Search The Rusted Garden Journal: Just Enter a Key Word or Phrase

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Planting Spinach in Finger Holes: Raised Bed Gardening

Spinach is a mainstay of every garden. The easy way to plant it, is by poking your finger into the ground and making a hole. It is simple, fast, and very efficient. This planting design allows you to pick baby spinach, leaves, and allows remaining plants to grow to full maturity. Raised beds are a great way to get things growing.

Planting Spinach in Finger Holes: Raised Bed Gardening
(Imported from my old WordPress blog)

I plant my spinach quickly and easily by using finger holes to about 1/2 to 1 inch deep. I plant 2 seeds per hole. I make the holes 2 to 3 inches apart in all directions. I use raised beds so I tend to plant things closer together. Raised beds are prepared to have deep loose soil. This allows the roots of vegetables to grow downward and compete less. The bottom line… you can plant more in the raised beds.
The other thing I do is eat my plants thus crowding is not a problem. I never really wait for full maturity on spinach and other greens. They just never seem to reach full size. If both seeds germinate, I let them grow a bit and harvest one for baby spinach. So cram them together if you have a nice loose raised garden. If they get too cramped… pick them and eat them.

Planting Spinach & Finger Pattern

The holes are 2 to 3 inches apart. The soil of this raised bed was amended prior to planting with peat moss and composted humus and manure. The garden has been turned, fluffed, and amended. I very easily poked finger holes to create the pattern shown below. The holes should be 1/2 to 1 inch deep. Simply put 2 seeds per hole. The holes were covered with composted manure and watered in. That is it… simple, fast, efficient.

Harvesting Spinach

The best way to harvest it is by removing on full plant per hole if 2 come up. Let them grow a bit and harvest one whole plant including the roots. Don’t let them get to big. Baby size or like 3 inch leaves.
The remaining plants (1 per hole) should be left to grow to maturity. If you are like me, you like harvesting. Harvest every other plant and you can see by the picture you will end up with plants 4-6 inches apart. These plants can be left to grow to full maturity. It should be every other plant in both directions.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Growing All Types of Basil Everywhere: All Season Long!

Love it or hate it, basil is an easily recognized herb in its green leafy pungent form. I happen to love basil. Did you know it comes in dozens of colors, scents, sizes and taste? It also comes in a bush or shrub variety although these types aren’t typically used for culinary preparations. Basil can be grown year round between your outdoor garden and your kitchen windowsill.

Growing Basil Everywhere: A Year Round Herb

(Imported from my old WordPress Blog)

A Brief History of Basil:

It is believed basil comes from the Greek word basileus. It means “king”. Or it may come from the Latin word basilicus which means “dragon”. In either case the culinary world crowns basil “the king of all herbs”.

Basil is native to many tropical areas.. It has been cultivated for over 5000 years. Over time, it has made its way to every corner of the world and into the households of most cultures. It is grown as an annual in most parts of the world. It needs the warmth of the sun, grows quickly and requires little maintenance beyond picking and using it. There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means “to be fragrant.” The foliage is easily bruised. Just brushing against the leaves releases its easily identifiable fragrance.

Varieties can grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet and are about as wide. Basil foliage colors range from a pale to deep green, it comes in purples and it can even have variegated leaves with purples and yellows. The leaves vary from fragile and silky, to thicker and crinkly and they maybe dull or shiny. The leaves can be tiny or quite large. Flowers appear in summer on the ends of branches and are either white or lavender. What ever plant you grow, it is always fragrant.

Types of Basil

Anise basil
Camphor basil
Cinnamon basil                                           
Cuban basil
Dark opal basil
Genovese basil

Lemon basil
Lettuce leaf basil
Licorice basil
Mammoth basil
Red basil

Purple basil
Purple ruffles basil
Sweet basil
Spicy globe basil
Thai basil





Basil varies in color, leaf size and in fragrance and taste. You can find just about any kind of basil between locally available seeds, nursery stocks and specialty catalogs. Basil is very easy to grow. It grows quickly and vigorously be it inside on your windowsill or outside in your garden.

Basil Uses:

Basil is primarily a culinary herb. It is typical used as a fresh herb but can be used for its essential oils. Typically, basil is snipped and chopped and put right into the dish. The leaves can also be used whole in salads. Basil can be dried and used dried on fish, on meats, in pasta dishes and in sauces. I can also be dropped into a bottle of white vinegar to create a basil flavored vinegar for cooking and salads.

The strongest basil flavor is found in the leaves. You can cook the leaves. You can eat them raw. You can crush the leaves for the aroma, minced them for intense flavor or toss them on a plate as a garnish. The flowers are also edible and can also be used as a garnish as well.

Basil mixes well with other herbs. Garlic and basil make a great pesto. Add some lemon juice, oregano or time for a great taste. Butter, basil and lemon goes great on fish, lamb, veal or poultry. Basil, dill and butter do well together. Basil can be used in dozens of sauces. It can be minced up and added to your squashes and zucchini as a great summer vegetable dish.

Where and How to Grow Basil:
Basil can be grown in a designated herb garden, as part of your flower garden, as borders plants, on a deck in pots and containers, as plants in your hanging baskets and indoors on the windowsill. Basil will grow anywhere as long as it is warm.

Basil does not need a lot of soil or root growing room. It is fast growing annual plant. That is, it grows quickly and sets seeds. Once it sets seeds, energy production to the leaves is stopped and the plant typically loses its culinary value. Basil will even grow in a cup of water.

Basil can be bought as seeds or as plants. You will want to plant basil every 2 to 3 weeks in the garden from seed. This will supply your household with basil all summer long. I mentioned it grows very quickly and aims to set flowers to seed. Pinch the flowers off as soon as the buds appear. This will keep the leaves growing longer. Eventually the plant leaves will lose flavor but that should be about the time your other basil plants mature.

Basil plants from a nursery are great to tuck into containers and pots or to grow on your window sill. When you plant seeds, just follow the seed packets. Basil grows that easily. Just keep them watered and before you know it you will have basil plants cropping up all over the garden. When you grow plants or seeds in containers, make sure the pots and containers have holes. Although you can grow basil in a clean cup of water, they don’t do well in soggy soil.

Picking and Storing Basil:

Start picking basil when the plant is about a foot tall. Regular picking of the leaves will promote more leaf growth. You can pick selected leaves as it is maturing up to size, just don’t over pick the leaves. Once the plant is 10 -12 inches tall you can not do much harm from heavy cultivation.

Refrigerate and wrap the basil leaves in damp paper towels inside a plastic bag. They can last 3-4 days that way. You can pick a stem and place it in a cup of water and in can last 5-7 days that way. If you are making pestos and sauces, you can freeze basil since it will be used in mince formed. Basil can also be dried and stored till next growing season in a cool dark place.


Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Monday, April 29, 2013

Tomato Planting Basics: Preparing the Planting Hole & Planting

Tomato Planting Basics
Preparing the Tomato Planting Hole & Planting

Tomatoes and vegetables want to grow. You don't need to have perfection when planting vegetables. All you really need is a decent hole that has organic matter, fair dirt and some basic nutrients. When it comes to tomatoes, you also want to bury some of the stem. Water them  in.... and the tomatoes and vegetables will come to your plate!

Tomatoes need warm soil to get going. When you get to mostly 50 degree nights and 60-70 degree days it is time for tomatoes to go into the ground. That doesn't mean you can't get them in early and apply a few tricks to keep them warm. However, if you are just starting off with vegetable gardening, you should just wait for the right temperatures.

Preparing a Planting a Tomato Hole (Generally)

  • Loosen the soil to 12-18 inches
  • Add in organic matter to 1/2 the size of the hole (a shovel full)
  • Add in a handful of lime, eggshells or both
  • Add in a tablespoon or two of fertilizer of your choice
  • Mix everything together in the hole

These steps will get your planting hole set up. When you plant your tomato, bury about 1/3 of the stem and remove any leaves that will be buried. Water in.... and watch in grow. The stem will actually root.

The video provides the basics to planting a tomato. You don't have to follow this exactly. In fact, when I make a new planting video this year, I am sure it  will vary. There is no perfection in planting... just guidelines.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Friday, April 26, 2013

Planting Tomatoes in 18 Gallon Containers: "Freshening' the Soil & Egg Shells

Growing Tomatoes in 18 Gallon Containers
Amending the Soil and Using Egg Shells to Prevent Blossom End-Rot

The main difference between the 18 gallon containers and the 5 gallon containers is moisture management. I can water the larger containers a lot less and therefore worry less about a complete soil dry out.

It is important to amend your container soil yearly. Tomatoes literally suck the life out of container soil mixes. There is no exact amending recipe but I show you my basic routine in the video. You want to add organic matter, some fertilizer and calcium (egg shells). Adding calcium to your soil helps prevent blossom end-rot from affecting your tomatoes.

The video covers these concepts. Enjoy!

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

60 Seconds or Sow: Acclimating Indoor Tomatoes Outdoors with Milk Containers

60 Seconds or Sow:
'Hardening Off' Indoor Tomatoes Directly into Your Garden

Acclimating transplants is the process of slowly introducing them to the sun, wind and weather over a weeks period of time. Plants grown inside don't have the 'toughness' to be outside. This process is also called 'hardening off' your transplants. Over a weeks period of time, starting with an hour a day of sun and working the time upwards, plants should be slowly introduced to the elements.

One way to save time and forgo the 1 week period of 'hardening off' your transplants or acclimating them to the environment is to use milk containers with the lids OFF. Don't keep them on, as you might over heat your transplants.

The basic idea is that the milk container blocks a good degree of the sun's intensity. Your plant won't get sun-scald. You can use the containers to cover you plants over a 5-7 day period of time to 'harden' them off while they are directly planted in the garden or a container.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Monday, April 22, 2013

Container Tomato and Pepper Tips: Moisture Control Soil, Mulch & Water Reservoir

Container Tomato and Pepper Tips
Soil Moisture and Watering

Container gardens can be very successful if you can figure out how to manage watering and maintain even moisture in your containers all season long.

The number one issue with container gardens is that you can't let the soil in your containers completely dry out. Not even once. This is not so much of an issue when plants and smaller and the spring is here. However, once your tomatoes and peppers grow and their roots fill up the container and the summer heat arrives... you can have containers that will dry out in one afternoon.

Once the soil completely dries out the tomato and pepper plants are stressed. This makes them more susceptible to diseases and pests. It decreases the yield and production of the plants. Tomatoes will get cracked fruit. Most tomatoes will develop blossom end rot. This occurs because their roots are damaged by drought and can't effectively bring in nutrients to the plant, specifically calcium.

Watering them quickly, once the soil completely dries out, does NOT fix the damage. It actually causes fruit cracking. There are 3 things you can do to help prevent this and make container gardening easier. Remember you are thinking down the line when the plants are larger and summer heat arrives.
  1. Use Moisture Control Garden Soil and/or Add in Lots of Compost/Peat Moss
  2. Mulch the Containers with about 2 Inches of Mulch
  3. Have a Water Reservoir Available (There are many options)
The video highlights these points, also talks about container size and gives you a basic idea for a water reservoir.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Basic Introduction to Beekeeping: Every Garden Needs Pollinators

A Basic Introduction to Beekeeping: 
Every Garden Needs Pollinators

I don't have direct experience with beekeeping but I thought I would use some of the experience of fellow gardener and home farmer, Blake Kirby, to introduce beekeeping basics.

He was able to attend a class that taught him the basics of beekeeping and he brought that to his home farm. He has a series of 6 beekeeping videos that show you how to set up your garden or home farm with a hive. He is building his home farm and is making videos of his experiences.

You can learn about:
  • Placing the Hive Nucleus
  • Setting up the Hive Nucleus
  • Adding Water to the Hive
  • Hive Nucleus Queen
  • The Arrival of Bees

Here are the highlights from his beekeeping class. You can check out his YouTube Channel: Blake Kirby if you want to learn more about beekeeping and home farming.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fresh from the Garden: Asparagus, Spinach, Leeks and Garlic Sauteed with Rice

Fresh from the Garden
Asparagus, Spinach, Leeks and Garlic
Sauteed with Rice

Fresh from the Garden - The Rusted Garden Blog

I am going to run a regular blog and video series called Fresh from the Garden. Based on my time, I will either make a video or take some pictures and create a blog entry.

This is my first meal out of the garden for 2013. Woohoo! The leeks and spinach are over-wintered vegetables. The garlic was planted last September or October and I picked it immature. The asparagus is up and growing literally inches a day.

For this series I will show you the vegetables in the garden, cleaned up, cut up and finally cooked up.

The basic sautee is olive oil and salt. I sauteed the thinly sliced leeks and garlic until soft. I added the asparagus, cut in pieces, and warmed it through. The spinach was washed and left wet. The water will make steam. I added the spinach into the sautee and let it soften through. Once cooked gently down, I added the rice.

Delicious.... did I say my first 2013 garden harvest!

Over-Wintered Spinach - The Rusted Garden Blog

The spinach was planted late fall and I constructed a PVC greenhouse around it. I made a video about it. It worked and I have mature spinach.  The leeks were planted in the summer as seedlings and left alone to mature.

Over-Wintered Leeks - The Rusted Garden Blog
Immature Garlic - The Rusted Garden Blog

Garlic can be harvested before it is ready. It does have a different taste but the garlic flavor comes through. The asparagus is doing its thing. I highly recommend an asparagus plot in your garden.

Asparagus Spears - The Rusted Garden Blog

Here is the basic cooking process in pictures. Nothing fancy just fresh vegetables heated through.

Four Ingredients Just Picked - The Rusted Garden Blog
Freshly Prepared Garden Vegetables - The Rusted Garden Blog
Freshly Sauteed Garden Vegetables - The Rusted Garden Blog
Spinach Added - The Rusted Garden Blog
Fresh Vegetables from the Garden - The Rusted Garden Blog

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Basics to Planting Blueberries: Acidify the Soil with Peat Moss

The Basics to Planting Blueberries:
Acidify the Soil with Peat Moss

Blueberries are hardy bushes that can be grown in many gardening zones.  They are easy to grow and can even handle some shade. The more sun the better, but you can tuck them into your garden in those partial shade areas.

The most important thing to know about blueberries is they like soil that is a little more acidic. They also don't like soggy roots  and do better being planted in places that drain out well.

The best way to plant blueberries is to dig out a hole about 3x's the size of the root-ball. Toss in two shovels full of peat moss and work it into the bottom of the hole, breaking up the bottom as much as you can. You can put in a tablespoon of fertilizer too. I also add in a tablespoon of Epsom Salts.

The rest of the hole should be filled up with 50% of the soil you dug out and 50% peat moss. Fill the hole up and mix every thing in. After that, just dig out a planting hole, gently loosen the outer part of the blueberries root-ball and plant level to the depth of container soil. You can add an inch or two of mulch when done.

The video shows you the whole process, highlights the key points and shows you mature plants.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Sunday, April 14, 2013

60 Seconds or Sow: What is a Potato Leaf Tomato? - The Rusted Garden 2013

What is a Potato Leaf Tomato?

It refers to the basic shape of the tomato leaf. The leaf of the tomato in this case more resembles a potato leaf... yeah. Heirloom tomatoes like the 'Brandywine' varieties come with potato leaves. When ordering seeds through catalogs you my come across descriptions of 'potato leaf' varieties.

I thought I would take 60 seconds or so... and show you what they look like. Enjoy!

Potato Leaf Tomato to the Left - The Rusted Garden Blog

I also made a quick video if you would like to see the comparison of a 'potato leaf' to a 'standard leaf' tomato.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Friday, April 12, 2013

How to Grow Tomatoes (Other Vegetables) in an 18 Gallon Storage Container

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel The Rusted Garden
Over 800 Garden Videos Designed to Quickly Present Information!

Please Support The Rusted Garden by Shopping through my Amazon Affiliate Link

How to Grow Tomatoes in an 18 Gallon Storage Container

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 and full growth 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. This is very true for tomato plants. 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

18 Gallon Container Gardening: 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. 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.
*If you want to keep the soil simple, just buy bags of moisture control garden soil. You can just fill that container with that and skip the PEAT MOSS and LIME steps. It isn't needed if you buy moisture control garden soils. I just do extra work sometimes.

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.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.
18 Gallon Container Gardening: Preparing the Container


Preparing the Soil

* Remember bags of moisture control garden soil can help you forgo the extra mixing of ingredients.  I just like doing that as part of the process of relaxing in garden.
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.
18 Gallon Container Gardening: Preparing the Soil

18 Gallon Container Gardening: Finishing the Soil/Room for Mulch
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

18 Gallon Container Gardening: 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 one 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.

The Finished Product

18 Gallon Container Gardening: The Planted Container
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.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Garden Tour: Early April 2013 - All My Tomato and Vegetable Transplants

Early April Garden Tour of The Rusted Garden

So the weather here has gone from unfriendly cold nights with frost for 3 weeks to 90 degrees today. Records are being broken in both the wrong directions. Mother Nature has brought some havoc to my garden but I am managing okay. I am hoping for 60 and 70 degree days at some point.  I have a lot of cool weather crops to plant and grow.

Here is a tour of my garden as of early April. I will be doing 1 or 2 tours of the garden each month as to show you how it is progressing. In this video you will see all the plants I have been growing indoors. Some are in cups, some are in the ground but you get to see how 'the stars' of the past 2013 videos are turning out.

So it is good to see a lot of what I am teaching is mostly successful.  Wait t till you see all the plants in cups under cover. And that is just half of them! Enjoy.

You will see...

Kholrabi transplants
'Leggy' beet transplants
All the onoins and leek transplants
Over-wintered container greens
Shelf unit greenhouses
Tomato and vegetable transplants in cups
Chicken wire rabbit barriers (3 Types)
And... rotted out raised bed frames

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

60 Seconds or Sow: What is Tomato Leaf Sunscald & How to Prevent It

Tomato Leaf Sunscald and Prevention

Tomatoes and vegetables grown under lights don't develop resistance to the sun. They need to be slowly acclimated to the outdoors for sun, wind and temperature. This is best done over a weeks time. Slowly bring the plants out for 1-2 hours, over a few days, and work their way up to full sun over the week. There is no exact recipe for acclimating your plants to the outdoors. Just don't rush it!

Even plants growing on a windowsill may need to be acclimated on a smaller scale. Plants need to adjust to wind and temperature too and windowsills don't always provide full intense sun. Better to error on caution.

If you don't acclimate your indoor seedlings to the sun, they will most likely suffer from sunscald. Sunscald is the burning out of chlorophyll and greenery on your plant's leaves. You will see lightened whitish patches on them. It almost looks like the leaves were bleached. A light burn is okay, a severe burn could kill your transplants.

This video covers some keys for acclimating your plants to the outdoors and it shows you several cases of tomato leaf sunscald.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How to Plant Your Onion Seedlings/Transplants in the Garden

How to Plant Your Onion Seedlings/Transplants in the Garden

Finally, spring has arrived. After tonight we get 40+ degree nights. That's onion, kales and lettuce weather. Oh and radishes, peas and chard if your counting.

This weekend I planted a lot of my onions and leeks into the garden. The first video below demonstrates that process. These are the onion transplants I have done several videos on that hopefully showed you how to over plant them in seed cells and raise your own onion and leek transplants for pennies. Well finally,  at about 10-12 weeks... I got them into the ground.

I am going to include all 3 videos that show you how to plant and grow the onions/leeks, get them ready and finally transplant them into the garden.

A few keys:

  • Onion and leeks are sturdy plants with sturdy roots. You can grow 5-10 seedlings in a cell. 
  • Keep them watered and they will mature in the tiny cell.
  • Give them a drink of 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer  a couple of times after 4 or 5 weeks.
  • The plant roots are strong and easily unthread from each other.
  • You can end up with 100's of transplants for about $5.

*You do have to 'harden off' your transplants for about 5-7 days before you put them in the ground. Onions and leeks require a couple hours of sun and weather each day to get them ready for planting. Just bring them in and out for a few days.

You plant onions and leeks the same way. The depth of planting is just below the point where you see new shoots coming out of the plants.  Follow the spacing directions that are on the pack. I tend to plant them closer together and I remove every other plants at different stages to eat them. That leaves space for some onions to fully mature.

Planting Video:

Seed Starting and Unthreading Transplants Video:

This is the first video shot in January. It explains the process and what will happen. Of course the above two videos showed you the outcome and they did stress much of what is in this third video. But if you want to see the garden transplanted onions as sprouts... this video is for you.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three Tips to Preventing Soil Harboring Tomato Diseases: Mulching, Pruning & Watering

Tomatoes are subjected to many diseases and pests. There are strategies you can use preemptively to reduce the risks of disease. While I can’t guarantee you won’t get a disease in your garden, these three steps will make it more difficult for soil born diseases to establish themselves. The main disease in my area is Early Blight. Follow these three steps for a better year of gardening.

Three Tips to Preventing Tomato Diseases:


Mulching: A Disease Barrier

Mulching is used to create a barrier between your tomato plant’s leaves and the soil. Early Blight is often soil born. Leaf Spot spores can harbor in the soil.  Many diseases are soil born and over-winter. Yes, they can also be passed in the air and by hand or by buying infected plants. The spores go from the ground to the lower leaves of your tomato plant. You may have noticed how diseases progress upward through a tomato plant.

Absolutely mulch. It is your first line of defense against tomato diseases. Mulch covers the soil and spores and creates a barrier. I suggest, as in the pictures below, you use grass clippings. Always use freshly cut grass and you will reduce the smell factor. Add 2 inches of green grass clipping beneath your tomato plant and in the surrounding area. When that grass dries and yellows, add another 2 inches of green grass clippings when you cut the grass next time. You can continue this throughout the year.

If you don’t have grass. You can use hay, hardwood mulch, and even newspaper. One effective strategy I recommend is putting a layer of newspaper down as a solid barrier and then putting the green grass clippings or other material on that. Mulch creates a disease barrier.


Pruning: A Disease Gap

I prune the bottom leaves off my tomato plants as they grow. I often create a 12-18 inch gap of no leaves between the soil and the first leaves on my tomatoes. This is a gap to prevent disease. It is your second line of defense against tomato diseases. As stated, many diseases like Early Blight are spread through spores.

The spores harbor in the soil and wait to make contact with the leaves of tomatoes. Creating a gap between the soil and first set of leaves on your plants, makes it harder for the spores to get a foothold on your tomatoes.

In this picture you see the 'Delicious' tomato variety. It has not been pruned and you can see how low the leaves are to the ground. A disease ladder waiting to happen.

Mulched but Not Bottom Pruned

You can’t have issues pruning back your tomatoes. I know it seems wrong to remove lush growth. It isn’t. That lush growth will become disease fodder. You can cut or snap off the unwanted growth. I cut a little more then I typically would for the picture as an example. This is the gap you want to establish. You can do it in stages. Two rows of bottom leaves and then wait for more top growth and then remove some more bottom leaves.
Bottom Leaves are Pruned

You can see the pile I removed. It was a lot. I removed suckers and leaves. The tomato is well on its way to being pruned to create at least a 1 foot barrier between the ground and its first leaves. I will prune it again after some more growth. I stopped at this point to give it another weeks worth of development. You don’t want to over prune to quickly.

Watering: The Main Trigger

Water is the main mechanism that gets the spores from the ground to the tomato leaves. Human hands and wind can also do it. Hard rain and over-head watering splashes soil up onto the leaves of the tomato. It is that simple. Splashing spreads spores. The mulch and pruning creates defenses against soil splashing. You can help your cause of disease prevention by making sure you water from the bottom of the plants and don’t splash soil onto your tomatoes.

Join My Google+ Community Our Tomato and Vegetable Gardens (600+ Members!)
Over 100 HD Garden Videos: Join My YouTube Video Gardening Channel
Follow and Organize The Rusted Garden on Pinterest