Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Growing Tomatoes Part 3

The sooner tomatoes are planted outside, the sooner they will begin to produce ripe fruit, and there are a few tricks that make it possible to plant tomatoes in the garden a bit earlier.The garden soil may be warmed up by covering it with clear or white plastic for a few days. The small tomato plants will be much happier with their roots in warm soil. Once the plants are in the garden, the foliage can be protected from a light frost by covering the plants with plastic gallon jugs that have their bottoms removed, or with plastic or fabric sheets placed over the plants. Suspend this over the plants using wire hoops so the plastic or fabric doesn't touch the foliage.

When you are ready to transplant your tomato seedlings into the garden, be sure to choose a spot for them that gets full sun for at least 8 hours a day. Dig a hole for each plant that is large enough to easily accommodate all of the roots. Before transplanting, water the plantswhile they are still in the pot. This not only helps prevent transplant shock, but it also makes it easier to slip the plant from the pot.Tomato plants will grow roots from any part of the stem that is buried beneath the soil, so the plants will benefit from being planted deeply, up to the first set of leaves. If the plants have spent too much time in pots and have become leggy, they may be planted in furrows with their too-long stems laid in the furrow and gently buried with soil. This will help the plants develop a strong root system while preventing the long stem from breaking.Fill in the planting hole with soil, pressing the soil in firmly to eliminate air pockets. Then give the plants a good drink of water, thoroughly soaking the soil around them.

If you plan on staking or trellising your tomato plants, they can be planted about 2-3 feet apart. Plants that will be allowed to sprawl on the ground will need more room and should be planted 4-6 feet apart. If the soil is still a bit cool, your white or clear plastic may be placed on the ground beneath the plants to warm the soil. Once warmer temperatures have settled in, this plastic should be removed to avoid burning the foliage with reflective heat.It is important to keep tomato leaves up off the soil to help prevent soil-borne diseases from attacking the plants. This can easily be done by applying straw mulch around the plants. But straw mulch should only be applied once the soil has warmed up above 70 degrees. If the mulch is laid down while the soil is still cool, it will keep the soil from warming up as it should, your tomato plants will suffer from cold feet and won't produce as well as they could.Planting your tomatoes the right way is an important step toward a bountiful harvest of sweet, juicy fruit.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Growing Tomatoes Part 2

Bottom heat helps to speed the germination process. Garden centers and catalogs sell heating cables made just for this purpose, but you may also set the pots or flats on top of your water heater to take advantage of its warmth for germination.As soon as the seedlings emerge, they should be moved to an area with full light, such as a sunny window or under grow lights. They should have light on them for about 12 hours a day and should be kept at a temperature of 70-80 degrees.

Fertilize the seedlings with a water-soluble fertilizer when they're about 3-4 weeks old, but dilute the fertilizer to about half the strength recommended on the label. The little tomato plants will be accustomed to fairly steady and warm temperatures indoors, and planting them directly outside could come as quite a shock to them, especially when nighttime temperatures are still cool.

About a week before it's time to plant them in the garden, begin to gradually introduce them to outdoor conditions. This is called hardening off, and it simply involves moving the plants gradually to conditions more like what they'll experience in the garden.Start hardening them off by moving the plants to an enclosed porch for a day or two, then to a sunny spot outdoors that is protected from the wind. If the temperature threatens to take a drastic downward dip, bring the plants back indoors until it warms up outside again.Tomatoes were originally found only in very warm climates. They don't like to be cold and should not be planted outside until the danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up. That's typically late May or even early June in northeast Ohio.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Growing Tomatoes: Part 1

Tomatoes are without a doubt one of the most popular vegetables in the home garden, and for good reason. Home grown tomatoes are very nutritious and much more flavorful than those bought from a store. Tomato plants will produce an abundance of food for the home gardener if properly planted and cared for.
Tomatoes require a fairly long growing season, and for this reason the seeds are typically planted indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before they can be planted in the garden. The seeds can be sown ¼ inch deep in small pots or flats in a soil less potting mix or sterilized potting soil. It takes 7 to 14 days at a temperature of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the seeds to germinate. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Placing plastic wrap loosely over the pots or flats will help maintain humidity necessary for germination, but the plastic wrap must be removed once the seedlings sprout.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Container Gardening may be the way to go

The nice thing about container gardening is you can change the soil every year and have a new medium to grow plants. And be able to keep them from harms way when the weather gets bad. But to me being able to watch them develope and grow is something you can enjoy all season long, as you care for them and watch them flourish. And enjoy the bounty which you grew. But remember save those seeds.
Another nice thing about container gardening is you can place the plants in a way that is pleasing to the eye and give you that Zen kind of feeling which is good for the plant and you.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Our New Friend

Last week I heard some noise in our atrium in the bathroom, when I looked out into the atrium this little guy was out there making a little nest to sleep in. He has been there for a week now and he seems to be quite comfortable. When I get up in the morning to go to work I will see him all curled up and he will sleep till about 4 or 5 in the afternoon
Sound Asleep



It’s funny how animals learn to adapt to their environment. We have been feeding him a little but we don’t want him to depend on us alone to survive. After he gets up he will come to the front of the house and eat and drink his water and off he goes into the night.

Good Night

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Compost Tea

Compost tea is effective on many pests because of certain microorganisms that exist in it naturally. Here's how to make compost tea at home. Use any container but a plastic bucket is easy for the homeowner. Fill the 5-15 gallon bucket half full of compost and finish filling with water. Let the mix sit for 10-14 days and then dilute and spray on the foliage of any and all plants including fruit trees, perennials, annuals, vegetables and roses, and other plants, especially those that are regularly attacked by insects or fungal pests. It's very effective for example on black spot on roses and early blight on tomatoes. How to dilute the dark compost tea before using depends on the compost used. A rule of thumb is to dilute the leach ate down to one part compost liquid to four to ten parts water. It should look like iced tea. Be sure to strain the solids out with old pantyhose, cheese cloth, or row cover material. Add two tablespoons of molasses to each gallon of spray for more power. Add citrus oil for even greater pest killing power.

Another good thing about Compost Tea is it good nourishment for the roots of plants. You will have to make quite a bit of tea but the benefits are much better. Now don’t use the compost Tea all the time , about once every two weeks should be enough.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Growing Asparagus

This post has a little more detail about growing asparagus then the last one.

When growing asparagus choose a site where your plants won’t be disturbed, and where you and they can happily coexist for 10 to 15 years. Grow asparagus in partial or full sun (does best in full sun) in soil with a pH of 6.5 to 7.0; be sure to use plenty of organic matter that is rich in potassium and phosphorus.

Buy asparagus crowns (established root systems with dormant top growth) at your nursery or though a catalog. In cool regions, plant them in early spring when the soil temperature has reached about 50 degrees. In warm regions plant in late winter.
To prepare the soil for planting make a 7-inch deep V-shaped furrow (or more, depending on how many crowns you’re planting) and in each one a handful of wood ashes, a handful of Bonemeal, and an inch layer of compost or well rotted manure.

Soak the crowns in compost tea for about 10 minutes or so and lay them on their sides on top of the organic matter, 12 to 16 inches apart, in rows 4 feet apart. Fill in the furrows gradually as shoots emerge, taking care not to cover any foliage, eventually the furrow will be level with the soil surface. Don’t bother spreading out the roots, they will find their way down.
Weed regularly and mulch heavily with chopped leaves or straw after you have filled in the furrows. Side-dress plants with a balanced organic fertilizer in the late summer, and top the bed in organic mulch in the fall.

Give new plantings one to two inches of water a week, after that water only when rainfall is scant. Refrain from harvesting any spears during your plants first year in your garden. Each spear needs to develop so that the roots can grow stronger and more productive. The second year you can pick a few that reach the size of your index finger. The third year pick finger sized spears for two to four weeks in the spring. In later years take all the finger sized spears you want for six to eight weeks, or until the spears that come up are thin and spindly.