Tag Archives: Growing Vegetables

Assorted squash

ALL ABOUT SQUASH: Squash Varieties

Squash Varieties

Originating in Mexico and Central America, people have been eating squash for more than 7,500 years. Native Americans shared squash seeds in different varieties with European explorers, who then took the new crop back to their lands to grow. Continue reading

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COMMERCIAL TOMATO GROWING EXPOSED: Convincing reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes!

Here are some REALLY good reasons why you should grow your own tomatoes. Read “Tomatoland” by Barry Estabrook. Or be convinced by these excerpts from the NY Times book review…

“South Florida, where nearly all of America’s winter tomatoes are grown, is nearly…(an)…alien…environment for farming. It’s insane that tomatoes are grown there at all.

“Florida’s sandy soil, Mr. Estabrook writes, is as devoid of plant nutrients as a pile of moon rocks. “Florida growers may as well be raising their plants in a sterile hydroponic medium.”

He continues, witheringly: “To get a successful crop, they pump the soil full of chemical fertilizers and can blast the plants with more than 100 different herbicides and pesticides, including some of the most toxic in agribusiness’s arsenal.” Migrant workers are coated with these chemicals too. The toll that’s taken on them, in the form of birth defects, cancer and other ailments, is hideous to observe and should fill those who eat Florida tomatoes with shame.

And all this for what? Hard, tasteless, uniform green balls that barely dent when they fall off a truck at 60 miles per hour and that must be gassed to achieve the sick-pink hue they present in supermarkets.

To read the full review:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/06/books/tomatoland-barry-estabrooks-expose-review.html?_r=2&ref=books

To find the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Tomatoland-Industrial-Agriculture-Destroyed-Alluring/dp/1449401090/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1310152463&sr=1-1

Gardening and the Environment

You’d don’t need to become an eco-warrior to get on friendly terms with the environment. In fact, you can start small…literally in your own backyard. Here are a few suggestions.

In the Yard
Plant a few trees, shrubbery or flowers around your property. Weed and mulch shrubbery beds. Don’t over-water your lawn. Make sure you completely shut off the water source when you’re finished. Use your mower to mulch lawn clippings as a good self-fertilizer and to help re-seed. If you bag clippings, recycle them as mulch laid in thick layers in the areas between rows of your vegetable garden.

On the Deck, Patio and Porch
If you’re growing plants in containers, consider biodegradable coco liners. They’ll help Continue reading

Fall Gardening

Not ready to abandon the pleasures of gardening just because fall is approaching? Here are a few ideas to keep your hand in and to make sure your green thumb stays green.

Planting Bulbs in the Fall
The most obvious solution is to consider planting bulbs in the fall for flowers that will bloom in the spring. Dormant over the summer months, bulbs break dormancy during low temperatures so that growth can resume in fall and early winter. As a general guideline, you can plant your bulbs between mid-August until the soil freezes depending on the species.

Planting Vegetables in the Fall
Planting a vegetable garden in the fall may even be easier than gardening during the summer. Think about it: none of those perspiration-drenched days during hot and Continue reading

Raised Planting Beds Raise Your Gardening Prowess

Would you like to make growing your own fresh vegetables easier? Then give a thought to raised bed gardening. Gardening in contained soil higher than surface soil provides a number of advantages over growing plants in level ground.

Easily Managed Plots
Raised bed gardening means planting vegetables within smaller sized plots of contained earth.These smaller bed layouts are great for those who have limited room and can be more compatible with today’s busy lifestyles. Rectangular raised beds approximately 3 feet in width make all areas of the bed easily accessible. The length of the bed depends on your needs and your landscape. For more yield, some gardeners plant multiple raised beds with paths between them to allow for easier reach and easy Continue reading

Vegetable Garden Tips

These days, many households are growing their their own fresh, seasonal vegetables in their very own gardens. If you’re contemplating starting your own vegetable garden, here are some basic tips you ought to know.

Grow what you like to eat. Plant a garden that will yield the homegrown vegetables that you know you and your family can enjoy. Don’t over plant. Don’t spend your time and effort growing things you’ll just give away.

Know your vegetables. Do some research. Match what you want to grow with your area and climate for best results.

If you have plenty of time and space, a manageable garden is about 10 feet by 10 feet. Design your garden with long rows or partitioned into grids. Sketch a diagram where Continue reading

How to Plant a Vegetable Garden

You’ve decided you want to try your hand at vegetable gardening. Probably, your first instinct is to grow something you like to eat, something that tastes best when it’s fresh, and something you’d like to have in abundance.

Congratulations. You’ve already taken the first step toward a successful vegetable garden. Grow only what you like.

Pick a location. Vegetables need lots of sunshine, so look for an area that receives plenty of morning sun and more sun than shade all day.

Check the soil. Prepare a plot of flat ground that will receive full sun nearly all day.  If you’re planting in your backyard or anywhere outdoors, you need to find out what kind Continue reading

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Tomato Planting Made Easy

Even gardeners who aren’t gardeners love to plant tomatoes! Seeds and seedlings are readily available. Tomatoes are easy to grow in large and small backyard plots, or in a pot on a balcony. Perhaps it’s because tomatoes appeal to almost everyone…in a fresh salad, in spaghetti sauce or just atop a cheeseburger.

So, here are some basics
Tomato plants can send out roots all along their stems. Strong roots are a good thing, so you should plant seedlings deeper than normal; as high up as the top set of leaves. These extra roots will help the plant grow quickly. Dig a hole deep enough to bury most of the plant. Some gardeners even dig a tunnel or trench and lay the plant sideways Continue reading

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Tips for Growing Tomato Plants

It’s probably no stretch to assert that the most popular vegetable to grow is the tomato. There must be literally tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of tomatoes grown at home across the US every year… in large and small backyard plots, on suburban decks and patios, on city balconies and rooftops. It’s probably because seeds and seedlings readily available, relatively easy to grow, and appeal to everyone from the amateur to the avid gardener.

But just growing them is not the point, is it? Tomatoes are great to eat in so many ways. You can find nearly 2,000 recipes on the internet from the cultures of countries around the world. A summer staple when fresh, tomatoes can be enjoyed year round through preserving by canning and freezing, in sauces from barbeque to spaghetti, as juice, even as homemade ketchup. It seems that the uses for tomatoes are only limited by the imagination.

Where to plant?
Tomatoes are just as versatile to garden and can be grown in containers, and in small and large garden plots depending on your available space and what you want your yield to be. The most important thing to know is that all tomatoes are vining plants that are generally grown upright and staked.

Staking tomato plants
As vines that can’t support themselves when grown upright, tomato plants need the support of cages and stakes. When grown upright your tomato plants will get tall and heavy so your support system should be sturdy. You can expect your tomato plant to grow to at least 3′ and some varieties may grow to 8′ or more. Tomato cages and sturdy stakes that keep your plants upright and that can be reused year after year are a sound investment that will help your tomatoes thrive.  Stake as you plant and you won’t damage the roots later on. Attach plants to cages and stakes with soft cloth to protect stem growth, never use wire or string.

So, where to begin?
If you’re not growing from seeds, purchase plants from a reliable local nursery that sell seedlings best suited to your locale. Purchasing these seedlings may help reduce the problems that could spoil your tomato crop. You’ll find that different areas may be prone to different diseases and pests. To avoid problems, choose varieties bred to to resist the diseases common to your area. Many seedlings are labeled with the variety’s resistance in code. Your nursery can also advise you since some tomatoes do well in long, hot seasons while others are better suited to cooler climates.

What do I like to eat?
There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes. They vary in taste, use, and most importantly when to harvest. Tomatoes are often designated as “Short Season” or “Long Season”. If you have a short growing seasons you should look for varieties that mature between 55 and 70 days. If your growing season is long you’ll have a wider selection to choose from, but you’ll do best if you choose varieties that produce well in hot temperatures. The smaller cherry and grape-sized tomatoes are usually quick to mature and ripen. You might want to look for these popular varieties: Patio, Pixie. Tiny Tim, Red and Yellow Pear, Small Fry, Sweet 100, Glacier, Jet Star, Celebrity, Big Boy and Better Boy, Heatwave, Roma, Rutgers, Late Ace, Beefmaster, Mule Team, Brandywine, Purple Cherokee, Zapotec.

Determinate or indeterminate?
What are we talking about? Don’t worry, here’s a short answer. Determinate tomato plants mature and ripen all their fruit in a short time (usually about 2 weeks). Growing these makes sense if you want a large yield all at one time, like when making sauce or canning. You’ll still need cages or stakes; they grow to 4 or 5 feet tall. Consider Celebrity and Rutgers of this variety.

The majority of tomato varieties are indeterminate tomatoes and continue to grow throughout the season. Beefsteak, Big Boy, Brandywine and most cherry types are popular choices. Indeterminates can grow very large, from 6-10 feet, and require sturdy stakes and cages.