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  • From the Mailbag: My tomatoes and squash are rotting at the tip! - The Westside Gardener
    What you re seeing on the tomatoes is called Blossom End Rot Technically this is caused by a calcium deficiency but in practice it s almost always due to sub optimal watering habits Overwatering is usually the culprit calcium is rather water soluble so overwatering flushes most of it out of the plants root zone Severe underwatering can also lead to blossom end rot but in our climate it s fairly difficult to underwater tomatoes to that degree since they are somewhat drought tolerant There are sprays you can purchase that will help prevent blossom end rot but the real solution is to solve the calcium shortage First rake some limestone into the soil around the plants dolomite lime will work and is easier to find but if you can get calcitic limestone use that instead Next start paying attention to how you water your plants Tomato plants do quite well when they receive an inch of water a week in our maritime climate you may want to provide a little more than that when we have one of these unusual stretches of 90 weather like we re seeing right now If you re watering with a sprinkler try putting

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2006/mailbag_tomatoes.html (2016-04-27)
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  • From the Mailbag: When can I pick my peppers? - The Westside Gardener
    with water nothing larger than a water molecule will make it through the root cells membrane The mechanisms used to pull in nutrients are quite specific to those particular atoms ions so that particular doorway is also shut Surface contamination may be a bigger concern to you My personal opinion is that these chemicals are not likely to survive long out in the open what with the exposure to ultraviolet light water soil acids and such but I have not done the in depth research that would allow me to state that as a fact I do think it is a good practice to scrub your root veggies with a brush before using them for various reasons It is possible that some of these compounds could have an adverse effect at least in the short term on the creatures living in your soil I don t know that this has been studied You can ameliorate this by using certified organic meals but they can be harder to find and are probably more expensive To be honest I am more concerned with the impact these chemicals may have on us directly when we consume meat milk cheese and other animal based

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2006/mailbag_fertilizer.html (2016-04-27)
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  • Disjointed Ramblings: Aperture vs. Lightroom - The Westside Gardener
    that have stood out in my mind While both advertise themselves as pro tools it is quite obvious that they are also after what is commonly called the pro sumer or serious amateur as it was known in the days before buzzwords became mandatory market So far Lightroom hasn t really shown what will make it useful specifically to the photography pro but I m sure Adobe has something up its sleeve What they share Fundamentally Aperture and Lightroom do much the same thing RAW files are edited non destructively meaning the base image the master is not touched All the changes you make are stored as a series of instructions in a database This does save space but more importantly it allows you to undo any number of previous edits at any point in the future Aperture takes it one step further and lets you have multiple versions of edits basically different sets of edit instructions that are based on the same master image Both Lightroom and Aperture offer you the editing tools you d expect crop straighten sharpen correct white balance red eye reduction a decidedly non pro feature adjust exposure and so on They both have systems in place for applying keywords and ratings to your photographs Aperture pros and cons Aperture s normal interface Doing a crop in fullscreen mode If you ve used any of Apple s software programs in the past five years you know what they excel at Apple knows how to put an intuitive yet powerful interface together You can sit down with Aperture and immediately begin editing Importing photos cropping making adjustments it s all very straightforward I love how easy it is to adjust the white balance on the fly it s a minor thing and not usually necessary for most outdoor photographs but it let me zip through a lot of photos I d shot at a work event recently Aperture also includes a few features e g Stacks that are definitely aimed at high throughput professional photography which of course are of little use to someone like me The biggest downside of Aperture is its stringent resource requirements version 1 1 is frequently sluggish on my 1 25 GHz Powerbook which is right at the low end of the hardware on which Aperture will even run Unless you have one of the newest Macs you ll find one or two features painfully slow the straightening tool immediately comes to mind There are also a few holes left to fill I was quite surprised to find no way to edit the EXIF date information on my photos This is a problem since most of my Hawaii photos were shot with the camera date exactly one day off certainly that was my own mistake but it s a common one people make One important and probably obvious point is that Aperture will almost certainly be only available on the Mac platform For pro photographers this isn t a big deal

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2006/ramblings_aperture_vs_lightroom.html (2016-04-27)
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  • After the flood - The Westside Gardener
    deal with any ersatz ponds forming in our backyard until this year That s the bad part of living in the valley Given our area s glacial history most of the Puget Sound region s valley soils have a very fine clay layer that s down a few feet Water can t move through that layer very fast so when we get a lot of rain over a long period of time we experience what s known as a perched water table That means the deeper subsoil isn t saturated with water but everything from that clay layer on up is completely soaked This presents a problem for the year round gardener If you ve read much of my writing you know I advocate using raised beds cloches and hoophouses This is all your cold hardy plants need to survive up in our corner of the world most winters anyway But plant roots do need at least some air and when we have this much water to deal with a few puny inches of elevated garden bed is woefully inadequate Basically when you find your garden in this situation plants are going to die All you can do in this

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2006/after_the_flood.html (2016-04-27)
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  • From the Mailbag: How do I control aphids? - The Westside Gardener
    have also found it to their liking I keep having to deal with them on the Brussels sprouts and cabbages in my garden To answer the question soap can be an effective control agent with smaller insects Soap acts by coating the insect which blocks the spiracles openings in its body through which it breathes and also dries the insect s body out The problem is some soaps depending on the length of the fatty acid chains found in the soap can also damage or even kill plants In all likelihood your dish soap is going to be safe for the plant but it s a good idea to first test it on just a few of the plant s leaves If it s going to hurt the plant it ll be apparent within a few hours A better idea is to purchase a soap made specifically for this purpose such as Safer s Insecticidal Soap Safer is the name of a company that specializes in natural and or organic products for your garden Whatever type of soap you decide to use be sure to spray so the entire leaf surface is coated Since aphid infestations tend to cause plants

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2004/mailbag_aphids.html (2016-04-27)
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  • From the Mailbag: When can I pick my peppers? - The Westside Gardener
    just unripe peppers although some have been developed with other colors such as your Sweet Banana s yellow flesh Pretty much every pepper will ripen to either red or yellow The banana peppers I ve grown eventually ripened red which you might find mildly amusing One thing is worth noting though If you let peppers ripen fully that plant will probably not set any more flowers and therefore fruit This

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2004/mailbag_peppers.html (2016-04-27)
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  • From the Mailbag: My onions are flowering! - The Westside Gardener
    to have you decide the issue The onions that are developing a stalk are going to seed or bolting They may bulb up a little but they re not going to form big onions If the majority of your overwintered onions are sending up seed stalks it s usually an indication that the plants were too large heading into winter Perhaps you fertilized them too heavily when you planted the seed It could also be the case that the sowing date you used was simply too early for your location On rare occasions this can just be the result of an extended period of unsettled spring weather With next year s crop try either sowing a bit later maybe try two sowings 1 and 2 weeks later than you did this time or else fertilize less The target is to have the plants be less than a pencil s thickness going into winter Actually finding the correct sowing date for overwintered onions is probably the trickiest thing about growing them It gets even trickier when you realize that specific varieties of overwintered onions mature at different times Walla Wallas mature in early July in my garden as do a few

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/2004/mailbag_onions.html (2016-04-27)
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  • FAQ About the PVC Hoophouse - The Westside Gardener
    wear and tear from this Not only is dragging the plastic around the garden likely to cause occasional tears but the use of clips clamps and other fasteners that get attached and removed repeatedly eventually damages the sheeting Also PVC pipe will over a long period of time interact with plastic sheeting This means if you use greenhouse plastic it s probably not going to last nearly as long as you d like You can probably get around this by keeping the PVC pipe painted Another way to avoid this problem is to use alternate materials like metal pipe wood lath concrete reinforcing screen etc If you attempt this though you re on your own I have never tried it Another reason is cost greenhouse plastic costs many times as much as Visqueen Given the rough treatment the plastic can get in the garden and the likely chemical interaction with PVC pipe I can t really justify the expense Of course for a more permanent structure greenhouse plastic would be the right choice You wouldn t want to use PVC to build that permanent structure though because of the chemical interaction issue Which way should it be oriented with respect to wind The PVC hoophouse will work best if it is placed sideways into the wind as long as the plastic sheeting is well anchored This can be accomplished by sandwiching the ends of the plastic between length of 2x4 lumber or by burying the ends of the plastic in the ground Can I make it bigger You can extend the length as far as you want just add more ribs and a longer piece of plastic sheet If you want to make the PVC hoophouse taller and or wider you ll need to modify the basic design The structure

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/howto/hoophouse_faq.html (2016-04-27)
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