Posts Tagged ‘tomatoes’

5 Spring Gardening Tips for Beginners

How to Care for SeedlingsWith spring just around the corner – well, it’s here in some states – I thought it would be a perfect time to share some simple tips for gardening, what to start with, how to manage it and what works best for beginners.

Courtesy of chef/gardener/instructor Dan Brophy of Oregon Culinary Institute – the only independent culinary school in Portland – here are five tips to help get your garden off the ground:

1.  Now is the time to start tomato, pepper, and eggplant from seed.  You’ll have more choice of plant varieties by choosing your own seed.  Some varieties will thrive better in your micro-climate.

2.  Check with local Master Gardeners or County Extension for specific suggestions.

3.  Tomato, Pepper, and eggplant respond best if gentle bottom heat is provided for the 1-2 week period necessary for germination.

4.   After the 1st set of true leaves appear, transfer plant into individual peat pots.

5.  Transfer plants only after “hardening off” (gradually exposing plants to sunlight, wind, etc).  I wait until soil temps are at least 50 degrees F. Remember, tomatoes respond best to full sun!

One extra tidbit from Brophy: “Best of luck!  Two things money can’t buy, true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

Thanks Dan!

Happy Gardening!

7 of the Healthiest Veggies That Are EASY to Grow

7 of the most healthy vegetables, what are some healthy veggies to grow, are veggies easy to growI don’t know about you, but I like to know about the food I eat, and what nutrition is in it. I guess it is a little hobby of mine. If you are going to plant a garden, and only can or want to grow a few items, why not grow those packed with the most nutrition and are EASY to grow? With a little effort, you can see how easy they can be to grow. AND improve your health at the same time.

  1. Tomatoes: one of the most commonly home grown veggies, once tasted, you will see why. I almost never  buy store bought tomatoes because I have been so spoiled by the home grown. Someone who claims to not like tomatoes might very well take that back once they have something with a homegrown tomato in it. Be it a hamburger, salsa, marinara sauce or even tomato soup. When you grow your own tomatoes, they have an amazing amount of nutrients compared to the store bought ones. They are picked too early and shipped long distances- reducing what little nutrients they were able to get before their early harvest. Great source of Vitamin A, E, C and Fiber and Omega 6 Fatty Acid.  They are known for thier cancer fighting qualities, but also are great for keeping blood pressure in check.
  2. Broccoli: Very easy to grow, and can grow in a limited space with no problems. The only tricky part is making sure to harvest the head before it starts to flower.  You don’t want to harvest too early if it is still growing, but if you wait even a few days, the flowers will open and it doesn’t taste as good. Just keep it growing fast, but providing enough water and nutrients and you will have a great tasting broccoli. It will produce some smaller heads after the first is harvested. You can make cream of broccoli soup, eat it raw, or serve it steamed. Broccoli has even more nutrients than tomatoes: a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Manganese. And it even has protein! They are great for reducing risk for lung, stomach and rectal cancers, and boosting immune function.
  3. Carrots: Carrots are fun to grow, because you sow a little seeds, and let them grow. Just make sure the soil is not too compacted as this will limit their ability to grow downwards. They do not take up much space in the garden and last a long time after they are harvested if you cut off the greens right away. You can grow enough to last a few months in the winter! Carrots area very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Potassium. Renowned for their ability to improve eye skin and hair health, but also are packed with anti oxidants and are great for cardiovascular health.
  4. Spinach/Kale: I will group these together because they are both greens and very healthy ones at that. Both are easy to grow and can be harvested over and over again on the same plant before having to replant. Spinach likes to go to flower in the heat of summer and this makes the leaves bitter. A great way to have an instant salad, but also great to freeze and then add to smoothies to boost the healthiness of the smoothy! Spinach is a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese. And because it is so packed with nutrition, it helps with just about everything. No wonder Popeye liked it so much. Kale a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
  5. Peppers: hot peppers, bell peppers- any pepper you choose. They are all packed with nutrients. They also have smaller plants than their tomato cousins and so can easily be grown in a container. There is such a variety of uses for them, but we like to grow them for salsa and salads. Bell Peppers a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese. They carry the nutrients that are great for preventing cancers.
  6. Squash: Summer squash, and winter squashes all have a great deal of nutrition. They do get diseases, however you can usually still get a great harvest from them before the disease takes over too much. If you want to have a high producing plant that is hard to eat all that it produces- grow a zucchini plant. Great to cook in stir-fry, eat fresh, add shredded to salads, ect. Zucchini gives you a good source of Protein, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Niacin, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Manganese. They are anti inflammatory, thus good for inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
  7. Onions: Onions are another one of those sow a few seeds and watch them grow. Then you can harvest them and save them for the winter months. It is possible to grow enough to last the whole year until your garden produces more. I don’t need to get started on how to use them, as they have such a great ability to enhance the taste of foods and meats. Onions are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

Happy Gardening!

How To Grow Vegetables To Save You Money

Tomato, vegetable garden, how to save money growing your own food, best crops to plant to save money, I don’t know about you, but it seems like most people have thought allot about ways they can save money the past few years. More and more people have turned to growing their own food as one way to do that. That is a great idea, however, if that is your primary purpose of growing a garden, then you might want to consider that not all plants are going to produce equally for the amount of work, time and water involved. So to save you the trouble of figuring out which ones will give you the most bang for your buck here are a few ideas for you.

  1. What is the #1 home grown crop in America? That’s right: Tomatoes. These not only produce extremely well for planting just one crop, but pay off in taste too. You can make many expensive products at home from growing your own tomatoes too, like salsa, tomato/spaghetti sauce, and tomato soup. In my opinion, every home should have a tomato plant or two.
  2. Squash. Particularly winter squash. They are easy to grow as long as they have sufficient water and room to sprawl. They produce very well, but the thing that puts them over the top is that it is so easy to store the produce for later use! After they ripen, simply wash the outside of them with a little chlorine water to kill any bacteria growing, and put them in a cool room and store for later use. You can easily grow enough winter squash for your family for the winter by just growing one or two plants!
  3. Lettuce is such a great crop to grow and you can use the leaves so soon after they are planted, that it is a must in my garden. Not only do home grown salads taste so much better, it is so much cheaper than constantly buying the expensive bags and boxes of lettuce. Makes dinner easy too- just run out to the garden and pick some lettuce to make a great salad as a side or main dish for dinner. Love it!
  4. Root veggies like beets, radishes, and carrots take up very little space and can be grown quickly for a quick harvest. Buying beets in particular can get expensive from the store, so growing your own can be a great place to save money.
  5. Beans, pole or bush produce very well for the space they take up in the garden and are very easy to grow. They too can get expensive to purchase at the grocery store.

These are just some of the crops that can save you money by growing them in your garden. I hope this has given you some ideas for your garden, and that you will be able to plant a cash crop for yourself next year!

If you have any ideas of great money saving plants, please comment and let us know.

Happy Gardening!!

5 Tips ALL Gardeners Need To Know

Here are 5 small tips that anyone just starting to get into gardening should know, for some of us it is a good reminder.

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  1. Know your zone and average last frost date. Planting varieties and plants for your zone will ensure a better harvest. But it also helps you to know when you can plant all the different plants in your garden.
  2. Plant veggies in a location that gets 8 hours of sunlight. Some can tolerate some shade, but for most of them to have enough energy to produce the fruit or veggie, at least 8 hours of sunlight is essential (more is good).
  3. Tomatoes are fair weather plants. Tomatoes need a fairly long growing season, but if it gets too hot during the summer (85 degrees or more), they will stop producing. They also do not like the weather to be too cold. Boy do they grow well when the weather is good! Pretty much when I don’t like to be outside- neither do they…
  4. There are many flowers and herbs that are beneficial to plant next to plants in your garden such as: marigolds and tomatoes, chives and carrots, mint and cabbage family plants. This is called companion planting. They not only keep some of the bad bugs away when planted together, but some help to make the veggies taste even better.
  5. Do not add manure that hasn’t aged properly! It contains too much nitrogen at that point and will burn your plants. Adding nice compost and manure to your garden every year will greatly improve the soil in your garden. Your plants will thank you.

It’s that time of year…  Happy Gardening!

Why Tomato Plants Get Diseases

why all my tomatoes got a disease this year, how to avoid disease on my tomato plants, how do you grow tomatoes with out disease, what dose disease look like on a tomato, desease tomatoWe have always planted most of our tomato plants all together in the same grow box, or close together. Last year, after planting our tomatoes, they started going wonderfully like always, but then somehow one of them started looking dried out and soon died. So I pulled it out and threw it away quickly. However, it sadly and slowly it started to happen to the tomato plants closest to it. There were 3 left at the end of the season that were left untouched with disease. I had a tomato plant in the front yard, and it was very healthy all year. So as I analyzed what went wrong, I realized that if I had not planted them all together like that, they would not have spread the disease to each other as easily. So one of the lessons I learned this year: Continue reading