Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July 2015 First Edition

Last year I promised that I would explain ratios so that you could comfortably use liquid fertilizers in your garden.  I might be a year late, but I finally present it in this edition!

Where Are We From?

In the last few days I have added a world map which is supposed to mark where each of you come from.  I am hoping that this small item will help all of you to a appreciate that your not alone when you visit.  The map has white dots for where people have been visiting from, and red dots for those that are visiting with you at the current moment.  The larger the dot the more persons from that location/region has visited,  White dots will be updated each day rather than a live updating system.  You can click on the map to see details about the information.  As this site gets only about 100 persons a month dots will be added very slowly; don't expect anything terribly exciting anytime soon.  If you have issues with the recording system please contact the service provider directly.

Note that the 30 day count below the map is provided by Google [I believe] and reflects page hits or the total number of times there are visits to the page but not unique persons per day which MapClustrs does. Between these two sources, a little math, and along with a spreadsheet, I can extrapolate how many times you visit each month.

Manure, Ammonia, and 16 Element Fertilizer

Different gardeners garden differently.  In my garden I use a combination of the above and I thought it might be worth my time to try to explain what my process is so that others have something to think about, and compare to.  Some terms you will need to know.

1 scoop = 1 trowel full of material; what ever material it might be.
1 container = generally these are those plastic nursery planters.  Remember these can vary in size.
Mud = Soil A + Soil B + Manure + Water to the consistency of very THICK pudding.
The Manure …

I use manure when I plant new plants and use a 'simple' mix of manure and ground.  If the plant came in a container, and IF some soil fell off the plant I will mix fallen potting soil it came with some of the new ground soil, and some manure.  One to two scoops of each depending on the size of the hosta.

The original soil prevents plant shock and tells the plant it is ok, the soil from the planting zone will introduce the plant to the new surroundings, the manure prevents transition shock and provides s smooth planting, and adds extra nutrients the plant likes.  The mud part of this insures that the plant gets water for the next few days.  These four things prevent transplant shock.

The Process:
  • Dig a hole or trench for your new plant(s).  Remember to relevel the plant to the level of the new growing area - not to high or to low.
  • Place mud into the hole or trench just dug.
  • Plant your plants: I have learned to take the hosta and move it in a circle on the surface of the mud until the rhizomes are mostly under the plant and then I position the plant and plunge the plant down into the mud to position it.  I then cover the mud with dry soil to hold the plant up — remember to plant the hosta crown so that it sits just below the ground level, and some where in the mud surface level.
  • Cover planted area with dry dirt.  When done It will feel like a water balloon.
IF the plant came bare root I use the same procedure, but without the 'previous' soil. 

If your going to fertilize your hosta do it in the first half of the growing season. I also use dry manure between my plants as a general fertilizer during the season.  This involves making a trench around the pant, and adding manure and then simply closing the ground again.  Keep in mind your goal in this case is NOT to dig the plant up, or even disturb it but rather to get close enough for the rhizomes to detect the manure.

The Ammonia …
(find your favorite online measure conversion calculator and that will speed this up!)

Ammonia is an amazing substance not only can it clean your home but it also can help your plants grow big and strong; … and defend against slugs!  Ammonia acts something like a medical inoculation you get but it is for the plant.  The plant takes the ammonia and uses it to strengthen the cell walls in your hosta.  If you look at your plants the day after you give them ammonia they might even look like they are standing just a little taller.

Now I would not take my ammonia water from house cleaning and put it out on my plants.  Although It would be tempting to do.  The reason why I would not is because the ammonia to water ratio might be very incorrect, and plants might become ammonia bleached or even die.  This is a HUGE mistake for those who do not do perform this process correctly.  To understand what your doing you have to understand how to handle ratios.  DON'T PANIC, its really very easy.

To understand this you need to think back to when you first learned how to cook or bake.  If you never did … I'll walk you though what you need to know … very slowly.

First the parts of a ratio:

Ratios are expressions of parts from a 'whole unit'.  An example of a ratio is 1:9. or 1:11, or 1:3, or even 2:100. They are read as: 1 part to 9 parts; 1 part to 11 parts, 1 part to 3 parts, or 2 parts to 100 parts.

Let's first look at 1:3.  The 'whole unit' is 4 because you have the parts of 1 and 3; and 1 + 3 = 4.  You might remember in a math class that 1 part of 4 equals 1/4.  If you understand those ideas lets try … 1:11.  Do the same thing:  1+11=12 … your looking for 1/12 of a unit to add to the other 11 units.  Again … for 1:9.  1+9=10 so your looking for 1/10  of a unit to go with the those other 9 units.

Lastly lets try 2:100.  That would be 2+100=102, so you'ld be looking for 2/102 to go with the other 100 units.  This is a little harder because there might be two view points and you need to make sure which is correct.

The first view point is that the ratio is what was intended.  IF that is the case then you must remember how to reduce the numbers.  Both 2 and 100 CAN BE divided by the same number.  So you reduce the ratio to 1:50.  The whole is 51 (50+1) and so in this case your seeking 1/51 to go with other 50 units.

On the other hand … let's say that the writer had really intended to express 2 units out of the whole of 100 units.  Can you guess the correct ratio that should have been written?  It should have been 2:98.  When your working with mixtures many times the final result can be affected by very slight amounts.  In this case 2 and 98 can again be divided by the same number and you get 1:49.  In some cases 1:49 and 1:50 can be two very different ratios.  So watch what your doing, and follow those label directions carefully.

If you have a grasp for this let's apply it to something real … like me applying ammonia.  Since I am working with liquid units I will keep this to liquid values; but any form of units can be used for this discussion,  Up until now the term 'whole unit' has been abstract and undefined.  A whole unit might be … 1 teaspoon, 1 ounce, 1 pint, 1 half gallon, 1 gallon. or even 1 million gallons.  Once you know the unit your working with you will have a start on how to manage the ratio being asked for.

In my case I work with half gallons.  I also know that 1 half gallon is equal to 64 ounces. and I also know that 1 liquid ounce is equal to about 2 tablespoons.  Being armed with this information I can create the solution mixture I need to protect my hosta and fight those slugs off.  The ratio I use is 1:11.  1+11= 12 units of liquid; 1 unit is ammonia and the other 11 units will be water.  So we take 64/12 … and we get …  5.33 ounces of ammonia needs to be measured.  5.33 oz is also 0.66625 cups.  IF we want to make this easier that's 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of ammonia to each 11 units of water.  In my case I just use the 1/2 cup of ammonia.  To make this easy on myself I put 1/2 cup of ammonia in the container, and then fill the rest with water.  IF you go much beyond the ratio of 1:9 you begin to ammonia burn your plants.  This a great example of how too much of a good thing can quickly become very bad.

I apply this solution at a rate of 1 cup per foot diameter of hosta with the hopes of reaching each hosta eye and the surface soil around the plant.  DO not drench the ground as other living things might be there to help the plant.  The ground needs to be firmly damp.  I apply this monthly.

ADDENDUM NOTE: try to keep the ammonia to the 'non-sudsy' kind.

the 16 Element Fertilizer …

In this segment I am going spare you the math and just make it easy for you to understand what I do.  I use a liquid fertilizer for some of the hosta that seem a little slow.  This can backfire with those hosta that are surviving on very very small leaves and kill them because of rhizome structure beneath the ground is inadaquite to process the fertilizer.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure your plants have 3 or more leaves.  The hosta need enough chlorophyll to do the element conversations inside of themselves to properly use any fertilizer.

This year I have 4 hosta that seem to be on the slow side.  So I mix my fertilizer as 3 teaspoons to 1 half gallon of water.  As the summer moves on this will slowly be increased to 2 tablespoons; or 6 teaspoons to 1 half gallon.  Always follow label directions for the product you use.

I apply this with a sprayer at rate of about 30 squeezes 'per size' once a week.  The goal here is to firmly wet the ground so that the plant will take the fertilizer in; but not flood the growing zone.  The user may want to employ a used toothbrush or small paint brush to clean leaves off after the fertilizer has dried to insure the chlorophyll process is not hindered.

And of Course The Watering

I've done the weeding, the manure, the ammonia, and the fertilizing; so how often do I water?  Fair question at this point.  My watering schedule is on a Water, Rest, Rest cycle.  Think of it as a waltz for good hosta care … 1,2,2; 1,2,2; 1,2,2 … .IF it rains the rhythm is reset to last day that it last rained. Water, Rest, Rain; Rain, Rest, Rest; Water, Rest, Rest, Water, Rest, Rest; etc.  Learn how to read the soil to determine if you need to water if it rains when your way from your garden.

Minnesota gets only 20 inches of rain fall, and hosta prefer +80 inches of rain a year.  I water as though the 'second coming of Noah' is happening.  If your area gets frost (and/or snow) try to water as close to the frost date as possible without the water freezing.  Try to arrange it so that the ground is dry at the time of the frost or first snow.  DO NOT water after the frost, or until spring returns again.

And that folks is how I manage my garden.  I am still learning, and I'll still make mistakes, but I keep trying to improve on this hobby known as gardening.

More Thoughts About Patented Plants

Don't get me wrong because I truly believe that Patented Plants (PP) do have a place.  They protect the propagation, and the distribution of a hosta when the hybridizer has exceptional value attached to the plant.  This means that YOU the grower cannot divide a PP and simply give a division to a friend; either you keep the plant or give the entire plant away - no exceptions.  You cannot do laymen level pollination to or from a PP plant - or even use the seed from these plants.  And you certainly cannot sell the plant, or any part of the plant, for a profit.

Each of these scenarios can take the ordinary gardener and their garden to find themselves in a U.S.A. FEDERAL court, or a court of your own nation, or possibly even INTERNATIONAL court due to patent violation(s).

I believe that at some point in the hosta hybridizers and tissue culturists will need to come face to face with two realities.  1)  Hosta are just to easily grown, and 2) The average gardener divides hosta way to casually to think about what plant is or is not patented.  And I think the impact of this will be seen and felt by the greenhouse/nursery industry when PP can't be sold because gardeners will not want to bother to take the time to think about which plant is which and thus simply avoid PP all together.

In my garden at this point I have 3 such plants.  And during this spring I needed to reduce and change my garden due to numbers of hosta and theme deviation.  The three in my garden that are PP are:
  • Empress Wu    PP 20774
  • Liberty    PP 12531
  • Rainbow's End    PP 17251
At one point I had wanted to give some of my Rainbow's End to a neighbor girl who wants to learn to garden, and has the life goal of being a farmer (an admirable goal for a dedicated 4 year old).  But then I noticed that my records showed that this hosta was patented.  That plan was altered quickly.  I have another friend who does CSA (community service agriculture) work who has been talking about adding hosta to her crops; as hosta can be a food.  I kinda thought that Empress Wu might be fun to give her when I had a division to give.  No sooner than I had that planned than I find rather unexpectedly that Empress Wu has a patent attached to it.

I find this slightly annoying.  Each of these plants have wonderful characteristics, but each of these plants have legal limitations.  It is true that I sought out two of these hosta as deliberate additions to my garden.  It is also true that some where down the road I may need to change my garden for my own reasons.  These plants cannot just be given to anyone since not everyone is going to respect the legal limitations that come with those plants.  This compels me to hold on to these three plants to avoid getting others into trouble.  This puts me in a situation where I now must design my garden around these three plants until those plants die … wait a moment … I believe that someone in the during the 1800's noted that hostas can live as long as 130 years.

We'll see where the dynamics of this small garden head in the future...

Hosta Observations

Faithful Heart
  • 6/28/15: Leaves come up as green, then change to green and yellow, and then after the leaf matures the green is restored to the veins.  Didn't think I had a veined hosta in my collection.  Maybe getting 50% sun does this to this Hosta.

Sum and Substance
  • 6/23/15: Had fun find in the last 9 days. Last year Sum and Substance came within 2 inches/5.08 centimeters of the building where I live.  This year It can touch the building from time to time!  While it may not seem like much it does say it is still growing outward.  This is one hosta that can grow to be 9 feet/2.74 meters in diameter, and right now it is about 22 inches/55.88 centimeters in diameter (that's also about 1 foot 10 inches).

Flowers and Scapes

  • 6/29/15: Scape first seen.
Imp (from the Raised Bed)
  • 6/25/15:  Flowered back on 6/23/15 and I missed noting it here.
Lemon Lime
  • 6/23/15:  Flower has opened.
  • 6/21/15:  First flower open on any hosta!
Little Sunspot
  • 6/23/15:  Flower has opened.
  • 6/28/15:  Scape has faded.
Sum and Substance
  • 6/25/15:  Scape is spotted most unexpectedly as this plant in the past has required the light from the building to bloom.  The light is burned out, and the bloom has arrived.  A very unexpected event.  I always look forward to the bloom on this plant as the scape always becomes very tall.  Last time it bloomed there ware two scapes.
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Soon the flowers will begin to fade as more come to take their place.  The never-ending rhythms of summer march on as the seasons move forward.  I am still hoping to add one more hosta and replace another.  See you all on the 15th.

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