Category Archives: Compost

Fall Gardens

The official start of summer is still 9 day away, however if you plan to plant a Fall garden, now is the time to select your Fall garden plot and ready it for planting. It is also near the time to plant your seed to establish seedling transplants.

New Fall garden site selection.
The major consideration for garden placement is sunlight. All vegetables require some sunlight; the most popular vegetables require full sun. “Full” sun means at least 8 hours of intense, direct exposure. If such exposure is not received by crops such as tomatoes, peppers and squash (vegetables that contain seed), the plants grow spindly, they have weak stems, drop blooms and are generally nonproductive. Shade in the afternoon (after 3 p.m.) is wonderful; shade in the morning is acceptable. There are vegetables which produce passably in the shade. Generally, those crops such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, root crops (carrots, turnips) which do not produce a fruit with seed will yield sparingly in semi- shaded areas but even these crops will do better in a full sun condition. Crops such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and cucumbers may not produce anything if grown in the shade; plants will grow tall and spindly. The production potential of the garden’s most popular vegetables depends solely on the amount of direct sunlight they receive.

Turf grass MUST be removed. Don’t think that you can dig or till this existing grass into the garden soil and get rid of it. Even a well-tilled, pulverized garden soil will contain enough bermuda grass sprigs to cause troubles for years to come. New garden areas are doomed before they begin if all bermuda and other lawn grass is not completely removed BEFORE tillage begins. If a raised garden is being considered, sod should be removed BEFORE additional soil is put into the prepared frame.

Chemicals applied to the grass to kill it rather than pulling it out. There are several brand names which contain the weed and grass killer glyphosate. These include Roundup and Kleenup check ingredients on label for the term “glyphosate” and follow label instructions for application rate.

Quick (30-60 days) maturing vegetables are: beets (1 1/2 feet) FT; bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; leaf lettuce (1 foot) FT; mustard (1 1/2 feet) FT; radishes (1 1/2 feet) FT; spinach (1 foot) FT; summer squash (3 feet) FS; turnips (1 1/2 feet) FT; and turnip greens (1 1/2 feet) FT.

Moderate (60-80 days) maturing vegetables are: broccoli (3 feet) FT; Chinese cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; carrots (1 foot) FT; cucumbers (1 foot) FS; corn (6 feet) FS; green onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; kohlrabi (1 1/2 feet) FT; lima bush beans (1 1/2 feet) FS; okra (6 feet) FS; parsley (1 1/2 feet) FT; peppers (3 feet) FS; and cherry tomatoes (4 feet) FS.

Slow (80 days or more) maturing vegetables are: Brussels sprouts (2 feet) FT; bulb onions (1 1/2 feet) FT; cabbage (1 1/2 feet) FT; cantaloupes (1 foot) FS; cauliflower (3 feet) FT; eggplant (3 feet) FS; garlic (1 foot) FT; Irish potatoes (2 feet) FS; pumpkins (2 feet) FS; sweet potatoes (2 feet) FS; tomatoes (4 feet) FS; watermelon (1 foot) FS; and winter squash (1 foot) FS.

Using your Spring and Summer garden site. Once the decision to have a fall garden has been reached, a gardener must take action drastic action. You must pull out some of those plants that have been nurtured from “babies” in the spring to monsters now. This takes courage and faith! It is recommend that all plants, weeds included, be removed except okra, cherry tomatoes and pole beans if the foliage is healthy. Large-fruited tomatoes may have some small ones still hanging on, but unless you have at least 20-25 good-sized fruit, pull them out, make green tomato relish or chow-chow. Pull the old plants up and discard them. Give them to the garbage man. Don’t try to compost insect and disease ridden plants.

The two charts below are for planting Fall crops in zone 7.
You will need to adjust your planting dates to suite the USDA zone you garden in.

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Fig Tree In Your Garden… It’s Possible

Figs are one of the oldest cultivated crops and were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They are a semi-tropical tree that is easy to grow in areas with long, hot summers.

Fig is a deciduous, small tree or bush like, usually growing 8 to 20 feet tall, In cooler zones often more bush like than tree like, with large, lobed, deep green leaves. The first crop of fruit in spring is called the “breba” crop, maturing from buds set on last years growth. The main crop that follows in the fall(this years growth) matures on the new growth made that summer. In cooler parts of the U.S. the breba crop is sometimes lost to late spring frosts.

There are a number of fig varieties adapted to different regions of the country.
Good varieties include:
These are Self-Pollinating and you will not need a second tree for a pollinator tree.
zones 5-10, ‘Chicago Hardy’.
zones 6-11, ‘Brown Turkey’
zones 7-10, ‘Celeste’
This is 3 of the most common varieties sold in nursery’s.

Set out new trees in spring. Set bare root trees atop a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots down and away without unduly bending them. Identify original planting depth by finding color change from dark to light as you move down the trunk towards the roots.

Container grown(potted) trees, remove the plant from its pot and eliminate circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and cutting through the roots with shears.

Young trees need regular watering while they are getting established, and established trees in dry climates will need deep watering at least every week or two. A deep layer of mulch over the root zone will help to conserve moisture.

Figs generally don’t need much pruning to be productive. Shape trees lightly during the dormant season and remove dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.

In the northern parts of the U.S. figs may benefit from frost protection. In late fall, tie the tree’s branches up to make it more compact, fashion a cage of chicken wire around the tree and fill it with dry straw for insulation. Wrap the outside of the cage with layers of burlap and plastic. Remove the wrappings and straw in spring just before new growth begins and after the danger of hard frost.

Fruits should be completely ripe before they are picked. Ripe figs will be fully colored, starting to bend over at the neck and will be slightly soft. Pick them with the stem still attached. Fresh figs will keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

Hint Eat whole. Figs have a mildly sweet taste and can be enjoyed fresh and on their own.
The skin of the fig is edible. You do not need to peel the fig before eating it. Merely twist off the stem and eat the fig skin and all.
If you do not like the texture of the skin, you can peel it off before eating the fig. After twisting off the stem, carefully use your fingers to peel away the skin starting from the exposed top.

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My First Garden – My First Garden Was A Failure

Oklahoma State University said “An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal.” The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.

Many urban gardeners have a small area with a less than optimal site on which to grow vegetables. It is still possible to grow a vegetable garden by modifying certain cultural practices and types of crops grown.
\Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day.
There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips.
If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.

Beginners Gardening Tips
In order to have a successful garden, the gardener must
follow a few rules.
• Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
• Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
• Make use of organic materials such as compost when and where available.
• Use varieties recommended for your USDA zone and area.
• Thin plants when small. Cut do not pull them up, pulling them up may damage the root system to remaining seedlings.
• Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
• Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
• Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential problems.
• Keep the garden free of weeds, insects, and diseases.
• Wash and clean tools and sprayers after use.
• Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
• When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.

First time and beginners common gardening mistakes.
Planting too early. It never fails that somewhere in mid-February a warm front comes through and everyone gets bit by the gardening bug.
Air temperature, is a bad indicator of when to plant. Soil temperature is the key to knowing if a tomato or pepper will survive the cold, not the air temperature.
Most summer crops prefer soil temperatures at least 55-60 F. Closer to 65 F if you are talking about sensitive crops like okra and super sweet corn. Planting too early when soil temperatures are too cool will cause plants to stunt or other disorders such as leaf roll or misshapen fruit. Check soil temperatures with a soil thermometer or through your local county extension office to know when it is safe to plant.

2. Planting when it is too wet. Planting when the soil is too wet is about as bad as planting when the soil is too cold. The soil should only be worked and planted in when there is a slight bit of moisture. Tilling or planting in soils that are too wet will cause poor seed germination and transplant survival. To know if the soils are the proper moisture to plant, grab a handful of soil from the garden and squeeze it tightly together in your fist. Take a finger and push it into the soil ball you just formed. If it breaks apart into multiple pieces, the soil is perfect for working. If your finger pushes into the ball and it doesn’t break apart, it’s too wet to work and may need a few more days to dry out.

3. Not controlling weeds. Weeds can be one of the biggest headaches for both the beginning and experienced gardener. It’s always easier to try and keep the weeds out then to get them out later. Weeds compete for nutrition and moisture, and take up valuable root space from our intended crop. Prevent them through the use of mulches that include pine straw, wheat straw, wood chips, newspaper or some type of landscape fabric. Weeds can also be kept at bay by the use of both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. Make sure you read the label on all chemicals to be sure you can use it on the vegetable type you are growing.

4. Improper fertilization. Nutrition is vitally important to all types of vegetables. Too much or too little nutrition can cause major problems in the garden. Too much fertilizer can cause excessive vegetative growth and few blooms or fruit.
It can also lead to an increase in your weed population. Too little fertilizer will make plants stunted and unable to produce a good crop. Start with a soil sample through your county extension office to determine the nutritional needs as well as the pH of the soil.
In general, most vegetables need fertilization at planting time and then not until they put out their first small fruit. Additional fertilizer may be needed on continuous producing items such as tomatoes, okra, peppers and others.

5. Water is the most essential component of a successful garden. Just like fertilizer, however, too little or too much can cause more harm than good.
Most vegetables need between 1 to 2 inches of water a week to thrive. Frequency depends on the soil type and the amount of supplemental rainfall we receive. It’s far healthier for the plants and much more efficient to irrigate with either soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Overhead watering does work, but can lead to foliar diseases and also wastes a lot of water wetting non-target areas.

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Brussels sprouts – the little Cabbage that can

brussels-sproutsNamed after the city of Brussels, Brussels sprouts were first made popular in Belgium, where they’ve been grown since about 1200AD. Sprouts are buds that grow in the axils of each leaf. They look like tiny cabbages and are considered a type of wild cabbage. The plant itself looks like a small palm tree and the sprouts grow along the trunk like stem.

Brussels sprouts like a sweet or slightly alkaline soil. Soil pH should be at least 6.5. A good amount of organic matter and mulching will help maintain the moisture they need for their intense growth. In colder climates, start seeds indoors and set outside when there’s no threat of a hard frost. Be sure to allow the full time outdoors for required days to harvest.

In warmer climates, fall planting is preferred. You should be able to direct seed in mid-summer for a late fall/winter harvest. You may also be able to squeeze in a second, early spring crop, direct seeding in February and harvesting in May.

Direct seed in warm areas. Otherwise start seed indoors approximately 5-7 weeks before last expected frost. Cover seeds with 1/4 – 1/2 inch of soil and keep moist. Transplant when the seedlings are about 3″ tall. Don’t allow seedlings to become root bound or the plant will remain stunted when transplanted. Space plants about 2 ft. apart with 3 ft. between rows or stagger plants 2 ft. apart in each direction, for a grid.

Fertilize twice a season once when the plants are about 12 inches high and again about a month before harvest is often recommended, but if you have a fertile soil to begin with, it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Brussels Sprouts are prone to the same problems as cabbage and broccoli. The most common pests are Cabbage looper, cabbage worm, cabbage root maggot, aphids, and Harlequin bugs.

Each sprout rows in the leaf axil or joint. They begin maturing from the bottom of the plant upwards. You can start harvesting when the lower sprouts reach the size of large marbles. Just be sure to pick before they get too large and start cracking and turning bitter. Some people prefer to cut, rather than pull the sprouts. Pulling is easy if you remove the leave below the sprout first, then twist and pull the sprout.

A few of the Varieties available are:

* ‘Bubbles’ F1 (85-90 days) Early and easy. Tolerates heat and drought. 2 inch sprouts. Resistant to Powdery Mildew & Rust.

* ‘Jade Cross’ F1 and ‘Jade Cross E’ F1(90 days) Jade Cross was a 1959 All-America Selections Winner. Both are compact plants good for windy locations. Sprout are slightly larger on Jade Cross E. Good disease resistance.

* ‘Long Island Improved’ OP (90 days) High yield. Another small plant that stands up to wind. Freezes well.

* ‘Oliver’ F1 (85 days) Early producer. Easy to pick, 1″ sprouts. Compact, disease resistant plants.

* ‘Royal Marvel’ F1 (85 days) Early and productive. Resistant to bottom rot and tip burn.

* ‘Rubine’ (85 – 95 days) Red Plants. Late maturing and lower yield than green varieties, but good flavor. 1 1/2 inch sprouts. Heirloom.

roasted Brussels sprouts
pan fried-Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts in garlic butter

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Raised Bed Gardening – Not Always A Good Thing

A gadzillion (gadzillion is a word..right?) words and post have been published about the benefits of raised bed gardening and square foot gardens.

In truth raised beds are best suited to cooler and wetter climates than weather conditions found in Americas West and Southwest.

Pros of Raised Bed Gardening:
More control over the location of the garden
Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants
More efficient draining
Can be easier on backs and knees due to less bending and stooping
Easier to keep out weeds
The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season
Better ability to keep out ground dwelling pests

Cons of Raised-Bed Gardening:
Can be more expensive to get started
Require careful planning to make sure there is enough room for plants that need to spread out, and to ensure that you can reach the middle to tend the plants
* Because raised beds drain so efficiently, they will also need to be watered more often and my require an irrigation system

In the west and southwest water is a valuable, often scarce commodity. Areas with little natural rain fall, daily temperatures at or above 95 degrees and humidity levels often dropping to 10% or 20%, tap water is an expensive way to water your garden.
Raised beds will often require watering 2 or even 3 times a day to prevent dry stressing plants.

Amending garden soil by digging in or tilling in large amounts of compost and planting directly in the amended soil very well may be a better choice over raised beds. You will over time develop a quality garden soil that holds moisture. Couple this with extensive use of mulch water needs will be greatly reduced and over heated soil temperatures can be moderated.
* This years mulch will be tilled into the soil as an amendment for next years garden.

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WWII Victory Garden Planting List – Heirlooms

Today,my friends I beg your pardon, but I’d like to speak of my Victory Garden.
With a hoe for a sword and citronella for armor, I ventured forth and became a farmer …
Ogden Nash 1943

Smithsonian Institution
WWII-era vegetables Victory Garden
The vegetables planted in the Smithsonian Institution’s recreated
Victory Garden were commonly grown during World War II and can
still be found through seed * catalogues and nurseries.

From a tiny seed I will feed my family. (unknown)

Spring Garden
* Carrot
Amarillo
St. Valery
* Lettuce
Bronze Arrow
Forellenschuluss
Black-Seeded Simpson
Tennis Ball
* Kale
Red Russian
Early Curled Siberian Kale
* Onion
Red Wethersfield
Siskiyou Sweet
* Peas
Alderman Tall Telephone
Corne De Belier
Green Arrow
* Radish
Red Meat
White Icicle

Summer Garden
* Basil
* Lettuce Leaf
Mrs. Burns Lemon
Beans, Bush
Black Pencil Podded
Beans, Pole
Kentucky Wonder (‘Old Homestead’)
Dow Purple Podded
* Beans, Lima
Red Calico
* Popcorn
Strawberry
* Corn, Sweet
Stowell’s Evergreen
Golden Bantam
Texas Honey June
* Cucumber
Lemon
Early Russian
Suyo Long
* Eggplant
Black Beauty
Rosa Bianca
Muskmelon
Hale’s Best
Pike
* Okra
Clemson Spineless
* Pepper
California Wonder (Sweet)
Marconi (Sweet)
Black Czech (Hot)
* Pumpkin
Rouge Vif D’Etampes
* Squash, Summer
Yellow Crookneck
Cocozelle Bush
* Squash, Winter
Blue Hubbard
* Tomato
Yellow Pear
Brandywine
Mortgage Lifter
Cherokee Purple
* Watermelon
Moon and Stars
White Wonder

Fall Garden
* Beets
Detroit Dark Red
Bull’s Blood
Chioggia
* Broccoli
Calabrese
* Cabbage
Early Jersey Wakefield
* Carrot
Amarillo
St. Valery
* Cauliflower
* Lettuce
Bronze Arrow
Forellenschuluss
Black-Seeded Simpson
Tennis Ball
Kohlrabi
Purple Vienna
* Parsley
Extra Curled Dwarf
* Parsnip
Sugar Hollow Crown
* Radish
Red Meat
White Icicle
* Spinach
Viroflay
Bloomsdale Long Standing
* Swiss Chard
Ruby
* Turnip
Purple-Top White Globe

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Seed starter soil bocks

This is way to good not to share.

One of the things you see a lot in the garden center of the hardware store are little “seed starting kits” that come with disks of expanding peat moss and little customized plastic trays. These are charming, and hold lots of promise for the imaginative beginning gardener, but there’s a reason why gardening books don’t […]

via DIY Compressed Soil Block Maker — From the Ground Up

Rosemary, Summer Savory, And Sage – Some Like It Hot And Dry

Many culinary herbs originally came from southern Europe in and around the Mediterranean sea. There have been a lot more herb plantings {rosemary, thyme, lavender, summer savory, and sage} killed with love{over watering} than have been killed by neglect.

A majority of herbs like a well drained soil with a pH range of 6.0-7.5. Outdoors, avoid planting in heavy clay soils as well as wet areas. Also, avoid soils that have a high nutrient content. These rich soils may actually prove detrimental to the herb’s quality by promoting rapid, lush growth that will contain only small amounts of the volatile oils that give herbs their characteristic aromas and flavors. Containers used for growing herbs, whether indoors or outside, should always have holes in the bottom to insure proper drainage.

Most herbs require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight in order to grow well. All day sun is even better. The more intense the light, the more oils will develop within the glands of foliage and stems, creating stronger fragrances and seasonings. A southern or western exposure will meet the needs of most herbs, although some may do well in a bright east facing location.

Indoors, it is crucial to give herbs the best light available. During winter, when days are shorter and typically darker, fluorescent grow lights will probably be necessary to maintain healthy plants. Twelve hours of artificial light daily is adequate for most indoor grown herbs.

Water thoroughly only as needed by soaking the soil to a depth of 8 inches, to ensure that the root zone is receiving adequate moisture. Outdoors, container grown herbs must be watered more frequently, even daily, if days are very hot and sunny. Indoors, water thoroughly when the soil feels dry a half inch or so below the surface.
Tip: Never allow the plants to wilt between watering, but avoid constant soggy soil conditions. Constantly wet soil encourages root rots which are the most common problem of herbs grown indoors, especially during winter.

Fertilize sparingly. Too vigorous growth will produce foliage low in essential oils and therefore bland. Use a liquid fertilizer at half the label recommended strength once every 6-8 weeks or so for indoor plants and every 4-6 weeks for herbs in containers outdoors.

Mulching materials such as straw, marsh hay, compost, and leaves provide good winter protection for hardy perennial herbs. Depending on the size of the plant, a mulch 2-5 inches thick will keep the temperatures around the plant more constant during late fall and early spring, keeping winter damage to a minimum. Mulching can also be beneficial during hot, dry periods of the summer by helping to regulate soil temperature and moisture.

Rosemary plant care is easy. When growing rosemary plants, provide them with well drained, sandy soil and at least six to eight hours of sunlight. These plants thrive in warm, humid environments and cannot withstand winters below 30 F. (-1C.), it’s often better when growing rosemary plants to put them in containers, which can be placed in ground and easily moved indoors during winter.
Rosemary prefers to remain somewhat on the dry side; therefore, terra cotta pots are a good choice when selecting suitable containers. These pots allow the plant to dry out faster. Thoroughly water rosemary plants when the soil is dry to the touch but allow the plants to dry out between watering intervals. Even indoors, rosemary plants will require lots of light, at least six hours, so place the plant in a suitable location free of drafts.

Sage is sturdy, hardy, prolific, and drought-tolerant. It grows well within a wide range of temperatures and planting zones. Sage also boasts a long growing season. Since this resinous herb is evergreen in most zones, you can harvest sage well into late fall.

Savory two types of savory: summer savory and winter savory. Summer savory is an annual. Winter savory is a perennial. Both can be planted in spring about the time of the average last frost date or started indoors as early as 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Both will be ready for harvest about 70 days after planting.

Summer savory is a fast growing annual. It grows upright to about 18 inches tall as a loose bushy plant. Summer savory has needle-shaped leaves to about 1 inch long on four sided, gray green stems. Summer savory flowers are light purple to pink.

Winter savory is a semi-evergreen bushy perennial that grows to about 15 inches tall. It also has needle shaped, dark green leaves to about 1 inch long on four-squared stems that become woody with age. Winter savory has small white or purple flowers.

Winter savory has a piney, sharp flavor.
Summer savory is sweet flavored.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Growing Rosemary Plants: Rosemary Plant Care https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/rosemary/growing-rosemary-plants-rosemary-plant-care.htm
Source document: University of Minnesota Growing Herbs

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Tomato’s Seed to Table – Short Course

Don’t Crowd Seedlings.
Don’t Let Seedlings Grow Into Each Other. If you are starting tomatoes from seed, be sure to give the seedlings room to branch out. Close conditions inhibit their growth, so transplant them as soon as they get their first true leaves and move them into 4″ pots about 2 weeks after that.

Provide lots of light.
Tomato seedlings will need either strong, direct sunlight or 14-18 hours under grow lights. Place the young plants only a couple of inches from florescent grow lights. Plant your tomatoes outside in the sunniest part of your vegetable plot.

Put a fan on your seedlings.
Tomato plants need to move and sway in the breeze, to develop strong stems. Provide a breeze by turning a fan on them for 5-10 minutes twice a day.

Preheat the soil in your garden.
Using Black Plastic to Warm the Soil. Tomatoes love heat. Cover the planting area with black or red plastic a couple of weeks before you intend to plant. Those extra degrees of warmth will translate into earlier tomatoes. Tomato’s will germinate below 70 degrees, however best results are obtained when soil temperature is above 70 degrees and below 95 degrees.

Bury them deep.
Bury tomato plants deeper than they come in the pot, all the way up to a few top leaves. Tomatoes are able to develop roots all along their stems. You can either dig a deeper hole or simply dig a shallow tunnel and lay the plant sideways. It will straighten up and grow toward the sun. Be careful not to drive your pole or cage into the stem.

Mulch Later.
Straw Makes a Great Vegetable Garden Mulch. Mulch after the ground has had a chance to warm up. Mulching does conserve water and prevents the soil and soil born diseases from splashing up on the plants, but if you put it down too early it will also shade and therefore cool the soil. Try using plastic mulch for heat lovers like tomatoes and peppers. (See Tip #4)

Remove the Bottom Leaves.
Tomato Leaf Spot Diseases. Once the tomato plants are about 3′ tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1′ of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them. Spraying weekly with compost tea also seems to be effective at warding off fungus diseases.

Pinch & Prune for More Tomatoes
Tomato Suckers in the Joint of Branches. Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant. But go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavor to your tomatoes.

Water the Tomato Plants Regularly.
Blossom End Rot. Water deeply and regularly while the plants are developing. Irregular watering, (missing a week and trying to make up for it), leads to blossom end rot and cracking. Once the fruit begins to ripen, lessening the water will coax the plant into concentrating its sugars. Don’t withhold water so much that the plants wilt and become stressed or they will drop their blossoms and possibly their fruit.

Getting Them to Set Tomatoes.
Determinate type tomatoes tend to set and ripen their fruit all at about the same time, making a large quantity available when you’re ready to make sauce.
You can get indeterminate type tomatoes to set fruit earlier by pinching off the tips of the main stems in early summer.

Iowa State University is for those of you that garden in the northern 1/2 of the U.S. University of Texas provides information that most often effect southern state tomato gardens.

No matter where you live both sites have a huge amount of useful information on Identifying and treating tomato diseases. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by the sheer numbers of tomato diseases. I’m pretty sure you will not suffer from all of them this year. in fact, insect control very well maybe your biggest problem in a home garden.

Iowa State University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Texas A and M University Contains Pictures, description, Control and Treatment of tomato disease, bacterial and virus infections.

Insect control just like disease control starts with properly identifying the insect(s) that are causing your problems.
Colorado State University will help you identify and control some of the most common tomato insect pest.

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Jump start your 2017 garden plan

A month into winter – it’s time to start planning and making preparations for spring planting.

Tomato and pepper seed or seedlings, a few things you need to know.

Hybrid or Heirloom seed? Which is best for you?
Hybrid seed is not the same as GMO/GEO seed. In agriculture and gardening Hybrid seed is produced by artificially cross-pollinated plants. Hybrids are bred to improve the characteristics of the resulting plants, such as better yield, greater uniformity, improved color, disease resistance, and so forth. Today, hybrid seed is predominant in agriculture and home gardening, and is one of the main contributing factors to the dramatic rise in agricultural output during the last half of the 20th century.
In the US, the commercial market was launched in the 1920s, with the first hybrid maize. Hybrid seed from the first generation of hybrid plants does not reliably produce true copies, therefore, new seed is usually purchased for each planting.

Heirloom plant variety is a cultivar that was commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but which is not used in modern large-scale agriculture. Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been growing in popularity in the United States and Europe over the last decade.

Heirloom growers have different motivations. Some people grow heirlooms for historical interest, while others want to increase the available gene pool for a particular plant for future generations. Some select heirloom plants due to an interest in traditional organic gardening. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables, or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant. Heirlooms, by definition, must be open-pollinated.

Determinate varieties of tomatoes, also called “bush” tomatoes, are varieties that are bred to grow to a compact height (approx. 4 feet). They stop growing when fruit sets on the terminal or top bud, ripen all their crop at or near the same time (usually over a 2 week period), and then die. They may require a limited amount of caging and/or staking for support, should NOT be pruned or “suckered” as it severely reduces the crop, and will perform relatively well in a container, minimum size of 5 or 6 gallon.

Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes are also called “vining” tomatoes. They will grow and produce fruit until killed by frost and can reach heights of up to 10 feet although 6 feet is considered the norm. They will bloom, set new fruit and ripen fruit all the time throughout the growing season. They require substantial caging and/or staking for support and pruning and the removal of suckers is practiced by many but is not mandatory. The need for it and advisability of doing it varies from region to region. Experiment and see which works best for you. Because of the need for substantial support and the size of the plants, indeterminate varieties are not usually recommended as container plants.

I will not attempt to list or recommend any one variety to you. I am including a link to a seed supplier that I have used with good success.

Tomato, Pepper Seed website list over 200 different tomato varieties. About 60 sweet and mild pepper and around 75 hot pepper varieties as well as about 15 eggplant varieties that you may want to consider as well.

Tomato Growers Seed Company has a website that I often use as a reference when looking for seedlings and seed at my local nursery. Along with a good quality picture they also give a short description of it’s mature appearance, days to maturity and a bit of other useful information on each variety offered.

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