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            1. Showing posts with label Organic. Show all posts
              Showing posts with label Organic. Show all posts

              Monday, September 9, 2013

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs

              Organic Pest Control using Frogs!
              I love natures little surprises... 

              Can you find the little frog hiding on the leaf of my pepper plant?  I found him just as I was about to pick these bell peppers. The peppers have been grown using organic methods --- and this little guy is an example of that.

              By not using pesticides I am able to preserve natures balance. When pesticides are used in the garden, often frogs are driven away and made sick to the point of death.

              Find more organic gardening tricks, cost saving methods and fun gardening projects with kids on this website.


              Wednesday, August 28, 2013

              Organically Make a New Garden Bed

              Expanding or creating a new garden bed can be simple and quick if you use these quick easy steps.  You don’t need to dig up grass, spray weed killer, or break your back. This is a simple, organic, zero digging garden bed method!

              This is an update on a previous post titled No Dig Garden Bed Method.  I have tried a few more tricks and have found ways to speed up the process of getting garden beds ready for planting. I also have pictures from different beds using slightly different techniques over different time spans.

              Materials Needed:
              Newspapers (No Slicks) Black & White preferable
              Rake
              Water/hose
              Weed eater – if available
              Manure or Compost – enough for a depth of 1 minimum
              Mulch – enough for a depth of 1 to 2 inches
              Non Windy Day


              Method:
              Cut Grass & Weed, No Need to Dig
              If available use a weed eater to cut the grass or weeds down to the ground.  Rake the debris in a pile away from your new bed (you can save and use in your compost pile).  If you don't have a weed eater, just rake your weeds flat and as many away as possible.  You the want the newspaper lay as flat as possible on the ground.
              Dig Free Garden Bed Method
              Use a garden hose to wet the area that will be your bed.  Now you are going to place newspaper in crisscross overlapping fashion over the entire area.  You want sections overlapping sections. Each section should be 10 or more pages thick.  You don’t have to count pages; you don’t even have to unfold them if you don’t want, just place them around in thick chunks. 
              Before you get too far, squirt some water on the freshly laid paper. If you happen to get a breeze the papers won’t blow away. Continue until you have covered your entire area with newspaper. Make sure the entire area is fully covered or you will have weeds pop through in that spot.
              If it looks like you have a Paper Mache flower bed you did a great job! This is your weed barrier and eventually the grass roots and weeds underneath will die. 
              Have you ever sat something on your lawn for too long and the grass and plants underneath died?  You are accomplishing the same thing with the newspaper, a free weed barrier and in many cases better than what you buy at the store.   You can do this around existing plants or shrubs if you wish.  Just realize that the grass will grow towards the hole left for the shrub and you will have some weeding to do.
              Organically Made Garden Bed at 3 months
              Next you are going to put down either compost or manure. What you choose to put down depends on what you may have on hand and what you want to plant in your bed. How much of it you put down depends on your time frame.  If you want to plant seeds or starts immediately then you are going to need to put down 3 to 4 inches of compost and pasteurized manure mix then top with 1 inch of mulch. Don’t mulch where you place your seed. 
              If you have a bit more time then you can get away with 1 to 2 inches of compost or manure and 1inch of mulch.  Of course if you can put more compost/manure mix in your bed the better your plants will be in the future.  Water your bed thoroughly after you have mulched.  Make sure to immediately pull any weeds that may appear.  The only weeds I have had were ones that jumped or went under my edging and are at the edge of the bed, making them quite easy to pull.
              Organic Garden Bed Method at 10 months
              Result:
              The newspaper along with the manure/compost and mulch block all light and will kill any weeds or grass trapped below. The newspaper will gradually break down over the next 8 months to year with the manure mixing in leaving you a nice healthy bed to plant in.
              Tip:
              Pull weeds as they appear. You will likely see them hop your edging or surface just at the edge.  You shouldn't see any in your bed, unless you used this method around existing trees or shrubs.
              This method also works well to prevent weeds if you plan to build a raised bed.
               
              Related Articles: 
               

               
               
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              Thursday, August 22, 2013

              Retain Garlic's Cancer Fighting and Antibacterial Properties when Cooking

              
              Garlic has many wonderful medicinal properties. It is known as a cancer fighter, an antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anticlotting.  All of this is possible due to Allicin, which is the active compound in garlic. This wonderful compound is only created when garlic is minced or chopped, causing enzymes to come in contact with each other.
              
              Wait 10 min to retain Garlic's Cancer Fighting Properties
              However, most of these properties of garlic are lost if you prepare the garlic incorrectly. According to an article titled, "Eat on the Wild Side" in the June 2013 Prevention Magazine, the only way to retain these healing properties is to wait 10 minutes from the time you mince the garlic before you cook with it. Otherwise you destroy the enzymes before they have had the chance to create Allicin.

              Normally I mince my garlic and then throw it in a pan of olive oil. The first time I cooked after reading this article I had to do things a bit out of order.  I went ahead and prepared my garlic and left it sitting on the chopping board for 10 minutes while I got all the other items for dinner out. I then started chopping my other veggies, still waiting for 10 minutes to pass. It seemed like it took forever.

              However, for all of the properties of garlic, especially home grown garlic... I think I can wait an additional 10 minutes on it.

              
                   
               
               
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              Friday, August 2, 2013

              Update on Jelly Bean Tomato Plants

              Prolific Tomatoes on Jelly Bean Plant
              I am going to have to say my new favorite tomato and tomato plant is the Jelly Bean variety. While all of my other tomato plant varieties are void of juicy red tomatoes at the moment, this one single plant is pumping out more Jelly Bean tomatoes than our family can eat. Hard to believe, but there are plenty more on the plant in various stages and colors. 

              This article is an update to a previous article, Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe.  While my previous review was a tad negative on the plant, I am extremely pleased with the plant just a few days later.

               The tomatoes are various sizes when ripe, as can be seen in the picture below. Some are smaller than a quarter and some are much larger. Besides the output of this plant, I really like the texture of these tomatoes.

              Normal Cherry Tomatoes seem to squirt in my mouth and honestly it grosses me out just a bit.  These Jelly Bean's don't pop or squirt, which I really really like.  They aren't sweet as the package claims, but they sure are tasty.  My 18 month old asks to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I do cut the larger ones in quarters for her, just to be on the safe side.

              
              Varying tomato sizes on Jelly Bean Tomato Plant
              The unfortunate thing about this plant though is that the Jelly Bean is a hybrid, so it's seeds if collected from the tomato won't produce the same plant next year.

              This means that I will be purchasing lots of seeds.  This will hands down be Glory Gardening's main plant to give away next year.

              If you received one of these plants from Glory Gardening, or started some on your own, please share your thoughts on the plant.


              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

               
              This is the Variety that I Grow.


               
               
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              Monday, July 29, 2013

              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              Jelly Bean Tomato
              We picked our first Jelly Bean Tomato off the plant this week. This was the variety of patio tomatoes that Glory Gardening gave out this year. 

              The tomato was red, and starting to get soft so we picked it. The plant is covered with small green jellybean shaped tomatoes. Because only one tomato was ready, and everyone in the house eager to try it, we decided to cut it into three parts. After cutting into it we realized that the tomato was not yet ripe. Since it was already cut we went ahead and ate it.

              This variety is supposed to have a super sweet taste and to be small like a cherry tomato, but jelly bean shape. Due to the premature picking of the tomato, I can't comment on the taste for sure it.
              Jelly Bean Tomato Cluster

              The plant is supposed to be a compact pot growing variety.  Ours is planted along with a pepper plant in the garden. It is sprawling all over the place - about 5 ft radius. It is shorter in height, but takes up much more space than our Big Boy tomatoes.

              I would only recommed this variety for a large patio or garden pot, unless you wanted to use this as a focal plant. It has a very interesting structure, and the jelly bean tomatoes dangling off are very pretty.


              This is the variety that I grow.




              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Update on Jelly Bean Tomatoes

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              Friday, July 26, 2013

              Use a Dirt Box to Teach Gardening Skills and for Imaginative Play

              Many of us as kids growing up either had a back yard sandbox or had access to one to play in. Remember how much fun it was?  Kids just love to play in sand.


              Use a Dirt Box to teach gardening skills and for imaginative play
              Recently after visiting a friend's home who kept her sandbox in a tub for easy storage and seeing how much all the kids loved to play in it, I knew we needed one. I changed ours up a little, though.  We have a dirt box for the kids to play in, learn to use gardening tools, and pot up plants instead of a sandbox.
              Part of the time the dirt box is used by the kids to pot up plants for me. The other, you guessed it... a box of dirt to play in and let their imaginations run wild.  When not helping me, my seven year old uses the dirt box as a mini dirt bike track for his toy motorcycles or a dirt track/mud pit for his monster trucks.  My one year old loves to rake it, fill pots, build mud castles and run her brothers dirt bikes through it, mimicking the sounds he makes. 

              The great thing about this box is that it's very easy to add varying amounts of water and change its use; the kids can even take care of that part for me. If you add too much water, just tilt the box and drain the water out. An added benefit of the box is that you can keep it on the patio and slide it under a chair when not in use. Of course, if you find yourself in a situation when you need to divide or pot something up quickly, you have it handy and the kids know how to help.

              Materials Needed:
              Potting soil or seed starting soil
              Shallow Storage Tub - lid optional
              Any toys or plastic tools you desire

              Method:
              Scoop or pour some soil into the box, let the kids help. We used enough to make the dirt about an inch deep. You want to make sure that you use potting soil or seed starting soil instead of just dirt from the ground. Ordinary ground dirt in most cases will become a hard dry mess, or could have all kinds of nasties in it. 

              Periodically I add more potting soil, either because we pot up plants, or it is lost due to water drainage. We lost the lid to our tub before it was put into use as a dirt box, so the kids love it when it rains! Instant mud track or lake, depending on the amount of rain we receive.

              Note:
              If you don't have an potting or seed starting soil around, Walmart sells small bags for less than $1. If you don't see it outside, sometimes it is in by the seed starting mix.

              I highly recommend plastic garden tools, because they will most likely get wet.  Also, if your kids are anything like mine, sometimes they get thrown and used as sparing tools!



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              Wednesday, July 24, 2013

              Eat your Radish Seedpods!

              Have you ever munched on Radish Seedpods? Radish Seedpods are wonderful to eat and great for you. However they aren't found on restaurant menus. Believe it or not these pods when eaten young and fresh are great!  Even those who dislike radishes enjoy these pods I have discoved.
              
              Eatable Radish Pods
              The taste is slightly spicy and the pods have a crunch texture. You want to pick them soon after they form on the plant. These pods are only good before it gets hot outside. After it heats up the pods take on an earthy taste and are fibrous.

              How do you prepare the pods?
              Pick the the pods of the plant within a couple of hours of serving. The fresher the better.  Rinse the radish pods under cold water and set them out on the table to enjoy. They don't need any seasoning, because they are a tad spicy on their own. The larger pods were more spicy than the smaller pods.


              Radish left to flower
              How do you get these pods for yourself?
              Go ahead and grow some radishes, harvest some to eat and grow some to form pods.  One plant will yeild an appetizers worth of pods, although not all pods will be ready at the same time.  So, let a few plants bloom and then go to pod. That way you will have several days of radish seed pod appetizers!  An added bonus of growing the pods is that you will enjoy beautiful flowers two weeks or so before the pods begin to form.

              When to plant:
              You can plant radishes in the spring and fall.  Normal harvest time from seed to radish is about three weeks. Time from seed to pod is going to be closer to two months.  Depending on your zone, you may be able to grow radishes though the winter by using row covers or even a cold frame.

              Hint:
              Don't forget to let some of the pods remain on your favorite plants so you will have seeds for the next growing season.

              Related previous posts:
              Grow Vegetables in your Lawn
              Plant your Tomatoes and Let your Radishes Bolt!

               

              Friday, July 19, 2013

              Tops of Tomatoes Splitting

              Has the top of your tomato split and you are wondering what happened, is it still good to eat, and what do I do to prevent this from happening again?

              Unfortunately, it seems like you wait forever for your tomatoes to ripen and just as it is getting time to pick them their tops split. When this happens it is so disappointing. But don't fret, you can still eat your tomato.

              Top of Tomato Splitting
              The "Big Boy" variety shown in the picture with the split top, was new for me this year. It had it's first blooms back in mid May.  We had two heavy rains earlier this week that caused the top of this tomato to split. I also accidentally gouged the tomato with the pruners when I was cutting it off the vine.

              Yes, I was bummed. I had wanted an award winning super large red juicy tomato to be the first one off the vine. I have watched and tended after this one tomato for a month and a half. But after I got over my desire for the perfect looking tomato, I decided to settle on the perfect tasting tomato instead! So, I just cut off and discarded a small portion of the top.

              When this happens to you, just use a sharp knife and cut the top of the tomato off, just a bit below the deepest split.  The tomato is still safe and very good to eat.  If the tomato is left on the plant the skin will seal off and look dark, as you can see from the bottom split.

              Why this happens:
              If you are new to tomato growing, if the plant receives more water than usual or dries out between waterings the top of the tomato can split. This is because the tomato will absorb more water quicker than it can grow, bursting the skin.

              Prevention:
              There are two main things you can do to avoid this. If you do have a heavy rain and your tomato is just about ripe, you can pull it off the plant and let it ripen in the window.
              The second thing you can do is to make sure your ground is always moist and never dries out. I have my tomatoes in a new bed, and have been fiddling with our drip irrigation system to get the water just right. I figured I would bust a few tomato skins before I got the water just right.

              Summary:
              Keeping the tomato top from splitting boils down to keeping your tomato plant evenly watered. Tomatoes that split are still good for eating, just cut out the affected area.

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              Thursday, July 18, 2013

              Seasons First "Big Boy" Tomatoes


              Big Boy Tomato Variety
              It seems like we have been waiting forever for our tomatoes to ripen on the vine.  Finally, today was the day!

              The "Big Boy" variety, a new one for me this year, put on it's first blooms mid May.  We have been watching and waiting for this small green tomato grow and grow.  Now, ripe, the tomato was large, dark red, and oh so juicy.

              The Big Boy was one of the three varieties that Glory Gardening gave out as starter plants.
               

              Wednesday, May 29, 2013

              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!

              Jelly Bean Patio Tomatoes

              It's that time again... Free Patio Tomato Plants for Brown Mackie College Students. If you pick up one of these plants, it is already potted in the correct size pot.

              All you need to do is water it regularly and make sure it gets at least 8 hours of sun a day.

              This variety, Jelly Bean is a new variety for me this year. It will produce small oblong super sweet tomatoes, about the size of Cherry Tomatoes. Perfect for kids or anyone else to eat straight off the bush!



              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

              Monday, May 27, 2013

              Indoor Onion Garden in a Glass

              Indoor Onion Garden
              Did you know that you can reuse your Green Onions by growing them again & again? Have you ever heard of re-growing onions in your kitchen window?  

              It is very simple and really quite amazing to watch. You can keep reusing the same green onions over and over again. Just cut off what you need and watch the onion regrow within a few days right before your eyes!

              If you didn’t grow any green onions in your garden this spring, just pick up a pack at the store. This is a great way to keep the ones you buy at the store fresh until you need them.  Your kids will be amazed by the onions that you can see regrow 1/2 an inch to 1 inch overnight!

              Materials Needed:
              Green onion bulb with roots
              Glass or container
              Water
              Sunlight

              Method:
              Place your green onions in a container with just enough water to cover the roots and a few millimeters up the bulb.  When you have a recipe that calls for green onions, or you just want a snack, cut off the amount you desire.  In order to regrow the onion make sure to leave ¾ to 1 inch of the white bulb and roots.

              Tip:
              Change the water and prune your onion garden in a glass every week to keep it fresh and mold away.
              If your container is too deep you can ad some rocks to the bottom. This helps them stand up also.



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              Friday, May 10, 2013

              All Natural Home made Strawberry Water


              Natural Strawberry Water
              I know, choosing to drink water can be difficult at times.  But, if you love strawberries as much as I do, try this recipe out.  You will find yourself looking forward to your next glass! 
              My garden strawberries are just about ready, so I am working on using up my frozen strawberries.  Aldi’s also had fresh strawberries on sale this week for 99¢. Fresh or frozen both work well to make water with.  It only takes a couple of minutes to make a pitcher full and it will disappear before you know it.

              Materials Needed:
              About two handfuls of strawberries (fresh or frozen)
              1 pitcher or 2qt mason jar
              Water
              Anything else you would like to add (I like lime)



              Method:
              Toss your strawberries in the bottom of your pitcher. Mash them up just a bit to release the juices.  I use a meat tenderiser hammer, but even the back side of a spoon would work. Add Ice if desired or anything else (limes, herbs, other fruit) that sounds good. Put a few cubes of ice in, fill container to the top with water and swirl around just a bit.

              I have found that you can refill the jug several times and still have good flavored water.  After three days I toss my fruit and start again.

              Now just sit back and enjoy your water.  This adds a hint of sweetness and strawberry to the water.  I like to add lime to my water. You could also add a bit of sugar if needed, but I think it is great without.

              Hint:
              My water pitcher has a slotted pour spout. This keeps the large chunks of fruit in the pitcher but lets some of the smaller fruit pieces through. 

              I also like to add a strawberry on the rim of my glass to give me the Spa Strawberry Water feel; I also like to munch on while I’m drinking. Normally though, my children get to my strawberry before I do!


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              Wednesday, May 8, 2013

              Time for another Tomato plant give away


              Tomato Seedlings
              Glory Gardening along with the Faith Based Organization will be giving away another round of tomato plants on Monday May 13th. This time the recipients will be Brown Mackie Tulsa College students.  We will be teaching organic, self sustaining gardening methods at 12 and 12:50pm in the break room.

              Plant your Tomatoes and Let your Radishes Bolt!

              Tomato Seedling with first set of true leaves
              The weather has finally changed here in Oklahoma and it now appears to be safe to plant your tomato plants outdoors!  We have had an incredibly long winter with record breaking freezing temperatures into May.  All that looks to have passed and we are clear to plant tomatoes and other heat loving crops now.


              
              Early Scarlet Globe Radish Seeds

              With that being said, I am saying goodbye for now to our radishes we have been sharing and enjoying.  I am letting a few of our favorite varieties “bolt” (meaning – letting them flower and produce seed). The seeds I will harvest from the seed pods and replant in the fall.  The seed pods of the radish plant are also edible, and from what I have just recently learned quite good eaten raw, directly off the plant.  More to come on this, I promise...

              Related Articles:
              Eat Your Radish SeedPods
              Grow Vegetables in your Lawn

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              Tuesday, April 9, 2013

              Grow vegetables in your lawn


              Mess with my lawn? What? You must think that I am off my rocker. In America most of us think of our lawn as the green grassy area of beauty that must look better than our neighbors. Why or how would I grow vegetables in my lawn? 






              Grow Radishes in Lawn


              You may be looking out the window and seeing weeds in your dormant lawn. Before you run to the store to buy Roundup, remember that as summer rolls in most of those weeds die back and your grass takes over.

               
              Planting in your yard follows the same principal, except with vegetables you want instead! However, this only works if you haven’t put down pre-emergent on your lawn. This works well for cool season vegetables such as radishes. Once your grass is fully out of dormancy this method will not work well because the grass roots compete for water, not to mention you will need to mow.

               
              Why do I want to grow vegetables in my lawn?
              You ran out of space in your garden bed
              You don’t have a garden bed, but desire to grow food
              You have weeds instead of grass anyway
              A fun project to keep your involve your kids in






              Plant Cool Season Seeds in Lawn


               
              How:
              All you need to do is part the grass so that you can see bare dirt. Drop a seed down; push it under the ground just a bit with the end of a pencil. Then cover the seed with a bit of dirt and repeat as many times as desired. Make sure you have at least 6 hours of sun in the area you selected.  Also, don't forget the area needs to stay moist; so occasional watering may be needed. Just as seeds from weeds germinate, so will the seeds of your radishes or other cool season crop you selected.

               
              Tip:
              The reason I highlighted radishes in this post is due to their quick planting to table time of less than 20 days. If you plant your seeds every 7 days you will have a stead crop of radishes for about two months before your grass comes out of dormancy.  In Oklahoma, March & April as well as October –December is prime radish season time!

              Related Articles:
              Plant your Tomatoes and Let your Radishes Bolt!
              Eat your Radish Seedpods!

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              Wednesday, February 13, 2013

              Buying Tomato Seeds

               
              Here are a few key things to know when you are buying tomato seeds. Not all that appears equal really is!

              Determinate vs. Indeterminate
              Just think of this as do you want all of your tomatoes ripe within a few days of each other, or do you want the plant to produce small amounts of tomatoes all season long?  Determinate plants fruit ripens all at once, so if you want tomatoes all season long you will need to stagger your plantings of tomatoes about two or three weeks apart. 

              If you are participating in The Great American Tomato project and are going to donate plants I highly recommend growing indeterminate plants. That way the family that receives your plant can enjoy tomatoes for several months.

              Seeds per packet
              Some packets will tell you how many plants you can expect to grow from a single packet, and others will only have the seed weight on the packet. So don't be fooled, the least expensive one can actually cost more.

              Hybrid vs. Heirloom vs. Standard Varieties
              From Standard and Heirloom varieties tomato seeds can be kept from the tomatoes and plants just like the one the tomato came from can be grown.  If you try and grow a tomato plant from a hybrid seed that was saved from a tomato, you will not grow the same plant.

              Vine vs. Bush
              Bush tomatoes especially dwarf varieties make great patio plants. Vine varieties need more space than what you can typically provide in a patio pot. 

              If you are participating in The Great American Tomato project both Vine & Bush plants are needed.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?


              This is the Variety I grow.
               

               
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              Monday, February 4, 2013

              What type of tomato plant should I grow?

              Compact Red Robin Cherry
              Deciding what type of tomato plant to grow is a complicated decision. The selection of tomato plants and seeds at the store can be very overwhelming. 

              When picking a plant or seed the most important consideration to take into account is your space. Most other characteristics of tomatoes can be found in either a compact patio plant variety or a full size traditional plant. Once you have made the decision between patio vs. full size plant the other choices are just a matter of preference. 

              Your next decision is to choose between Heirloom vs. Hybrid vs. Commercially available pants and seeds.


              
              Product Details
              Multi Color Heirloom Tomatoes

              Heirloom Tomatoes
              As the Heirloom name suggests, these are seeds that have been around quite a long time, often passed down for generations.  The seeds from the strongest plants are kept for the next planting season. With the Heirloom verities you have an array of colors and flavors to choose from. Many of these plants do not produce your typical store bought tomatoes. Heirloom varieties make a beautiful addition to any garden and have flavors from very sweet to even smoky meat. These are believed by many growers to have the best and most unique flavors in the tomato world. Heirloom tomatoes also tend to not ripen at the same time, allowing for enjoyment all summer long. These seeds are popping up in seed displays at garden centers and even more varieties are available online.

              Sweetie Seedless Hybrid Tomato
              Hybrid Tomatoes 
              Hybrid tomatoes have been genetically engineered for specific characteristics, such as more yield and earlier bloom time.  The seeds from these plants will not produce plants like their parents, meaning a new packet of seed must be purchased each year. These tomatoes may or may not ripen at the same time. On the seed packet you will see a “h1” or something similar denoting that it is a hybrid variety.

              Commercially Available
              Commercially available plants are the quick and easy to find plants you will find at Lowes, Walmart or other hardware store that sells seeds and starter plants.  These will produce your typical store bought tomatoes.  These tomatoes often ripen at close to the same time.

              My Related Posts:
              Jelly Bean Tomato Plant Give Away!
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Are your Jelly Bean Tomatoes Ripe?

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              Monday, January 21, 2013

              Free Plant Seeds

              You can come by free plant seeds a variety of ways.  In fact there are many seeds that you can’t just go to the store and purchase.

              
              Free Pepper Seeds - 2wks after planting 
              Earlier this month I was eager to start my indoor vegetable garden. I jumped in the car and headed over to my local plant store.  Unfortunately, I was about 2 months too early; they don’t have any seeds or their displays out until early February I was told.

              So, what did I do? Remembering that had been successful in growing bell peppers from the seeds that I had harvested from grocery store bought produce, I broke out the sweet peppers I had in the fridge.  Now you must understand that growing seed from a vegetable that was mass grown is a gamble.  Mass produced plants are often hybridized, or have very specific growing conditions, so don’t set your hopes too high.  But many people, including me, have been successful and happy growing fruit and veggies from seeds collected right out of their fridge.

              Sweet Pepper Seeds in Greenhouse
              Some free ways to get seeds:
              Seed swap with friends
              Collect from raw produce you purchase to eat
              Collect from nature walks
              Collect from your own garden
              Leftovers from last year’s seeds


              Don’t forget to use your pop bottles to make your own free greenhouses.  See my article titled “Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle” from January 2013.

              Tuesday, January 8, 2013

              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

              A 2 liter pop bottle makes a great seed starter and mini greenhouse. Not only does it keep the seeds warm and protected for quick germination, but it also works well as a permanent pot.  As an added bonus with this method, the bottle top allows you to keep your tender seedlings covered longer and requires less maintenance than typical store bought systems.

              You don’t need to spend money on fancy kits, or plastic gardening containers to start seeds or grow plants. Use the instructions below to create your own green house that fits great on your windowsill; perfect for your windowsill garden.
              Pop Bottle Greenhouse Planter
              Materials Needed
              Potting Mix
              2 liter bottle with cap
              Scissors
              Kids – if available

              Method:
              First, cut the bottle across the center at the point where the midsection is uniform – before and after the curves.  The bottom section will be your pot and the top section will be your cover “green house.”  Now you will want to pre-moisten your potting soil.  I like to do this in the bottom section (pot). Add water until the soil sticks together and stir it up.  Make sure there are no dry spots in your soil.

               Next you will make 2 or 3 small drainage holes – less than the diameter of a straw in the lowest point in the bottom edges of the pot.  You can use the end of a pen or scissors to poke a small hole in the bottom; you don’t need to remove the soil.  Just tip the pot to the side and make the holes. Note: if your soil was really wet, water will drain out when you set the pot upright.

              Now for the top, cut a small slit in the side of the top so that the plastic can slide against itself and the top piece can fit snuggly inside the bottom pot.  This is now your greenhouse & future shield.

               Result:
              Assembled Greenhouse Planter
              You have a pot with soil ready to be planted. Just plant your seed/seeds and place the lid on top.  If you need to vent your greenhouse, just remove the cap.  Make sure to replace the cap when you have finished venting so that your soil will not dry out. 

              Depending on the type of plant you are growing, you may not need to transplant your seedling at all, just grow it in your 2 liter pot. 
               
              If you are planning on transplanting your plant outside, you can grow your seedling in your pot longer and larger before you need to plant it outside.  You can then use your top as a shield from the wind outside as you are hardening your plant off, or to protect your plant from a dip in temperature outside.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle

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              Saturday, December 22, 2012

              Grow tomatoes on your windowsill

              Do you miss the taste of fresh home grown tomatoes in the winter? Have you read my post titled, “Windowsill Gardening: Your Indoor Vegetable Garden?” Are you eager to plant some tomatoes to grow indoors but aren’t sure what to plant?
              
              Orange Pixie Tomatoes
              Red Robin Cherry Tomatoes
              These are a few of the varieties that are suited to grow on your windowsill:
              Pixie
              Patio
              Toy Boy
              Small Fry
              Tiny Tim
              Red Robin Cherry


              How to Grow Tomatoes on Your Windowsill 

              Materials Needed:
              Seed
              Potting Mix
              Pot
              Well lit windowsill
              Water
              Method:
              You will want to start a couple of seeds just as you would with any seeds. Place the seed in the potting mix covered with a bit of the mix (per package instructions).  Keep potting mix damp, but not soggy.  The seeds should sprout in 5 to 10 days. 

              To help aid germination, you can create a greenhouse (trapping heat) effect by keeping your pot covered with a translucent plastic cover. You could use the top ½ of a Coke bottle over your pot until your seeds sprout. 

              After your seeds spout, make sure the seeds get plenty of light from your windowsill and that you turn the plant regularly. Also, make sure that the temperature in the window doesn’t drop below 50 degrees at night. If it does either move it to another location at night or try a different window (does only the North window drop below 50 degrees and maybe the South one doesn’t?)

              If you have room or plan to grow more than one plant and are keeping it for yourself, you will want to start the seeds a few weeks apart in order to space your production of tomatoes.

              What should you do with your remaining seeds? Are you participating in the Great American Tomato Project? If you are able, germinate a few of your remaining seeds and give the plants away to someone who needs food assistance.

              Related Articles:
              Buying Tomato Seeds
              Make your own Greenhouse out of a Pop Bottle
               
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