Monday, June 17, 2013
I purchased new tomato cages. I increased the number of plants this season and needed new cages. When I started my garden, I purchased my cages from Tractor Supply. The price was reasonable and they were heavy. Look at what I purchased for the same price three years later, the light blue and lime green cages. They were heavier than the regular tomato cages, but nowhere near the initial cages that I purchased.
Now that I have them in, I regret not waiting to see if Tractor Supply would get another shipment of the large green cages. Most stores have sold their stock and don't plan to get additional shipments in, so I settled. I was afraid that if I waited any longer, the only cages that would be left would be the small thin cages. I didn't think they would hold the heirloom tomatoes once that started producing. One thing that we must have as gardeners is patience! I guess I wasn't carrying patience that day.
I think they may work if I stake them the way I did last season (shown in the bottom pictures). I tied the cages to t-posts last season and they held my bounty. Because the cages don't have the height of the larger cages, I'm going to put the t-post in the middle of the cages so the plant can continue to climb. I think my heaviest tomatoes this season will be the Tiffen Mennonites. I used one of the heavier cages for this plant. I'm thinking they should all top out at 6-7 feet.
I put in 14 tomato plants. I didn't plant enough last season. I was wishing I had more at the end of the season. I don't want that to happen again. I love eating home made salsa and chips during the winter months. I also thought I'd plant enough to share. I'm greedy when it comes to home grown tomatoes, I don't like to share. Plus the local food banks have a shortage, I want to share a few with them.
My tomato plants this season:
3 Cherokee Purple
2 Black Krim
2 German Johnson
1 Red Beefsteak
1 Sweet 100
1 Black Cherry
1 Boxcar Willie
I was unsuccessful germinating Cherokee Purple seeds last year, but had success with Paul Robeson. This season, I was unsuccessful with the Paul Robeson. Oh, the life of a striving gardener. What tomatoes did you plant? I'm hoping to do a seed swap this fall. If you see anything on my list that you would like to try, please leave me a comment. I'll be saving seed from the heirloom tomatoes. Hoping that you will do the same.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
I love dill. I use it in dips and my pickles and use it as a companion plant for my cukes. I decided to germinate a few seeds inside and a few using the winter sowing method. The dill in the top photo was germinated inside and the bottom outside. Quite a difference wouldn't you say. I was expecting the seeds sown under grow lights to be leggy. As you can see the end result was the opposite. I'll see how they perform in the garden.
This is Mammoth, which is an heirloom variety. One of my plants reseeded last season. We'll see if I have another this season. I used this variety in my pickles last year and dried some for my dip. It performs wells and tastes great. I'm hoping the winter sown dill will survive and become stronger. I checked the garden this evening, and both plants seem to be doing well.
Do you grow or use dill? What variety do you grow? I'm hoping to add more herbs to my garden next season. I do plant basil as a companion to my tomatoes. I planted Spicy Globe and Genovese this year. What herbs do you have growing? Do you companion plant?
Saturday, June 8, 2013
Last year I used a teepee for my pole beans and it worked well, but I decided to modify it to maximize my harvest. I added several bars to the teepee so I could plant beans completely around the tee pee. I left one side open so my grandchildren can have a seat inside while Mawmaw is gardening. I have an adorable miniature chair that I can place inside the teepee for them to rest.
It was quite simple and inexpensive to make. I used the bamboo poles from last season and cuttings from my bamboo squash trellis from last year as well. I found some string that I had laying around to tie the pieces to the teepee. Lowes and Home Depot sell bamboo poles that won't break the bank if you can't found a resource locally. My brother has a yard full of bamboo, so I lucked out. The poles should be 7 - 8 feet tall and you need at least 4. More can be used depending on how large and wide you want the teepee. I used 4 7 foot poles and 5 bars across. Be sure to secure the poles at the top tightly and get them deep into the ground before you tie on the horizontal poles.
I used Blue Lake pole beans, which I planted a week ago. They have germinated already! I was quite surprised when I went down to the garden this week-end and these sprouts were waiting for me. Hopefully, they will continue to rise. I did plant a few rows of Jade bush beans, which were recommended by a fellow gardener. Can't wait to try them. They have sprouted as well. I need to take a picture a of them. I used them a companion to my tomatoes and cukes. Do you plant pole beans or are you a bush bean gardener. What's your favorite green bean?
Friday, May 31, 2013
Save them for your garden! That's right, your tomatoes will love them. Grab a container and save them throughout the year. I recommend drying them first and than storing them; otherwise, you could end up with a rotten egg smell. I sit mine outside on sunny days to dry or stick them in the oven after cooking a meal to dry out. They don't need to be in the oven long or on a high temperature. Once cooled, crush them and put them in a plastic bag or container and store them in your freezer or the refrigerator. You can use a rolling pin to crush them.
Once garden season arrives, crush a few aspirin or calcium tablets and sprinkle it along with the crushed eggshells in the hole when you plant your tomatoes. I also sprinkle some around the soil once I get the tomatoes in the ground. I actually do this throughout the growing season. The eggshells will help give your tomatoes a calcium boost, and help fight off blossom end rot. It's also suppose to be a deterrent for slugs, cutworms and snails.
Do you use eggshells in your garden? How do you deter blossom end rot?
Monday, May 27, 2013
I'm a big coffee drinker, so I decided to save my coffee grounds throughout the winter to use in my garden and compost bins. I'll be making liquid fertilizer for my garden by adding 2 cups of coffee grounds to 5 gallons of water and allowing it to sit overnight. Five gallon buckets are great for preparing the fertilizer and having on hand when you're ready. Be sure to place a piece of screen over the bucket and keep it close to your garden. This liquid fertilizer is great on tomatoes, peppers, and cukes. You can also sprinkle a light layer around plants to ward off slugs in the garden too. This container will be used in the compost bin.
Coffee grinds can be used on all acid loving plants like strawberries, other acidity fruits, azaleas, rhododendrons and hydrangeas. Simply sprinkle a thin layer around these plants. Worms love coffee grounds. We all know that worms in the garden are heaven sent. Coffee grounds that you will be using in the garden should be dried and stored in plastic bags since coffee has a tendency to mold. A weekly dose of the liquid should suffice in the garden this season.
If you're not a coffee drinker, give Star Bucks or The Daily Grind a call. They give away coffee grounds by the bag full to gardeners. Dunkin Doughnuts seems to have a problem giving away their stash. They may be different in your area, but not so much in mine. Coffee grounds can be mixed with eggshells for plants needing calcium too. Last year, I used eggshells and my mother's old calcium tablets. You can check out my post here. My tomatoes did very well. I'm hoping to make them even bigger and better this year. I decided to grow Tiffen Mennonites this season. Hopefully my seedlings will survive. They're known to get close to 2 pounds. I should be able to get quite a few BLTs out of a 2 pounder.
Do you use homemade fertilizers? Please share what you use if you do.
Do you use homemade fertilizers? Please share what you use if you do.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Happy Memorial Day! Hope your gardens are sprouting. Here's a picture of my brother in law's goat relaxing on his farm. He's enjoying the sun and festivities. Oh what a life! That is what little bit of sun we have. It's quite chilly in my part of the world. No pools opening today, but the grill will be fired up. Hope you have a great week-end and I'll be posting again soon.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Lighting Strikes Twice is not only a movie, but a fact at my home. We had a storm come through yesterday that damaged two trees on the property. One in the front yard and one in the back. The tree in the front yard was split in half. Half was left standing and the other fall across the development road. What's amazing is that it fell between my mailbox and fence. We called 911 since neighbors were unable to get in or out of the development past my home. Up to this very moment, I haven't heard from our emergency services. I've lived in this county for 30 years and pay taxes, but I'm not thought enough of to even receive a phone call to ask if anyone was hurt or if there was property damage. Not a word of concern.
Fortunately, I have good neighbors. They came together in the rain and chopped the tree up and removed it from the road for me. I feel so blessed to have neighbors such as these.
The other tree is my shade tree that I use when entertaining. It shades the swing and picnic tables. It's huge and about 50 years old. I'm grateful that it can be saved. Just needs to be topped and broken branches removed. I guess I'm becoming sentimental in my older years, I like to preserve things.
I was hoping to focus on the garden this week-end. Looks like yard clean up will go to the top of the list. Through it all, I realize my problem is minor compared to those who truly experienced devastation in Oklahoma. Sending up a prayer for those who lost loved ones and their home.