Gardening, Part 2

Tis the season…

I discovered rats in my yard shed Sunday. They had worried open a rotten part in the siding and set up housekeeping in a large cardboard box with a unassembled firepit in it. The metal bowl nestled in all the styrofoam packing was a cozy home for a little colony in the making (I saw four of them fleeing). There was a potty area behind a large bin that holds the hoses in the winter, but still so much poo and pee on everything! I masked up (thanks, Covid!) hauled everything out, and swept up so much “detritus”. Husband patched the hole temporarily, but bigger repair needed.

@j9c I have some eucalyptus oil that I’ll douse over the back of the shed tomorrow. I already sprinkled cat pee soaked litter from my four useless indoor cuties around it.


Thanks for the advice. Though as I am in UK, a rat snake is not really an option! :wink:

We’re a bit too urban for some of those predators, too. The resident foxes mostly seem to occupy themselves trampolining on crop netting, digging up crops in their search for worms, and shredding anything else they feel like playing with.




Sweet-scented almond verbena blooms with a hairstreak butterfly drinking deep.

Part shade, out of the western sun, by our community pool.


My entire 2022 harvest.(1) One volunteer tomatillo plant in a raised bed that was gardened by someone else last year, and simply got scattered with flower seeds by me this year.

I know nothing about tomatillos. It’s getting cold out and things are dying back now, so I figured I’d pick them ready or not.

I think they are…really small? And I don’t think they got ripe. But they should still be edible, shouldn’t they? The four on the left don’t look so good. But the rest seem okay. I’m not really interested in cooking them. Can I just nibble on them?

(1) Oops, no, I also got a handful of chives from some seeds I scattered in a planter that was just sitting there with some old dirt in it.


I’m not sure I would eat them. Green = not ripe, surely. Not likely to taste very nice.

I’d toss them in a mixed chutney.


Got a question.

This year we bought a crap ton of potting soil to fill various hanging baskets, pots, and grow bags around the yard. We normally get new potting soil every year.

This year I made a sifter out of chicken wire/hardware cloth to reuse the soil next year. It did a good job getting all the roots out of the soil and fluffed it back up like new.

All the plants did well this year but not spectacular, probablly due to the hot dry summer and me over watering because I felt bad for the poor plants.

The question is, I’ve been reading pros and cons about sterilizing the soil for next year. Because there is so much soil the easiest way would be spread it out on a blue tarp and use a hydrogen peroxide water solution in a pump up sprayer.

Lots of people say do it, lots say don’t bother if there was no disease or insect damage to the plants.

Any thoughts?


i reuse soil in my beds and pots. after one bed is finished producing, the dirt gets thoroughly cleaned of roots, turned and fluffed, manure tea added and then a soil drench with organic hoticultural oil to keep any dormant pests reduced or stopped. feed and water (i did install slow soaking irrigation, because, like you, i tended to overwater) and we’ve seen a significant reduction in bugs (whiteflies, thrips, aphids) and got more peppers and beans as well as unmolested leafy greens!
i get this stuff. you can pobably find it at a good nursery.

ETA: here, we have to reuse amended soil, because ther is no topsoil. it would get very expensive to buy new soil every year!


I’d say don’t bother unless there was disease. But do add some compost to boost the nutrient profile.

ETA: @FloridaManJefe routine sounds good! A bit of pest control without killing all those microbes that are good to have in the soil


right! i am afraid that using the H2O2 sterile drench would do just that.


Okay, so no sterilizing. I’m going to store the soil in some of these. I have room in my garage but the next question is, store the stuff damp with the lid on or leave it open to dry out?


are those breathable? i would definitely do the organic drench, but don’t store like wet wet,. i know when we do get bags of soil to top up a bed, the bags are pretty sealed up and the contents are damp to wet, depending on the conditions they were stored in. no telling when they were actually bagged, then pallet wrapped before getting to the nursery/garden center.


They’re not breathable, I tried finding some that were but no luck.

We have a bunch of 10 gallon grow bags but I don’t want those sitting in the garage full of soil because I’d have to stack them and sooner or later they would tip over.

Side note, this was the first year we tried the grow bags, tomatoes did really well. We had some baskets that weren’t doing well so we transplanted them into the bags and within a couple weeks they filled out and were full of flowers, they’re still going strong now. We have one filled with gerbera daisy, they went from oh just throw them out to look at those things go.


Tomatillos are always green, they’re what green salsa and enchilada sauce are made with.

@zfirphdn: Those are terribly small. Mature tomatillos are around the size of a Sweet 100 tomato. I’ve got volunteer plant in side yard that has probably produced similarly sized fruit, but we’ve got at least 3 more weeks :crossed_fingers:until hard frost, so I’m letting it go for now.


I think I was confusing the tomatillo with the physalis / cape gooseberry. (Physalis Peruviana)


P. peruviana is closely related to the tomatillo.


Tomatillos are a key ingredient in fresh and cooked Mexican and Central-American green sauces. The green color and tart flavor are the main culinary contributions of the fruit. Purple and red-ripening cultivars often have a slight sweetness, unlike the green- and yellow-ripening cultivars, so generally are used in jams and preserves.


yup. cool. we grew purple tomatillos one year and i made my usual salsa verde (salsa moradas, in this case) and it was a bit sweeter than the green variety, but just as good slathered all over chicken enchiladas!


I recycle my potting compost every year. But much of it goes as mulch on other beds. I do mix it half-and-half sometimes with new compost for my potato bags (where quite a lot of it comes from - so, technically, some of it gets recycled more than once) but I do add some fertiliser or other feed to it. (e.g. Growmore).

Before recycling it goes into used compost bags and sits around in those for several months, so fine roots tend to break down before the bags get re-opened.

ETA re the non-breathable bags, as I said, I use old compost bags, so not perfectly sealed but not very breathable at all. And it is stored slightly damp to dry, but it is never bone-dry. There are usually some worms in it and they seem to like living there until the bags get emptied for re-use. I do store them under cover so they don’t really get rained on. If you half fill old compost bags (or grow-bags) they stack quite well - it’s easy to make the tops flat for the next one to sit on. I get mine 4 bags high. If I remember, I may take some pics.


For what it’s worth, old potting soil is fine for nasturtiums. They prefer to grow in depleted soil. Too fertile and all you get are leaves.


I sow a few nasturtiums in my well-composted veg plot and they are very leafy indeed, with relatively few flowers, so this bears it out.


The very first cherry tomato from my hanging garden!

I am so proud, just like this lady.