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Archives for June 11, 2017

RIDEOUT: Container vegetable gardening tips

For homeowners who want to grow vegetables but have limited space, container gardening may be the answer. It is quite common to see annuals, perennials and even ornamental grasses grown in containers, but the idea of vegetables is foreign for some. But why shouldn’t we pot up peppers and tomatoes? They are colorful, they can be placed on decks and patios where gardens could not normally exist, and you can eat them or parts of them at least. Having a fresh source of vegetables at your backdoor also makes this idea promising.

There are of course a few guidelines to follow when you start vegetable container gardening. Selection of a container should be based on the weight, cost and how often you are willing to water. These are all related concerns since the bigger the container the more it will weigh and cost but the less you will have to water. Not all containers have to be expensive. Even a 5-gallon bucket with holes drilled in the bottom will be sufficient for a pepper plant and a 2-inch baking pan can be used for lettuce or chard. Vegetables do require a minimum root zone to produce. The list of vegetables further down will describe how much is needed for certain plants. Do remember that all containers need drainage holes.

Bags of potting mix or soilless mix is preferred over garden soil, since garden soil may contain a large percentage of clay which dries out quickly and hardens. Garden soil also contains more weed seeds than potting mixes. When filling your container, place a piece of landscape fabric over the holes to retain the soil but allow the water to drain.  Mix a timed-release fertilizer into your soil mix as you add it to the container.  Throughout the season you will need to fertilize with a soluble fertilizer to keep your vegetables performing at their maximum.

Water is the most important concern to container gardening. Containers placed on concrete slabs in full sun will dry out quickly. You may need to water every day. Using plant stands that allow for airflow between the container and concrete surface can reduce the drying heat. If a plant becomes too dry, small feeder roots are destroyed and plants will wilt. After watering, the plant has to spend more time making new feeder roots which means less time is put into vegetable production and fruits may be stunted. Using a light mulch of pine straw or shredded bark on the container surface can also reduce moisture problems.

It is important that you discard the entire contents of each pot at the end of the growing season. Do not reuse the soil mix or compost the soil, since vegetables will tend to develop diseases and problems that can be carried to new plants. Scrub each container with a 10 percent chlorine bleach solution to eliminate any remaining bacteria or fungi.

Many vegetables grown in gardens may also be grown in containers. The limiting factor is growing space. The list below is not a complete list but should give you some idea when pairing vegetables to container size.

Lima Beans need pots 12” wide by 8” deep while snap beans can be a little smaller. Cabbage needs about 10” wide by 12” deep as well as carrots. You can grow corn in containers 21” wide by 8” deep with three plants to container but you may have to stake them.

Cucumbers, peas and peppers need somewhat deeper pots — 20” wide by 16” deep.  Summer squash and tomatoes need about 24” deep to thrive. The best thing about container growing is they are very little work. Having vegetables right outside the back door is extremely handy, and watering takes very little time.

If you have questions about growing vegetables in containers, contact the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Service; we are happy to help!

Contact Andy Rideout at the Henderson County Extension Office at, at 270-826-8387 or stop by the Henderson County Cooperative Extension Service at 3341 Zion Road, Henderson, KY for more information.

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My Republica – Rooftop Gardening Tips and Tricks

Rooftop Gardening Tips and Tricks

June 11, 2017 07:52 AM

Rooftop Gardening Tips and Tricks

If you love gardening and are planning to start a rooftop garden, these tips and trick might help you get started and transform your roof into an urban oasis.

1. Create a theme for your rooftop garden and choose colors, plants, furniture, accessories accordingly for a well-thought out aesthetic.

2. Include diversity in the size of your plants. A few large plants, shrubs and small trees, ground covers, annuals and containers of different sizes will give a great look to your rooftop garden.

3. Utilize vertical space to add more space to your rooftop garden by hanging planters on the walls. Also, use railing planters and grow a lot of climbers.

4. Having a well-lit rooftop garden is essential as it will make the space look larger during dusk.

5. You can also make a great looking, elegant rooftop garden by just growing some conifers and beautiful foliage plants.

6. To create a more authentic and natural environment, use as many natural materials as possible. For flooring, use natural stones. Arrange wooden planters or construct beds using sandstone bricks. For seating you can buy tree stumps, they are inexpensive and do not take much space.

7. Bright colorful shrubs in combination with a neutral decor will create a dazzling effect and on the contrary if you have a colorful setup and gaudy furniture, grow neutral plants.

8. Adding a focal point on your rooftop garden will allure the eyes. Adding a water element like an insertion of a small fountain, a small container pond or a statue would be a great idea.

9. If you have a small rooftop, it is better to have a couple of big planters rather than many small ones, so as not to overwhelm the space.

10. Each space has its own characteristics: Positive or negative. An outdoor area can be a challenge if it is long and narrow. If your space is similar, try using things of wavy, curvy and circular shapes.

Compiled by Ashma Aryal


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Got voles? Tips to deal with a garden’s biggest pest – Fairbanks Daily News

FAIRBANKS – Forget Wonder Woman, Black Panther or Spider Jerusalem. The superhero I want to be is The Vole-in-ator, able to vaporize a vole with a single glance.

At this stage in my life, that ability would be a lot more useful than wielding the Lasso of Truth like Wonder Woman does, being a brilliant scientist and a warrior like the Black Panther, or practicing kick-butt journalism like Spider Jerusalem.

Alas, despite many years of trying, I have not developed any guaranteed method for ridding one’s garden of voles. The most effective way to outwit them is raised beds — the higher the better — since even with a running start voles cannot leap up 3 feet. Raised beds made of a single layer of 2-by-4s? No problem for the voles, who will scramble up the sides (which are really 31/2 inches tall because they start out at 4 when rough cut, but the milling process shaves a quarter of an inch off each side).

One of my readers said he has had similar experiences: “I have several heights ranging from 1 foot (2-by-12s), 2 foot and 3 foot. The voles only got into my 1-foot beds. This neighbor who had the problem had short beds also.”

However, if your build your low raised beds out of concrete blocks, voles will avoid them. They don’t like scratchy things, so once their paws feel the texture of your blocks, they will move on to easier pickings. I know this works because a neighbor’s entire garden was once mowed down by these vermin, who were not deterred by his short raised beds. The next spring, he replaced the wood with concrete blocks and he never had another vole problem. (It also helped that he set the blocks on their ends, so that the bed ended up being taller than it had been with 2-by-4s).

It also helped, I am sure, that he moved his compost pile, which had been located at the corner of his garden. Voles love to rummage around in tall grass and weeds, garbage and compost, so don’t inadvertently invite them by keeping a trashy garden.

Here are other vole defeating methods that readers have sent me:

• Cats. The problem with this is that in addition to killing voles, cats can be incredibly destructive in gardens and won’t necessarily confine themselves to your plot. Also, cats are bird killers and have decimated some bird species to the point of elimination.

• Dogs. The terrier breeds are reputed to be the best at catching vermin. They are easier to contain than cats, and they are not agile enough to kill birds.

• Ann D. Roberts, in her book “Alaska Gardening Guide,” wrote “ … the voles’ first choice in food is seeds; nearly any kind will do. (One Fairbanks gardener) dumped a pile of sunflower seeds beneath his trees and eliminated his problem. Despite large vole, mouse and shrew populations, he reports absolutely no damage to trees as long as he provides them with plenty of sunflower seeds.”

• A couple of people have followed the advice of Dave and Mary Ellen Wurm, who wrote me in 2006. They had success with mousetraps, catching “84 voles in mousetraps in and around our small (20-foot by 24-foot) garden … in order to avoid trapping bunnies or birds, the traps were placed under small cardboard boxes. Boxes sized just a little larger than the traps worked best (allow enough headroom for the trap to work freely). A vole sized entrance and exit opening was cut into opposite sides of each box, and a small rock was placed on top. The opening was too small for bunnies, and not inviting to birds … Yet, the tunnel-like effect of dual openings seems safe to voles. The rock prevented the trap from being exposed by wind or by a bird landing on the box. A little dab of peanut butter was the preferred bait.”

• Michele Hebert, who used to be with the Alaska Cooperative Extension Service, once said this in an email. “Using Dicon is not a good idea, in case there is a chance of pests eating the dead voles. (We tell people to try) moose traps, baited with apples and or peanut butter, or a bucket of shallow water with apples with a ramp up to it. The voles crawl up the ramp and drop into the bucket to get the food and cannot get out.” Mousetraps baited with peanut butter were also endorsed by a New York Times columnist, as well as by at least a half a dozen readers who emailed me with their vole eradication successes.

• Using containers of water is common. Someone wrote that she used a No. 10 can “sunk into the ground, filled about one-third with water. Place cans around, maybe at ends of rows and right in the center.” The voles fall in and drown.

• One reader sent in the following advice: “I live beside a slough so murdering the little guys won’t prevent their relatives from taking their places … I just don’t want them damaging my foundation or enticing my dog to crawl under my deck to get to them; I don’t garden enough to worry about their effect on my plants … I have enough distance from the slough so I wasn’t directly polluting it when I dumped a couple buckets of used kitty litter over my fence, the direction from which my dog and I see them entering our yard. The smell was initially horrendous, but has dissipated quite a bit.” And no voles were seen again.

• One woman wrote to extoll the virtues of her husband’s urine: “Several years ago I discovered that voles are repelled by male urine. Since then I have been setting up empty tuna tins along the perimeter of my garden and having my husband regularly urinate in them. As a result, my vole problem has completely disappeared.”

• And, finally, the worst vole killing idea I have ever run across. Several folks wrote that they coat seeds or grain with poison and then put handfuls in boxes that have openings so tiny that only voles and mice can get into them. Others do the same with moth balls. What are these people thinking? Cats, dogs and children will not be deterred by small holes — they will simply rip open a larger hole and could eat the contents and get sick or worse.

I hope one of these ideas works for you. I am always encouraging people to build tall raised beds. Almost no weeds, easier on the back, no soil compaction, less watering, more intensive planting and warmer soil … now you can add vole out-witters to the list of reasons to switch to raised beds.

If you want to learn more about the life cycle and lifestyle of voles, visit

Linden Staciokas has gardened in the Interior for more than two decades. Send gardening questions to her at 

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