Tag Archives: plants

10 Tips for Growing Tomatoes #TuesdayTip

There is nothing tastier than a ripe tomato right off the vine, warm from the summer sun. A rinse, some salt or a little balsamic vinegar and you have an amazing treat.

Here are ten tips for how you can grow your own tasty tomatoes:

1. When choosing a tomato, make sure it’s right for your area and see if it is determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes will yield fruits for only 1 to 2 months, while indeterminate will bear fruit season long. ROMA tomatoes are a popular kind of determinate tomato. BETTER BOY or BIG BEEF are indeterminate types of tomatoes. You can visit Bonnie Plants for a list of more varieties or check the plant sticker in the pot at the nursery.

2. When planting, place your seedlings and/or transplants right up to the first set of leaves. You’ll get new roots all along the stem and more roots mean more tomatoes! However, don’t buy plants that are too leggy and overgrown.

3. Tomatoes will grow best in sandy or loose soils. They also like soil on the slightly acidic side. Add peat moss or coffee grounds to the soil to keep your tomatoes happy.

4. During season, water at least once every 5 days. During especially hot or dry weather, shoot for 2 or 3 times a week. Water the roots and not the leaves if at all possible. I set up a soaker house with a timer in my garden that waters just a little bit every day. Soaker houses are also great since they go directly to the roots and avoid water waste. You should also water regularly to avoid blossom end rot (that black stuff on the bottom of the tomato).

5. Tomatoes need about 8 hours of direct sunlight. That can be a mix of morning and afternoon sun.

6. Don’t crowd your plants. Tomatoes like space and it will avoid bugs and fungus moving from one plant to the other and also allow them to get the sunlight they need.

7. After you water, mulch. The mulch helps keep weeds from growing and keeps the soil from drying out too quickly. I use a cedar mulch since cedar also helps to keep away bugs.

8. Once the plant starts to get taller, trim off the bottom leaves. They are the ones most likely to get wet and develop fungus. Trimming them off may help stop that.

9. Be sure to stake/support your tomatoes. Tomato cages work will as do trellises in larger garden plots.

10. Fertilize your plants when you first plant them, but then wait until you have the first fruits to fertilize again. Too much fertilizer will encourage lots of leaves and growth, but not fruits.

I hope those tips help you get lots and lots of tomatoes from your garden this year!
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10 Spring Planting Tips #TuesdayTips

Spring is supposedly here, although in NY/NJ it’s hard to tell with the 40 degree temperatures in the morning. Still, some of us have been out there, doing some planting and today I’m sharing some tips.

1. DO NOT LISTEN TO JOHN ELLIOTT ON CBS. I love you John, but you steered me wrong a few weeks ago when you said the plants would be fine outside. Sigh.

Okay, the real first tip is:

1. Don’t rush putting out the plants. Recommended planting date for the Northeast is Memorial Day. You could push it and do Mother’s Day if the weather has been warm for at least two weeks or so.

2. Clean out old leaves and other debris from your beds and pots.

3. Work the soil and loosen it up so you can get some nice aeration for those roots. Add compost or other organic matter and/or fertilizer to enrich the soil. I also work in some cinnamon into the top 2 to 3 layers to avoid fungus gnats. The cinnamon kills the fungus the gnats need to eat to survive. Organic, too!

4. If you’re a beginning gardener, make sure to check out the areas where you wish to plant. Does the area get full sun or is it in shade? Morning sun or afternoon? Once you’ve done that, it’s time to pick some plants.

5. There are lots of plants that can handle colder spring weather. Pansies for one and I love them! Also some other favorites like dianthus and petunias. You can click here for a good list of plants that can take a little cold. You can also plant bulbs the fall before for spring color and then work in annuals once the bulbs are done flowering.

6. Head to the garden shop and pick out the plants. Check their little tags for info on how high they’ll grow, how far apart and sun and water requirements.

7. Time to plant. To make life easier, lay out the pots in the way you want to plant them. It will let you adjust before getting things into the ground. Once you’re satisfied, it’s time to plant.

8. The best time to plant is early morning before the sun is too strong or later afternoon. Planting during the heat of the day will stress out your plants. Make sure the hole you dig is at least 4-6 inches depending on the size of your plant. Also, if there are too many roots around the base of the post, break them up so new roots will grow and spread out. Get rid of those jiffy pots around the plant and flatten them to use as mulch.

9. Water thoroughly so the roots can get established and after watering, mulch around the plants. Leave a little room around the plant free of mulch so it won’t rot and try to get at least 2 to 3 inches of mulch to prevent weeds.

10. Sit back and watch them grow and flower.

Here’s a photo of my daughter’s first garden. We planted it in early April when we had a fabulous spring day. It was fun explaining to her what to do and I gifted her an assortment of daylilies from my yard so she wouldn’t have to replant the entire bed every year.