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Friday, May 31, 2013

Identifying 3 Types of Peas to Grow in Your Garden

Identifying 3 Types of Peas to Grow in Your Garden


I grow three types of peas in my garden. There are many many varieties but there are three main types I grow. I was corrected that there are 5 types of peas with one of them being wrinkled peas. However, I think these are the three types most gardeners find on seed shelves.

There is the Sugar Pod pea which is grown for great edible pods and they have small peas that almost look immature. There is the Snap or Sugar Snap pea and there is both an edible rounded pod (looks normal) and normal sized peas. And there is the Standard pea which have great tasting peas and pods that are really inedible. They often have a very fibrous string.

If you want to see what the 3 types look like.... I shot a 1 minute video. Remember peas can often be grown in the spring and fall.




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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Small Space Container Gardening with 5 Types of Vegetables

Small Space Container Gardening with 5 Types of Vegetables

Containers are often used on a deck or patio but they can also be used in the garden. They can sit in small garden spaces or be sunk halfway into the ground. I use recycled nursery containers directly in my garden beds. I sink them about half way down and makes sure I cut out at least one half of the bottom for root growth. It is a hybrid of a raised bed and container garden. Well... close to it.

Container gardening in small garden spaces lets you grow more vegetables. A little practice with timing and you can rotate crops through and remove crops as the bigger plants (like tomatoes) hit full size. This video presents some container ideas you might use in the garden and 5 vegetables you can plant in them. Enjoy!





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Basic Methods for Trellising Spring and Fall Peas: Two Seasons

Basic Methods for Trellising Spring and Fall Peas: Two Seasons

Peas are a great vegetable to grow in your garden. There is absolutely no comparison to peas picked from the vine to the peas you find in grocery stores. The sugars just aren't there unless you eat them from the vine. A pure crisp snap of sugary goodness. Interested?

I grow in Maryland Zone 7 and can grow peas as a spring and fall crop. I can plant peas again in mid August and have a fall crop until the hard frosts come in November.

Peas are very easy to grow in the ground or in containers but you absolutely need to trellis them. They have stems that are hallow and they break easily. Trellising also helps with picking. I give you several examples of how to trellis peas in the video.




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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Identifying Aphids on Tomato Plants and Using Soapy Spray

Identifying Aphids on Tomato Plants and Using Soapy Spray

Aphids attack and infest many plants including your garden vegetables. They do like tomatoes with new growth. They suck the sap from them. They are soft bodied insects that can easily be managed. You can smash them, though messy. Squirt them off with a hose. And use a soapy spray on them. Soapy spray works for most soft bodied insects. I use about a teaspoon of dish soap per quart or a tablespoon per gallon.

I say 'about' because I now just eyeball a squirt or so into the container I am using. It is worth doing some research to find the mix ratio that best works for you. And... always test a new a spray by spraying a few leaves and waiting 24-48 hours before spraying all your plants. And always start with less... that is 1 tablespoon instead of 2. More is not always better. It is also best not to spray during direct full sun times. The morning or evening works best and the bees aren't around.

The video shows you how to identify their white molted skin and eventually the aphids themselves. They are easy to identify when you know what to look for and where to look. I show you the basic spraying method which is... cover the whole plant topside and bottom side. You probably need 2 applications to cure an infestation.




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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Save Money! Creating Ground Cover with Oregano & Herb Transplants

Save Money! Creating Ground Cover with Oregano & Herb Transplants

The theme of my next several blog entries is saving money by growing your own transplants. There is no need to pay $3 an herb pot at your local stores. A pack of seeds,  cups and some soil can get you dozens of plants. That equates to like... 10 cents a plant.

I grow many herbs and vegetables indoors during the winter and then I let them mature in cups or containers for several weeks. The end product... I have hundreds of transplants that cost me about 10 cents a plant. I don't have an endless budget. Oregano is so easy to grow... I included the video of my over-seeding oregano practice at the end. Many herbs are extremely easy to grow in doors. I encourage you to give it a try.

This is what I did with my forty or so herb transplants. My cost was maybe $5. I used my oregano as ground cover around my blueberry bushes. They are planted on a slope that won't hold mulch. The rains come and it washes away. My solution... an oregano and herb ground cover. Here is the before and after video.




My video on starting oregano indoors.




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Before & After: French Lavender Transplants and Mature Plants - Amazing Purple Blooms!

Before & After: French Lavender Transplants & Mature Plants Amazing Purple Blooms!

Lavender comes in many varieties. The lavender in the video, with the amazing purple blooms, is 'French Lavender'. It takes 1-2 years to bloom from transplant. Lavender is really easy to start indoors. It takes some time to germinate but it does. You can make dozens of transplants for pennies. You might pay $3-$6 for smaller transplants in stores and even more for blooming plants. With a little patience, you can populate your yard with dozens of lavender plants for under $10. Transplants save you money!

Here is a video that shows you an example of my lavender transplant I grew this winter and what they can look like with 1-2 years growth. Lavender does great in containers and prefers less water than more water. It comes back every year in my area, Maryland Zone 7.




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Friday, May 24, 2013

Straw Bale Gardening Basics with Determinate Tomatoes

Straw Bale Gardening Basics with Determinate Tomatoes
(Join Me for Another Garden Experiment)

'Straw Bale' gardening has been something that keeps showing up in some of the Google+ gardening communities. It has peaked my interest and I did have a seasoned bale of straw from last fall in the garden. I figure why not give it a try and see if it is effective. Another garden experiment to occupy my time.

A straw bale is essentially a raised bed and a container. The theory is that the tomatoes or vegetables can root right into the bale. Bales will hold moisture and have a degree of nutrients. Not only can you grow tomatoes in a bale, you can use the used and decomposed straw to improve your garden soil in the following years.

A NEW straw bale has to be conditioned for about 14 days. A bale has to go through a composting stage like a pile of green cut grass. In my case, my bale is from last year so it is ready to plant. New bales should be soaked for 14 days to let the microbes do their thing to the newly cut straw. Some people jump start this process with a high nitrogen fertilizer and even use urine to start the process. Just soak the bale with it.

Once the composting process has occurred you can plant the tomato or vegetables. You don't want the heat generated from the compost process to potentially harm plants and you don't want the microbes challenging the plants for nitrogen and other nutrients. Let the process finish before you plant.

I planted 3 determinate tomatoes that will each get about 2 feet tall. I am starting small to see if I can manage a straw bale. You want to make sure you add soil to the hole and work it in, before putting in the tomato. You want to ensure the roots contact the soil and the soil thoroughly contacts the straw. Over fill the planting hole with more soil once the tomato is dropped in and pack it tightly around the planted tomato. That is the basic set up for planting in a straw bale. Wish me luck!






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Growing Small Determinate Tomatoes in Small Containers & Coco Coir Grow Bags


Growing Small Determinate Tomatoes in 
Small Containers & Coco Coir Grow Bags 


Every container tomato garden does not need large containers and large tomatoes. You can find small varieties of tomatoes that my suit your container garden needs or preferences. The 'Patio Princess' is a 2 foot dwarf cherry tomato that can grow well in 2.5 gallon containers or small grow bags.

It is important to match the mature size of your tomatoes and other vegetables with the size of the container. A container has to have the capacity to provide for the root system of a mature plant. In this case a 2 foot tall tomato's root system can be managed in the containers that I show in the video.

The same issues come into play with large container tomatoes or small container tomatoes... can you keep them watered and fed? You have to make sure a container never dries out because you will damage the plant. You also have to make sure you feed them frequently on a routine. Sometimes that routine my be a gallon of 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer weekly or it might be a half gallon of full strength fertilizer every two weeks. There are lots of options.

The video highlights these ideas and shows  you how to set up a coconut coir grow bag. This is my first time using them. I will be using saucers as a water and liquid fertilizer reserve. A gallon of water with half strength fertilizer will run through these containers. They may have to be fed over two days, if not for a saucer to catch the run-off.




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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Growing Two Peppers in a 5 Gallon Container: Ground Contact Containers

Growing Two Peppers in a 5 Gallon Container:
(Ground Contact Containers)


I've grown single peppers in 2.5 gallon containers and single peppers in 5 gallon containers on my deck. There is a slight size difference in total plant growth but in the end the pepper production was very similar. The main difference is watering frequency. You never want your peppers or any plant to be in a container that completely dries out. As a gardener that is the main issue when making decisions about container gardens... can you maintain the moisture and nutrients/feedings? Bigger containers and fewer plants are more forgiving when it comes to those two issues.

If the answer to the question above is yes, you can grow 2 pepper successfully in a single 5 gallon container. The key is to have a back up water reserve in some capacity just in case you miss a scheduled watering. Watering becomes a bigger issue when the heat of summer arrives. If you were to grow them on a deck... you would need some sort of watering tray for them to sit in during the hot weeks of summer. You can also use containers on the ground. The video shows you how to set up a 5 gallon container for a ground contact pepper container.



All ground contact means is a container with a good size hole in the bottom where the container soil and developed roots of the plants can contact and grow into the ground. It is your back up watering system so to speak. The hole is also key for drainage. Peppers hate prolonged wet soggy soil. The video covers the basic set up along with a general soil preparation with a basic ratio for organic matter. Organic matter, be it compost or peat moss, is your water retaining agent. Don't worry, if you don't feel like messing with soil mixes, any water control store bought garden soil mix will work just fine. Enjoy!





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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Join Me! Fertilizing a Tomato with a Whole Egg and Banana - A Fun Experiment

Fertilizing a Tomato with a Whole Egg and Banana

What good is gardening if we can't have a little fun and experiment. I set up my experiment with two 'Boxcar' tomatoes. They are planted in the same bed, in the same way but one is getting a whole banana and egg buried a foot down in the hole. It is a way to feed your tomato much like Native Americans did when burying a fish with their crops.

Join me and see if this makes a difference. The video shows the basic steps and my experiment. You want to plant the whole banana and egg below the tomato. Don't break or mash them. Let them stay whole and decay as slowly as possible. The theory is that they will release nutrients for the tomatoes.

I will launch the second part of the video in mid to late July and you can be the judge of the difference.

Good luck in your garden. Have some fun!






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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Growing Cucumbers: Feeding, Planting, Disease Control, Trellising and Pollinating

Growing Cucumbers: 
 Feeding, Planting, Disease Control, Trellising and Pollinating


Seed Starting:

Cucumbers really enjoy the warm weather. As your garden is transitioning from cool weather crops to the warms season crops... you might not have room cleared for your cucumbers. I highly recommend starting your cucumber seeds in 8 ounce or larger cups. It is true that cucumbers don't like to be transplanted but that is more about starting them in little seeds cells like you probably used to start your tomatoes. Cucumbers will out grow those little cells too fast but larger cups are effective.

Creating Cucumber Transplants


You can save yourself a couple weeks of time by letting your cucumbers germinate and grow in cups. Not only will you have nice transplants for your garden when space opens up... you don't have to worry about the seeds germinating in the ground. There is no risk of losing time and having to replant because the seeds don't come up.

Planting:

Cucumbers are heavy feeders and they need a lot of moisture. There are several products you can use to amend your soil. In general, it is a good idea to dig out a 1 foot wide and 1 foot deep hole or larger to prepare the planting hole. There is no exact recipe and you can use what you like but here is the basic idea.

  1. Mix in 2 large shovel fulls of organic matter like peat moss or compost
  2. Add a small handful of lime if you are using peat moss for PH balance
  3. Add 1 or 2 tables spoons of  10-10-10 fertilizer or your organic equal
  4. Add in 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts to help prevent yellow leafing
  5. Add back in the soil you dug out and mix it in well and deep
Not only are you amending the hole with nutrients and elements to hold water but you are loosening the soil for deep root development. Epsom Salts help keep your plants green.

Curing Yellow Cucumber Leaves with Epsom Salts


Cucumbers need a good soil to start and grow but they also need a mid-season side dressing of fertilizer and some liquid fertilizer while they grow. Cucumbers really take the nutrients out of the soil. Around mid-season or when the cucumbers are bigger and have set some fruit, they will need a nutrient boost. Scatter 1-2 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer around the base of the plants and give them a 2 gallon drink of liquid fertilizer.

Your choice of products is fine. That will give them what the  need to continue fruiting and finish out the season. Here is what mid-season cucumbers look like and how you can save them.

 Saving Yellow Beat-Up Mid-season Cucumber Plants



Pests and Diseases:

Cucumbers are very susceptible to powdery mildew, mites and white-flies. The best way to address these problems is by using a baking soda spray on the leaves to control powdery mildew and a soapy water spray on the undersides of the leaves and stems to manage mites, white-flies and other soft body insects.

  1. Spray your plants 1x weekly to prevent powder mildew and address soft-bodied pests
  2. Spray your plants daily for 3 days if you notice powdery mildew or pests

Identifying at Treating Cucumber Powdery Mildew



Getting Cucumbers or Hand Pollinating:

You don't have to hand pollinate your cucumbers but in some cases you may want to increase the plant's yield by hand pollination. The best way to see how to do this is in the video. Female plants have a small cucumber below the flower. Male plants do not. If the female plant is not pollinated, the tiny cucumber yellows and dies out.

Hand Pollination Cucumbers: Male & Female Flowers



Trellising:

Cucumbers are vines that love to grow. Trellising is the best way to grow your cucumbers. You give them a way to grow vertically. This not only saves you space in your garden, it cuts down on pests and diseases by getting the vines and fruit off the ground. There are many methods of trellising. The video shows you several ways to trellis your cucumbers.

3 Vertical Ways to Grow Cucumbers


Building a Cucumber and Vine Trellis


Cucumber Varieties:

There are many kinds of cucumbers beyond the basic 8 inch variety. I encourage you to grow a couple different varieties. Taste does vary a bit but more importantly they will mature at different times and you will get to pick them steadily over the season. I highly recommend the 'Armenian' cucumber. It has a great color and shape. You can eat the skin. It tastes like a cucumber. And it is very very prolific. The four plants that took down my trellis in the above video were 'Armenian' cucumbers.

Growing Armenian Cucumbers




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Unexpected Frost and Tomato Damage: Tips and Lessons Learned

Unexpected Frost and Tomato Damage: 
Tips and Lessons Learned

This is the follow up video to how I prepared my garden for a 100 year record breaking frost. My area got it and we got several hours of prolonged below 32 degree temperature. This is a review of the success and damage and total losses. I learned some things that might help you with a future frost.

I show off the damage and spliced in a clipped of frozen plants from the morning after the frost. It shows off what methods worked and didn't work.




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Monday, May 13, 2013

Emergency Frost Protection for Container and Earth Tomatoes: When Frost Attacks!

Emergency Frost Protection 
for Container and Earth Tomatoes


A cold front has hit the east coast and my area is predicted to have a 34 degree night. Since I am in the suburbs that always means we get a little colder. Typically the weather at this time is 50ish degree nights and 70 plus degree days.

Mother Nature decided to set a new record in our area and along the east coast.  This video provides some emergency frost ideas from trash bags and bathroom waste baskets to plastic sheets and 5 gallon buckets. Hopefully, you will never need to view this video.





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Creating a Splash and Disease Barrier for Tomatoes: Grass Clippings!


Creating a Tomato Disease and Splash Barrier 
Using Grass Clippings

Grass clippings are readily available. You can use other mulches of your choice. It is important not to use grass clippings that have been sprayed with chemicals. Yes... sprayed weed killing products will see your vegetables as targets. I typically wait at least 14 days before using grass I sprayed.

***After some research into a problem I had with Weed & Feed... I recommend waiting 5 weeks before using any grass clippings that have been sprayed - edited June 10, 2013.

The video shows you tomatoes that are quite muddy on the stem and underside of their leaves from hard rains. This mud splash is one way disease spores can get onto your tomatoes and start infections. You can create a disease and splash barrier by mulching with grass. The video describes the method and tips for using grass clippings.
  • Clean the tomatoes with water or use a baking soda spray or similar
  • Mulch 1-3 inches with grass clippings
  • Let the grass clipping turn dry and turn brown and repeat (about a week)
  • The grass clipping mulch conserves water
  • The grass clipping mulch stop spores from splashing onto the tomato plants
  • The grass clippings keep the underside of the leaves clean for respiration




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Friday, May 10, 2013

Pruning Indeterminate Container Tomatoes: Identifying & Removing 'Suckers'

Pruning Indeterminate Container Tomatoes
Identifying and Removing 'Suckers'

Pruning and removing tomato leaves and 'suckers' is more of an art that is shaped by experience and preference. With time and experience you will find your own technique for pruning and managing your tomatoes. Many factors determine how you might prune your tomatoes and they include planting zone, tomato type, planting location and local diseases. So many factors in fact, that I can't give you a cut and dry method for pruning tomatoes and removing tomato 'suckers'.

What I am going to do this year is give you the situation and the method I use for my area. I will present many pruning and tending scenarios over the 2013 gardening season. Today's entry is about pruning indeterminate tomatoes in 5 gallon containers.


'Black Plum' Indeterminate Tomatoes - The Rusted Garden Blog

My Planting Zone and Plant Variety

I am in Maryland Zone 7 and the main diseases that attack my tomatoes are Septoria Leaf Spot and Early Blight. I am growing many types of tomatoes in 5 gallon containers. The tomato I am pruning today is the 'Black Plum' indeterminate variety. It can get up to 8 feet tall when planted in the ground. The pruning goal for this tomato is to manage the size of the plant so it can grow well in a 5 gallon container.


Why Prune Indeterminate Container Tomatoes?


I will keep the 'Black Plum' to a single production stem (main stem)  for couple months. As the season progresses I may let more main stems or productions stems develop. A tomato 'sucker' is actually a main stem that will become a production stem. It will produce leaves, flower clusters and fruit. Indeterminate tomatoes will produce 'suckers' or new production stems at just about ever leaf joint on the tomato. If you let them all develop when growing them in a container, the plant will over-whelm the container and cause watering and nutritional issues down the line. You have to prune indeterminate tomatoes that you are growing in containers if you want to maximize fruit size and plant health. And to not go insane.

A tomato 'sucker' really doesn't suck the life from your tomato plant.  It makes it bigger and creates more opportunities for fruit. More fruit comes at a cost of overall smaller sized fruit. There is only so much a tomato plant can do to produce larger or full sized tomatoes. You may or may not be concerned about this as some gardeners want bigger fruit and some want a higher yield. But... in a container you have to prune out the tomato 'suckers' to insure your tomato stays healthy and produces quality fruit.


Identifying and Removing the Tomato 'Suckers'

Your newly transplanted tomatoes are single stems with a growing tip. As the transplants mature they will obviously grow, leaving behind leaves and flower clusters. In the joint where the the leaf meets the initial main growing stem, will come a new shoot. That new shoot is often called a 'sucker'. What it really is - is a new production stem. It will produce leaves and flower clusters. Flower clusters become tomatoes. That new growing stem will also produce 'suckers' in the joint. You can imagine what would happen to your container tomato if you didn't prune out most of the new production stems or 'suckers'. It would be massive. That is why determinate varieties are often grown in containers instead of indeterminate varieties... plant size management.

The video shows you how to identify and remove the 'suckers' or new production stems from the freshly transplanted 'Black Plum' indeterminate tomato plant. A general rule of thumb is to prune from the bottom and leave the upper 1/4 or 1/3 alone as to not accidentally prune off the growing tip. As the plant gets taller, you work you way up it and prune out unwanted growth.





How Many Main Stems or Production Stems Should I Grow?

That is up to you but I would recommend 1 or 2 main production stems if you are just starting. They are just easier to manage while you gain tomato container growing experience. It also depends on the variety of the indeterminate tomato. Cherry tomatoes might merit many productions stems, where large beefsteak tomatoes merit fewer. Keep in mind that you want fewer main stems when growing indeterminate tomatoes in containers verses earth beds.

I also suggest 1 or 2  production or main stems for about 1/2 of the growing season and then letting the top of the plant develop more stems. But as you might notice there is no set way or set formula or exact technique that tell all gardeners how to prune a tomato. It becomes a practice in creating a living sculpture. You become an artist with your own technique. Good luck.



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60 Seconds or Sow: Just Identifying Tomato 'Suckers' - Where Do They Grow?

Identifying Tomato 'Suckers' - Where Do They Grow?

This video is just to show you where the tomato 'suckers' grow on the tomato. Identifying them is the first step to deciding how you want to manage them on your tomatoes. They grow in the joint where the leaf branch and main growing stem meet.

'Suckers' if left alone will also turn into main production stems. That is they will grow leaves and flower clusters that will set tomatoes. There are reason to remove or keep tomato suckers and strategies for maintaining 1, 2, 3 or more main stems or production stems on your tomatoes. I will talk more about that as the season progresses.





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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Foliar Tomato Spray: Preventing Tomato Diseases with Baking Soda

Preventing Tomato Diseases with Baking Soda
(Leaf Spot and Blight Diseases)

I garden in Maryland Zone 7. There are two fungal diseases that attack my tomato plants and they are Leaf Spot and Early Blight  Each garden zone has its own set of issues with plant diseases and each zone varies for when the diseases may arrive.

Leaf Spot comes to my area in the late April and through May when the temperatures get around 70 degrees and the rains come. Prolonged wet days and the right temperature brings Leaf Spot to my garden tomatoes. Three years ago it was really bad in my area and that is when I learned how to best manage it. I have not had issue with it for several years.

Early Blight

Leaf Spot is a fungus that reproduces through spores. The key to effectively managing this disease and other fungal diseases  is to create an 'unhospitable' tomato leaf surface for the spores. By treating the tomato leaves you make it more difficult for the spores to take hold and reproduce. This doesn't always prevent the disease from taking hold on your tomatoes (it might) but it does greatly slow the progression of the disease down. It can even stop the progression.

The best way to stop Leaf Spot is through preventative spraying. That is, start spraying before the disease comes to your garden.  Remember this varies from gardening zone to gardening zone. I start spraying about now as part of my prevention plan.


 How and Why Does Baking Soda Spray Work?

Baking soda spray reduces the acidity level on the tomato leaf or raises the PH level on the leaf. This change in the PH level, reduction of acidity, is NOT what the Leaf Spot spores want to reproduce. They want a normal tomato leaf surface. The baking soda spray, by changing the PH level of the tomato leaf, prevents and/or interrupts spore reproduction.

The baking soda is only effective while it is on the leaf. It really needs to be reapplied after every heavy rain and about every week to be most effective. You can find slightly varying baking soda spray recipes on the internet. Use which ever one you are most comfortable with.

To make a baking soda foliar spray you mix 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 gallon of water. The concentration varies based on your garden zone, temperature and sun intensity. Always test spray any new foliar spray on a few leaves and wait 24-48 hours to see if any damage occurs.

In my area, from experience, I can use 2 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon up until late June or early July without concern. Last year I used this concentration when the high 90 degree temperatures hit with full sun. The same spray that worked fine for April, May and June... burned many of the plants leaves when used in early July. When the higher temperatures come to my zone, I change to 1 tablespoon of baking soda or use wettable sulfur spray.

Wettable sulfur does the same thing to the fungus spores but does it by raising acidity levels of the leaves or reducing the PH level of the leaves. It is the opposite to baking soda. I also spray in the morning or evening when the heat comes.


Baking Soda Spray Recipe and Directions

  • 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda per gallon of water
  • Remember to test spray your leaves first
  • Be aware of temperature and sun intensity
  • Spray after each heavy rain or at least 1x weekly
  • The spray interrupts spore reproduction

To treat your tomatoes, all you do is quickly soak the top and undersides of the leaves. The video covers this information and demonstrates how to spray your tomatoes.




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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Collecting Kale Flowers for Salads as a Spring Biennial

Collecting Kale Flowers for Salads as a Spring Biennial


Kale Flowers - The Rusted Garden Blog

Kale is a biennial which generally means leaf production the first year and flower and seed production the second year. In Maryland Zone 7, I get a full spring, summer and fall of large kale leaves. It over winters, and in the following spring I get delicious kale flowers and smaller sweeter kale leaves as a spring treat. After it is done flowering, I remove the old kale and put in my new kale transplants for another round.

It isn't quite a 2 year process but more of a 2 growing season process. 2 warm seasons. In the first spring you plant it, you will get large leaves for your harvest. In the beginning of the following spring or second spring you will get flowers. So in practice it is about a 1 year period to get kale flowers.


A Bowl of Kale Flowers - The Rusted Garden Blog

The video shows you the outcome of 'Red Russian' kale. An outstanding kale that produces quite well. The second spring crop is full of flowers and sweet smaller leaves.




The Kale Stumped in the Video - The Rusted Garden Blog



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Friday, May 3, 2013

Determinate Tomato Basics: Height, Fruit, Death and Garden Uses

Determinate Tomato Basics: Garden Uses

There are two basic tomato categories and they are determinate tomatoes and indeterminate tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes, in general, grow to a set height, produce all their fruit at once and then die off. They tend to produce fruit sooner than indeterminate tomato varieties. These differences are valuable in the garden.

Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow through the season and produce fruit continuously. They typically grow until frost or disease gets them. They can get quite large and unruly. They need pruning and staking.

Determinate tomatoes are great for short growing seasons or areas that get diseases. Because determinate tomatoes can bring you mature tomatoes in 55-70 days (generally earlier than indeterminates), they can often mature before disease gets them or the cold arrives. They require less staking and really don't need pruning. They are also great for container tomatoes. All qualities that have use in your gardens.

I grow both determinate and indeterminate tomatoes in my garden. There are some things to consider when planting determinates in your garden. Determinate varieties can be 2, 3 or 4 feet tall. They are much more compact than your indeterminate cherry tomatoes that can breach 7 feet and grow everywhere. Therefore, you can plant them closer together and plant them by height. They also die off sooner and can be removed for planting other vegetables.

You want to your tomatoes by height as to not let the larger determinate varieties or larger indeterminates, cast shadows and shade out your other smaller tomato plants or other vegetables. A generally rule of thumb is to plant the smallest height tomato closer to the side of the garden that gets most of the afternoon sun. If you put both arms out... and the sun is closer to your right hand...you plant the smaller plants to the right and the larger ones as you approach your left hand.

This video video introduce 4 varieties of  determinate tomatoes; 'early wonder', 'silver fir', 'oregon spring' and 'marglobe'. The indeterminate varieties are 'abraham lincoln' and 'aunt ruby's german green'. I basically discuss the ideas in this blog entry.





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Garden Update May 2nd: My Indoor Plants are Now Outdoor Tlransplants

All the tomatoes, peppers, herbs, greens and flowers that I grew inside are now mature transplants and ready to go into my garden or be sold at my tomato and vegetable yard sale.

This is just a quick tour of their progress. They  will be sold, donated or put in the ground this weekend. Enjoy and good luck with your gardens!






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