Pinching Out Side Shoots From Your Tomato Plants

My tomato plants have always gotten very bushy. It makes the plant look nice and full, but it doesn’t make the plant produce any more fruit, and it makes harvest much more difficult.

I learned from this video how to pinch out the side shoots. This will help the tomato plant to focus its energy into the producing vines and your plant will harvest much easier.

Harvesting Lettuce in Your Back Yard Garden

I planted a few romaine lettuce plants this year, for the first time. I hadn’t grown any lettuce before this. It’s growing pretty well, but I didn’t ever see a big heart come up like we’ve purchased from the store. I don’t want the leaves to just get big and tough by letting them grow too long, so I searched for some information about how and when to harvest.

After watching this video, I’m inspired to plant some rows of a variety of types of lettuce seed. Now I know how it’s done. I know when and how to plant, and the best way to harvest for the most benefit to our dining table.

Discovering the Benefits of Planting Your Vegetables in Containers

Container Garden image from Flickr by AbbybatchelderMany people believe that planting and caring for a garden takes way too much effort.  I may even be one of those people, however, the resulting benefits of having and caring for a garden far outweigh the pain and toil of working the garden.  There is nothing comparable to fresh, garden grown veggies on the table.

For those who feel that gardening is too much work, but want to enjoy the benefits of having one, I would suggest they try container gardening.  

Gardeners in Rapid City spell out the benefits of planting your garden in containers.  


Gardeners discover benefits of planting in containers

"If you can grow it in a garden, you can grow it in a pot. From beans to potatoes, homegrown vegetables can thrive in even the smallest space, provided they have four things: a big enough pot, good potting soil, plenty of water and lots of sun."

Following are many reasons that someone may wish to do their vegetable gardening in containers instead of the more traditional approach.

  1. You don't need a lot of space to grow vegetables in containers.
  2. It's a simple and economical way to enjoy fresh produce.
  3. You can more easily control the quality of the soil you are planting your vegetables in.
  4. Containers can be placed in locations that might be better protected from vermin.
  5. Pots placed can be placed on rollers to be moved under protection in case of freezing or hail.
  6. Containers can be placed on tables or shelves at a level that you can work on them without painful stooping or bending.
  7. The task of gardening can be less daunting if you only have a few plants of what you want, instead of rows of abundant varieties.
  8. Seed companies are coming out with varieties of vegetables that are better suited for container gardening.
  9. It's much easier to control weed problems.

If you are planning to start container gardening, here are the simple steps to follow:

  • Select an appropriate container – It should be large enough for the roots to grow freely and to drain properly.
  • Fill the container with soil – A good nursery can help you with the best mix, or you can simply fill your container with potting soil.
  • Plant your seeds – use appropriate spacing.
  • Water and fertilize your crop – Your containers will drain quickly, so you will need to water frequently.  Because of the rapid drainage, the nutrients will wash away and need to be replenished with fertilizer.

Best Herbs to Grow in Your Vegetable Garden

When selecting vegetables to plant in my garden, I like to chose those that I most like to eat. Also, I prefer not to plant way more than I can eat or easily give away. It seems that everyone has zucchini, and if I grow too much, I have a difficult time finding someone who wants more fresh zucchini.

After I’ve selected the veggies for my garden, I usually have a little more space that I want to fill with something. If you don’t fill the spaces in your garden, mother nature will, and you won’t like what she puts there.

I’ve found that a good way to fill those spaces are with some carefully selected herbs. Herbs are hardy and easy to grow, they are very useful in the kitchen, and they take up the space that would otherwise be overtaken by useless weeds.

Best Herbs to Grow in Your Vegetable Garden

Here are ten herbs you should consider growing:
  1. Basil: great for everything from pasta sauce to cocktails. More detail here, but it’s a must-have for summer.

  2. Mint: be careful where you plant this one; it will take over any bed. Luckily, it’s a very useful herb. Pick it every week and use the fresh leaves in iced tea or juleps; what you don’t use should go in a paper bag in the refrigerator, and once it’s very brittle, stored in a Ziplock in a dark place, where it will make herbal tea and Greek meatballs all winter long.

  3. Lemon Balm: if possible, this herb is even more tenacious than regular mint (it’s a close relative.) Really, keep an eye on it and don’t let it get out of hand; the leaves are delicious in iced tea and cake, but there’s a limit to how many you can use!

  4. Chives: snipped, these make lovely and flavorful garnishes for deviled eggs and soup; their blossoms, which are edible and have the same spicy flavor, are an excellent addition to salads. Look for the flat garlic variety, too.

  5. Rosemary: In Greece, I have seen bushes of rosemary that were taller than me; it really was a weed, as they didn’t use it in cooking at all. It’s a shame, since rosemary is such a great addition to stock and red meats. Woodberry Kitchen also uses it as a garnish for their Whiskey Smash cocktail, as it’s one of the few herbs that can stand up to hard spirits.

  6. Lavender: Harvest the delicate, fragrant buds from your lavender bush and add them to dry sugar; after several weeks it will add a floral richness to desserts. Alternatively, steep the buds in hot cream, strain and use to make ice cream or creme brulee.

  7. Oregano: Greek salads absolutely require fresh oregano, as do tomato-based sauces (Italian marinara) and soups (Mexican pozole.) Keep it trimmed, because the older long stems start to lose the spicy flavor that make it so unique.

  8. Tarragon: Any chicken dish will benefit from the sweet, anise-like flavor of tarragon. I especially love this simple sauce: after pan-frying chicken pieces, transfer them to the oven to cook through while you deglaze the pan with white wine, then add heavy cream, Dijon mustard and lots of chopped tarragon. Try not to drink it straight from the pan.

  9. Parsley: Like basil, this herb needs replanting after the winter, though it’s been known to re-seed itself for a year or two after a mild one. Parsley is so ubiquitous it hardly needs an introduction, but when fresh it adds another dimension to dishes like tabouli. Here’s my favorite, a Portugese salad: black-eyed peas, tuna, minced onion, chopped parsley. Dress liberally with salt and olive oil. That’s it.

  10. Thyme: This cousin of oregano has tiny leaves that need to be stripped from the wiry stems before using, but they’re worth the effort for the punch of flavor they pack. In summer, toss with zucchini cubes, salt and olive oil and roast (or with spears, and grill); in the winter, add to cubed potato and carrot and cook in broth to cover, then puree for a delicious starter soup.

This list of herbs was provided by Emily Lowe on Dundalk Patch where you can read the rest of the article.

Your Backyard Herb Garden is an excellent book that explains everything you need to know about growing herbs and how to use them.

Planting Your Vegetable Starts Indoors with Inexpensive Supplies

Jalapeno peppers growing indoors in a container

Planting your vegetable starts indoors with inexpensive supplies can save a lot of money. I’ve spent a ton of money at the local nursery buying transplants for my garden. It is so much cheaper to buy seeds and plant your own vegetable starts.

Another good reason to plant your own starts, besides the cost, is that you can plant whatever you want from a vast variety of seeds. You can’t rely on the nursery to have starts of every variety of every vegetable that you wish to grow. Furthermore, if you don’t get in and purchase from their supply early enough, the variety that they carry dwindles even more. You may be left with the options of planting a garden that only has zucchini, jalapeno peppers, and two different types of tomatoes.

Pay attention in this video to the supplies used to plant vegetable starts.

Planting vegetable starts indoors with inexpensive supplies

Notice how the grower used cheap dixie cups and cardboard egg cartons to plant in. Add in a little potting soil or manure compost and those veggies are really growing fast.

This is the second video of a series. You can watch the first video here.

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