Weekend Garden Pondering

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This weekend, my husband and I have been thinking and talking about what I should plant this winter. We are beginning to see empty spots in the grocery store, and news outlets say that the problem is going to get worse. This summer and fall, we have been eating from my small garden, mostly squash, as a vegetable for meals. Summer is coming to an end, and soon the squash will also.

I plant a tomato plant, and a few peppers for to grow in the house during the winter months, providing us with a fresh grown treat from time to time. He and I both feel I should plant more, but what and where. I have two windows that provide enough sunlight to grow plants in the winter. The answer to what to plant deals with space. I do not have enough space to grow many plants inside.

His idea is to build a greenhouse of sorts. One thought is to put a small structure up on our cement patio. The sun is strong on the patio and it is protected from the cold north wind. The patio is also fenced so the sheep will not be trying to get into the greenhouse during the winter. If a heater was needed on real cold nights, electricity is available. Or we could set up a “solar heating system” that my cousin designed and see if that would work on keeping the greenhouse warm enough for our Texas winters.

Some vegetables that do well in the Texas climate for winter gardens are cabbage, radishes, beets, turnips, carrots, and potatoes. There are more, I have not grown them. With a greenhouse these plants would thrive. I would also be able to plant peas, as long as I kept the frost away.

I already have a few herbs growing in the window sill of the kitchen window. Herbs are good to grow inside on a window sill as they do not take up much space. Fresh herbs have a stronger seasoning, and I use half the amount called in recipes when I use fresh herbs. Herbs I have growing are rosemary, basil, and oregano. I grow the herbs in disposable plastic cups. Although I never seem to dispose of the cups I use for planting unless they get broken. I use two cups, one for the plant to grow in, a small rock in the second cup used for drainage. The herbs grow well, and I always have them handy for cooking.

I have also grown bell peppers using the same planting system of two plastic disposable cups. The two bell pepper plants produce peppers, although they were a little small, the peppers had strong flavor for seasoning.

Another plant I have done well in growing indoors is leaf lettuce. Last year I grew two types of leaf lettuce in pots. I would cut the leaves to add to our salads. I would trim the larger leaves off the plants, and the plants would regrow in a weeks time. If I put the lettuce in a size larger planting pot, I would be able to grow enough for our eating needs, as we do not eat salads every meal.

And if we did build the small greenhouse, I would be able to grow enough vegetables to keep us going through the winter, then transplant them in the spring into the garden area. Which the garden area is going to be bigger next year.

Just some thoughts and ponderings concerning ways to have a variety of vegetables with the talks of shortages. Also a way to lower our grocery expense with the current inflation, that is said to go higher.

Will keep you posted on our decisions and adventure in growing food for the table.

amtolle

Tomatoes in Winter

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There are news stories that tomatoes and products made from tomatoes are going to be in short supply in the United States this year, until the next tomato harvest. Depending on if the drought continues for another year, it may be expensive to purchase tomatoes and tomato products.

Can a person grow tomatoes inside during the winter? Yes. Tomato plants like sunshine. If you have a window that can provide sunshine at least 6 hours a day, you can place a tomato plant by the window to grow. If you do not have a window or place to put a tomato plant, there are grow lights that do not cost very much.

Tomatoes need room for their roots. I plant my tomato plants in a five gallon bucket or equivalent pot. They also like the soil to drain well, meaning the pot or bucket has to have holes in the bottom for excess water to drain out. I have a tendency to over water my tomato plants, even outside I will over water and the plant will wilt and die. To be safe from overwater, do a simple test of pushing a finger an inch below the surface, if the soil is moist – do not water.

Tomatoes are self pollinators, meaning they do not need bees or butterflies to pollinate the flower in order to produce fruit. When you see blooms open, usually in the mornings, gently shake the plant, and let the pollen fall on the flowers to pollinate.

I start my tomato plants by planting a few seeds in a solo cup half full of potting mix. I only fill the solo or plastic cup half full, as tomato plants will form roots along the stem, if the stem touches soil. I wait until the new seedlings are a few inches tall, then very carefully add more soil. By doing this the young tomato plant develops a stronger root system.

Likewise, when I transplant the young, approximately six inches tall plant into the pot or bucket I am going to have it live in, I only have the pot half full of potting mix or soil. As the plant grows taller, I gently add more mix or soil until the soil is two inches from the top of the pot or bucket. When I put the plant in the pot, I add a hand full of crushed egg shells, to help prevent blossom rot on the fruit caused by not enough calcium.

I water and wait for the bloom, gently shake the plant, and wait for fruit.

Bell Pepper plant waiting to be planted outside after growing all winter in the house.

This planting method works for bell peppers, any type of hot peppers. I use an eight inch pot for the peppers.

Eggplants are another night shade classified plant that can be raised inside. I have not grown eggplants inside, but I would start with a 12 inch pot and see how the plant does.

If a plant needs more root room, you can always transplant into a larger pot.

amtolle

Fall Garden Planning

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Where I live, a person can plant two gardens, a spring garden and a fall or winter garden.

The spring garden is tomatoes, peppers, squash, corn, beans and other vegetables that require warm temperatures to grow and produce fruit. In July these plants in these spring gardens stop producing fruit due to the high temperatures, but will return to production at the end of August when temperatures start dropping. Squash and okra will continue to produce during the hot months of July and August provided the plants are watered regularly.

Fall or winter gardens are for plants who like cool temperatures. We do not get a frost until November and the cold temperatures do not really hit until January. Four to five months of growing cool season plants.

I plant onions in my winter garden, as I cook a lot with onions. Easy to plant and grow. They also are planted in the spring garden, after the cold weather in February. I also start planting radishes and beets. For me, beets grow better in a fall/winter garden than they do in a spring garden, although they can be planted in both seasons.

Radishes grow well year around, except in the strong heat of summer. The strong heat is hard on the seedlings, so during July and first part of August I do not plant radishes. I love radishes, you plant the seed and in 21 to 30 days you have radishes to enjoy. I plant my radishes in two rectangular planters, varying the plant times for a continual harvest. In the spring, I dump out the planters, adding new soil and compost for another year of radishes.

This year I am wanting to add more to my fall/winter garden than the usual radishes, beets and onions. Area gardners do well with cabbage. We like eating cabbage. I am planning on a few cabbage plants.

I am going to experiment with peas. For the spring garden, peas have to be planted the end of February in order to produce fruit before the heat. I am thinking of planting peas at the end of August, and see if I get more fruit before the cold arrives in November that would kill the pea plant. I am also going to mulch or cover with straw to help prevent the cold from reaching the plants.

Gardening is an adventure. The one thing I have enjoyed about moving to Texas is the gardening. Being able to grow a garden year around providing fresh vegetables is a pleasure and blessing. We enjoy eating fresh home grown vegetables.

Anyone can learn to garden. Most people struggle with growing plants due to the watering. I do the simple “finger test” when it comes to if a plant needs water or not. I place my finger an inch or up to the first joint into the soil. If the soil is moist, I do not water. If the soil is dry, I water.

The second reason for a struggling plant is the amount of sunshine. Plants that love the shade struggle growing in full sun. Plants that love the sun, struggle growing in the shade. Learning the sun/shade requirements of plants helps the gardener.

This year, my corner garden was planted near an oak tree, getting late morning and midday shade. Having shade during these times helped the sun loving plants to be cool during the strong heat of June and July. It saved on water use and the plants seemed happier.

The third element to growing a really good garden or plants, is to talk to your plants. This is not an old wives tale, it is a fact of science that talking to your plants helps your plants. Going out at least once a day to talk to your plants helps them to grow. The reason, observation. If you are looking at your plants once a day, you can observe how they are growing, see if they need water. Additional benefit, you relax while talking to your plants.

Do not be afraid to step out on an adventure of gardening or growing plants.

amtolle

Happy Watermelon Day

August 3, 2022 is Watermelon Day. Watermelon is a summer staple in my family. Most varieties in stores today are seedless watermelons. But as a child I remember having to spit the black seeds as we would eat the watermelon outside. Or removing the black seeds from the melon as I cut it into pieces and placed in a large bowl.

Picking out a sweet juicy watermelon is considered an art. I seem to be good at it. I have grown watermelon in my garden, and determining if the watermelon is ripe on the vine is the same technique as determining if the watermelon is juicy – a tap on the “bottom” as my dad would say. The hollow sound and mild vibration through the fruit lets you know how juicy the watermelon will be. Soft spots are not good, over ripe or bruised.

There are various ways of preparing a watermelon for eating. How I prepare the melon is determined on who is going to be eating the melon. For my grandchildren, I cut the melon into small bite size pieces. For adults, I will slice and cut pie shape pieces allowing the person to eat the melon with getting the sticky “watermelon smile” associated with eating a half slice. Regardless of how you serve the watermelon, salt always allows the sweet juices to be sweeter.

I have even carved a watermelon to use for serving the bite size pieces. Simple to do and makes an attractive decor for the table. One problem I had while carving the cavity is doing it so the bowl sits correctly on the table. I always seem to get a little off and the bowl does not sit perfectly upright. Once I had to cut the rind on the bottom to get the bowl to sit upright and not dump the contents onto the table.

I compost the rinds. But I would like to try making pickled watermelon rind or a pickle relish from the rinds. Recipes and others say the rinds are like cucumbers and you can use the same recipes on the rinds as you do for pickles. An old family friend said it was common during the Depression Era to make pickles from the rinds as they did not waste anything during that time.

I have even seen recipes for a soup made from watermelon rinds.

In the area of Texas where I live, watermelon was grown as a major crop until the late 1980’s. The town I live in was the train stop for the farmers to put their watermelons on the train to be shipped to the cities. The train depot is a feed store now, and the watermelon fields are used for cattle and growing hay. After harvest, the train cars loaded and on their way, a big festival would take place called the Watermelon Festival.

This weekend is the Watermelon Festivals when the communities gather for softball games, a farmer’s market, eating contests and cooking contests as well a many other activities. One community near us has a rodeo during the festival. Although the watermelons are not grown in the community as a major crop, the festivals are still celebrated reminding us of the past, but mostly to have fun and enjoy the activities.

amtolle

The Busy Corner

In my yard is a spot I call my “happy place”. I am free to experiment and do what I want. It is not associated with raising the sheep or any other activity on the farm. It is my space free from sheep, business and other thoughts. Every morning I drink my first cup of coffee and gaze at my corner, watching the activity before the day gets too hot.

My happy place is a spot on the farm that my husband and I laugh at my mistakes, as I made some mistakes while creating this happy spot. One is the “red cabbage”. I like the cabbage plant, as well as the cabbage. This year I thought I had purchased four red cabbage plants on a visit to the nursery. Upon placing the last red cabbage plant in its pot, I saw a label. The label did not identify the plant as red cabbage, the plant is red brussel sprouts.

Red Brussel Sprout plants

We laughed, we did not know there was red brussel sprouts. We both eat brussel sprouts, so the fruit these plants produce will not go to waste. I have never grown brussel sprouts, this year will be the first. I enjoy the different color of the plant, purple stems and sage green leaves. The plant gives the spot a variation in color and structure with the strong upright growth. The plant does not bloom colorful flowers, but the fruit or brussel sprout, grows along the stalk of the plant. My husband keeps looking for the fruit, and we laugh as he does not see where it is producing. He has learned to look in the correct place on the plant, and there are lots of fruits forming. The red brussel sprout has been a welcomed surprise to my happy spot, and a plant I will continue to grow.

This year I added some pink roses that are solar lights. In the evening I enjoy looking at my happy spot, and wanted some light and diversity for evening viewing. They add bright color during the day and have attracted hummingbirds. In the early mornings I spotted hummingbirds trying to gather nectar from these artificial blooms. So I added a hummingbird feeder to my happy spot.

The early morning is busy with bees gathering nectar from the squash and pumpkin blooms. The hummingbirds coming in for food. The small birds eating bugs from the trees and plants. And the lone woodpecker, red headed flicker, picking bugs off the trees. These are pleasant to observe as I start my day of busy work.

Currently some of my containers are empty. I plant radishes and onions in them. We have harvested the radishes and onions. I will plant some more seed once the temperatures begin to drop. Our current heat of over 100 degrees fahrenheit makes starting seedlings difficult as the young plants perish in the heat. The tomato plants are not setting fruit for the same reason, too hot.

We harvest summer squash from the one plant in this spot about every three days, adding some fresh vegetables to our meals. The butternut squash plant is several dozen fruits growing along its long trentale stems, but they are green and will not be ready to harvest until fall. Another lesson my husband had to learn after he brought three green butternut squash into the kitchen one evening.

The pumpkin plant is becoming large, covering the beets that finally decided to sprout. I had planted beets in the early spring, only they did not seem to sprout. So I place a pumpkin seed in the center of the small area, as the pumpkin plant could expand onto the grass lawn area. The pumpkin came up, and while adjusting the running stems to go onto the grass area, I discovered beets underneath. How well these beets will grow and develop I will watch as they are heavily shaded by the pumpkin plant. Beside the beets is sweet basil, having been seeded the previous year from the sweet basil I had in a pot. When disturbed the small plants release a sweet pleasant smell. I am also able to use this herb for cooking, and goes well with summer squash.

I have to have one pumpkin plant to produce pumpkins for carving with my granddaughter in October. The size the pumpkin plant obtains, makes for a very invading plant partner as it crowds the plants near it with its every reaching stems, blooms and fruit. I was able to place the few rocks I had gathered around this planting area before the squash plant starting getting too big.

My little happy spot sparks joy at the beginning and during the day. I learned to help with the depression I face daily, it is good to surround my area with things that spark joy, make me feel good about myself and my life.

Do you have a “happy spot”, a place to get away from the daily grind, and just relax? or a place the you feel joy in when you enter? Have you thought about creating your own little “happy spot”?

amtolle

A Gift of Love

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Last week I took my grandson home bring an end to his summer visit with Granny. He lives close to my oldest daughter and her family. We usually stop over there for a night before continuing to his mother’s home. After I drop him home, I spend a day or two with my oldest daughter and her family.

We moved away from the Colorado, yet the majority of our family lives there. Anytime we have the opportunity to stay a day or two longer we take advantage. The grandchildren grow up so fast, and I get to see them twice a year.

This year while taking some time with my daughter and her three children, her husband started work on a pond in the garden area of the yard. They had a pond that was a hole in the ground with a liner. The liner does not last long due to one of the family dogs is very large and loves to lay in the pond to cool off in the summer. The past few months he has built a fence around the garden area. Next on his list was to line the pond with cement instead of a plastic liner.

He has not done cement. He has worked construction, framing houses, but only viewed cement work being done. After watching some youtube videos, he decided to try and build a cement lined pond. He is an awesome husband and father, he is a very good man. He is not prideful. If he does not know how to do something, and knows someone who does, he is happy to turn the work over to a more knowledgeable person.

He started the cement project, I offered help if he needed it. It was not long, before he mentioned he was not sure what to do, the cement was not working the way he thought it should. I stepped in.

I have not done a lot of cement work, but I have watched and learned from some really good cement workers. I have made lawn ornaments and laid blocks to form walls, so I do know some information on how to work with this fickle medium.

It was not long before my daughter joined me in working the cement mix up along the sides of the pond. After three hours of patiently working the cement mix, she had a rough looking cement pond that was not complete. We had ran out of cement and the store was closed.

The next day was busy with us taking my grandson home, and visiting a new baby girl in the family.

Sometimes to do a project correctly, takes longer than planned. We worked Monday to finish forming a cement pond. Some of the cement was smooth, but there was some areas that were really rough. I said I could cover the entire pond with mortar, a mixture of cement and sand, and it would look smooth. We bought supplies that afternoon.

The next day, my daughter had to work. I watched the kids and put mortar on the cement pond. My oldest granddaughter assisted with the pond work, the younger granddaughter watched their little brother and brought us cold water to drink.

With patience and consistent work, we finished the pond. My oldest granddaughter asked why I was doing this work.

“Granny your back and hands hurt alot, why not stop? “she asked.

My hands hurt as the gloves I had did not provide proper protection while molding mortar to the sides of the cement mix pond. I had some scrapes and the lime irritated the skin. My back hurt from the constant bending over working. Yet, this pond was a labor of love for my daughter.

We had a good time working together the one day building the cement mix walls of the pond. The last time we worked together on a project she was twelve, before I divorced her dad. We had such a good time, me teaching, her learning and working side by side. I wanted so much to finish this project she desired in her yard.

Finally the pond was complete, with initials and date. Which I wrote upside down.

Now she will seal the pond and add water, rocks to form her fountain and last koi fish.

It is not often I get the opportunity to make or do something of love for my oldest daughter. The distant we live apart does not allow for a lot of visit times. I stayed a day longer than planned to finish this project of love.

Now, when she looks at her pond, she sees a physical sign that her mother loves her and remembers the fun weekend we had sharing and learning from each other.

amtolle

Planters (part 1)

I like to have unique or different planters for the plants outside. I enjoy recycling or repurposing an item, to be used again instead of throwing into the garbage, and the item ultimately being in the landfill or ocean. I find that repurposing something is less expensive than buying an item for the purpose. Today, it is planters. I love plants and growing things, but I do not always have enough containers to put plants.

I wanted some planters for my new patio. I am repurposing two metal coffee cans. If I were not repurposing these metal cans, they would be in the metal pile to be taken to a scrap iron yard and recycled.

For my project I am using the two metal cans, some wallpaper border I fell in love with, sand paper (the size of the grit is not important), a paint brush, and wallpaper glue or paste.

Since I am making planters, I need to drill a couple of holes to allow excess water to drain away from the roots of the plants. I used a 1/4 inch drill to make the holes. I would not go larger than 1/4 inch, as the soil would escape from the planter.

Removing the labels, I will sand the sides of the cans. The sanding is to create a broken surface, or rough surface for the wallpaper adhesive to bond to. Sanding to create the rough surface does not take much effort, basically just rubbing the sandpaper back and forth to create “scratches” in the polished metal.

Next, I measured out the wallpaper border to fit around the can, with 1/2 inch extra. I had found this wallpaper border at a Habitat for Humanity Store. I love visiting those stores, and have purchased building materials for remodeling and updating my home. This wallpaper border does not go with the interior theme of the house. But it will look good for planters.

I put the wallpaper adhesive on the can a few inches starting at the top and moving to the bottom. I attach the wallpaper making sure it is straight. Proceeding along the side, adding some adhesive and attaching the wallpaper a few inches at a time until I reach the start. I place some adhesive on the 1/2 inch extra and attach. I then take a damp rag, with gentle pressure I rub the wallpaper around the metal can, smoothing out bubbles and wrinkles, and making sure the wallpaper is glued to the whole surface of the can.

I am pleased with the final product. These will look nice on the patio, adding some unique color and design.

I placed rosemary in the new pots. Rosemary is good to keep mosquitos and spiders away for an area. They do not like the smell. A gentle rub on the leaves will release the aroma of the rosemary. Rosemary is also good for cooking in italian dishes, fish and lamb. When using fresh rosemary for cooking, a little bit adds a lot of flavor, fresh is much stronger than dried. You can also dry the rosemary you grow in planters.

amtolle

Grandpa’s Garden

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The enjoyment of gardening started when I was nine years old. My dad purchased twenty-four acres that was used as hay ground. He moved our mobile home or trailer house to the land. Along with us came my grandparents, my dad’s parents in a mobile home. That spring there was to be a garden.

My sister and I worked with my dad putting in an absolutely straight as an arrow fence. My dad was a perfectionist of sorts, when he did a job, he did it right. “Do a job right the first time, and you will only have to do it once” were words he often spoke to us. My dad used a surveyors transits to make sure the fenceline was straight.

My grandpa loved to garden. He was retired and liked to keep busy. A place was selected for the garden. Dad plowed the garden area to loosen up the soil and break the grass roots up so a rototiller would be able to work the soil. Then Grandpa spent two days going over the area with a rototiller. All day for two days, when he was done, the soil had a fine texture, no clumps and no grass.

Next was to set out the rows and irrigation ditches. The acreage was watered by flood irrigation. The garden would be watered using the same method. Dad and Grandpa made a tool using a level and lumber to determine the slope of the garden area, to find high spots and low spots. The low spots would collect water, not good for plants as the roots would rot. The high spots would not get enough water. After walking all over the garden area with the leveling tool, next was to grade or smooth the area getting rid of low and high spots.

For the grading, Dad and Grandpa made a drag from railroad ties, attached ropes to the ends and pulled this railroad tie leveler back and forth across the garden area. Then out would come the leveling tool to see find the high and low spots again. The process took a whole Saturday. As a kid, a whole Saturday doing one job, was a very long time. When they were done, the whole family gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride my dad said, “The garden is now ready for rows.”

Months before, my mom would spend hours with Grandpa, selecting seeds, and learning how to map out a garden. Different plants needed different width of rows for growing room. They drew a map for the rows and labeled each row with a name.

The string and stakes along with a tape measure came out, my Dad’s favorite tools as they were used for everything we did. Going my Grandpa’s carefully drawn map, they started putting in ditches. Marking the ditches with stakes and string, they cut the ditches into the soil using a hoe. The ditches were for the water. Us kids were told to stay out of the “garden” until all the ditches were done. They did not need us tromping all over messing with the strings and ditches. When all the ditches were in place, the water was diverted down the irrigation ditch into the garden ditch, and water flowed. Dad and Grandpa watched the water flow down every ditch, making sure the flow was even. The first flowing of the water was to settle the soil and put moisture back in. Two days later they had the water flow a second time, this was to mark where to put the seeds.

The garden was ready to receive the seeds. I was eager to learn anything. My siblings and myself were not allowed to help with the garden prepping, but we would be allowed to plant seeds. My mother did not want us in the garden at all, but Grandma said we were old enough to learn. Grandpa and Dad agreed, and said us kids could work beside them. They would teach us how to plant.

Grandpa took me to teach me how to plant. We started with the corn. Taking out a tape measure, ( I think a tape measure was one of his favorite tools as well.) we walked to the area for the corn. I was told to hold the tape measure and seeds while he made the planting row with a hoe, just above the water line in the ditch. Grandpa taught me how to use the tape measure to measure 6 inches. Place a seed at the very beginning of the planting row, then measure 6 inches from the seed, and place another. I went down the rows, measuring 6 inches and placing seeds. Grandpa made the rest of the planting rows, while I planted. I felt so important as I was planting seeds on my own. When he finished the planting rows for all the corn, he came back to fill in the rows I had placed seeds. He told me I was doing a great job.

After the corn, we planted green beans. Green beans were 4 inches apart. Dad and my sister and brother planted the carrots, radishes, peas, black eyed peas and beets. Grandma was teaching mom how to transplant the 30 tomato plants that Grandma had started and grown in the house for a month.

Next Grandpa took me to the squash and cucumber area. There the rows were farther apart. He would take a step and mark with the hoe, take a step and mark. Then he came back to me and said “now let’s plant”. He showed me how to make a small mound, put a hole with my finger in the center and place three seeds next to each other. He would cut the water ditch to go around the mound. We planted the squash and cucumbers. When we looked up, the others had finished what they were planting.

Once again, we gathered at the edge of the garden. With pride we surveyed the work we had done. The garden was planted. Us kids were told to stay out of the garden unless we had an adult with us. They did not want us tromping on the new plants when they appeared.

Grandpa would water the garden several times a week. I watched the bare ground begin to turn green. Grandpa would take me through the garden teaching me how to water and identify the different plants that were sprouting. When the plants were four inches tall, we started pulling weeds and grass. Grandpa showed and guided me in using the hoe to get the weeds and grass on the top of the rows making weeding faster. I had to carefully pull weeds and grass near the plants so I would not damage or kill them.

I would watch for Grandpa to come out of his house, and head to the garden. Mom did not spend much time in the garden. But Grandpa and Grandma were there almost everyday. I worked beside them learning how to grow and care for the plants that provide food for the table. When they were ready, my grandparents showed me how to harvest the fruit of our labors.

Grandpa and Grandma only stayed two years with us in the twenty-four acres. Two years I learned to how to grow a garden.

amtolle

Tomatoes

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I love vine ripened tomatoes. I planted some seeds in solo cups inside the house. I also purchased three plants from a nursery. In this post I will show you the progress of those I planted and the method I use for planting them outside in containers and the ground.

Above is a purchased tomato plant, grape tomato variety I am planting into a large pot. Tomatoes can grow in containers, but the container or pot needs to be at least three gallons or larger. The larger the fruit the plant will produce the larger the container needs to be. The plant requires a root system to draw sufficient nutrients from the soil to supply nutrients to the plant and fruit. Larger fruit, larger root system to support the plant and fruit, hence a larger pot or container.

I fill my pot or container 3/4 full with soil, or potting mix. I make an hole for plant, making sure the bottom of the planting hole is 4 inches above the bottom of the container. Next I add crushed egg shells to add calcium to aid in the prevention of blossom end rot, a nutrient deficient disease.

I will pinch off or use scissors to cut off the lower leaves of the plant. I do not want leaves below the soil. The stem in the soil will start growing roots. I then fill with soil, then water to remove all the air from around the roots.

Every tomato plant needs at least one, but preferably two marigold plants. Why do tomato plants need marigolds, to keep away the tomato cutworm. These worms true identity is a caterpillar. The caterpillar will strip away the leaves and eat the tomatoes ripe or green, leaving you with a dying plant and no tomatoes.

Caterpillars are the young of butterflies and moths. The tomato caterpillar is the young of a moth, and the moths do not like Marigold and the scent marigold put off. If you do see little black feces on the leaves of your tomato plants, there is probably tomato cutworms. These worms camouflage very well with the tomato plant. But at night with a black light, they show up gloriously. I do not spray my tomato plants with insecticide, I find the cutworms and pick them off.

Happy gardening.

amtolle

Weekend Gardening

I love gardening. This past weekend I was able to spend some time getting my garden in the ground.

Radishes have started to appear. I planted radish seeds in the long planters. These planters have been used four years to grow radishes. I plant the seeds in two rows. Water. Wait. Soon little green leaves appear.

In about two weeks I will have fresh radishes to add to meals and snacks.

This past weekend I also replanted a bell pepper plant. I had started these plants from seeds using solo cups. I later potted them in a small planter where they grew, and produced a few peppers. Now to let them grow.

Potted plants grow and become root bound. Repotting this pepper into a larger pot I will get more fruit production. I have decided to repot this pepper plant into a larger container outside.

Removing the plant from the planter, you can see the roots and how tightly intertwined the roots have grown. Repotting into a larger container will allow the roots to stretch out and grow. In the bottom of the hole for the plant, I will add crushed eggshells. Eggshells help in the prevention of blossom rot on the fruit of peppers, eggplants and tomatoes. Blossom rot is caused by a calcium/phosphorus deficiency.

This pepper plant has a new home. I used a small trellis to support the plant. This pepper plant has spent the entire life in the house away from the wind. I am using the trellis until the pepper grows a stronger stem to support the plant in the wind.

Watering during repotting and after repotting is important to remove the air from around the roots. Air causes roots to die, eventually causing the plant to die. Although this potting mix was wet due to recent rains, I still watered to remove the air pockets in the potting mix.

amtolle