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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tips on Growing Two Pound Tomatoes: A Basic Overview

Tips on Growing Two Pound Tomatoes: A Basic Overview


If you like growing large beefsteak tomatoes then you have probably reached or flirted with growing a two pound tomato. It is not as hard as one might think. There are some things to keep in mind when you want to break through the two pound wall and even more so when you want to break through the three pound wall. I have come close to three pounds but it really requires removing a lot of upper fruit which I don't really like to do.


Last Year's 2 Pounder the 'Aussie' Chunked Up

Grow Tomatoes That Produce Big Tomatoes

The first tip, seriously, is to start with a variety that will get to two pounds. They are probably known as beefsteaks in seed catalogs. You can find free seed catalogs down the right corner of my blog. I get catalogs every December and choose a few good high pounder beefsteaks. Not all varieties will do well in your area, so try a few and keep what does best. At this point, the 'Aussie' is my favorite as is the  'Brandywine Yellow'. They both have produced a two pound tomato.


Use Transplants and Don't Plant Them Early

Start with a transplant. Pick one that is strong, green and stocky. A 'leggy' or spindly tomato plant will struggle to get going. You can start your own and pick the tomato that looks the strongest. Don't put them in the ground too early. A tomato loves heat. A tomato sitting in the cold will sit there and do nothing. Cold and frost is bad. There is nothing wrong with waiting three weeks past your frost date. The goal is not early tomato but two pound tomatoes. Let the transplant get to 10-12 inches tall, before putting it in the ground. This will require moving it from the seed starting cell when it is about 4 inches to a large cup or small pot.




Loose Soil, Compost (If You Have It) and Fertilizer

Start your transplant tomato off with really loose garden soil and try and dig down two feet. Loosen up a three foot wide hole/circle. You want the roots to establish and easily move through the soil. This also allows water to seep down deeply too.  If you have compost, of course, use a lot of it. You also want to add in a well balanced fertilizer. Something with the numbers close to 10-10-10 works quite well. If you are going to fertilize just the immediate planting hole (the hole you dig to actually plant the tomato in the ground) then 1 or 2 tablespoons is recommended. If you want to fertilize the whole three foot wide and two foot deep planting area you dug... then 5 or 6 tablespoons is recommended. Just make sure you mix in the fertilizer well across the entire planting area and don't leave concentrated patches.


Planting the Tomato

I plant 1/3 to 1/2 of the tomato into the ground. A tomato is a vine and it will root from the stem. I just dig the hole deep enough to drop in about 1/2 of the tomato. I remove any leaves that will be buried and fill in the hole. There is no need to plant the tomato shallow. Water it in nicely once planted.


Ongoing Feeding of Fertilizer and Epsom Salt or Magnesium Sulfate

You can pick the liquid fertilizer you want.  When the plant gets to about two feet tall start the feedings. Every 10-14 days, it should get a gallon of liquid fertilizer poured on it's leaves and around the base. Continue this through the summer until you are done wanting the plant to produce. One time each month, give it 1 tablespoon of  Epsom Salt in 1 gallon of water. You can just pour it around the base. Some people say to stop the feedings at some point to reduce leaf growth or change fertilizer to less nitrogen and more phosphorus. It probably has truth to it but it is just too much extra work for me. Maybe if I go after the three pounder one day, I will follow that suggestion.


Side Dressing Fertilizing

I side dress my tomatoes about 2-3 times over the summer. That means putting some slow release granular fertilizer on the topsoil about 6 inches from the base of the tomato.  Don't get to close or you will burn the plant. Scatter it evenly around the plants base. I use 1 or 2 tablespoons. Don't pile it, make sure you scatter it. I do this once, when the first green tomato is seen. And one more time in the beginning of July. I am in Maryland Zone 7. If things are going well (disease hasn't killed them) I might do it again around August first. The slow release side dressing will let the rain and waterings wash fertilizer into the soil for the plant.


My Side Dressing Video:



Garden Lime for Blossom End Rot Prevention

As a precaution I mix in a handful of garden lime into the planting hole. Any kind is fine. Most lime is made up of varying types of calcium. You only need like 2% of what you are using to be in a form for the plant to use. When I side dress my plants, I scatter a handful of lime around the plant.


Watering: Less When Little and More When Bigger

You have to keep the soil moist at all times. When the plant gets to three feet tall and the heat of your summer comes that probably means watering it every other day. The key to watering is to have a routine. I will leave this up to you in your design. Regular watering is the best way to go. Each of our areas varies so I can't give you an exact routine.


My Pruning Video:



Pruning Leave and Tomatoes for Growth and Disease Management

Here is what I do and it is open to variation. I prune the bottom leaves off slowly over time to create a splash barrier so soil born diseases can't splash on the leaves. I also thin my plants and remove suckers. You get to decide how much to thin and how many suckers you remove. There are so many methods. Some say keep a single stem. I don't. Some say remove tomatoes above the second flower cluster. I don't. Some say remove all but 1 or 2 tomatoes from the first flower cluster. I don't. This is where I say I prefer just getting more 1 pound tomatoes and 1 or 2 two pound tomatoes. If I was going for record sizes or the three pound tomato, I would prune more suckers and remove more tomatoes. Maybe next year.

Removing tomatoes is tricky. Each variety varies, for instance, the Brandywines often don't produce a lot of tomatoes and therefore the tomatoes on the vine get quite large. How many to remove is the question and that is up to you. After the tomatoes are forming on the first two flower clusters, the tomatoes after that will take size away. You can experiment with removing the smaller upper tomatoes and learn how they affect overal size of the lower tomatoes for that variety. Each variety of tomato plant is different.

You will notice the largest tomatoes tend to be the first ones to form on the first and second flower clusters. That makes sense. Removing upper tomatoes will allow more resources to go to the lower tomatoes.


This video shows you what my general technique got this year. And yes I got a 2 pounder!




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Monday, July 21, 2014

Some of My Tips for Growing Cucumber Plants


Some of My Tips for Growing Cucumber Plants

Cucumber plants are loved by many gardeners. They are a great compliment to tomatoes when making fresh garden salads. Cucumbers aren't necessarily hard to grow but they can take a lot of care around watering, feeding, combating pests and diseases.

The best way to keep healthy cucumber plants is a well established planting base with compost and fertilizer. This will get the plants off to a great start. They have huge appetites for nutrients and really need scheduled feedings through the summer. They love water and need water almost every other day at peak size and high temperatures.

Insects damage  and disease is best handled by preventative spraying before any signs of pests or disease appear. The bottom line for cucumbers is to have a pretty strict care schedule. Here are some of my general tips on cucumber care.






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Monday, July 14, 2014

For Sale: 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil with Azadiracthin

100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil with Azadiracthin 

Neem Oil and 360 Degrees Nozzle Sprayer - TRG 2014

I am selling 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil with Azadiracthin
and all its natural pressed components.

The 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil I am selling 
was imported from India and is manufactured by Parker Neem Oil of India.

Neem Oil has been used in India for centuries and it has many uses
including uses in the garden.

Azadirachtin, a component in Neem Oil, can inhibit feeding
 and other systems of over 200 insects.

You can find out all kinds of information on the internet. Here are some popular links.


I decided to sell 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil with Azadiracthin because it is pure with no components added or removed by the manufacturer. Many products you buy in stores have had the Azadiracthin removed. This is commonly called clarified hydrophobic extract of neem seed oil. It will be listed as the main ingredient. I wanted to offer the cold pressed product with all its components.



My Garden Package is $18.75 and it Includes:

3 Four Ounce Bottles of 100% Cold Pressed Neem Oil with Azadiracthin (about 12 total ounces)

1 Sprayer Nozzle that can rotate 360 degrees to easily spray the undersides of plant leaves. It can be used on most standard spray bottles or recycled household spray bottles

4 Packages of Tomato Seeds 

There are many recipes for Neem Oil home sprays. I recommend you look a few up on the internet.
In general, they range from: 

1-1 1/2 teaspoon of Neem Oil per 32 ounces of water
or 1 tablespoon of Neem Oil per 1 gallon of water
(mild soap is needed to disperse the oil)


Soap is also added to allow the Neem Oil to mix thoroughly in the water. 
There are differences between hand soap and detergent dish soap.

You can save a lot of money from buying products and making your own recipes.

Most 24 ounces bottles of store bought spray cost $8-$12. If you read the ingredients the very often only contain 1% Neem Oil. You don't need a lot when you make a spray.

12 ounces of Neem Oil makes up to 24 gallons of spray.
24 gallons of spray is about 96 bottles of 32 ounce spray.

Let's say 12 ounces of Neem Oil makes just 80 - 32 ounce bottles of home recipe spray.
80 bottles x $9.00 (Price for store bought Neem Oil spray product) = $720

You can really save a lot of money by making your own home recipe sprays. I also recommend you always test spray some leaves of each plant when you use new sprays. Soak the top and underside of some leaves and wait 48 hours for signs of damage.

I am only shipping in United States right now. 
You can purchase  my Garden Package through Paypal.





COMING SOON... FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
as the arrive I will answer them.





Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

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250 HD Short and to Point Garden Videos: My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Build a 6 foot Cucumber and Vegetable Trellis in 10 minutes for $15: Grow Vertically

How to Build a 6 foot Cucumber and Vegetable Trellis 
in 10 minutes for $15: Grow Vertically


Cucumbers and other vine vegetables can be grown vertically. It really can save a lot of valuable space. Instead of having just 1 or 2 vines take up my 2 feet x 6 feet space... I can get 6 or 8 vines in that space. That is a lot more delicious vegetables I get to eat or share.  I show you how to buy pre-made parts and assemble them in under 10 minutes. No screws, nails or bolts. It is held together with string.

The other benefit of growing things like cucumbers, pole beans, squash and melons vertically is disease and pest management. Vines that are off the ground have a lower risk of getting pest and disease. Perhaps more importantly it is much easier to spray them when you grow them up a large trellis. It is easier to spray the underside and top sides of leaves when treating disease and/or inspect them for pests.

This video shows you the supplies, my small space and how to assemble a 6 foot cucumber and vegetable trellis in 10 minutes for about $15.




Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (2500+ Members!)
250 HD Short and to Point Garden Videos: My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
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Friday, May 30, 2014

Why & How to Manage Tomato Diseases Using Aspirin: Beef up Defenses

Why & How to Manage Tomato Diseases Using Aspirin: Beef up Defenses


 Aspirin won't cure diseases but it can help prevent them from establishing on your tomato plants and it can greatly slow the progression of the diseases down when established. Aspirin is a preventative measure to help reduce tomato plant disease.

The process is preventative so it is best to start using it before diseases arrive. The aspirin spray essentially tricks the tomato plant.
The salicylic acid in aspirin mimics a natural hormone that tricks the tomato into initiating the SAR response or the Systemic Acquired Resistance response... which means you are turning on all your tomatoes defenses without a true attack occurring. I believe this method of management makes it harder for disease to establish themselves on tomato leaves. I use it yearly.

There is a lot of research on this topic. The video explains how to use aspirin in detail, including the mixture and spraying method.




Join My New YouTube Channel Just for NEW Gardeners: My First Vegetable Garden

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (2500+ Members!)
250 HD Short and to Point Garden Videos: My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
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Welcome Gardeners!