Posts tagged with planting

Fall Food Plots – Trying New Seed Mixes

Posted on September 14, 2017 by Leave a comment

We haven’t planted new food plots since 2014 and it is time (Summer 2017) to plant some fall annual food plots in preparation for perennial food plots in 2018. We have a half acre of three year old Imperial Whitetail™ Brand Clover which needs to replaced in 2018 with at least an acre of Whitetail Clover. This late summer (August 5th) we planted six seed mixes from the Whitetail Institute. We have found reliability and innovation with Whitetail Institute products and seldom try other brands. Seed selection is one of the most important aspects of planting food plots. This time we are planting Pure Attraction®, Ambush®, Winter Greens™, Beets & Greens™, Tall Tine Tubers™ and Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus™. These are all annual seed blends and should be killed during the winter in this western New York location.

3 year old neglected Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot

3 year old neglected Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot

We started in June preparing for this planting with a late burn down. I say late because of very rainy spring weather. We did not apply the first application of glyphosate until the weeds were about 18 inches tall in most places. We used a heavy rate of glyphosate to control perennial weeds, with quackgrass being our biggest concern. We made a second application about the third week of July. To attempt to control quackgrass, you must make a second application when it re-grows following the first application. Since we are planting fall annual food plots, we will have another opportunity to control the quackgrass, if it regrows. We will make another burn down application next spring, before we plant our perennial planting of Whitetail Clover.

Food plot "Burn Down" number two

Food plot “Burn Down” number two

When we look at food plot seed blends in advertising and online, we get an idea of what is in the package, but to know exactly what is in the package you must read the Seed Label on the package you purchase. The seed label is required by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). This label will tell you the specific varieties, percent pure seed, germination percentage, origin of the seed (state), percent weed seed, percent inert matter, germination test date, amount of noxious weeds, container weight, etc.

Here is the seed label information for the varieties in the seed bags we purchased: These seed mixes contain a high percentage of coating material which is very important to the germination and weight distribution of the seed as it goes out a broadcast seed spreader. It is better to ensure that the seed you plant will grow than to purchase uncoated seed that may not germinate in adverse conditions. The coating is All-Vantage containing RainBond which will also helps water adhere to the seed in dry conditions.

Tall Tine Tubers: We like Tall Tine Tubers which we have grown before. The turnips provide foliage for the deer to eat after a freeze in the fall and the turnip “bulbs” to eat throughout the winter and early spring.
Tall Tine Turnip – 55.24%
Purple Top Turnip – 10.48%
Other Crop – 0%
Weed Seed – 0.05%
Inert Matter (includes 34.18% Coating Material)

Beets & Greens: This is the first time we have planted this seed mix. We are excited to see how the sugar beets in this mix preform. We have grown the other plants in the mix previously including Radish, Kale, Rape, and Tall Tine Turnips. It appears to be a mix that will nourish deer in late fall and possibly through winter and early spring. We had difficulty calibrating our hand held seeder to spread this seed because of the size difference between the larger beet seed and the smaller brassica/turnip seed. When we opened the seeder up to accommodate the beet seed, it let out too many brassicas. We feel this was the cause of our planting too much seed on a smaller area than the 1/2 acre intended. We may need to look at other seeder options.
WINA 412 Radish – 25.59%
WINA 210 Kale – 18.87%
Trophy Rape – 18.26%
Newbie Sugar Beet – 14.81%
Tall Tine Turnip – 2.95%
Other crop – 0.05%
Inert Matter – (includes 19.04 % coating material)
Weed Seed – 0.05%

Winter Greens: This is a good all around annual fall food plot mix. We have planted this previously. The deer will come in to eat it after a frost or two. In our area in western N.Y. State, it will be consumed from about mid Oct. until it gets really cold in mid January, maybe longer if there is snow cover. The deer will dig through the snow for it!
WINA 210 Forage Kale – 24.32%
Premier Forage Kale – 24.28 %
Dwarf Essex Rape – 4.44%
Trophy Rape – 3.29%
Dwarf Siberian Kale – 3.28%
Purple Top Turnip – 0.79%
Other crop – 0.05%
Inert Matter (includes 34.2% Coating Material)
Weed Seed – 0.08%

Ambush: This is a new seed mix for us and we are anxious to see how the lupines, peas, Alex Berseem Clover, sugar beets and Annual Ryegrass do in this mix. Our initial impression is that this mix germinated slowly, and the Alex Berseem Clover, and lupines germinate and develop slowly. Since the pea and lupine seed are large seeds and the percents in the seed mix are derived by weight, there are really not many lupine and pea seeds that have an opportunity to germinate. We’ll have to see how it looks in October and how much the deer feed on it. In our case, we may also need to change our planting procedure to make sure the bigger lupine and pea seeds are covered with more soil to get a higher germination percentage.
Amiga White Lupine – 25.88%
WINA 204 Peas – 19.80
Lumen White Lupine – 15.97
Whitetail 906590 Oats – 11.96
Alex Beseem Clover – 9.88
Newbie Sugar Beet – 5.98%
DH-3 Annual Ryegrass – 4.99
Other crop – 0.05%
Inert Matter (includes 5.10% Coating Material)
Weed Seed -0.06%

Pure Attraction: This is a new seed mix for us. We really like Whitetail Oats and this was an attractive mix to us since we wanted to combine some other seed types with our oat planting. One of the attributes we like about the “sweet” oats is that the deer will start eating it almost immediately, where we have to wait for frosts for many of the “greens”.

Whitetail 906590 Oats – 38.89%
Whitetail 105069 Oats – 35.87
Fridge Triticale – 12.34%
Bolero Peas – 4.41%
Brundage Wheat – 3.72%
WINA 210K Forage Kale -1.045
Premier Forage Kale – 1.04%
Dwarf Essex Rape – 0.225
Tall Tine Turnip – 0.22%
Trophy Rape – 0.14%
Dwarf Siberian Kale – 0.14%
Other Crop – 0.07%
Inert Matter (includes 5.10% Coating Material)
Weed Seed – 0.07%

Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus we have planted previously several times. I do not currently have the seed label for the seed we planted, but I can add that later. The majority of this seed is uncoated oat seed. We really like this product! The deer feed on it almost immediately and will continue to feed on it until it is frozen out in our area. It continues to grow and the deer keep it pruned almost down to the ground. Due to abnormal growing conditions and our first time experimentation using a UTV as a cultipacker, we chose to over seed our entire planting this year with a half rate of the “sweet” oats. So far, this has proven to be a benefit, although we did get excellent germination for almost all our seed mixes.

Imperial Whitetail Oats over-seeded at half rate over all plantings

Imperial Whitetail Oats over-seeded at half rate over all plantings

Our planting process this year included two burn-down applications primarily to control perennial quack grass, followed by three discings, planting, then fertilizing. We would like to have incorporated the fertilizer in with the discings, however with approaching rains we wanted to make sure we had the seed planted, and germination confirmed before we committed to purchasing fertilizer. We also felt we probably had enough phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to get the plants going. There might be an advantage of making one late heavy N-P-K application after germination verses a split application of an early N-P-K application followed by a later Nitrogen (N) application. Ideally you would make the two fertilizer applications. We’ll see how big the turnips and sugar beets get by November 15th?

Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus germinating!

Imperial Whitetail Oats Plus germinating!

We try to follow the seeding rate on the package, usually I purchase 1/2 acre bags of seed. Sometimes it is a challenge to get the rate correctly and achieve optimum spacing between plants. If the seeding rate is to close, you get a lot of spindly plants. If it is too thin, you get gaps which allow weeds to get established. Particularly with turnips, radishes and sugar beets, if they are planted too thickly, the root bulb will be small. For these rooting plants you want them planted thin enough to grow big “bulbs”. Having enough fertilizer will also help grow big bulbs if the plants have enough space.

Always exciting to see good germination and plant spacing!

Always exciting to see good germination and plant spacing!

An example of planting too thickly

An example of planting too thickly

We had one area that we decided to turn into a food plot late in the summer and it only received a mowing and one burn down application. It was very trashy even after it had been disced about 4 times. We planted extra seed and oversewed it with the “Sweet” oats. It appears to have had good germination and we expect this plot to do well.

Good germination in a really trashy area!

Good germination in a really trashy area!

After germination it is great to watch the plants get established and in some cases fight for light and dominance with their neighbors. If you can’t get your seeding rate perfect, it’s better to plant extra seed than not have enough planted in our opinion.

Oats and Brassicas getting established! Tillering - Sinking roots!

Oats and Brassicas getting established! Tillering – Sinking roots!

Our most shady/secluded plot getting established!

Our most shady/secluded plot getting established!

We have one newly cleared area where we have cut down relatively large trees to expand our food plot area and to let more light in on or existing plots. We have cut the trees, harvested the firewood, burned the branches and have planted this area for the first time. This creates the need to disc the soil and plant around the stumps. We do not plan to remove the stumps and all our food plots have stumps in varying stages of decay.

Planting around the stumps!

Planting around the stumps!

We have planted about 2 1/2 acres of food plots this year, some is planted in between rows of english walnut trees that we have planted. We have our first nut on a tree this year! We did not plant blocks of the same seed mix types, but alternated seed mix types in about 30 foot bands throughout the plots. In previous years we have planted in blocks which resulted in some plots being pretty bare after the deer at almost everything. With this approach all the plots should have something growing throughout the entire hunting season.

Multiple Food Plots with Multiple Seed Mixes Planted

Multiple Food Plots with Multiple Seed Mixes Planted

With the food plots established and the expectation that big bucks from all over will come to flock into these food plots, we decided to build a simple hunting stand to overlook about 2/3 of the plots. At the very least it will give us a place to sit, out of the rain, in a comfortable chair while we watch the show.

Simple Hunting Stand

Simple Hunting Stand

™ ®

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Planting Garlic using Bulbils (Bulblets)

Posted on February 24, 2016 by Leave a comment

We are not garlic experts by any means, but we wanted to share our current experience.

A neighbor gardener gave me a dried mature scape (the remnants of the garlic flower). The mature scape on this variety is like a little cluster of about 75, one quarter inch long miniature garlic cloves. Scape normally only develop on hardneck varieties of garlic, however occasionally an individual softneck plant will grow one. These can be planted to be increased into a future garlic crop. I just takes a year or three longer. From what we could research these little garlics are called either Bulbils or Bulblets. We are going to refer to them as bulbils. We are going to plant about a third of these bulbils in a potting soil six pack, 4 to a cell, for future transplanting. We will also plant the other 2/3 directly into garden soil.

Garlic Bulbils (or bulblets)

Garlic Bulbils (or bulblets)

Each bulbil has a rooting end which was attached to the scape and a shoot end which is the very pointed opposite end. When you plant these it probably doesn’t matter which way they are oriented since they are so small but we tried to orient them shoot end up and root end down. Why not save the plant a little energy and point it in the right direction. Who wants to do summersaults buried in the dark ground.

Bulbils (Bulblets) oriented like a large garlic bulb

Bulbils (Bulblets) oriented like a large garlic bulb

We like to use a pair of tweezers for planting seeds and now bulbils in the potting soil. Basically we use the pointed end to make a small depression in which to place the bulbil a little less than a half inch deep. This depth would vary by garlic variety as bulbil size varies by variety.

Bulbils (Bulblets) planted and ready to water

Bulbils (Bulblets) planted and ready to water

Watering:: You may have noticed the single hole in the bottle top lid our first photo. We attempted to make a dribbler watering bottle with this lid. It did not work because it did not have a vent hole to let the air enter. So we re-enginered the bottle top lid to have a large pouring hole and a smaller air vent hole. This worked extremely well for watering the potting soil in the six packs. We also added bottom water for the water to absorb through holes in the bottom the six-packs.

Two holes in the bottle cap for more controlled watering - the small hole lets in air!

Two holes in the bottle cap for more controlled watering – the small hole lets in air!

The bulbil should grow in the first season into a small garlic bulb which may be 1/4″ to one inch in diameter, that is not divided into cloves. The second year you may grow full size bulbs but it may mature in to a cluster of small cloves. Those cloves can be planted and hopefully mature into full size bulbs in the third year. The bulbs and cloves need to be replanted each year in the proper spacing for the size of the bulb or clove. This is a great way to share your garlic with a neighbor gardener or increase your own crop size. Across varieties the whole process can take from 2 to 5 years.

Germinating garlic bulbils

Germinating garlic bulbils

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Coke Bottle Greenhouse

Posted on February 10, 2016 by Leave a comment

A simple and inexpensive way to start a seedling or two is to use a small coke bottle to make a miniature greenhouse. This can be done with other plastic containers as well. We picked this bottle type because it narrows in the middle. The middle can then be cut away and the top portion of the bottle will fit over the bottom portion, creating a removable “greenhouse” lid. It is important that the seedling can be easily removed once mature enough for transplanting outside. Using jiffy pellets, a small peat pot or containing the potting mix in a newspaper shell are obvious options.

Cut the bottle in half and remove part of the narrow section

Cut the bottle in half and remove part of the narrow section

Once the seeds are planted in the potting soil, it will take a few days for them to germinate. We usually plant a few more seeds than required to make sure we have successful germination. Once the seeds germinate they can be thinned to meet your requirements.

Miniature Greenhouse

Miniature Greenhouse

It is important to cut small drainage holes in the bottom of the bottle. This allows excess water to be removed and air to become available to the roots.

Cut drainage holes in the bottom

Cut drainage holes in the bottom

For ventilation, a small hole in the bottle cap will help or the entire top half of the lid can be removed or the bottle cap, . Ventilation is required as the temperature and the amount of sunlight increases. If too much heat develops in the bottle, it can kill or injure the seedlings.

Remove the cap for ventilation

Remove the cap for ventilation

Moisture needs to be added as required for germination and continued growth. After germination it is a good practice to let the potting soil dry a little between waterings, but you never want the seedling to be dry enough to wilt.

Potting soil, Temperature and Moisture Control, Drainage

Potting soil, Temperature and Moisture Control, Drainage

The hole added to the top of the bottle cap and also the drainage holes can be made with several tool choices. We used the reamer/punch on a Swiss Army Knife. A drill bit could also be used.

Add a small ventilation hole in the cap

Add a small ventilation hole in the cap

Post Update 2/24/16

We decided to try 2″ Jiffy® pots to see if they would fit into the bottom of the small coke bottles. They fit perfectly and will make it easy to remove the mature transplant for planting. Since each Coke bottle bottom has drain holes, we needed an inexpensive container to hold the planter. We used a large fruit juice container (64 oz.?) We cut out the side and left the cap on. I worked great for holding 3 planters.

Using 2" Jiffy® Pots

Using 2″ Jiffy® Pots

We also found that the juice bottle containers will fit well with some six pack seedling containers if you need to hold your seedlings for a few days before planting.

Using juice containers as growing containers

Using juice containers as growing containers

The Coke bottle tops are working well acting as a mini-treehouse, and for ventilation at the same time. They hold the humidity near the seedling and also let heat escape. We use the caps with the small hole when the weather turns cold for a few days.

Opening Coke bottle tops for ventilation

Opening Coke bottle tops for ventilation

Update 2/26/16

We really like the results we have achieved from the Coke Bottle mini greenhouses. Our transplants are almost ready to be transplanted into the garden. It appears they will be easy to transplant with very little damage to the seedling in the process. We have come to prefer this method of raising the transplants vs. other methods.

We liked the Coke® bottle mini greenhouses best

We liked the Coke® bottle mini greenhouses best

We did need to fertilize the seedlings several times. The amount of nutrients in the potting soil was not sufficient to supply the necessary fertility until the seedling was ready for transplanting. The seedlings do require a lot of daily maintenance, including watering, managing sunlight availably, daytime and nighttime temperatures and wind. The seedlings also need to be thinned, most often, to one plant per unit.

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