Garden Basics with Farmer Fred

048 No Bare Soil! Blueberry Basics. Black Widow Spiders and Your Garden.

September 22, 2020 Fred Hoffman Season 1 Episode 48
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
048 No Bare Soil! Blueberry Basics. Black Widow Spiders and Your Garden.
Chapters
00:01:45
No Bare Soil!
00:12:44
Smart Pots!
00:13:42
Blueberry Basics
00:22:03
Black Widow Spiders and Your Garden
Garden Basics with Farmer Fred
048 No Bare Soil! Blueberry Basics. Black Widow Spiders and Your Garden.
Sep 22, 2020 Season 1 Episode 48
Fred Hoffman

The hot trend of spring is back, this time for fall. The trend? The home-based, back-to-the- land movement, where more and more people are starting a garden. Just as what happened in the spring, nurseries right now are seeing cool season vegetables and flowers flying off the shelves, especially for USDA Zones 7, 8 and 9. For those of you in colder climates, it might mean putting the backyard garden to bed and maybe doing some indoor gardening. 

But before you put that garden to bed, or if you are not planning on growing any cool season vegetables or flowers, give your garden soil a great big goodnight kiss, by growing a cover crop (such as the one pictured, raised beds that contain cover crops of fava beans, clover and oats) or covering your garden bed in fallen leaves, improving it for next spring. Soils expert Steve Zien tells you how.

Blueberry plants will soon start appearing in USDA Zone 9 nurseries, with more to follow as spring approaches next year. We’ve got tips on choosing, planting and pruning blueberries from one of the nation’s foremost blueberry plant growers, Dave Wilson Nursery and their blueberry experts, Tom Spellman and Phil Pursel.

Black widow spiders…what are they good for? Plenty, if you have a garden. Debbie Flower explains.

It’s Episode 48 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you by Smartpots. And we will do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go!

Links:
Steve Zien's webinar, "Healthy Soil, Happy Landscape"
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Cover Crop Seed Selections
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Cover Crop Solutions Chart
Dave Wilson Nursery's How to Grow Blueberries in Containers
Dave Wilson Nursery's Blueberry Varieties
Farmer Fred Rant: Blueberries Are Part of a Heart-Healthy Garden
UC IPM information on Black Widow Spiders

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found.
Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
 Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook: "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube
More podcast info including episodes, live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred




Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

The hot trend of spring is back, this time for fall. The trend? The home-based, back-to-the- land movement, where more and more people are starting a garden. Just as what happened in the spring, nurseries right now are seeing cool season vegetables and flowers flying off the shelves, especially for USDA Zones 7, 8 and 9. For those of you in colder climates, it might mean putting the backyard garden to bed and maybe doing some indoor gardening. 

But before you put that garden to bed, or if you are not planning on growing any cool season vegetables or flowers, give your garden soil a great big goodnight kiss, by growing a cover crop (such as the one pictured, raised beds that contain cover crops of fava beans, clover and oats) or covering your garden bed in fallen leaves, improving it for next spring. Soils expert Steve Zien tells you how.

Blueberry plants will soon start appearing in USDA Zone 9 nurseries, with more to follow as spring approaches next year. We’ve got tips on choosing, planting and pruning blueberries from one of the nation’s foremost blueberry plant growers, Dave Wilson Nursery and their blueberry experts, Tom Spellman and Phil Pursel.

Black widow spiders…what are they good for? Plenty, if you have a garden. Debbie Flower explains.

It’s Episode 48 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, brought to you by Smartpots. And we will do it all in under 30 minutes. Let’s go!

Links:
Steve Zien's webinar, "Healthy Soil, Happy Landscape"
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Cover Crop Seed Selections
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply Cover Crop Solutions Chart
Dave Wilson Nursery's How to Grow Blueberries in Containers
Dave Wilson Nursery's Blueberry Varieties
Farmer Fred Rant: Blueberries Are Part of a Heart-Healthy Garden
UC IPM information on Black Widow Spiders

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday. It's available wherever podcasts are found.
Got a garden question? Call and leave a question, or text us the question: 916-292-8964. E-mail: [email protected] or, leave a question at the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram locations below. Be sure to tell us where you are when you leave a question, because all gardening is local.

All About Farmer Fred:
 Farmer Fred website: http://farmerfred.com
Daily Garden tips and snark on Twitter
The Farmer Fred Rant! Blog
Facebook: "Get Growing with Farmer Fred"
Instagram: farmerfredhoffman
Farmer Fred Garden Videos on YouTube
More podcast info including episodes, live links, product information, transcripts, and chapters available at the home site for Garden Basics with Farmer Fred




Farmer Fred :

Garden Basics with Farmer Fred is brought to you by Smart Pots, the original lightweight, long lasting fabric plant container. it's made in the USA. Visit SmartPots.com slash Fred for more information and a special discount, that's SmartPots.com/Fred. Welcome to the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. If you're just a beginning gardener or you want good gardening information, well you've come to the right spot. The hot trend of spring is back this time for fall. And what's that trend? the backyard back to the land movement where more and more people are starting a garden. And for USDA zone seven, eight and nine, that means planting a lot of great cool season vegetables now for the fall and winter. Now maybe for those of you in colder climates, it might mean putting the backyard garden to bed and doing some indoor gardening. But before you put that garden to bed, or even if you're not planning on growing any cool season vegetables or flowers where you live, give your garden soil a great big Good n Night kiss. Grow a cover crop or cover it in fallen leaves. We will explain. Blueberry plants will soon start appearing at USDA zone nine nurseries with more to follow in the other zones as spring approaches next year. We've got tips on choosing, planting, and pruning blueberries from one of the nation's foremost blueberry plant growers, Dave Wilson nursery. Black widow spiders, what are they good for? Actually, plenty if you have a garden. It's Episode 48 of the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast brought to you by Smart Pots. And we'll do it all in under 30 minutes. Let's go. We're talking with Steve Zien, pedologist/soil expert about how to improve your soil for the cool season planting time which is upon us now. One of the ideas of no-till besides not putting a roto tiller on your soil is to leave last year's plant roots in the soil. Can you do that in a garden, though, in a limited space?

Steve Zien :

I think you can. You know, it depends on how small the bed is and how many plants you crammed into that small area. But if you got the spacing properly, you should be able to basically cut the plants off at the ground. And then just plant in the beds. if you've been using organic fertilizers, if you've been using compost and worm castings, and you've got a biologically active soil, those roots are going to decompose very, very quickly.

Farmer Fred :

I think leaving the roots of the plants is a great idea. If you're not going to be planting a cool season garden, if you're a gardener or you live in a climate where it's you don't want to or can't grow a fall and winter garden, then leaving the root matter of the previous seasons growth i think is a good idea because it's going to break down over the course of fall and winter. And by the end, since we're on that railroad train going that way, let's talk about people who don't plant for the fall and winter. Rule number one, if there are rules, rule number one is don't let that soil lay bare,

Steve Zien :

right, you need to at least put some sort of mulch or compost and worm castings. But ideally, you had mentioned cover crops and green manures these are plants that wouldn't take a whole lot of care or you basically put seeds in the ground and let them grow very well. depending upon what kinds of crops you use. It will add organic matter and or nitrogen, because nitrogen is is the nutrient that is used most by the plants and needs to be replenished the most. And there are you know, there's all sorts of different kinds of one of my favorite companies actually has some various blends for putting in the wintertime where they have different plants in there to not only add organic matter, but also to add nitrogen.

Farmer Fred :

Would that be Peaceful Valley farm supply? You're talking about that?

Steve Zien :

That's the one.

Farmer Fred :

All right. We'll have a link in the show notes to that then.

Steve Zien :

Yeah, they've got they've got a great chart. It's called the cover crop solutions chart. And they've got all the various types of cover crops and green manures that you can use both for winter one more time and the summertime and they do have what they call the soil builder mixes and they've got several of them.

Farmer Fred :

Now this is fine for USDA zones Nine, eight and seven. But for where it gets to be very cold, very snowy, maybe cover crops won't work there. In which case, one of my favorite things to do is as the oak leaves fall in your neighborhood, collect them, put them in a metal trash can, put your weed whacker down there and chop up those leaves as fine as possible or run them over with your lawn more and then spread them up to a foot thick on your garden and just let that sit there all winter long.

Steve Zien :

Oh, yeah. I mean, it drives me crazy and fall to see all the mow and blow guys, the gardener, they use those blowers and they blow all those leaves into a pile and then depending upon where you live, they put them out in the street where they're going to clog up the gutters. And that's all wonderful organic matter that could feed the soil and what they should be doing is raking it into this, you know to use as a mulch either in the landscape beds, or the flower beds and the vegetable beds. And in a lawn situation. If they don't want to, you know if they don't have landscape beds or flower beds or vegetable gardens. They should be using their mower and just mow those leaves and they will chop them up and they will add organic matter to the soil under the lawn.

Farmer Fred :

Especially if they're mulching mowers.

Steve Zien :

Yes. So what you can do and if you don't necessarily need a mulching mower, most mowers have attachment you can get an attachment that mulching blade. And there most mowers will take a mulching blade if you go to a not necessarily a big box store, but go to a mower repair shop. And they will have mulching mower blades that you can fit on almost any mower that will help. Basically what you're trying to do is chew up the leaves chew up the grass clippings really, really fine. And they'll break down very, very quickly.

Farmer Fred :

I mentioned oak leaves but I think with very few exceptions, any deciduous trees leaves would be fine for what we're talking about is leaving it over your garden bed all winter long.

Steve Zien :

Oh yeah. an associate of mine did an experiment years ago, where he had oak trees and when they were oak trees in his property and he had them falling on his lawn and he raked them into his landscape shrub beds. And he measured them in fall after all the leaves were down and he had nine inches of mulch. Come spring, come March, He had a half inch. and he did not run that over a lawn mower. He just raked it over there.

Farmer Fred :

Was it raining on those leaves all winter? Yep. Okay, that's what help break it down.

Steve Zien :

Yeah, well, it's it's, it's again the soil biology. I think one of the things he did do before he put the mulch in the beds is he took a metal garden rake. And this is always really good, especially if you've got a clay soil and that soil is got kind of a crust on the surface. You want to break up that crust and just you don't have to kill it. Just use a metal garden rake not a leaf rake but a metal garden rake and and just break up that crust and then put the mulch on. After that. You don't you know you don't want the rain or irrigation to hit that bare soil because that's what is going to create that crust again.

Farmer Fred :

And we should re emphasize that this bed of mulch that's spending the fallen winter on your garden bed. As it breaks down. It's feeding the soil. It's improving the life of the soil. You're going to dig down in the springtime if you've done this, you're going to dig down and find more worms than you've ever seen before.

Steve Zien :

Yeah, it's absolutely amazing and worms are really a good indicator of a healthy soil biology. I think most people, especially gardeners, have probably at some point touched worms and especially fishermen when they touch worms, they're really slimy. And one of the reasons why they're so slimy is when fishermen are using worms it makes it hard for the for them to put the hooks on and from personal experience after I've been out on my kayak fishing for a while. And I've gone through the first six pack or two, it gets very hard to put that hook through the worm. And so it preserves them and I can bring them home and put them in the garden when I'm done. But another reason why that slime is is it helps them move through the soil. But that slime is food for all the soil biology that's down there. And so there as the worms move through the soil, they're spreading that food to all the little members of the soil biology that will help break down all of that organic matter that provide nutrients, do your plants provide water to your plants. And so it's just a wonderful system. And if you so if you have a lot of worms in your soil, it's a good indicator that you've got that really nice diversity of soil biology.

Farmer Fred :

We have improved everybody's soil for the fallen winter, we've gotten your garden beds ready for the fall planting if you so do, or if you're not going to plant, just having a bed full of mulch is going to improve it for the following spring. We've learned a lot again from Steve Zien pedoligist/soil expert, Steve, thanks for your time.

Steve Zien :

Uhh, You're welcome. It's been fun.

Farmer Fred :

What's that mean? Like yet something else you wanted to say?

Steve Zien :

Well, I do have a webinar that people might be interested in.

Farmer Fred :

When is it? When is that, Mr. Shill?

Steve Zien :

It's a water smart Foundation, healthy soil, happy landscape workshop, that the city, the city of Citrus Heights, Water District sponsor. And it's, you know, basically talking about a lot of the things that we've been talking about today. And you can go to organic landscape dot com, and click on the news and events and it's listed there. Or you can go to the Citrus Heights Water District website and click on event their events link, and you'll find it there as well.

Farmer Fred :

Is this open to anybody that lives in the United States of America?

Steve Zien :

The entire universe. Not just planet earth.

Farmer Fred :

so my listeners in Bulgaria can learn something from Citrus Heights? Yeah, go to Steve's website, organic landscape.com.

Steve Zien :

and then click on news and events. Like, there you go.

Farmer Fred :

And you can find out and you could watch it right away. Yeah. All right. Steve Zien. Thanks very much.

Steve Zien :

It's been great. I appreciate it.

Farmer Fred :

We're glad to have smart pots on board supporting the garden basics podcast. Smart pots are the original award winning fabric planter. They're sold worldwide. smart pots are proudly made 100% in the USA. I'm pretty picky about who I allowed to advertise on this program. My criteria, though, is pretty simple. It has to be a product I like; a product I use; a product I would buy again. And smart pots clicks all those boxes. They're durable. They're reusable. Smart Pots are available at independent garden centers and select Ace and true value stores nationwide. To find a store near you visit smart pots.com slash Fred. It's smart pots, the original award winning fabric planter. go to smartpots dot com slash Fred for more info and that special farmer Fred discount on your next smart pot purchase, go to smartpots.com slash Fred. One of the easiest plants for beginning gardeners to grow are blueberries. But there's a lot of conflicting advice out there. Tom Spellman works with Dave Wilson nursery, he and Phil Pursel got together and did a little talk about when to prune blueberries and how to plant them and how to take care of them. One of the things Tom mentioned that I didn't know: you should prune your blueberries after harvest in the summertime, not in winter. Tom will explain.

Tom Spellman :

Tom Spellman Dave Wilson nursery, it's second week of august up here in the Central Valley. And we're out evaluating our new crop of berry plants coming on for this fall. We'll be shipping these in late October, November, early December. This is Sunshine blue, blueberry, look how nice that plant is. That's just absolutely a beautiful finished product. But we're going to pinch these one more time we're going to cut them down about six inches or so and one more nice flush of growth on them. All that growth that they finish off with this fall. That's going to be production wood for this next season. That's what's going to bloom in February and March and April and produce berries in May, June and July. So blueberries are kind of an anomaly in the fruit World. If you prune blueberries in the wintertime, you're every cut you make, your pruning out fruiting work. So you want to do all of your pruning on blueberries in the summer after the end of the crop season. So when the plants are done fruiting in July or early August, that's when you want to do your, your shaping. Let that next flush of growth come out. And that's what's going to be production wood for the next year. So no winter pruning on blueberries. So this is another one of our unique blueberry varieties. We're growing about a dozen or so different varieties in our farmer's market favorite program all in this four by nine inch pot. So these are one year plants, they're ready to be lined out, they're going to be productive their first year in a container. This is a variety called pink lemonade. So as opposed to a blue blueberry. This is a pink blueberry, it's a little more acidic, it's a little more tangy and flavor. And they mix this a lot with other blue flesh varieties to be used in desserts. The dessert chefs love this variety. This on top of a cheesecake with a couple of blueberries will make about a $20 dessert.

Phil Pursel :

Last year we reintroduce the bushel berry line into our farm market favorites. The End it just happened to coincide with, you know the the COVID pandemic and one thing that we found out it was really eye opening. So many young people now are getting into gardening, but it's a little overwhelmed. what we think is the best entry level fruit to get into, especially in this small patio, is getting into blueberries or getting into you know, small bush plants and trialing there and from there going and expanding. So blueberries perfect. You plant three in, in a wine barrel and you can plant one in a nice container. And it's an easy way for someone new to gardening to really experience and be successful with, you know, with edibles. What the bushel berry adds into this mix is for example, this right here is the baby cakes, BlackBerry, when everyone thinks blackberries along the roadside, they're thinking you know, the sprawling vines and the thorns. This is a thornless bush blackberry that's made for containers, it's going to get covered with fruit. Really easy to maintain. It doesn't get big, you just keep it trimmed and nice little bush. its counterpart is known as raspberry shortcake. It is a raspberry that's a bush raspberry as opposed to cane perfectly for container gardening. And you'll get nice good fruit off of it. So you know, if you're not really sure about you know, dedicated a lot of room started with the bush home berry line and go ahead and put them in pot. So speaking of pot, right? What do you think about soil, especially blueberries, everyone's a little freaked out on what to do. But we have a simple, simple recipe.

Tom Spellman :

there's two things that are essential to proper blueberry care number one, fast, fast drainage, okay, we don't want any water to sit in that pot at all the drain and an acidic soil condition. Okay, so you want to make sure that you don't have a high pH you don't want a pH any more than about 6.5 max. Okay, so if you used a mixture of say a good Sandy potting soil about one third peat moss or coarse grind peat moss, okay, and about one third pathway or walk-on bark, and mix those all three together. That's going to give you the perfect mix for blueberries or for most container plants in general. So these little bushel and berry variety go dry and raised right in that same minutes

Phil Pursel :

and it sounds a little daunting, but the way I do it at home, I get a wheelbarrow, get a bag of nice organic potting soil, set that there bag of peat moss and a bag of a pathway bark or even orchid bark. Yes orchid bark, you know, you get this container, scoop, one scoop, the other scoop, mix it up, you're ready to go. As simple as that. It really is not complicated at all. And it makes the perfect mix. there are almost equivalent mixes that you can buy pre mixed or pre bagged but I really like being able to mix those three elements together and come up with that finished product. Right? So what we're saying is if you're new to gardening, little intimidated, don't be. great starter plants blueberries if you want to expand and maybe get a blackberry in your you know patio or raspberry in your patio, look into the bush home berry line of plants. What's nice about ours is ours and little orange containers right so they're inexpensive at your your garden center. You know put it in a nice pickle jar, you know, decorative pot, use the planning mix, and you're gonna have fruits throughout the summer. So, you know hopefully this kind of helps people are a little intimidated. Understand, it's simple. It's really is.

Tom Spellman :

and so rewarding. I mean, we were picking blueberries this year beginning about maybe March 15. And we pick all the way up until last week, first weekend off. Yep. So just go to our harvest chart, they got early, mid late season blueberry, and you're set. And even though all those blueberry varieties are listed as being so fruitful by planting three individual varieties together to sell one, you get so much more production, probably 10 times the amount of production, right by having those cross pollinated.

Phil Pursel :

any other questions, you know, just go on to Dave Wilson dot com. And you know, just look at the varieties and make the choice. Go down to your independent garden centers this fall and pick them out.

Tom Spellman :

And we're here for you. We want your gardening experience to be successful. We want you to eat plenty of fresh fruit and that's why we're providing these high quality plants. And all this information on our website.

Farmer Fred :

that again from Dave Wilson nursery, Tom Spellman and Phil Purcell talking berries, and for more information do check out their website Dave wilson.com. The Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast has a lot of information posted at each episode: transcripts links to any products or books mentioned during the show, and other helpful links for even more information. Plus, you can listen to just the portions of the show that interest you. It's been divided into easily accessible chapters and you'll find more information about how to get in touch with us. We have links to all our social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Also a link to the farmerfred.com website. That's where you can find out more information about the radio shows. You remember radio, right? Now, if the place where you access the podcast doesn't have all that information, you can find it all at our home podcaster, Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout.com. Just look for the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast. You'll find a link to it in the show notes. We like to answer your questions here on the Garden Basics podcast and we bring in Debbie Flower, our favorite retired horticultural college professor to help us out with this. And Debbie, Cindy writes in and says, "I have a question about black widow spiders. I have a couple of those big girls next to my house. They're not in the garden. They seem to be getting rid of other unwanted pests. So what are your thoughts? We don't have young children at home, but when our grandkids come over, I will kill them. But new ones will take their place."

Debbie Flower :

I hope she's not referring to the grandchildren that she's claiming to kill.

Farmer Fred :

So black widow spiders, do they have a role in the garden?

Debbie Flower :

Yeah, they do. Spiders in general have a role in the garden and they are I consider them good guys in the garden because they catch other things and eat them. They're not discriminatory that you know if they see a if a green lacewing for instance flies into a spiderweb the spider will eat it just as readily as it will eat something that like a cabbage moth that we don't want in the garden. So the cabbage moth we don't want the green lacewing we do want as beneficial in the garden so they're not discriminatory that way but they are pretty efficient. insect killers you know, things that like anything that flies will get into the trap and and they will consume that. black widows happened to be something we have with the Western Black Widow out here. And they can bite humans and they can hurt they can cause a pinprick in our skin and it can be painful. They are not known to kill people. When they're around my front door or around a pot, I will kill them and I will wear gloves when I'm handling things in situations where I think Black Widows are potentially going to bite me. I don't think they would hurt me you know down the road. They're not going to cause my fingers to fall off or anything but it would be painful. There's an antidote to Black Widow venom, but it is, as I understand, made from something from horses. And so doctors don't always want to give it to humans because maybe the humans are allergic to the horse part. So my understanding is doctors really don't do a lot for you if you have a black widow spider bite. In other parts of the country, there are other poisonous spiders that that live in similar situations amongst the plants amongst the potted plants in the wood pile, that kind of thing. Spiders in general being good in the garden. I don't want to disturb them much. But I do want to protect myself by wearing gloves and that's what I would recommend others do.

Farmer Fred :

and if you find them near the house, stomp 'em, right?

Debbie Flower :

It's the easy way to kill them. They're not necessarily fast. They hide in places, little crevices, when when they're not out working on their web or, or taking care of their prey. So they might be in places where you don't see them right up front. But yes, stepping on them is a very efficient way to get rid of them.

Farmer Fred :

And we should point out to that if you are doing anything where you're moving things that haven't been moved in a while, like a woodpile, or old patio furniture or old plant pots that have piled up behind the garage, wear gloves and long sleeves.

Debbie Flower :

Absolutely yes, protect yourself.

Farmer Fred :

Garden spiders have a role but that role isn't near your house. Debbie Flower Thanks for a few minutes of your time.

Debbie Flower :

Always a pleasure Fred.

Farmer Fred :

Garden Basics comes out every Tuesday and Friday and it's available just about anywhere podcasts are handed out. And that includes Apple podcast, Google podcasts, I Heart Radio, overcast, Spotify, stitcher, tune in, and hey, Alexa, play the Garden Basics with Farmer Fred podcast, would you please? Thank you for listening, subscribing and leaving comments. We appreciate it.

No Bare Soil!
Smart Pots!
Blueberry Basics
Black Widow Spiders and Your Garden