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Behind the Barn with Farmer John

Published: June 7, 2010 5:48 AM


Dear Farmer John, How long does it take pumpkin and watermelon seeds to come up after you plant them? It has been seven days and I planted them about three-inches deep. Should I replant? How can I keep weeds down till they come up without disturbing seed roots if they are growing? Help, this is all new to me. S of Toledo

Dear S, When planting seeds, there is a general rule of planting as deep as the seed is long. 

That is why we plant lettuce and radishes on top of soil with just a sprinkle of soil over top. I would guess that your seeds were planted about two-inches too deep but they should come up, in 14-18 days. 

The best when planting seeds is to mark row or hill so one does not disturb the seedlings growing. You can do this with sticks with colored cloth or string or knitting yarn for a row. 

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A lot of times people do not mark rows or hills and when weeding they pull out young seedlings. 

If your seeds are not up by the time you read this, replant, but weed and stir up soil well before doing so and mark your hills or row. Good luck ... you will do fine.


Tip from DV of Akron — Take 2 ounces of baking soda and water new plants that you set out. This allows the plant to get a good root system and not get spindly. (Thank you friend for your tip. 

Here is another for those who have tomato plants that are tall — take a stick or hoe and punch hole in where you want to plant, then put plant in hole up to top few leaves ... fill hole with water and push soil tight around plant. 

This makes a great root system and a healthier and heavier bearing plant than the same plant planted only a few inches deep. FJ)


Organic pest remedies and helps (Clip and Save)

Ants — Sprinkle pieces of tansy around problem area, vinegar, garlic tea and of course ant baits. 

Aphids — Will wash of with water stream, 1 teaspoon dish soap per gallon of water, garlic and hot pepper tea, lady bugs. 

Borer beetle or flea beetles — Pyrethrum or rotenone. 

Flies — Garlic tea sprayed on problem area, sticky fly traps, tansy broken up on areas where needed. 

Cutworms — Put aluminum foil around base of plant, or two toothpicks close to stem, bone meal or diatomaceous earth around each plant. 

Crickets or fleas — Pyrethrum or rotenone (follow instructions on bag.) 

Grasshoppers — Make a hot pepper tea and spray on area affected. 

Grub worms — Try snuff dusted in area, of course organic snuff best. 

More next week but one more tip ... it is said this is one of the worst tick years in many. Take pyrethrum, 1 pound per gallon, spray on area you wish to kill ticks. One can also mix rotenone and pyrethrum half and half and use 2 pounds of this per gallon of water and spray on area to get rid of ticks. 


Dear Farmer John, What causes pepper plants to drop blossoms? I have this problem every year. 

Thank you, we really enjoy your column. HJ of Cambridge

Dear HJ, Below 60 degrees or above 80 degrees or too dry of weather can cause this problem. 

Of course some peppers are more sensitive to this problem than others. Shading peppers in very hot weather helps, mulching and watering in dry weather also helps.


From RE of Fostoria — Every year, I have lots of green beans. My mother taught me that if you pick green beans when they are tender and not too large, they will keep producing. In other words, pick them when the beans are just noticeable in pods. 

If you do, you will double your yield. (Thank you my friend. Also mowing patch off when patch starts getting ugly will bring beans back again for another crop. Just do not mow too close, best is as high as you lawnmower will go. FJ)


Dear Farmer John, How can I prevent my strawberries from being damaged by little black beetles. They eat holes in the berries. WE love you column, something good to read and enjoy every week. DM of Millersburg

Dear DM, These pests love only ripe berries, or berries that some throw in the patch and ripen. 

The remedy is to pick berries before they get dead ripe. And if you find one bad or too ripe, then throw it completely away from the patch or bury at least 6-8 inches deep. 

Just don’t miss any ripe berries, so pick clean each time you do pick. If you do all these things, you won’t have a problem with the little black beetles called sap beetles.


Dear Farmer John, Could you recommend a good tasting carrot and beet? Ones that grow well and taste good would be preferred. I appreciate your help on this question. RG of Caldwell

Dear RG, Please don’t get too caught up in the type of veggie, most taste and do well if weather cooperates and you do your part. 

For myself, I prefer Detroit red beets and Chantenay or Danver carrots, but have tasted a lot of others that were very good too. Any readers that would like to share their favorites are most welcome to write me …


Dear Farmer John, You have mentioned planting marigolds with veggies to confuse the bugs. Is there a certain marigold that works better than others? KY of Holmesville

Dear KY, No it does not matter, any will help.


Dear Farmer John, I love this easy onion soup and I hope you and your readers do too. God Bless you for all your work in helping others. AM, New Concord

Cream of onion soup — Gently cook 2 cups onions chopped with 1/2 cup butter. Blend in 1/4 cup flour, 1-1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir in 4 cups milk. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute.


If you have a good recipe for Green Tomato bread, vegetable soup, cheese ball, meatballs or zucchini casserole, need help around the homestead with a problem, have a garden question, have a hint or tip, write me at: Farmer John, P.O. Box 234, Groveport, OH 43125. Have a great week and a wonderful spring .... summer is coming.


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