Spuds, Buckets, Ruth Stout, Arbors, & Winter Greens

This is a collection of “How To” videos related to growing common foods, especially potatoes and salad greens, but also beans and garlic, in low work ways. These folks have figured out some simple and effective ways to “Get ‘er Done!” without getting all worked up abou it.

First, a way cool way simple way to grow a bit of salad greens anywhere you have a sunny square meter, even in winter. No dirt access required.

It uses a translucent storage “tub”, upside down, as a cloach, or minature greenhouse, with a bag of potting soil lain on the lid (that is now on the ground). Just one of those “Oh Doh!” head slap moments. I have a sunny patio area that is essentially unused in winter. It has the bean & squash pots on it at the moment. I can add one of these for $20 and have salad greens (and likely my favorite radishes…) even into winter. It runs 15 minutes:

She also has a very nice arched trellis in this 12 minute video. While they use metal fence posts, I’d be inclined to use the wood of the raised bed itself with a “clip” to set the trellis in place. (Or perhaps attach “step on” stakes to the bottom and “place by stepping”… Driving fence posts seems overkill to me – then again, they grow melons on this thing and that’s a bit of weight. For growing things like long vining beans and squash without a lot of acerage, it’s a simple and effective solution. That it also lets you use the “walkway” space sunshine for crop is also a big win for the small space gardener.

Growing Potatoes in 5 gallon buckets. He also has a video on using bigger tubs, but I like the small scale idea. (Folks wanting bigger plots, see further down for growing potatoes by the 100 lb lots without digging ;-)

This guy goes into some of the details about why he does different things, like making sure the potato forming stem is the right size by adjusting dirt level. Two segments, 14 and 30 minutes each. The second one has the drawings of spud growth and development:

This next one is a video on growing potatoes without any digging. Yeah, shovel not required. The spuds are put on the ground and covered with a load of spoilt hay. They call it the Ruth Stout method. They also used the same system for growing garlic so I’d expect it to also work for onions and give you celery without the need to hill up dirt. 9 minutes:

They focus more on the method, and less on potatoes, in this video. 8 minutes:

I don’t have an easy source of hay, nor do I have a 1/2 acres to plant, but I really like the idea. A roll of old hay is a lot cheaper than my labor on the wrong end of a shovel… Then again, I do have a lot of “lawn clippings” from time to time and a small patch could work… One square would take about 2 rounds of lawn mowing product… Hmmmm….

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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49 Responses to Spuds, Buckets, Ruth Stout, Arbors, & Winter Greens

  1. Bill in Oz says:

    No dig gardening using spoilt hay works. I once grew spuds on a patch of ground which was compacted with stones – an old driveway.. Very hard.

    But the spuds in a bucket ( or tire stack) does not work so well.. Spuds don’t like hot soil… They grow lots of foliage but stop growing actual spuds. Mind you that is here in Oz where Summers get hot.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    You do have 4 seasons and could do spring and fall spuds…

    Paying attention to any length of day effects…

  3. H.R. says:

    I like the trellis. I am doing two varieties of pole beans this year and was planning on using…wait for it… poles!

    I think that instead of poles I’ll round up a bit of that fence. I’m not set on what I’ll use for the uprights. I’ll have to dig around and see what I have.
    Now that is one beautiful backyard garden she has.

  4. p.g.sharrow says:

    I generally use cement re-enforcing panels held up by steel fence posts for my climbing beans. easy to put up, easy to take down, doesn’t rot. the panels are 7 feet by 4, just the right height for the beans. two of those panels tied to gather and opened tent like, work great for peas…pg

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    Must be time to plant spuds here as I see the wild ones are popping up among the Giant Thornless Blackberries as I was pruning and trellising them this week. Brussel sprouts are fattening up and the Shallots are tillering. The garden is a mess of weeds and mud. Not very inviting but still making food, even carrots and beets of last year are still available…pg

  6. H.R. says:

    p.g.: “I generally use cement re-enforcing panels […]”

    That’s a good tip. Thanks, p.g.!

  7. Bill in Oz says:

    @ I sometimes wonder about the 4 seasons here..Local Aboriginal folk thought in terms of 6 !

    And spuds are interesting.. I have spuds growing now – going into Autumn – ‘leftovers’ missed from the last crop there in 2017-18, that were dormant during last Winter & this Summer. I’m hoping to dig them come first frost – Late May or June maybe..

    Fresh dug roast spud is good tucker.

    The Incas domesticated spuds up in the Andes mountains. And that logically means that they can put up with some of our cooler weather —Like Southern California perhaps?

  8. Bill in Oz says:

    @ E M : re Length of day effects..Ummmmm Hard to isolate from the dryness of the Summer effect…And different spud varieties respond differently. I am not sure what the ones growing now ( into Autumn ) are ! I grew 4-5 last time…

    By the way, my favorite spud is black/dark purple skinned variety with purple flesh.Nice baked but not so good when steamed – they turn grey !

  9. Graeme No.3 says:

    It occurs to me that the plastic storage ‘tub’ would be good for growing mushrooms. Reliable humidity levels help cropping and 4 legged pests are deterred.
    As fungi don’t need light possibly a coloured tub transmitting less light should be OK. What are their oxygen requirements?

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No.3:

    There’s lots of different kinds of mushrooms and they each have different needs. I had a block of Oyster Mushrooms (commercial kit) that sat too close to a wall and tried to make the jump to eating my house…. (Liberal application of bleach saved the wall…) They didn’t care at all about temperture, humidity, paint… ;-) Others are more picky.

    Would a tub help? Well, it would help prevent them getting to the wall ;-)

    As for 4 legged pests: What eats musrooms? Seems a bit of a risk for wild animals… unless they can sniff out the poison ones – in which case you have an interesting opportunity for a critter trained to find the good ones… (Or is it like truffle hogs? Do pigs like mushrooms?) I have had a couple of flushes of some kind of mushrooms in the lawn, and nothing seems to eat them… (not even me…) though I think they are the usual grocery store “white buttons” from some bits dropped on the lawn long ago.

    I do like the idea of a plastic tub of mushrooms… just don’t have any space to put it in at the moment…

    There are examples on YouTube of using 5 gallon plastic buckets, but then they have the musrooms growing from holes in the bucket…

    @Bill in Oz:

    I really like the little purple guys. They were what I had growing in the garden a few years back. It was disappointing to have grey mashed though ;-) I also had a red skinned yellow fleshed on that was really good mashed. Both were from “starts” bought at the local Whole Foods as “organic” but no idea what variety they were really.

    Here in California we tend to have 2 seasons: Wet and Dry.

    It’s my opinion that the length, timing, and number of seasons depends on your individual location. Southern California is an example of NOT potato country. San Diego, for example, is never cold. It’s something like 74 F +/- 15 F pretty much year round. They grow banana plants for decoration…

    Now go to the hills of Northern California and you get places more like the origin of the potato. Higher and colder with hard seasons. There’s a reason Idaho is known for potatoes. “high cold places” not semi-tropical. Southern California is more suited to sweet potatoe / yams ;-)


    I like that panel wire idea. But I have already got a set of wire cages bought a decde or two back.


    At one time I made a couple of pyramids out of bamboo poles. One at each corner of the square in a Tee-Pee stile corssing about 6 feet up. Beans nicely climed up, filled out and some even went on up into the top bits (for the more ambitious beans). Worked really well for Runner Beans that would make a giant mound of beans on the poles… Bunnies loved it ;-)

    As I’ve got a patch of bamboo, it was essentially “free”. Just a bit of string to hold the cross point together.

    What I like about the arbor approach is that the 1/2 of my space that is cement stone walkway becomes growing space for vines instead of wasted sunshine… Well, it’s not all wasted. The squares with taller stuff in them tends to shade the walk area N of them… and gets sun from the “gap” to the S… but the short squares don’t do that. I usually put “tall stuff” in the N end and short in the S, so an arbor N/S in the middle might be interesting… set just off the side of the house it would shade the house from morning sun heating (valuable in summer) while getting sun until about 1 or 2 PM itself (i.e. quite enough…) Not a lot of “view” then from the house windows, but a nice green / bean flower wall ;-) Might do that on a section of the run…

    I think this summer willl likely be a good one for Runner Beans. They love it a bit cool and humid.

    I think I may have found my “motivator” to clean up the garden ;-) It has had a bunch of burmuda grass move in and take over during the years I was gone. Now that’s a big chunk of work to eradicate. Heck, to just get it out of the stones is going to be a pain. I have 1 x 1 foot pavers laid in a square grid of paths making 4 x 4 foot squares. It is now entirely covered with “grass stuff” and the odd weeds. (including a couple of weed trees…).

    I’m not happy with either solution. I don’t want to spray the whole plot with Roundup and then try to grow things in soil with Roundup in it. I don’t want to have to hand weed burmuda and cut trees (done that twice on one of them and the bugger just coppices and comes roaring back – don’t know what it is but it adds an inch of growth ring radius in a year, so a 2 inch diameter increase… )

    Oh Well. I fear I’m going to need to just suck it up and buy a gallon or two of Roundup…


    Any ideas on how to “kill and clear” without a Roundup drench?

  11. Bill in Oz says:

    @ E M :Putting out Roundup may be what’s needed. But do not buy the Chinese cheap toxic imitations.. At least with Monsanto RoundUp you buy knowing the ingredients. Glyphosphate is just one of them. And I hear on the grapevine that the Chinese pack some very toxic other ingredients into their imitations type Roundup..

    And here is a suggestion for afterwards : the roundup kills the microorganisms in the soil with resultant loss of fertility and structure….

    So search out a fermented brew made with compost and put that out diluted with water when the weeds are dead…This will re-innoculate your soil with micro-organisms and preserve fertility. This also helps break down the RoundUp in the soil.
    This is now standard practice among No Till farmers here in Oz who use a lot of Roundup to kill weeds as they sow their crops of wheat, barley, canola etc..

    Re The weed trees : I had two such established trees here in the garden : a Eucalypt and non ornamental non flowering, no fruit cherry ( Weird ! )

    I wound up cutting each down with a chainsaw and then taking out the stumps. I did them by hand.Hard work over about a month a few hours every few days.

    But I have seen a tracked Bob Cat type machine rip apart tree stumps with what is huge chain saw…Chain teeth about am 3/4 inch wide..Turned each stump completely into nice saw dust in about 10 minutes. So it was not an expensive job.

    RE Spuds needing cooler climate than Southern California : On thinking about I think you are right

  12. Bill in Oz says:

    PS : The red skinned creamy yellow spuds are probably the Dutch bred Desiree.

    The purple one could be Purple Congo.

  13. H.R. says:

    E.M.: “I have 1 x 1 foot pavers laid in a square grid of paths making 4 x 4 foot squares. It is now entirely covered with “grass stuff” and the odd weeds. (including a couple of weed trees…).”

    Several years back, you posted images of your garden. I can still picture your garden without actually referring to the posted images.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Any ideas on how to “kill and clear” without a Roundup drench?

    Boiling water might work.

    On grass in paving stone cracks, I have used a propane torch, creates very little smoke so won’t trigger the local CO2 crazies, trim the tops down close to the stone, sweep away the clippings then fry the remaining shoots with the propane torch.

    My dad used to use a bit kerosene weed burner but those are not so acceptable now days, made very short work of weeds. Just mowed the weed patch with a rotary lawn mower, raked out the clippings than cooked the stubs.

    Or you can just put black plastic weighted down with bricks or rocks over the whole thing and let the sun cook them.

  15. jim2 says:


    Solarization is one of the least labor-intensive and most effective ways of controlling and killing Bermuda grass. This method of grass control works best during the hottest months of summer, and will kill both the grass on the surface as well as any underground stolons. Water the Bermuda grass normally, then spread a clear plastic tarp over the grass so the entire lawn is covered. Weigh down the edges of the tarp with rocks or bricks. The sun’s rays will pass through the tarp and bake the underlying soil, effectively killing the grass and any other plants. After approximately four weeks, remove the tarp. You can rake away the dead grass or leave it in place and allow it to decompose.


  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    the black plastic trick is the most likely clean way to do it. the flame thrower thing works for many weeds but Bermuda Grass is a tough one. it is not only between the pavers it is well under them as well. For the Black plastic technique, You soak the area well before covering and weighting or burying the edges of the plastic. Solar hearing will steam and kill everything under the plastic. Not sure how well that this would penetrate the pavers deep enough to kill the Bermuda Grass. may need a month of summer sun. I don’t like Roundup but it may be the best tool for the job of killing off that grass. As toThe tree, cut it off and drill as much of the stump as you can and fill generously with fertilizer! any good Lawn & Garden fertilizer will work to poison the roots and then speed decomposition of the stump…pg

  17. Terry Jay says:

    Granular weed killers work well. Apply, water, wait. The it takes a fair amount of water to leach the remainder out of the soil. We use it in Spring near the Washington Coast to keep the gravel driveway clear, or it gets covered in alder and fir seedlings. Winter rains clear it out, so an annual thing.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    jim2 – this is almost identical to the one my dad built. He formed the coil out of steel brake line, and the build was mechanically identical to that design, differed only in minor cosmetic details.

    My dad’s design the burner shroud looks a bit like a rural mail box (square bottom) which formed a small tray, he would pour a couple table spoons of fuel into that pan and light it to get the coil hot before he opened the valve to the burner fuel spray head. Once up to temp it sounded like a small get engine.

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    For those that may not have lived with it, I call Burmuda Grass “Lawn Bamboo” for a reason…

    When I was taking out the wood 2 x 6 boards that had made the perimeter of my first 4 x 4 beds, I found burmuda stolons going under it. So under the pavers 2 inches down, then under the wood a couple of more. Essentiallly it can and does go about 4 inches under stuff.

    Just killing off the top doesn’t fix it. No matter how you kill off the top. So a weed burner would work on some areas without Burmuda, but not the end with the Burmuda…

    But that brings up the important point that about 3/4 of the back is NOT Burmuda infested. Only the sunny S end has a Burmuda “issue”. That means I CAN likely use the flame idea or the black plastic / clear plastic on that non-Burmuda bit.

    1) First Bright Idea: Need to do a basic “clear, triage, and map” and use the right technique for each area.

    Then per the “trees”. These are very young. Not 2 foot diameter+ things as the word “tree” implies. They are a couple of tree species but all but 2 of them are in the “inch or two max diameter” shrub state of maturity. The two bigger ones are California Bay Laurel from a few years back, located at the N edge of the squares. I may keep one of them to replace the “decorative pear” tree that’s reached EOL and is about 10 feet further N.

    Those two sprouted at the same time, and will eventually be a posting. Why? One is “up sun” of the other one and shaded it… so is MUCH bigger. Now two trees with the SAME climate and different sized rings makes an important statement about using trees to say how hot it was in the past. Especially just ONE tree… The only question is “cut one and photo both” or “cut both and photo both sets of rings. The biggest one is about 6 inches diameter at the base…

    So all the trees are in easy hand saw size ranges. But I need to kill the roots on a couple of the smaller brush like things as they agressively re-grow.

    OK so:

    2) Second Conclusion: Despite my worries that Roundup (and I always buy name brands for things that are prone to chemical variations…) might make growing a garden difficult this year, I think it is necessary for a) The shrub weeds. b) The Burmuda patch.

    Which leads to the best path forward at this time, I think:

    3) Triage the top growth, Roundup the shrubby bits, then assess and map.

    4) Roundup the burmuda range.

    5) Try “something else” as appropriate on the non-Burmuda squares area. Be it flame or plastic (but I really don’t want to wait to July to plant some garden… so likley some kind of burner).

    6) Chop down the smaller Bay Laurel, trim around the trunk of the bigger one, and asses. Then “chop again” or photo and post…

    Leaving only rake, turn, plant and pray ;-)

  20. jim2 says:

    The solar bake method also kills just about any living thing in the soil. So, the soil would need some remediation after.

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m going to leave “solar bake” for a round of it in August should any area have a ‘grow back’ problem. It’s hot and we may actually have some sun then.

    Right now it’s all overcast and dull cool, so not going to happen…

  22. Bill in Oz says:

    E M, should you use Roundup the fermented compost brew sa good idea. For a number of years I was an organic farm inspector working for the Organic Certification bodies here in Oz. And on one occasion I was asked to inspect and report on an certified organic compost brew run by a Japanese guy way out in the boondocks.

    An interesting job. He made his brew professionally and then bottled it for sale. But almost all his customers were conventional farmers not organic ones. I asked him “Why ?”
    He laughed and replied that the organic farmers already had micro-organisms in their soils. But the conventional ones who used Roundup etc did not and bought his brew to reintroduce micro-organisms into the soil after herbicide applications. Getting organic certification was his way of re-assuring his conventional farmer customers !

    how to make a brew ? Get a sack and fill it with a couple fo shovels of good rich compost. Tie the sack off and put it in a tank of rain water ( no water purification chemicals at all ! ) and couple of spoons of molasses. Get a small pump with a tube and oxygenate the tank of water for around 12 hours. Transfer the brew to a sealed container until used. Dilute with water 10/1

  23. cdquarles says:

    Well, spuds do grow here (some varieties) and I am south of San Diego (about the same latitude as Dallas and a bit south of Atlanta). So, maybe, the difference is cloudiness/rain? I do get 4.5 feet of rain on average and low to mid-90s is about as high as it gets. Upper 90s happens very rarely. The last ‘heat-wave’ saw low 100s in the big cities (Birmingham, Montgomery and maybe Tuscaloosa). Montgomery, being about a degree south of me, does tend to be warmer; but then again, Montgomery is closer to the Gulf.

  24. E.M.Smith says:


    You can grow spuds in warm places, but they are evolved for high cold places. I’d expect bug problems to be worse in hot wet places….

    Idaho et. al. grow lots of spuds as other crops can’t take the cold and thin soils as well.

    Similar to where barley is grown. You can grow it in California, but it is one of the few grains that grow in places like Alaska, so you find oats and barley up north, corn and soybeans south.

  25. Sera says:

    Planting crops, setting eggs and fishing- that relates to the pink moon this month…


  26. Sera says:

    And there is more…

    Date Activities
    April 1, 2019
    cut hair to discourage growth, plant belowground crops, can, pickle, or make sauerkraut,
    April 2, 2019
    cut hair to discourage growth, plant belowground crops, can, pickle, or make sauerkraut,
    April 3, 2019
    cut hair to discourage growth, plant belowground crops, can, pickle, or make sauerkraut,
    April 4, 2019
    end projects, destroy pests and weeds, cut hay,
    April 5, 2019
    destroy pests and weeds, cut hay,
    April 6, 2019
    start projects, harvest aboveground crops,
    April 7, 2019
    begin diet to gain weight, harvest aboveground crops,
    April 8, 2019
    harvest aboveground crops,
    April 11, 2019
    begin diet to gain weight, plant aboveground crops, graft or pollinate,
    April 12, 2019
    plant aboveground crops, graft or pollinate,
    April 13, 2019
    prune to encourage growth,
    April 14, 2019
    prune to encourage growth,
    April 15, 2019
    have dental care,
    April 16, 2019
    have dental care,
    April 17, 2019
    cut hair to encourage growth,
    April 18, 2019
    cut hair to encourage growth,
    April 19, 2019
    breed animals, slaughter livestock,
    April 20, 2019
    quit smoking, begin diet to lose weight, breed animals, wean animals or children, slaughter livestock,
    April 21, 2019
    go camping,
    April 22, 2019
    go camping, prune to discourage growth,
    April 23, 2019
    go camping, prune to discourage growth,
    April 24, 2019
    quit smoking, begin diet to lose weight, harvest belowground crops, begin logging, set posts or pour concrete, wean animals or children,
    April 25, 2019
    harvest belowground crops, begin logging, set posts or pour concrete,
    April 26, 2019
    castrate animals,
    April 27, 2019
    castrate animals,
    April 29, 2019
    cut hair to discourage growth, plant belowground crops, can, pickle, or make sauerkraut,
    April 30, 2019
    cut hair to discourage growth, plant belowground crops, can, pickle, or make sauerkraut,

    I also like the part about “go camping”

  27. H.R. says:

    @sera – Good to know that I shouldn’t get a haircut this month, as my new hobby is growing a ponytail. What I didn’t see is what to do in April to encourage hair growth :o)

  28. E.M.Smith says:


    I believe that drinking beer encourages hair growth.

    No, no evidence at all to support that claim… but I like to believe it ;-)

  29. Sera says:

    @ H.R.

    April 17, 2019
    cut hair to encourage growth,
    April 18, 2019
    cut hair to encourage growth,

  30. Sera says:

    Chiefio: “Honey, it says that I must go camping on the 21st…”

    Wife: “It also says that the 26th is a good day for castration!”

    Chiefio: “I don’t really like camping anymore…”

  31. E.M.Smith says:


    Where’d that come from?

    FWIW, spouse is very happy with me camping. And were a remark made, my response would not be capitulation. It would be more likely along the lines of “So you are saying don’t bother coming back from camping for a month? OK, I’ll pack the Sig & Winchester…”

  32. jim2 says:

    To date, scientific studies about the impact of glyphosate on soil micro-organisms have provided contrasting results. Some soil-based studies have not found any threat to soil micro-organisms from glyphosate.31 Indeed, it is understood that glyphosate increases soil microbial activity when the herbicide is added because microbes break it down and use it as a source of carbon, nitrogen or phosphorus (as discussed above).32 However, this is thought to be a short-term effect only.33 One study found no effect on bacteria numbers from the use of glyphosate, but fungi and Actinomycetes (bacterium) numbers increased.34In the forestry context, it has been found that in ponderosa pine plantations glyphosate has no consequential effects on soil communities in soil based tests.35 Another study found a benign effect on microbial community structure when the commercial formulation of glyphosate was applied to soil samples at the recommended field rate, and produces a non-specific, short-term stimulation of bacteria at a high concentration.36 A further study found that glyphosate has only small and transient effects on soil microbial community structure, function and activity on field scale experiments in agricultural soils

    Click to access glyphosate-and-soil-health-full-report.pdf

  33. jim2 says:

    More on Roundup and soil. I’m sure the micro-biol community is affected in some way, it certainly isn’t sterilized. Far from it.

    Click to access 1.pdf


  34. Jon K says:

    I know this isn’t gardening, but it’s related. I had no idea you could do this with eggs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTlcCvvUjl0

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    I was aware of waterglassing eggs but had never seen it done, did not know it was that simple to do. I thought it involved the use of “waterglass” ( Sodium silicate ) – but apparently another case of idiomatic English word usage.

    In the case of store bought eggs, this suggests you can replace the washed off bloom with a food safe mineral oil coating (medicinal mineral oil or Vaseline would probably work just fine on store washed eggs) I wonder about a quick dip in paraffin wax (Vaseline is basically the low melting end of the paraffin was distillation range even smells like candle wax when burned ?)


    On washing eggs you should do it with hot water not cold as you would think.

  36. Power Grab says:

    Re using Roundup…I understand that it concentrates in the fastest-growing parts of the plant.

    I don’t know if it would be more efficient to put it on the Bermuda while it’s still got lots of green on it, or mow it and then apply.

    Just a thought….

  37. Power Grab says:

    Oh…another thought on replenishing microorganisms after using chemicals on the soil…

    My ex put some cows on the front lawn as an experiment. He was delighted to see dung beetles return and profitably ply their trade. :-)

  38. Power Grab says:

    One more thing…

    When Weston Price visited Ireland and documented their traditional ways of raising food, he mentioned that the thatch from a cottage roof was especially beneficial when it had accumulated lots of smoke before it was applied to the soil.

  39. E.M.Smith says:

    Roundup always works best applied to lots of green foliage. It soaks in and transports to the roots where it kills them. The more leaf area, the more absorbed and transported. So it’s Spray, wait two weeks to brown, then mow or trim or “whatever”.

    Biochar is known to be a great help to soils. What is smoke but micro sized biochar? ;-)

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    Just as an FYI data point: Some Ferry Morris icicle radish seeds packaged for 2011 and kept in a baggie in the fridge (i.e. cold and dry) when soaked overnight and planted out a few days ago have already started shoving up sprouts. So far it’s looking like everywhere I put a seed is pushing up a sprout. Probably a couple won’t make it, but I’ve got at least 75% already and it’s not that far into the sprouting window.

    I’d thought that while Glass Jar + Freezer was best, that moisture seal and fridge would be “pretty good”. Looks like it is.

    Different seeds have different sensitivities to warmth & moisture, with onions being one of the least durable, so it WILL vary by type of seed. I had lentils that were 16 years old and just in a jar on the shelf still sprout, while the typical expectation for onions is one year at room temperature. (I’ve had decade old onion seeds sprout in the 90%+ range when frozen in a jar). I’ve planted some fridge onion seeds in a pot (starter pot) so in a few more days I’ll get clue as to their viability.

    One sidebar conclusion from this is that radishes not only grow “way fast” but they sprout way fast too. The leaves are tough and with a kind of fur on them, so usually ignored, but you can cook and eat them ( I have). Spinach has nothing to fear from them, but OTOH, in a SHTF Moment, having “greens and baby radishes” in 2 weeks would be a big deal. I think having a large jar of radish seeds in the freezer would be a very good idea. They are sold in bulk for just making sprouts (tasty little fellas too ;-) but I could see sprouts the first week, thinnings the second, full radishes the 3rd to 4th, then other vegetables coming on line. Next time I see a bulk bag of radish seeds I think I’ll buy it ;-)

    In my planting exploits I also found a packet of hybrid seeds for an Asian Mustard / Cabbage cross. The package claims 30 days to harvest. I think that’s likely for “cut and come again” pruning a leaf or two. In any case I’ve put some of those seeds in a pot to see what comes of it. Burpee “Asian Green” Senposai Hybrid. Packed in a foil / plastic lined pouch inside the envelope (nice, that!) and kept in the fridge. Date stamped only 2011 so ought to be fine. Only 8 years of cold storage. I have some things with 20 to 25 years in the freezer ;-)

    The back of the package says:

    A Hybrid cross between cabbage and Oriental Mustard Spinach (Komatsuna). Can withstand frosts. […]resistant to heat, can be grown year round.

    Rows at 17 inches and plants a foot apart. 7-14 days to germination / emergence depending on your weather, then 30 days to first harvest. We’ll see how it does after the long sleep in the fridge ;-)

    I planted an Asian mustard a few years back and really liked it, but the spouse didn’t like anything hot so didn’t like those greens. They can have a bit of mustard bite to them ;-) I’m hoping this one has enough flavor to be interesting but not so much the spouse notices it ;-)

    IF it works out well, this is going to be one of my Preparedness Packs of fast to harvest good in most weather types seeds. Along with a collection of 4 season beans / legumes there’s always something you can start eating in about a month. (I have some small Persian fava beans I liked that grow here over winter, then some Tepary Beans from the desert that don’t like things like good soil and water… for summer here. Fall and spring you have regular beans of many kinds and peas. They all have edible, if unspactacular, foliage. So once you have a few vines up and running a sporadic thining of some “greens” is not damaging to the plants and provides “something” after just a few weeks. Don’t know if the fava leaves are edible, but do know regular beans, peas, and Runner Beans have edible leaves (and I’ve eaten them…)

    I also have started some seeds from about 2006 from my Kalards cross. We’ll get to find out how durable the seeds are to storage. That was a 3 way cross of a Dinosaur Kale, a purple Cabbage That Would Not Die!!!! from the store, and a Green Glaze Collards. They made a decent number of thick leaves that were mild and tasty, but the bugs didn’t attack. Had a dusky grey bluish color with some glazed like the green glaze and some with a dusty look like the Kale. I’m really hoping these are still viable ’cause those guy grew all summer and through winter into the next year just fine. ( 2 years to make seeds as they are a biannual). I’m pretty sure I have some in the freezer to assure they survived, but it would be nice to find the seed very durable too. I really liked these guys as I had a dismal time trying to grow cabbages and kale is just a bit, erm, semi-bitter. There were as easy as kale but without the bitter of most collards & kale.

    FWIW, I decided it was time to go through the Fridge Seed Drawer and pull out anything from before about 2009 and see what condition it was in. IF it’s fine and viable, grow a new stock of seeds. If not, note it and resort to freezer stock…

    Turns out I have about 15 years worth of seeds just in the fridge… (One “vegetable drawer” full) so I’ll not get to start everything and certainly can’t finish / grow out “one of each”. Not enough dirt. But at least all those pots on the starting table have me motivated to dig over the backyard garden area… Which has a shovel calling my name…

  41. H.R. says:

    Hey, hey, hey, I got my cattle fence panel trellis set up today.

    Tax, title, and license out the door was $31 and some small change for the panel and 2 x 6′ tee posts, so she was on the money saying it would run between $30 and $35 USD. I bought it at a Tractor Supply store.

    I set it up (nope, not there), moved it once (not there, either, and I’m going to move it one more time I think before I plant. I still have 5 weeks ’til the first frost-free date arrives. Oh, it is not necessarily a 2-person job to fuss with the trellis, but it would be easier with 2 people.

    I’ll post some images in a few weeks when it has some decent growth covering it. I’ll be putting 2 types of pole beans on it and a couple of cherry tomato plants that produce 18″ long (long!) stems of tomatoes with about 50+ tomatoes on a stem. The trellis seems like it will work better than a stake or tomato cage for those cherry tomatoes.

    Our rhubarb is up and should be ready for a first cutting in a couple of weeks. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of our asparagus, but it should be poking through sometime soon.

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Good on you!

    5 weeks? Then it is just about time to start your “from seed” beans and tomatoes indoors under a shop light ;-)

  43. H.R. says:

    Seeds started this past weekend, E.M.
    Other Plantings:
    I have two types of basil, cilantro, and dill that I won’t start until about the 1st or 2nd week of May. I am trying to decide if I want to grow them in large pots or put them in a bed somewhere. They are annuals, but past experience has been that if you let them go to seed late in the season, the volunteers come up just fine the following year. That argues for bed space. But all of those herbs are nice sitting in pots around the patio and it’s easy pickings right out the back door. Can’t go wrong either way.

    I had some perennial rosemary, sage, and thyme for quite some years in a bed edging the patio. We tore out and replaced the patio about 5 years ago so the herbs got torn out and were never replaced.

    I have been missing the sage because there’s really an enormous difference between fresh or picked and dried in the Fall just weeks before Turkey Day and the store-bought powdered stuff that was picked, dried and bottled or tinned in some indeterminate decade.

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    You could put the herbs in a big pot and then let it run to seed in them. Cover after fall, then water and start it again next spring. Sort of a small mobile bed ;-)

    If you have the porch space, you can even bring a pot of the sage indoors and under a shop light for extending the season to Turkey Day with fresh sage… Worst case is is dies and dries off and you pluck the dry leaves…


    I’m not so worried about the microbes as about residual in the soil damaging crop roots. IIRC they recommend something like 6 months for it to degrade OR plant “roundup ready” GMO crops. Not interested in the GMO stuff and can’t wait 6 months.

    Yeah, I ought to have done this last October, then let it sit over winter, but…

    I think my present plan will be OK:

    Roundup away from the garden squares: I don’t want anything growing there anyway.

    Rogue out what I can from the squares. Aggressively prune, dig out, root prune, etc. what’s there (turning under what isn’t Bermuda stolons…) then plant something. IF after a few months, some weed / Bermuda is becoming a problem again, harvest, Roundup, and try again (one square at a time).

    Worst case is I have some square with weeds / Bermuda taking over and another with poor growth of crop due to Roundup residue in the soils.

    A quick inspection showed a Bermuda “problem” probable in only about 6 out of 14 or so garden squares. The rest look like regular grass or other weed types and some are a peculiar purple Easter Lilly like flower / bulb that smells bad – a friend was fascinated with it, grew too many, and gave some to be planted here while I was in Florida. Someone “helpfully” planted them in the vegetable garden squares… Not sure what I’m going to do with them.

    I’ve got one “weed tree” of about 2 inch stem size next to a flower bush and about 1 foot from the house wall. I’ve cut it down to a stick just as an expedient “stop the growth” and to let the flower bush have more sun. When (and it is a ‘when’) it forms leaves again I’m going to carefully paint it with Roundup. That ought to just kill it and not hurt the flower bush. This one is a California Bay Laurel and as they can grow to 20 foot diameter+ it Must Go or I lose a room of the house…

    I’ve got one “weed tree” that’s a very aggressive species that’s been cut to the ground twice now, and coppiced each time. Not sure what the base diameter is now as it’s under weeds… I’d guess about 3 to 4 inches. WHEN it resprouts, it will be hit with Roundup also. There’s a third in similar condition but I think it might be small enough to dig out. It is in an “up sun” square so will be done first anyway. Then I’ll see.

    These are similar to one over in front of the shed door that puts on 1 inch RADIUS of growth each year even on new stems. I have no idea what it is, but cut to within a foot of the ground it returned. Hit with Roundup a few years back; I thought it was gone, and cut the stump at about 1 foot up and about a 7 inch diameter; but the next year one feeble stem came up from one side of the base. I went to Florida and when I came back it was a sickly bush, but not dead. This year it regained vigor and was “off to the races”… so I’ve now cut down a VW sized pile of stems / leaves and stuff from around the stump. Probably ought to have hit it with Roundup first, as without the green growth the Roundup doesn’t get absorbed, but I wanted to assess the issue first. Besides, it WILL be back…. So I’ve bought a bit of time. And I can get into the garden shed again ;-)

    There are two more of these, about 3 inch stems, on the sides of the shed. I’ve left them green and growing and they will get the Roundup first. Don’t care what doesn’t grow in the space around the shed…

    Then there’s the two Big Boys. California Bay Laurels that sprouted in a more northern Garden Square. As one shades the other and both started at the same time, they make a nice A/B tree comparison of why you can’t use tree rings to measure water… One is about a foot in diameter, the other turned more bushy and has 2 or 3 stems about 3 inches each – searching for sun.

    The little one definitely gets turned into a stump. It just is in the wrong space abut 3 feet ‘down sun’ from the big one. The big one has the potential to be a very nice yard tree. But do I want a tree that large there? I have a fruitless pear that’s about 60 years old and getting fireblight / dead minor limbs. Eventually it’s “gotta go”, and this guy about 15 feet from it would be an OK replacement, if eventually a bit too big. OTOH, it’s growing in one garden square, shading about 4 behind it, and partially shading 3 or 4 more around it. So “Garden or tree?”…

    As much as I like the tree, I think it’s gotta go. Maybe. I’m going to photo the trunks, chop the smaller one down, then photo that. Prune lower limbs of the bigger one. Then The Decision: Make it a stump and get A/B photos of actual rings and diameter with a ruler, or keep the tree. It has food (barely) and medicinal properties (covered in other postings) and that’s attractive to me. OTOH, I can put a few seeds in a pot if I really want to take one to Florida with me ;-)

    So somewhere in a week or two I’ll need to make that call.

    Other than that, it’s just “corral the Timber Bamboo” that’s a creeper so only extends about 6 inches a year, but it’s been in place about 10 years so its about 6 feet too big… and then Bermuda… I hate Bermuda Grass… “Lawn Bamboo” and can run a few feet in a year…

    I think I can get that done by the end of summer ;-)

    Really amazing how much stuff can get out of control in just a few years. I was in Florida about two and it was a mess when I came back, so ignored it another year; now it’s a jungle… Well, last week it was a jungle… this week it’s a pile of trimmings looking for a place to compost ;-) and a weed carpet.

  45. jim2 says:

    CIO – a targeted method to deal with large weeds or even tree shoots is to cut it a bit above ground level, then immediately (water channels in trees will slam shut fairly quickly) hit it with Roundup CONCENTRATE. All you have to do is wipe it on with a sponge or suchlike. I put mine in a paint/bingo dauber. Or it can be brushed on. I’ve done this and it does work.


  46. E.M.Smith says:


    Thanks for the “tip”. As my Roundup purchase is due this week… I’ll look for a small bottle of concentrate too… Likely will help with my Bamboo control later too ;-)

  47. jim2 says:

    I omitted that you only coat the cut surface with Roundup concentrate, it isn’t necessary to apply it to the entire remaining stem. But I suppose you would infer that.

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