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Monday, May 31, 2010

Pictures: Pictures of My Garden May 31st

Here are the pictures with a description of what's growing.

In the container are peas. This is also the container I use for growing tomatoes. The peas were planted in March. A tomato cage sits in the middle of that one. Cilantro from last year's plant seeds that dropped is up too. I've been cooking with eat and eating peas for the last week. That is my cabbage planted in April from a cell pack from Loews. Onions surround the plants. In about a week I will have cabbage.

Swiss Chard Bright Lights strain is in the back right corner. I have been cooking that and eating salads for over 2 weeks. It won't stop growing. I planted in late March too from a cell pack. Those are some of the peppers I have been selling. In the front right corner is a Russian kale and a heirloom mustard green. That is a another container of peas growing on bamboo poles. Oh and lettuce is in three white buckets. That was planted as seeds in April.

Smack in the middle is my asparagus I grew from seed. I was able to harvest it this year. This is the third year. That box will eventually be dedicate to asparagus only. Heirloom lettuces fill in space now. To the left are more cabbages and red cabbage. The bucket has spring onions. The red plant is a perennial dianthus.

A top view of one of my garden areas. You can see in the right corner some styro-foam cups. That is how I started my beans. I planted 3 or 4 varieties of beans down there. You can also see squash and zuchinni in the beds. Way in the back corner of the fence (click the pictures to enlarge) is a concord grape vine. I think it is 4 years old. It has about 200 or 300 bunches of grapes on it.

My other garden space. Black raspberries are behind the bench. Tomatoes, cucumbers, heirloom lettuce and peppers are in there. By the deck, on the bench you can see more of the tomatoes I didn't sell. 

Just a reminder what was around not to long ago.

Pictures: My Hot House Tomato Cage Tomato Plant

I planted this plant on April 5th. We had several days of frost and many cold nights. The tomato is large and flowering and I should have tomatoes sooner then later. The pictures are May 31st and April 5th or close to that. If you enlarge the picture you can see yellow heirloom beets to the far left, next to that is kohlrabi and speckled roman heirloom lettuce. Way in the back, in the container, is lemon grass.

If your interested in doing this next year here is the link to my Google Knol. I also think this would work  for peppers. Perhaps even used through June on peppers to create a real tropical environment. Hmm....

This is a slide show presentation too. How to Build a Hot House Tomato Cage

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trim Your Trees and Gain an Hour of Garden Light

In my quest to over-plant, I needed more sunlight. The trees in my yard and neighboring yards have been growing for 10 years. I'm losing sunlight but luckily my gardens tracks the movement of the sun. However, an extra hour of sun is an extra hour.

I moved my peppers to a hill garden. It's a 4 x 8 raised bed. I cut down tree limbs that were over shadowing it. It gives them about an extra hour of direct sunlight. You can identify which limbs shadow your garden by tapping branches if it's not already clear to you. The tap will shake the branch and the shadow will move on the garden.

You can also thin your trees out and this will give a lot of spaces more dappled or indirect sun light. That is better then full shade.

Thanks for the Help: Air, Circulation and Spacing for Vegetable Gardens

I want to thank everyone that came by. I still have a lot left. I am going to over-plant the gardens I decided. Both flowers and vegetables. My strategy is going to be air and circulation.  Live and learn, I suppose. I just don't like tossing plants. And that's after giving away stuff.

Did you every wonder what the planting instructions mean? 4 inch plant spacing and rows 12 inches apart for example. I don't know exactly what it means but I do know it is suppose to do with optimal growth for the plant.

That is all fine and good but a lot of other things go into optimal plant growth such as your regions temperature and probably more importantly humidity.  The quality of your garden soil makes a difference but how well you amend the actual planting hole of the plant may add to your plant spacing decisions. Fertilizing is a key too. I just saw the guy that grows mega vegetables in Alaska. No its not the endless sun, he says, but compost tea. He brews it.

Experimenting in our zone is the key to understanding how closely you can grow plants. Disease and pest control really become the main issues. If the garden is left untended, well it only takes a day for an infestation to occur. In a few days, your plants will have been used for the snail and insect population's breakfast, lunch and dinners. Disease or the spreading of disease is the other issue with gardens and more so sometimes for tightly planted gardens. If you live in an area that is windy, well the wind helps with the drying of leaves. In Maryland, we have the humidity. Might as well spell that as blight and mildew conditions.

In short, air circulation is one to plant spacing. If you space your tomatoes closely together make sure you have a good row space distance, before the next row of plants for wind to whip through and the sun to dry and shine on the garden.  There has to be enough space for wind and air to flow through to both dry your plants and blow away micro humidity climates that may form.  Each tomato plant doesn't necessarily need 3 feet around each side. You might do a row of plants 18 inches to 24 inches and include 4 plants. The next row should be at least 36 inches from the first row.  These aren't exact numbers. Experiment.

Pruning and thinning the plants (that need it) is important. Tomatoes have the biggest need. Removing weeds and clearing vegetable leaves from the base of the plant allow air to flow under them. The more circulation of air the dryer your beds. That bodes well for lower disease and pest risk.  The sun is the best antiseptic.  Let the sun shine in.

And finally, spacing let the birds in. The birds love slugs and leaf eating pests. The birds need to be able to see the pests and flutter around.  They just need a row to walk down, bird size of course. Turn the pests into a buffet for them.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Planting Tomatoes in Large Containers: No Garden No Problem.

How to Grow Tomatoes in an 18 Gallon Storage Container

by Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C


This method of container gardening will work for any vegetable. The key to container gardening is matching the size of the container to the watering needs of the vegetable plants. A vegetable plant left in the sun, in a container that is to small, will dry out. No matter how vigilant you are with your watering, a day will come when the container drys completely out. This only needs to occur once and the health and productivity of your vegetable plant is severely effected. Watering and maintaining moisture is the key to successful container gardening. Fertilizing and maintaining your plant comes second.

Using an 18 gallon or similar storage container to grow you plants may not be as attractive as using a clay or fancy pot but it is by no means ugly. What you sacrifice in the way of the round more attractive containers, you gain back 10 fold in the productivity and health of your tomato and vegetable plants.

The Supplies

An 18 gallon storage container
2 cubic feet of garden soil per 18 gallon container
A bail of sphagnum peat moss (the above pictured size will be enough for 10 containers)
A bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer (the standard 40 pound bag will meet all your summer container needs)
A bag of pulverized lime (the standard 40 pound bag will meet all your summer container needs)
A six foot stake for tomatoes or other plants that need staking
A tape measure
A knife
Plants of your choice

These are the essential supplies. This Knol provides information on constructing the container and describes how to plant, grow and tend to a tomato plant. You can plant other vegetables in this type of container. Just keep in mind the size of the plant when it is mature. You don't want to create an over crowding problem.
Preparing the Container

Measure two inches from bottom on both sides of the container that contain the handles. Using a blade, cut a square hole on each side of the container at the two inch mark. The picture below should provide the perfect visual. Once that is done the container is prepared.
Many containers traditionally have either no holes for drainage or have a hole on the bottom of the container for drainage. The method I describe uses a hole 2 inches from the container's bottom. Water will occasionally sit in the bottom of the container. This will not cause a problem. You have drainage holes to prevent more then a two inch build up of water. You want to have that reservoir. The soil you are mixing will suck this water up quickly. This is a strategy to maintain moisture in your soil during the hot days of Summer.

Preparing the Soil

Dump 1 cubic foot of soil into the container. Your bag of soil is probably either a 1 cubic ft. or 2 cubic ft. bag. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup (I use an 8.5 oz Styro-Foam cup) of 10-10-10 fertilizer onto the soil. Also sprinkle a full cup of pulverized lime onto the soil. Add three heaping spade/shovel fulls of peat moss to the mix. Just for clarity sake your are using your large shovel not your hand shovel. Thoroughly mix the contents of your container together using the shovel.

Make sure the soil you buy is GARDEN SOIL and not TOP SOIL. You can also use POTTING SOIL. I use the Miracle Grow brand for my garden soil. I recommend using a brand that also provides 3 months of fertilizer. The plants in the container will need to be fertilized regularly. A tomato will use up the soil nutrients quickly. Since the soil is contained, the vegetable plants have limited space for their root systems to search for moisture and nutrients. Once the nutrients are gone, you will notice plants begin to yellow.

Dump 1 more cubic foot of soil into the container. Sprinkle 1 more cup of pulverized lime onto the soil and mix everything together. Four or five turns with your shovel is fine. The peat moss provides extra matter to retain moisture. The pulverized lime not only neutralizes the acidity of the peat moss but it adds calcium and magnesium to your soil. Calcium helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes.

There should be about 4 inches of space left in your container. The four inches of space allows you to easily water your plants and it provides space for mulching. I use grass clippings as mulch. Mulching the top 4 inches of your container will help manage moisture. Remember watering and moisture control is the key to successful container planting.

Planting the Tomato

You will notice I pinched off a few branches of leaves from the stem. In this type of container you want to get about 6-8 inches of the root ball and stem into the hole. Tomatoes are vines. The stem the gets buried will actually grow roots. A deeper planting will provide you container tomato a bit more stability. The tomato will also get staked. The tomato should be planted in the center of the container. If you transplant is smaller then the one in the picture, plant it at 1/2 its total height. That's it, your done.

Tending and Maintaining Your 18 Gallon Container Garden

Water it every other day thoroughly. On consecutive 90 degree days when the tomato or vegetables are mature, you may need to water the plants daily. Soak the container until water drips out the holes on the bottom.

You can check your plant for moisture by poking your finger into on of the holes you cut. If the soil is dry, you should water it quickly. Don't wait for it to dry out.

You loaded the soil up with fertilizer when you filled the container. It should easily fertilize the plants 4 or 5 weeks. After that, I recommend 1 gallon of water soluble fertilizer weekly. Just 1 gallon.

You should mulch up the container as soon as you can to help with moisture management.

You will have to prune your tomato as it grows and tie it to the stake.

I use a touch of Sevin dust for insect problems as needed. You can search the web for alternatives.

I use an 18 gallon container because I can move it. If you have shade issues you can move the container around as the sun moves.

I also tucked in two endive lettuce plants (front) and some basil and cilantro (back). The endive will mature in about 10 days and it will be harvested. It won't compete with the tomato. The herbs will grow for about 3 weeks before they bolt. That will leave the tomato alone without competition as it matures. As the tomato matures, I will also tuck in more cilantro and basil. The container can handle one mature tomato and 2 or 3 annual herbs.

Other Vegetables

The 18 gallon container can be used to grow other vegetables.

Two peppers per container
One squash or one zucchini bush type plant per container
Two bush cucumbers per container
One vine cucumber or one vine squash per container (you will need a trellis of some sort)
One water melon, cantaloupe or similar per container (you do need room for the vine to run)
One pumpkin per container (you do need room for the vine to run)
Six to eight heads of lettuce per container.
Eight to twelve pea plants per container (you will need a trellis of some sort)
Dozen of herbs per container
Don't be afraid to experiment. See what you can grow. This is a great way to garden if you have limited space or if you just want to grow more vegetables.

You can find these just about anywhere. They are great for growing vegetables. The containers I found were about $7 at Loews or Home Depot.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Is it to Late for Lettuce Now that it is Warm? Yes and No.

Lettuce is a cool season crop. When it get warm like in the high 80's it prepares to bolt. That is, it turns to flowering and seed production. It's 5/27 and the last 2 days have been nearly 90.

It is probably to late to plants seeds but not transplants. The strategy at this time is to plant in the most shaded area of your garden. Lettuce will grow in pots. Small pots are all you need.You can put transplants into pots and move them to morning sun areas only. This strategy helps prolong the lettuce season.

You could plant seeds if you want to do a cut and snip lettuce garden. Plant them in the most shaded area of the garden. The cut and snip garden is more about taking a few leaves here and there vs. waiting for the full head to form and cut. The lettuce will still produce at baby size when it's warm. You'll get leaves to cut. Lettuce won't typically form a full head when it is warm because it jumps to seed production when the consecutive warm days arrive. When the flower stalk arrives, lettuce usually becomes bitter tasting. So, you snip the young leaves vs. waiting for a big head of lettuce.

Another technique is to create a shade cloth over the lettuce beds. Shade is good at this point in the season for lettuces.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Squash and Zucchini: Controlling the Boring Beetles: Cucumber Beetle

Every year my yellow squash and green zucchini grow wonderfully. I get a decent yield then the boring beetles strike. Always! Always! Always! Like clockwork, they strike and kill the plants. Last year I found an effective way to keep them at bay.

The culprit is the boring cucumber beetle. It is easy to find and identify. It looks like a beetle with yellow and black stripes. That is the typical type in Maryland. Now, it can also be a beetle with spots. They are always colorful beetles. No matter what kind it is, you can find them. Look on your plants regularly. Look for boring holes in the base of you squash and zucchini. And for that matter your cucumbers and melons and related. These beetles tend to go for the base of your plant right at ground level or close to that.

Your plants will look great one day and then leaves will begin to droop like they are low on water. It's the beetles. I found I could kill them with insecticide. If you want to go green 100% sorry. I use Sevin in powder/dust form to treat my plants and garden. I don't go on dusting overkill. That's too much.

The key to kill them is to preemptively powder the first 8 to 12 inches of stem and the surrounding ground around the stem. Keep the dust away from the flowers as to not kill the bees and inhibit pollination. I would start this June 1st in our area. Kill them before they bore. Cover the ground around the stem about the width of a plate. The Sevin is on the ground and base of the plant. That is where the beetle walks. That is where the beetle will die. I use this method as to not cover the whole plant and vegetables with the dust. It will even work if you find a hole in the stem. That means the beetle has already dug in. Drop some dust right in the hole the beetle bored.

Saving Money with Coupons from the Internet

There are a lot of coupons available to help you save money while constructing, maintaining and adding to your garden. It is worth your time to search the internet for few minutes and find out what is out there. I found Savings.com to be a highly useful site.  It has coupons and other information for saving money on just about everything you may purchase either on-line or at a local store. If you manage your garden like I do, I try and keep my costs to a minimum. Saving money on larger purchases lets me buy some of the more expensive plants I might have had to otherwise pass on. A budget is a budget.

Using Coupons at Savings is extremely easy. It is very simple to navigate and this ease allows you to quickly find coupons or savings information for any product you may need in the garden and beyond gardening. They have coupons for everything. You can search for savings and coupons by categories, stores or brands. There is an "ask" section where you can ask questions about products and get responses from people that have used the product. Each coupon, category or business gets a user rating. You can see how users score the value of different coupons.

You can find on-line coupons, links to sales or information on discounts for spending X amount of dollars in a specific store. The site is geared to inform you and help you save money on almost anything you may purchase. I found coupons for computers by Hewlett-Packard HP Coupon Codes and for Del Computers Del Coupon Codes. Saving money on household items increases my gardening budget.

Some example links I found related to gardening are Coupons for Garden Products. You may or may not shop at these stores but it's worth the time to look. You can also do searches by local stores such as Home Depot, branded garden shops or catalogs. A catalog I found and have used in the past is Gardener's Supply Promo Codes. Here is the link to the Home and Garden Coupons at the site, if you want to see what's available. Save money expand your garden. There is always room for more tomatoes.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rain cancelled the Flea Market: Sale May 29th 8 - 1 pm

Well, I am left with a lot of plants. The rain cancelled the May 23rd Flea Market. Soooo... I'm am still selling stuff. Typically, I sell about 200 plants at the Flea Market. The warm weather is here. Everything vegetable and flower can be planted.

Here is a complete list of what I have. Vegetables first and flowers down at the bottom.

Plants are $1, some are 2 for $1. Inexpensive.  I have cantaloupes too.

If you need my address please leave me a note here.
A lot of them. Many of them are a foot high. I will have new heirlooms that will be about 4-6 inches tall.

A lot of them. Green bells are a foot high. I will have all kinds of hot and sweet 4-6 inch peppers.

Herbs (all ready for Saturday)
Basil, 5 kinds

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Growing Closet

I used standard florescent lights from Home Depot. You can see the floor level. Just above that is a table I fit into the closet. Above that I built a third level. I have 2 levels of lights and 1 supply shelf. This year I'll add another level to make 3 grow stations and 1 one storage shelf.

This is the 2nd level with light above the table.

If you have room its worth building a grow station. The trick is a timer for the lights and to water your plants from the bottom. Just fill the seed trays. You can almost forget them in the closet.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Community Associate Flea Market: I'm selling plants

The Clarksville Community Association Flea market is Sunday May 23rd from 10 am - 1pm. Located in the Giant Parking Lot. There will be 45 vendors. I will be there will all my plants. The tomatoes are quite large.

Sun Flowers
Perennials and more

Ten Tomato Tips

From one of my Knol articles. Tomatoes are in the ground now but this weekend and next weekend is typically the mad planting time. The last 2 weeks of May rarely frost and the upcoming holiday gives people the time the need to get to their garden. Everything warm season dependent can go in the ground now.

Tomato Thing One: Two Types of Tomatoes

Determinate vs Indeterminate

There are two types of tomato plants. A tomato plant is either a determinate plant or indeterminate plant. A determinate tomato grows to a set height and stops growing. The fruits mature all at once and the plant dies shortly after the fruits mature. This determinate type of tomato is great for getting the first round of tomatoes from your garden and they do well in containers. The indeterminate tomato continues to grow and grow until frost. It sets fruit throughout the season. Only frost or disease will stop an indeterminate tomato from producing. Think of it this way, a determinate tomato grows to a predetermined size. The plant label that comes with your plant when you buy it will tell you if it is a determinate or indeterminate tomato.

Tomato Thing Two: Plant Them Deep

It's a Vine

A tomato is a vine. When you plant them, you want to plant them deep in the ground. When you buy a tomato they should be 8 to 12 inches tall. You should plant the tomato to at least a third or half its height. If the tomato is 12 inches tall then plant 4-6 inches of the plant stem below ground. Why? Because a tomato is a vine that will set roots from any part of the stem, if the stem is below the ground or on the soil. A strong deep root system leads to a stronger plant.

Tomato Thing Three: Planting a Container?

Determinate Tomatoes

The determinate tomato grows to a set height. This makes them the best bet to survive in a pot or container. I recommend buying a very large container. One you can stick your head and shoulders in. A smaller container can work but you really have to keep an eye on watering. If you let the plant dry out, it really messes up the fruit. The fruit will crack. If you over water and then let it dry out and repeat, you will probably see your tomatoes rot from the bottom. This is know as blossom end rot. It is a calcium deficiency and occurs when the roots aren't watered properly and therefore can't absorb nutrients properly. An indeterminate tomato just grows to large for containers.

Tomato Thing Four: Prune Your Plant

They Can't Fair Without Air

Indeterminate tomatoes needs to have air circulating through and around the plant. Poor air circulation leads to disease. As your tomato grows, you should pinch off the leaves nearest to the ground. I try and keep 12 inches between the ground and the the first leaves (sometimes more). Now you can't do this all at once but as the plant grows taller, you should prune the bottom leaves to about 12 inches from the ground. This will allow air to circulate below the plant and make it harder for disease/spores to splash up on the plant. You will also need to prune back shoots/branches from the upper part of the plant. That sometimes means taking off two or three foot pieces of your plant. Painful to do but necessary. Air also needs to circulate through the plant. Air circulation helps keep humid air from sitting around the plant and it helps to dry the plant leaves after watering or a good rain.

Tomato Thing Five: Keep Them Off the Ground


Tomatoes are vines. If you let them sprawl on the ground you will see them root from where ever the vine touches the ground. You will see additional vines growing all over the place and end up with a mess. Sure you will get tomatoes but you will also increase the chances of your tomatoes getting diseases like blights. A 6-foot stake is the best way to train your tomatoes to grow upwards and stay off the ground.

Tomato Thing Five: Fertilizing

Feeding Your Friends

You know what happens if you over fertilize a tomato? You get a very happy large green plant with less fruit. I fertilize when the plant is planted and when the plant has been growing about 6-8 weeks. This is mid July in my area. It isn't etched in stone but that is how I do it. A few table spoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer deep in the hole and a couple higher in the hole when I plant. I typically give them a half of gallon to gallon sprinkle of Miracle Grow in June. I can't help but feed them. In July I do a side dressing which is tossing some fertilizer on the ground about 6 to 8 inches from the stem. I drop a handful. I also give them a big drink of Miracle Grow. After that, fertilizing is done. You just don't want to give them so much nitrogen you end up with a great looking green tomato plant with a couple of tomatoes. Unless you are eating the leaves. If you are container gardening then I recommend feeding them weekly with miracle grow when they are large.

Tomato Thing Six: Early Doesn't Mean Sooner

Warm Weather Plants

Tomatoes are warm weather plants. They need 50 degree nights and 70 degree days to really start growing. You don't need to put plants in early before the temperatures are ready. Putting a tomato out April 10th doesn't mean it will be bigger than a plant you put on on May 1st come the middle of May. Sure, initially it might look bigger but once the heat hits, tomatoes grow. If it is colder in April your plant is just going to sit there in shiver mode and not really grow. The plant you plant May 1st isn't really at a disadvantage. The bottom line is they will catch up to each other and you don't get fruit any sooner. So wait for the right temperature to plant. But once the temperatures comes, the first one to get them in the ground wins.

Tomato Thing Seven: Water Evenly

Mulch Much Mulch

Two thing can happen with poor watering habits. If your plant gets stressed from too little water and then you soak it, it will develop cracked fruit. If you continually let the ground dry and then over water the plant and let it dry and over water, you'll increase the chances of blossom end rot. Basically, you mess the root system up and the plant can get a calcium deficiency and you end up with blossom end rot. Mulch is your best friend. I use grass clippings. I put down two inches of grass clippings and let it dry out. The next week I put down two more inches and let the clipping dry up and turn brown. I continue this throughout the summer. It is important to let grass clipping dry out before adding more. If you don't, you run the risk of developing smelly grass clippings which creates a bad smelling garden. Water regularly in the morning. I tend to water my plant from the bottom, with a hose, as to not soak the tomato plant leaves or splash mud up. I am always battling blights and mildew. If that isn't a problem in your area, a sprinkler is fine.

Tomato Thing Eight: Planting Location

Shading Other Plants

Tomatoes get quite large. You want to make sure you plant them in the garden so they don't grow up to shade out other plants. If you reach out both arms to the side and pretend the length of your arms is the garden, you can figure out where to plant the tomatoes. If the sun is mostly where your left hand is then you need to plant the tomatoes way down by your right hand. Get it? Sun mostly to the left of the garden will cause shade to the right side of the plants. Sun to the right of the garden will cause shade to the left side of plants. When in doubt go stand in your garden plot around 2 pm. Pretend your a tomato plant and see which way your shadow falls. I use raised beds and plant my tomatoes so the shade they produce mostly falls outside the box.

Tomato Thing Nine: What the Tomato is VFF or VFTA?

Don't Worry About It

I know that isn't a great answer but they stand for disease resistances. If you don't run into tomato diseases then it doesn't really matter. Unless of course they come up with a tomato that is resistant to late blight. So far no luck. Most of us buy tomatoes from the garden shops and they usually stock the standard varieties that have these resistances. If you are buying seeds from catalogs the catalogs will tell you what the letters stand for. Fusarium and verticillum wilts. See it doesn't help.

Tomato Thing Ten: There Is Never Enough Room

Just One More

If you love tomatoes then you'll agree there is just never enough room to plant all the tomatoes you want. Even if you expand your garden year after year, there seems to be a need for more space. There is always that variety you haven't tried but it's right there within your reach at your local nursery. You wonder if you could squeeze it in. You think you could possibly negotiate another garden bed from your wife. You ponder what you can trade her for a little more space. If you are like me - you buy it and worry about the space later. Remember, 2 plants is plenty of tomatoes for one adult. I can say it. I can write it but I don't think I can come to terms with it. A family of four and a garden of twelve tomato plants last year... I know I can get in thirteen this year. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Started the Tomato Aspirin Experiment Today

Well... following the other blogs about salicylic acid and boosting tomatoes disease resistance...

I started the experiment. I am taking one 4 x 8 plot as my experiment plot. I planted 3 tomatoes. Big Boy  for 1 pound tomatoes. Early Wonder for my determinate entry of 6 -8 oz fruit. Trust for a standard red tomato with disease resistance. Each hole got 2 - 81 mg coated aspirin which I broke in half.

I also planted a white button squash in the corner. That got 1 aspirin in the hole. I figured powdery mildew is an issue too.

Starting June 1st I will use an 81 mg aspirin per gallon of water and sprinkle the entire plant. Ill do this every 2 weeks for 2 tomatoes and 1 time a week for the Big Boy. The squash will get it every 2 week also.

I have other tomatoes planted in other plots. I may try sprinkling some of them with the mixture every 2 weeks.

Anyone else up for experimenting?

Blog Entry About Aspirin and Tomato Defense

Swiss Chard: Bright Lights Strain.

I have planted this in my garden for the last 2 years. It is prolific and produces all season. I planted mine about 6 weeks ago. Light frost won't hurt it. It is already knee high. I use the leaves for salads. The stalks for stir fry. And sometimes I just saute up the whole leaf and stem. The leaves have a spinach flavor and the stalks are crisp with a more earthy celery taste. It isn't over powering as a flavor but it is unique.

I purchased mine as transplants. You can typically find them when the cabbages and cool weather crops hit the shelves in market packs. It has great colors for eye appeal too. You can find seeds most anywhere. Even though you missed the early planting, seeds will do fine and it will produce till a hard frost.

Bright Lights Swiss Chard 120 Seeds

Try Kohlrabi! It can go in anytime. Matures quickly.

Kohlrabi is also know as a German turnip. Kohl means cabbage in German. It has a taste like the centers of green cabbage and the stem of broccoli. The vegetable has a long root but the part you eat grows above ground. The vegetable itself can grow quite large. It taste great raw. I grew it last year. It also has leaves also has green leaves that can be picked for an addition to salads.

Plant them about 4 inches apart. If you want to try something new and delicious. Kohlrabi is it.

Worlds Largest Kohlrabi 20 Seeds 60+lbEarly White Vienna Kohlrabi 1500 Seeds

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mulching With Grass Clipping: It's Not Rocket Science But...

Grass clippings make a great mulch and provide your garden with organic matter. They are easy to use as a mulch but there are some considerations to keep in mind. Like seed heads, sprays and bad smells. This Knol explains it all.

Mulching Your Vegetable Garden With Grass Clippings

Monday, May 17, 2010

Just Wrote A Knol About Managing Early Tomato Blight

A new Knol

Ten Tips For Managing Early Tomato Blight: A Disease

Inspired from the entry below, I wrote up a more detailed article. Taking steps to prevent Early Blight can go a long way.

Early Blight: Tomatoes

Last year I wasn't really hit hard with Early Blight. It came. But I seemed to manage it better. I did loose a 4x8 plot of tomatoes to and odd curling and distortion of leaves. I wonder if grape roots or oak roots effect tomatoes? That plot will get something else planted in it this year.


I don't really have enough room to rotate the number of tomatoes I grow. That is always the first recommendation... Move the tomatoes and let the spores of EB die in that bed. Well I have news for you, they float and drift when condition are right.

The 3 things I did last year were:

1. Mulched with grass clippings. I didn't allow the soil to splash. This year I am putting down a layer of newspaper before the grass clippings.

2. I cut almost 2 feet of lower leaves from my plants. One of my Knols talks about that.

3. I sprayed the plants with wettable sulfur regularly.

4. Well I also staked my plants but I figured that was a given.

5. I  also destroyed the leaves as soon as they were noted with issue, which is easy to do in home garden vs. a plot you rent.

So I said 3 but do 5. The first 3 made a huge difference. I guess you could add in 6 things. Water from the bottom works too. The spores need moisture. Dry leaves are harder on the spores.

The goal to control Early Blight, in my opinion, is to seal the garden surface. Mulch, create a gap in leaves from the soil to the first row of leaves in the tomato plant and make the leaves as in hospitable to hosting the spores. Those are the three keys.

THE NEW ATTACK... I will be watering my plants with aspirin, as I mention a few blogs back.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Hot House Tomato Cage Worked: Knee High.

How To Build A Hot House Tomato Cage

I planted a tomato in the hot house cage I made on April 5th. It is knee high now and growing daily. I might get red tomatoes by June 15th. Next year I will make several of these. The plant survived at least 4 nights of frost and cool days.


I want to thank everyone that forwarded my emails and passed on the sale via word of mouth.

I sold out! Not 100% but I ran out of tomatoes and heirlooms. I usually have a lot left I donate.

Ill be at the River Hill CA Flea Market next week in our Giant Parking Lot. Sunday 8 to 1 or so.

Ill have peppers, herbs, flowers, beans, cukes, squashes and some larger potted tomatoes.

I replanted my heirlooms after selling a bunch 2 weeks ago. They new wave of heirloom tomatoes will be ready June 1st. It's late but if you need to tuck in a few more plants, Ill have them.

Thanks Again,

Friday, May 14, 2010

Tired Leaves: Soak Your Tomatoes In an Epsom Salt Bath.

Growing takes a lot of work. And your tomatoes probably gets tired. Just like humans, soaking their roots in an epsom salt foot bath pays rewards. Korny.

Really... epsom salts have magnesium in it. It cost about $3 to $5 at our local Giant. All grocery stores carry it. I mix about a teaspoon into the tomato planting hole. Mix it in well. After I plant it, I spread about a palmful around the top of the plant. The epsom salt dissolves readily and your tomato gets a good dose of a micronutrient.

Looks just like the picture.

Don't over do it with the epsom salts. Too much can make calcium absorbtion issues for your tomato. I use lime in my gardens. So things tend to stay balanced. Lime adds calcium.

You only need to do this at planting. Don't continue to use epsom salts over the growings seasons. If you aren't using a water soluble fertiziler like Miracle Grow, you could consider 1 foliar feeding with epsom salts. Miracle Grow contains magnesium in it. For the epsom salt mid season bath use a tablespoon in 2 gallons of water. Drench the leaves.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Understanding Garden Fertilizer: What does 10-15-20 mean?

Gardening leads to fertilizing. The basics... Fertilizer is broken down into 2 categories. Macronutrients and Micronutrients. You are most familiar with the Macronutrient numbers. A bag of fertilizer may read 10-15-20 and that represents the amount of Macronutrients in the product. In order- it is Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Or using the example of 10-15-20: Nitrogen 10 Phosphorus 15 and Potassium 20. For gardening I recommend a 10-10-10 fertilizer. It keeps things simple. These are the three primary Macronutrients.

The other three Macronutrients are the secondary nutrients or Sulfur, Calcium and Magnesium. These may or may not be in the fertilizer you purchase.

The Micronutrients are known as trace elements such as boron, copper, zinc and iron. These typically don't come in your basic bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Or if the they do, they are in trace amounts. Check the packaging for details.

There are two types of fertilizer. Soil and foliar. Soil fertilizer is typically the granules that come in 40 pound bags. And foliar is more like Miracle Grow you mix with water.

That's the basics.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Continued Vegetable Sale This Weekend: Warm Season Time

In case you missed it or need more... as we always have room for 1 last tomato.

This Saturday 8-2, I will be selling the same plants. Plenty left. Cherry tomatoes are gone but there are many other kinds available. Lots of herbs, sunflowers, basil and annuals.

Green beans are easy to grow. They can go in the ground now. The only key really is soil that isn't overly soggy. They are drought resistant and fertilize themselves. All your warm season crops can be planted. Corn, cucumbers, zukes, squashes, cantalopes, watermelon, herbs and anything else you can think of.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time to Plan for Leaf Eating Caterpillars: Bacillus Thuringensis

Controlling Leaf Eating Caterpillars with Bacillus Thuringensis

This is my Knol on using Bacillus Thurignesis. It works. Spray your cabbages and greens. It is organic. Safe for us. Do a google search. It is important to attack pests on a schedule. The green worms aren't out yet but it is easier to kill them when little then larger. Check out the local shops for this product.

You will also need a sprayer. And it is a repeat process through the season.  This is what the product looks like.

Make you pest plan today. Get them before damage occurs.

Does Your Tomato Have A Headache? Aspirin and Disease

Salicylic Acid (aspirn) and Tomatoes

Aspirin contains salicylic acid. It fixes our headaches but activates disease and stress response in tomatoes. Read the above link and do a google search. It's very interesting.

The short story is...
I have and will be continuing to use salicylic acid (SA)  or aspirin to manage early blight in my garden this year. I can't find exact dosages but that is okay.

I will be using 3 81 mg tablets in 2 gallons of water every 2 weeks to sprinkle on my tomatoes. The idea is the SA triggers a response in the tomatoes to beef up its defenses. I plan to have my tomatoes defenses beefed up before early blight time arrives.

I will also be dropping 1 81 mg tablet of aspirin in the soil when I plant my tomatoes. The outcome... well I'll let you know in August after the blight season has arrived.

Check it out. It's very interesting research.

Plant Sale Update and Frost

Well I got frost last night. Luckily I took everything inside and delayed planting my tomatoes. They will go in tonight.

Thank you for all that came to my early plant sale. It's not done. Every Saturday from 8-2pm for May, Ill be selling plants. On Saturday the 15th, I will be putting of the community sign for my yearly Tomato Yard Sale.

Tomatoes are ready.
All kinds of heirloom lettuces and kales are ready.
Oregano and parsley are ready.
Lots of perennials and annuals left.
Cukes, Zukes, and Squashes are ready. Including different types of squash.
Sunflowers are ready.
Lemon balm, Peppermint and other odds and ends are ready.

Peppers, basil, and other herbs will be ready this week.
Beans should be ready.
Peppers should be ready (I think). They need some hot weather.

In 2 weeks I will be at the Giant Parking Lot Community Flea market. That is Sunday May 23rd 8-1pm.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Taking Care of Slugs: My New Knol


This article describes the best ways to combat snails and slugs. They have arrived full force in the gardens. I thought it might be helpful.

If you can't find Iron Phosphate at our Home Depot or Loews, here is a link. And a picture of what your looking for. It really works. The product should be IRON PHOSPHATE not metaldehyde. Home Depot had it several weeks ago.

Decriptions of the Tomatoes I am Selling and Their Availabitity

Bonny Best Heirloom (available now)
A 1908 heirloom with 4 oz to 10 oz tomato clusters. Few seeds and firm flesh make it a great all around tomato for eating, canning or sauces. Indeterminate variety.

New Big Dwarf Heirloom (available now)
Created before 1915 and considered an heirloom. It grows 2 feet tall and produces fruit early. It is a determinate variety. Fruit ranges from 8 oz to 12 oz. A great container tomato.

First Prize VFFNT Hybrid (available May 23rd - 29th)
An indeterminate tomato with 10 oz to 12 oz fruits. It's very disease resistant and a high yielder that produces all season long.

Tiffany VFNT Hybrid (available May 23rd - 29th)
An indeterminate tomato with resistance to gray leaf spot. It produces all season long and has 6 oz -8 oz fruit with sweet flavor. It is an excellent all around tomato that adds intense tomato flavor to salads, sandwiches and sauces.

Aussie Heirloom (available May 23rd - 29th)
An indeterminate heirloom from Australia. Brings you the gift of 1 to 2 pound tomatoes.

Flordia Basket (available May 23rd - 29th)
Perfect for pots and baskets. It will creep and hang. Cherry sized type of tomato. Determinate variety.

Micro Tom (available now)
The world's smallest determinate type of tomato. It only grows 5-8 inches tall and has crouton sized tomatoes. Very cool novelty tomato you can eat.

Sara's Galapagos  Heirloom New for 2010 (available May 23rd - 29th)
Collected from the Galapagos Islands where it grows natively. A currant tomato with 1/2 inch fruit. Indeterminate variety to bring you tiny tomatoes all season long. Packed with sweet flavor.

Aunt Gertie's Gold Heirloom of Virginia (available May 23rd - 29th)
Indeterminate heirloom with 1 pound yellow tomatoes. A beautiful gold color with an irregularly shape. As an heirloom the shape wasn't bred out. Sweet and complex flavors.

Super Beefsteak (available now)
Your well know beefsteak done with more beefyness.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Here are Some of the Tomatoes I have for Sale

Here are some of the many tomatoes I have for the sale this weekend.

Heirlooms of the Month of May

I don't have the seeds for sale. You can get them here. Mine should be arriving soon. This is a great example of an Heirloom tomato you can grow that is pretty much unique.

Purple vegetables are great for you. The Cauliflower can be ordered now but you'll have to make it an August fall crop. It's to late now in Maryland to plant cauliflower it will flower vs. form a head due to the heat.

A Recommendation For Pests and Disease

I have about 60 gardening books. Two areas that are always worth learning more about are garden pests and diseases. I don't practice 100% ogranic gardening. But I do use what works. If you want to find out more about organic alternatives. I highly recommend this book.

Need A Raised Bed Garden in the Clarksville Area?

(Moved up from April's entry)
It is that time of year again. Spring is here and is the perfect time to build and plant a garden. I am for hire to build a 4ft x 8ft raised plot in your yard, if you'd like a garden but don't feel like breaking ground. Don't let another summer go by with the thought I should of...

I will be having my annual tomato, peppers, herbs and vegetable plant sale this year. Plants will be available April 24th through June 15th. Ill send out emails and update my garden blog with details. You can join the blog if you'd like. It's just about basic gardening. I will also have hostas, annuals and other flowers. Plants range from $1 to $3.
This year I am offering to build you a raised bed plot the measures 4ft x 8ft. This is a raised bed garden that looks just like the plots in my yard. Feel free to come by and see them for some garden ideas. You can also read my article at this link and it details everything you need to know about a raised bed vegetable garden (with pictures). http://knol.google.com/k/how-to-create-a-raised-bed-vegetable-garden

The cost is $180 per 4ft x 8ft plot. The frame is built from 2x6's (6 inch sides) Ill pick up the supplies, build the frame, turn the earth and raise the soil to 2 inches below the top of the frame. It will be ready to plant that day. All you need is a location that gets 6 hours of sun. Don't let the hardest part of growing vegetables stop you this year. Feel free to send me an email and Ill be glad to come over and help you plan the garden.


Monday, May 3, 2010

The Tomato and Vegetable Sale is On

The plants are available from May 8th until May 31st.

The sale starts May 8th and 9th: 8 am - 2 pm. Just come by.

The sale officially starts Mother's Day Weekend. You can email me when you want to stop by during the week or come by any Saturday and Sunday between 8 am and 2 pm. I will be home and in the yard.

This year the tomatoes took a bit of a hit. I actually think it was bad store bought soil. Some heirlooms were killed.

I have 3 heirloom types ready now, hybrids, early tomatoes and super beefsteaks, along with other 1 -2  pound tomato plants. All the tomatoes will be ready for this weekend. I also have a Micro-Tom tomato - it only grows 8 inches high. And I have 2 foot dwarf tomato for containers. I replanted heirlooms that should be ready at the end of the month.

I have 8 varieties of peppers. The peppers ready this week are green bells, bananas and I think a hot pepper.

I have lettuces, kales, herbs, cukes, zukes, sunflowers,  beans, annuals and perennials.

Styro-foam cup herbs, vegetables or annual $1
Pint container herbs $2
5oz cup vegetables 2 for $1
Large container peppers and tomatoes $2
Large container perennials $3

Each weekend through May should have new stuff available. On May 23rd I will be doing the GIANT Flea Market Sale. I should sell out of most stuff that day.