If youre planning on growing Chinese cabbage this fall, it will be most beneficial if you enrich your soil with compost before planting seeds or transplanting seedlings.
Chinese cabbage is a heavier feeder than most of the Asian greens.
Space plants 18 inches apart, and if you started from seeds, be sure to thin seedlings, thinning to three per location when the seedlings have at least two true leaves (not cotyledons or primary leaves), then to one per 18-inch space before the seedlings are one month old.
When the plants are well on their way to maturity, and night temperatures are falling below 40 degrees, gather up the long outside leaves and tie them above the growing head with a bit of string. A rubber band would be easier, but dont leave it just fastened with that band, for sun quickly deteriorates the rubber, and it will break.
As long as those outside leaves are tied above the growing head, they will catch falling cold, and the air between them and the head will insulate the head from the most severe effects of cold temperatures. There will be days when the temperature is above freezing, and you can compress the outside leaves to find how full the inside head is, whether you want to harvest it or let it grow more.
Once the Chinese cabbage head has grown into a tight head, it wont fall loose-leafed again.
The appearance of Japanese beetles in this Valley for the first time is a stunning blow to gardeners, nurseries and plant lovers in general. If we all are vigilant about capturing and killing these voracious critters, perhaps we can escape the nightmare of skeletonized leaves on our ornamentals and ensuing loss of agricultural income for orchardists and the state. Lets make this a short-lived invasion.
Kill those bronze-winged, metallic green beetles and put remains in plastic sandwich bags, then mail them to Idaho State Dept. of Agriculture, Plant Industries Division, P.O. Box 790, Boise, ID 83701 and include your return address, name and telephone number as well as the location where you killed the beetles.
Theres a lot to be said for saving seeds of favorite family flowers and vegetables. If the variety is provably over 50 years old, its regarded as an heirloom variety. Favorite varieties have memorable taste and the plants are strong and healthy or the seeds would not have been saved for generations.
Its true they dont have proven resistance as those hybrid varieties labeled VFFNT, for instance, because those of us saving open pollinated seeds dont have funds to pay a university to test for resistance, earning the resistance labeling. Companies with hybrid seeds, requiring gardeners to buy new seed each year, do have those resources.
I was given some mystery tomato seeds to grow this year by a friend of my brother. He and some relatives planted seeds found in a recently deceased family members garage. During garden fall cleanup, they found under an enormous tangle of vine many giant tomatoes (ca. 6 inches in diameter) that were delicious.
They saved seeds and have shared them with friends. Now I have this unusually vigorous vine loaded with large tomatoes, still green. I suspect this is a variety called Climbing Trip-L-Crop. If you tie the vine, it will climb or ramble several feet in length. As I recall, the vine was said to grow 12 to 15 feet, but some seed companies claim 25 feet. It also bears heavily, thus the triple crop claim.
This used to be a very popular tomato, but has fallen out of favor in recent years with Seed Savers, although Tomato Growers ( www.tomatogrowers.com ) and Totally Tomatoes (www.totallytomato.com) both still carry seeds for it.
Hand-me-down seeds are to be treasured, preserved and grown and shared.
Send garden questions to email@example.com or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.