The beginning of my 2017 garden has emerged. The tomato seeds that I planted last weekend sprouted after only 4 days underground in the starter greenhouse. I feel as if I definitely did something right there as it generally takes 7 to 10 days for tomato seeds to germinate. Today, I purchased two dozen peat pots and some potting soil and replanted 18 of my strongest seedlings. In a day or two, I’ll replant my next strongest half-dozen. That should give me a solid 20 to 24 plants to choose from when it’s time to get outside if everything goes as planned until then.
I’m going to try something new. All of my gardens past were populated with tomatoes purchased as plants at the local nursery or at Walmart. Over the winter, while browsing through my seed catalogs, I came across a new variety that piqued my interest so much that I just had to try them out. The only problem was that I could only buy them as seeds. So, this evening, I’m venturing into the world of starting seeds at home. I’ve purchased a miniature greenhouse with enough peat pellets to grow 72 tomatoes (I only have 28 seeds). If everything takes off as planned, I should have more than enough tomatoes to plant by May 1st and maybe a few to sell also. I’ll keep you posted on their progress over the next six weeks so stay dialed in if you’re interested in purchasing any of my extras.
As is generally the case, I’m ecstatic that the month of February has come to a close and March is now here. That fact, along with the seeds that I ordered having arrived last week, gets me thinking about what’s about to transpire in the upcoming month or so. It won’t be long and I’ll be tuning up the tiller in preparation for another season. Hopefully, I get some cooperative weather this month so I can get a head start on turning the soil over. I really enjoy early season gardening as it allows me to get rolling before the weather gets warmer.
Seeds for my 2017 garden have been ordered and should arrive any day. Other than that, the winter here in West-Central Ohio has been extremely mild with very little snowfall. I am optimistic that this will be beneficial to what I’m hoping will be my first crop of 2nd year strawberries. I can’t wait to see if they emerge in the spring. I’m also starting to get the itch to begin another growing season. I hope you are too.
2 whole heads of garlic with the cloves separated and peeled.
3 cups of mint leaves and stems.
2 tsp of dry red cayenne pepper.
2 small squirts of eco-friendly dish soap.
Pulse prepared garlic and mint in the food processor for several seconds.
Transfer mix to a pot with 12 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, remove from heat and let it rest overnight.
Strain into spray bottle and add soap. Shake to mix well.
Shake before each use.
Try to use on cloudy days to prevent burn.
Spray the top and underside of the leaves.
Generally takes a day or two to notice results.
Apply as needed up to 3 times per month.
Safe for the entire garden.
All of the previously mentioned plants- garlic, mint and cayenne-
are effective at deterring insects on their own. However, when
they are combined, what you get is a super strength pesticide.
In my second edition of this multi-part series, I’m going to talk about tomatoes. Both easy to grow, process and enjoy, these fruits are a staple in nearly every garden. Below, I’ll provide a list of 7 rules that I follow to help guide you to healthy plants and bountiful harvests.
Rule #1: Always transplant seedlings as deep as possible. This includes removing some of the lower leaves if necessary. The reason for this is that any part of the main stem that comes into permanent contact with the soil will develop roots. This in turn, leads to heartier plants and usually more tomatoes.
Rule #2: Well drained soil is preferred so that the aforementioned roots get just the right amount of both water and air. If your soil is heavy or compact, consider using raised beds.
Rule #3: Use medium to coarse mulch around each plant in order to prevent soil splashing during heavy rains or watering. Soil splashing on the lower foliage often times leads to disease.
Rule #4: Don’t crowd tomatoes. While they can be planted in rows just like anything else, be sure to space them so that as the tomatoes mature air and sunshine can reach in between each individual plant. This also helps prevent disease and keeps insects at bay.
Rule #5: The larger the fruit, the more direct sunshine the plant needs daily. Six hours is the minimum. If your plot doesn’t get that, then smaller varieties or even cherry tomatoes may be a more viable option.
Rule #6: Always be on the lookout for wilting. This is a tell tale sign in tomatoes of either thirst or disease.
Rule #7: Try different varieties. Find out what you like the best for both your taste buds and your needs.
I hope this serves each of you as well as what it has me over the years. Be sure to take the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, no matter how big or small. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
The 2016 edition of my vegetable garden has come to an end. The entire area has been covered in a blanket of grass clippings and mulched leaves. I hope that I’ll get better soil quality with higher water retention and fewer weeds by doing so. In addition , all tools and equipment have been put away for the year and the strawberries received a straw covering. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever had to deal with trying to keep plants alive over the winter months . I’ve worked extremely hard to salvage the initial planting from this summer’s drought and even managed to double my total number of plants by transplanting some of the fall runners. I’d be very disappointed if I had to start over again in the springtime. If they persevere, I should be set up for a decent crop next year. I’m really looking forward to that as I’ve found that sun ripened berries are much better tasting than anything you’ll find in the store .
In order to keep myself occupied this winter and to help my soil quality in the spring, I’ve taken on the task of starting a couple of compost piles. I started with my green tomato vines and layered them between fresh grass clippings and some existing soil from the garden . I’ve since added some shredded paper that I acquired and some peelings from home. I already watered it down a couple times and turned it once in order to speed up the decomposition process. Hopefully by next planting season I’ll have myself some high quality mulch to use. I’ll keep you updated on its progress all offseason .
I’m almost ready for winter at this time. I applied a soil conditioner earlier in the week with the hope that it- along with another application in the spring- will help make my soil more nutritious and balanced before next year’s planting. In addition, I pulled all the remaining pepper plants and tomatoes and cleaned up the cages that I use for the tomatoes. With any luck, I’ll be able to get everything worked into the ground so it can decompose.
All that really remains now is covering the strawberry plants up when the time arises, harvesting the last two celery, working the remaining plant material into the ground and getting everything put away. I will try to get all of that done in the next two or three weeks. I’ll update again as things finalize.
With cooler fall temperatures making an initial appearance this week, I’ve been busier with year-end duties. I pulled the fall red beets Wednesday and while there were some nice ones, I could tell that were hurt by the drought. I passed them on to my mother with the hope of receiving some beet jelly in the near future. That stuff is as good as any fruit based preserve I’ve ever tasted!
I’ve also transplanted some of the new fall growth that the strawberry runners are producing. I lost four of my original eight plants this summer, but am now up to 15 total. Hopefully, I can 3 to 6 more started before Jack Frost sets in and I have to cover everything up for the impending winter cold.
All that remains in my garden now are the tomatoes – which are beginning to die off – and the green and jalapeño peppers. As they expire in the next month or so and I pull the final two celery that I have, I’ll finish the fall tilling and begin to put everything away. Before long, I’ll start making plans for next year’s exploits. I’ll post a couple more times as the year comes to a close.
The season is quickly coming to an end for my 2016 garden. Jack Frost will be here within a month. There’s not much that needs to be done before then. I’ll be clipping my strawberry runners on a weekly basis now and transplanting the new growth so they can get somewhat established for next year. In addition, my red beets and celery will have to be harvested in the next few weeks. It appears that I’m going to have an outstanding fall crop of beets which will be a good way to end the harvest.
Once the harvestis complete, I will need to finish covering my strawberries with mulch, cleanup all my tools and equipment and put everything away, and do some fall rototilling, fertilizing and weeding. I’ll try to post more frequently as the fall comes to end.