamber for 7 to 10 days (or until they no longer show signs of stress). For the first 2 days, it should have no light and a constant temperature of 72to 75 degrees. I covered mine with a plastic dome to maintain the humidity and placed them in closet. You could also cover them with a shade cloth or even use a walk-in cooler (if you have one!) Ideally, humidity should be around a steady 85 to 90%. Keep a close eye on their environment. If they appear to be perking up on Day 3, open a hole in their covering (or expose them to a little more light) and then increase light more and more until they don't appear to be stressed any long and the graft is healed.
You will probably see tiny little roots growing from the graft as the vascular tissue heals together. This is normal and they will fall off as the plant grows.
9. Harden and dampen off the plants are you would normally.
10. When planting: I usually plant my tomato plants deeper, to encourage rooting. You do NOT want to do this with a grafted plant. The graft needs to above the soil level or the scion (the top plant) will root and it will destroy all the benefits of having the graft there.
Importance of Pruning Grafted Plants
As with standard tomatoes, it's a good idea to prune your plants - especially if you are growing a type that is very vegetative (produces lots of leaves or stems). By removing the leaves, you force the plant to redirect its energy to producing fruit rather than vegetation.
Want to Learn More?
I highly recommend this video from Extension.org and this PDF from Johnny's Seeds. Or just Google "tomato grafting" and find a treasure of information!
I hope you found this information useful. I'll be posting in the next couple of days about how my little graftees are doing in their infirmary. Cross your fingers for me that I don't kill the little guys!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
|Illustration courtesy of WindCrestFarm|
On a good note, however...the workshop that I really wanted to attend has been rescheduled! From what I've been reading, you can graft an organic tomato plant onto stronger disease-resistant hybrid rootstock and get the best of both worlds: organic tomatoes without all the woes. Anyway, here are all the details if you're local and also want to attend. I'll definitely be there and will report back to y'all on everything I learned this weekend.
I've added this to the Events Calendar (click on Events on the menu bar above). With Spring around the corner, there's lots of stuff going on. So be sure to check the calendar for online webinars and local events related to homesteading, preserving, gardening, farming and more!
TOMATO GRAFTING WORKSHOP HAS BEEN RE-SCHEDULED
Tomato Grafting: Benefits and Technique (Hands-On)
includes demonstration and "hands-on" practice at grafting tomatoes
Saturday, March 23
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Location: K-State Olathe Horticulture Research and Extension Center, 35230 W. 135th St., Olathe, KS, 66061
Ever heard of grafted vegetables? Interested to learn how and why people are doing this? We'll discuss the benefits of grafting with rootstocks that confer disease resistance and increase plant vigor and yield. We'll also talk about the details of the grafting process, and what it takes to do your own grafting in addition to a demonstration. Audience participants will also get to try their hand at grafting and plants and supplies (knives, clips, etc.) will be provided.
For more information or to register: email@example.com
Sunday, March 17, 2013
|The remains of one of my ancestor's castles in Dromaneen, Cork. Photo courtesy of Mike Searle.|
Ah, the emerald isle calls to me with a siren's voice! My family name on both my mother and father's sides are unmistakably Irish, my great grandfather was an Irishman, and my sister has traced our family's lineage all the way back to an ancient king. Every year I say I'm going "across the pond" to visit and we never make it. *sigh* Someday....
We celebrated the American Irish Lovefest (better known as St. Patrick's Day) last night by rocking out with Irish folk rock legends, The Elders, at the Uptown Theater. Aaaaagh...Irish fiddle! You can listen to them here. And if you like what you hear and are anywhere near KC, they'll be blowing the roof off the Irish Center's Gala on April 18th. You can bet I'll be there.
Anyway, I thought I would leave you with an Irish funny to get your St. Paddy's Day started off right. Hope you enjoy!
Saturday, March 16, 2013
|Where's the bacon?|
|Click to biggify if you want to read the menu.|
Friday, March 15, 2013
We did actually have a reason to stop in last night other than just to "ooo" and "aahh" over the sweet little chicks. Every time we go out to water the chickens, Henrietta's water bowl is low or almost empty. J. and I have been thinking that she must be the thirstiest hen in the world. But on further inspection yesterday, we found a tiny little pin-size hole in the bottom of the pan that we had been using - it was an old pan that came along as a "freebie" in a box of stuff that I bought at an auction. Problem solved: the water had been slowly draining out. So off to TS we went to find her a new one.
I'm operating on cute overload right now.
BTW, Henrietta is one spoiled pet chicken. New water bowl and, last weekend, we bought her a newer, bigger enclosure. With a real gate and everything! Very uptown..... We may put that together tonight, so I'll post pics.
It's going to be a balmy 75 degrees today and I'm taking the afternoon off to bask in the sun while I can. And maybe get some prep work done in the garden while I'm at it. *wink*
Ta ta til later,
I've shared this as part of this week's Farm Girl Blog Fest. You might wanna check it out!
Saturday, March 09, 2013
|"Portrait of a Lonely Barn" - Bates City, Missouri|
J. and I headed to an auction this morning in Bates City, which is a good 30+ minutes to the east of Kansas City down I-70. When we took the exit and immediately found ourselves looking at the snow retreating from fields full of dirt black as coal, I took a deep breath and relaxed. It felt like home. It smelled like Spring.
Sometimes we know the stories behind estate auctions but this one wasn't the usual run-down-family-farm-with-a-paintless-barn-that-is-barely-standing-after-the-old-farmer-passed-and-no-wanted-to-follow-in-his-footsteps story. The brick house with its 3 garages looked brand new and it sat on 41 acres with nice-sized new barn and a second tract of 20+ acres for sale separately. In the living room was a whiteboard that showed the bids on the house and the 2nd tract. Someone bought them both for $535,000. I marveled to J. that it seemed like a really high price.
Then we walked down to the barn to look at the 2005 John Deere 5103 tractor and Gator that they were selling. Both went high - the tractor sold for $12,000 and it didn't have a loader like mine. Knowing that it would be $6 - 7K to add the loader, I feel good about paying $15,000 for mine last year with the loader. I s'pose it always feels good to think you got a good deal.
And that got me to thinking about our farmland. We bought it over a decade ago and paid $72,000 for 40 acres with a brand new 30' x 40' Cleary building on it. I'd say the going price to have that barn built was $10,000; maybe $12,000 with the concrete work and clearing. Doing the math, that's $1,500 per acre. We scrimped and saved to pay for it and the mortgage on our house, but it was a labor of love.
But this auction? If we say the house was worth a generous $250,000, that land sold for somewhere around $5,000 per acre. And that got me to thinking some more. So I did some looking at UnitedCountry and LandsOfAmerica and was dumbstruck to see a farm just down the road for us selling for over $4,000 per acre. Holy crow! We could sell and make a tidy little profit if we were so inclined.
|Courtesy of Univesity of Missouri Extension. Our area had the highest increase!|
Am I selling? No way, Mr. Auctioneer. No way.
I've shared this post with this week's Weekly Top Shot. If you want to see some awesome photography, that's the place to be!
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
|J.'s brother is a mail carrier and this guy looks a little bit too much like him. Yikes!|
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Monday, March 04, 2013
- Worm Composting and Hot Compost Workshop (thanks to Christine @ TheDeadlyNightshade!)
- Urban Fruit Production Seminar
- Eat Local! Organic Expo
- 2-part Webinar: Grazing Goats
A good friend of mine got me a "Farms and Barns" wall calendar for Christmas and I was trying to keep track of all these classes and workshops on it, but it quickly got untenable. So then I started putting them all on my Google calendar so that my phone will alert me when something's coming up.
(I can't help it...I was watching "Despicable Me last night)
So I've done just that. I've compiled a list of all the upcoming gardening\farming\livestock webinars, workshops, and classes that I know about into one place for you right here on the Cranky Puppy blog. Just click on "Events" on the menu bar up there.
You can change from "Week" to "Month" views by clicking in the upper right-hand corner of the calendar. Click on "Agenda" to see a longer list of dates with the complete titles.
|Agenda view is easier to read.|
Double-click on an event to view more details about the event - I've included the original source, location and time, how to register, etc. Please note that some of these events require advance registration and are not free! So, if you're interested in something, make sure you read closely and understand what's required to attend.
Finally, you can also click from the details page and add the event to your own calendar. Easy peasy!
Before I end this post, I'd like to say one thing about the University extension offices. They are a great wealth of information and many of their resources are absolutely free. If you haven't checked out your local extension office, you should. And you know what else is awesome? You don't even have to be in the same state to register and listen to their webinars. So think outside the box and look at some other extension offices in other states. (Or wait and see what I put up on the new calendar!)
I hope you find this new calendar as useful as I have! Oh...and if you have events that you'd like for me to add, please hit the "Email me!" button at the top of the blog. Thanks!