3 Expert Tomato Growers Share Their Best Tips

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Name: James Worley
Home Digs: Kansas City, MO
Business: KC Tomato Times
Blog: KCTomatoTimes.wordpress.com
Follow on Social Media: KC Tomato Times (Facebook)
Fast Fact: I won the 2017 World Championship Squirrel Cook Off in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Claim to Fame: I’ve been growing rare tomato varieties for over a decade and have grown almost 800 types so far. I pride myself on growing the most hearty, tough, and ready-to-plant seedlings available in the area. I also host a tomato tasting each year on the first Saturday in August. This will be our 10th annual event! We’ve had as many as 100 different types of ripe fruit in years past, but always have at least 40–50 types for people to taste and experience the uniqueness of each variety.

Top Tomato-Production Tip: Soil building is key. I make my own soil for my raised beds with locally produced compost mixed with peat, perlite, and vermiculite in an 8-1-1-1 ratio. I do not use manures as they tend to be too high in nitrogen. I fertilize with Tomato-tone when I plant and then every 3 weeks throughout the season.

On Less-Than-Ideal Growing Conditions: Mulch is your friend. Use some sort of mulch to keep your soil moisture consistent. Also, I prefer silver reflective film, as this keeps the moisture in and the weeds out, and it bounces light under the leaves to drive off insect invaders like aphids and hornworms. It is very shiny and you’ll need sunglasses when working with it, but you can see your garden from outer space!

Favorite Tomato Variety: Carbon is hands down the best I have ever grown. It has deep, complex flavors and a beautiful purple color, and is fairly disease resistant and very productive. I plant at least a dozen Carbon in my gardens every year.

Sharin’ the Love: I’m an educator at heart and in my profession. I make sure that anyone who buys my plants knows the best way to plant them, care for them, and eat them as well. I’m available year-round by e-mail to help gardeners with questions they may have. As for ripe tomatoes, we eat them at home in myriad ways; however, I love to take in a box of ripe tomatoes and other vegetables from my garden to local restaurants and trade them for delicious meals or have the chefs prepare them for me in their own special ways.

Read More: “TGN Talks Tomatoes With Dave Freed, Local Changemaker”

 

Robin Wyll, Tomatoes

Nominee: Robin Wyll
Home Digs: Woodinville, WA
Business: Robin’s Gourmet Garden (Nursery)
Website: GrowTomatoSauce.com
Follow On Social Media At: Robin’s Gourmet Garden (Facebook)
Fast Fact: Well, besides gardening, my other obsessions are theater and politics, so, of course, I can rap the entire opening number of the musical Hamilton!

Claim to Fame: I grow tomato sauce—125–200 pounds of tomatoes from 36 plants! I roast them, puree, and freeze about 2–3 gallons each year for winter meals. People asked me for help, so I created a website to help inspire others. People also asked me for cuttings, so I started a business raising around 1,800 heirloom tomato plants (nine varieties) and selling them directly to customers as well as supplying five stores. Customers say my varieties are unique in the local market and more robust than industry-grown options.

Top Tomato-Production Tip: Test your soil for everything down to the trace elements, and then mineralize accordingly. I started this five years ago after reading Steve Solomon’s book The Intelligent Gardener: Growing Nutrient-Dense Food, and it made a world of difference in my tomato production. Also, to get the most flavor out of your tomatoes, do not water the plants during the 24 hours before you pick the fruit. Watering just dilutes the sugars in the tomatoes, thereby diluting the flavor.

On Less-Than-Ideal Growing Conditions: Here in the Pacific Northwest, the biggest challenge is wildly fluctuating weather conditions. Sometimes the temperature will drop 20–30 degrees overnight, and we tend to get a lot of rain off and on throughout the summer. My solution is twofold. I select varieties that mature in fewer than 85 days, and I grow them under a protective shelter that can be opened up during good weather for air flow and pollination. The goals are to keep the leaves from getting rained on, which can lead to fungal issues, and to hold in the heat as much as possible. This method allows me to plant tomatoes in April when it’s still pretty cool and wet and extends the harvest into November.

Favorite Tomato Variety: My single favorite tomato variety is Speckled Roman, because my goal is to freeze as much tomato puree as I can—and the Speckled Roman is thick and meaty with few seeds and excellent, rich flavor. Some of the fruit will grow to more than one pound each—and it is so dense that you can grill the slices. My preferred pick for salsa is Black Sea Man, which is a Russian variety that produces lots of beefsteak-type tomatoes that are a beautiful mottled deep green and red with delicious sweet tomato flavor.

Sharin’ the Love: I share my 15 years of tomato-growing experience, failures, and successes via my website; I answer questions and share info related to my plant business on my Facebook page; and I share my expertise live by giving presentations to local garden clubs and, of course, in casual conversation. It seems that successfully growing tomatoes is a subject of great interest in my area. Plus, my tomato sauce gets around—lots of it went to college with my daughter, and I share it with neighbors and friends in the hopes of inspiring more people to try growing tomato sauce.

 

Leslie Doyle, Tomatoes

Nominee: Leslie Doyle
Home Digs: Las Vegas, NV
Business: Sweet Tomato Test Garden
Website: SweetTomatoTestGarden.com
Follow on Social Media: Leslie R. Doyle (Facebook)
Books Authored: Growing the Tomato in Las Vegas in Terrible Dirt and Desert Heat, self-published (1996); Growing the Tomato in Las Vegas in Terrible Dirt and Desert Heat (2nd edition), self-published (2002); Slam Dunk Easy Desert Gardening, self-published (2009)
Fast Fact: I actually don’t usually eat vegetable greens. I prefer berries; tree fruit; nuts; grilled steak, fish or chicken; and chocolate (yum!).

Claim to Fame: I wrote new directions for growing tomatoes and veggies in the desert—including new ways to irrigate and fertilize the farm or garden, a way to increase light on the plants, and a method to repel insects and avoid disease. I also developed a soil/compost that is very popular and widely used in the desert.

Top Tomato-Production Tip: Help them be all that they can be. You get more reliable results when you grow a variety that is known for prolific production and then give them ample water, nutrients, and sun—and grow them in the right climate.

On Less-Than-Ideal Growing Conditions: Gardening in Las Vegas is very, very different for new residents—and impossible for them without some coaching by a successful gardener. Growing here is actually easy, but there are growing rules. Wherever you live, pay attention to your plants, and learn how to fulfill their needs and diagnose their ailments.

Favorite Tomato Variety: My favorite tomato variety is Hawaiian Tropic for several reasons: It has an 8- to 10-ounce average size, is simply delicious, and is very prolific. It grows extremely well in our hot desert climate and has been disease resistant. Hawaiian Tropic tomato is only available through me at this time. I also like Juliet, a smaller Roma-like tomato. It is easy to grow, delicious, and an All-America Selections winner.

Sharin’ the Love: We sell our harvest here at the Sweet Tomato Test Garden and donate extra fruit to the Lutheran Social Services Food Panty. Some is also shared with friends. Over the years I have written articles and tips for various publications, including Organic Gardening magazine, where I worked for almost 10 years. I publish a subscription-based e-newsletter for desert gardeners, and I have decades of teaching and speaking experience at our Desert Gardening School, the library, our local university, civic events, and nurseries. People are welcome to visit my garden, and I am delighted to answer questions!

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TGN Talks Tomatoes With Dave Freed, Local Changemaker

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Nominee: Dave Freed

Home Digs: Cypress, CA

Blog: GrowTomatoesEasily.blogspot.com

Fast Fact: Known as “Dave, the Tomato Guy,” his motto is, If you don’t have a green thumb, I’ll give you one.

Nominated By: Tirzah S. | Hindsville, AR

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Tell us about your background—where you grew up, your education, and what career or life path led to your current role as a Master Gardener, speaker, and tomato enthusiast?

I live in Cypress, California (in Orange County), but I was born and raised in the Midwest in North Central Kansas on a farm with cows, pigs, chickens, corn, wheat—and always a big vegetable garden. We did lots of fishing and hunting, and we lived off the land. I remember hunting with my father for rabbits, squirrels, ducks, pheasants, etc., for our next meal. It was a hard life, but we always had food to eat. I suppose that’s where I got my roots for growing a garden. Eventually, we left Kansas and ended up in California. I have always grown an annual garden and always include tomatoes, as this is the one fruit you cannot buy in the supermarket with a great, homegrown taste.

I worked in the foodservice industry before owning a full-service restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, near the University of Southern California. About 10 years ago, I sold the restaurant and retired, figuring I would relax and enjoy life and probably become very bored within about six months and then get back out into the business world. That never happened, and I’ve never looked back.

I volunteered to become a Master Gardener in Orange County, where we volunteer our hours helping others with their gardens. My heart has always been about growing tomatoes, and I’ve always been a competitor. So, since growing tomatoes easily was always a challenge, I learned how to make it easier, more foolproof, and more simple. People began calling to ask if I would come speak to their group or organization and share my tips on how to grow tomatoes easily in an urban setting. Today, I speak to 15–30 southern California gardening clubs and organizations every year on how to grow tomatoes easily. Last year, I even started a blog. I tell people, “If you don’t have a green thumb, I’ll give you one.”

What do you think makes your techniques so easy to follow? What kind of feedback have you received from your “students”?

My motto may seem rather bold, but it’s really not. You see, if you go on my blog site, I show you pictures of the tomatoes I grow—some plants with more than 100 pounds of tomatoes on them. And I tell you specifically what I do to grow these great tomatoes: which potting mixes, soils, fertilizers, and tomato plants to buy. I explain when to plant and how to water. I give you no room for failure as long as you follow the suggestions. And I have people let me know all the time that they’ve grown tomatoes for years and never had so much success as they do now.

I don’t do everything from scratch. People tend to live in the fast lane and want hassle-free and time-saving methods to grow tomatoes in home gardens. Some people are enthusiastic organic growers, while others are not—I demonstrate how to produce great results either way.

I’ve always said that if I ever write a book, I’ll try to keep it to about eight pages. Short and to the point!

You’ve said you research growing techniques as a backyard farmer before sharing them on your blog and in gardening classes. Can you give us an example of a tip that you found to be a great success? How about one that fell flat?

An idea that was a success was using great potting soil for backyard tomatoes. I detail my steps in the tips below. Basically, use one of the three great potting soils I recommend, then mix in some composted steer manure with compost.

Until this discovery, I was like most others—simply mixing in compost with backyard dirt and planting tomatoes. They never did very well. And you never have to worry about planting in the same spot year after year. If you think you need to change the soil, you dig out the potting soil from the hole and replace it with new potting soil. This is one of the biggest improvements the backyard tomato farmer can make.

An idea that fell flat was grafted tomatoes—attaching a disease-resistant, hearty rootstock to your favorite top, such as the heirloom Brandywine. This was supposed to result in a great root system that produced a huge top with lots of your favorite tomatoes. For several years, I would plant a grafted Brandywine next to a Brandywine with its original roots. Every year, the original Brandywine outperformed the grafted one by a large margin.

You’ve taught others to build self-watering containers. What makes you such a big proponent?

Self-watering containers have been around for a long time. You can find many different designs online. The one thing they all have in common is that they have a water reservoir at the bottom of the container that will hold water for the plants to use as needed.

Remember, a full-grown tomato plant will use 2 to 3 gallons of water every day. Most of the time we do a lousy job of consistently watering our gardens and tomatoes. Self-watering containers help to keep those roots moist—and even more so if you are using great potting soil.

You frequently yield 100+ pounds of tomatoes on a single plant. Can you share some tips for prolific production that are universal across climates and growing regions?

Sunshine. Tomato plants convert sunlight into food and energy. The more sunshine—especially morning sun—the more food and energy your tomato plant has to produce a big top with lots and lots of tomatoes.

Soil. This is probably where the biggest advantage can be gained by the average tomato farmer. I first recommend you dig a hole at least 2 feet deep and 2 feet in diameter. Throw away the dirt, and fill the hole with water to make sure it drains. Then I suggest filling the hole with at least a 15-gallon container of one of the three potting mixes that I mention on my blog, followed by mixing in a little bit of composted steer manure. Plant one tomato plant in the middle of that hole.

Why do I suggest one of these three potting mixes? Because they contain a very large amount of sphagnum peat moss, and 1 pound of sphagnum peat moss can hold up to 25 pounds of water. It’s like surrounding those roots 24/7 with a sponge, which promotes a big root system, which promotes a big top with lots of tomatoes. A small root system gives you a bonsai tomato plant. . . . I know, because I’ve been there.

Schedule. For your city or ZIP code, look up historical weather averages for a guideline on planting tomatoes. They generally need 50- to 55-degree nights to produce pollen—no pollen, no tomatoes. Once temperatures rise to 85 degrees and warmer, tomato plants will generally quit producing pollen. That is your window. (And, yes, there are tomato plants that will produce tomatoes in 90-degree weather.)

Variety. If you plant a lousy variety, you are going to get lousy results. My blog site shows you different varieties that will give you lots of tomatoes—and I mention them in the next question as well. If possible, pick one of those to plant, and buy a live plant.

Watering. A mature tomato plant can easily use up to 3 gallons of water every day. Try to water in the morning, as excess water on the leaves or surface of the soil will evaporate quickly, whereas evening watering leaves the surface soil wet too long and invites disease.

How do you know when to water? Use a moisture meter. You can buy these at your brick-and-mortar stores or online. Stick the probe down into the soil, and the meter will read dry, moist, or wet. If the reading is on the dry/moist side, it’s time to water. Water down deep, slowly, about 18 inches to 2 feet. Using deep watering pipes can help. This water carries all the nutrients from the soil up to the tomatoes and the growing tips of the vines. And then 80 to 90 percent of that water evaporates out through the leaves.

Fertilizer. Tomato plants are very heavy users of fertilizer. If you do not remember anything else, remember to use only a liquid fertilizer that is recommended for tomatoes and/or vegetable gardens.

In liquid form, fertilizer can be taken up by the tomato plant almost immediately. In dry form, it can take weeks or months.

Tomato Cages. You will want to use a heavy-duty tomato cage to keep the tomatoes up off the soil. You can find these at your local nurseries or big-box stores. I like to use concrete-reinforcing wire and make my own approximately 2 feet in diameter and 5- or 6-feet tall, depending on the plant you’re growing. Some of my cages are 3 feet in diameter and 8-feet tall.

Do you have a favorite tomato variety?

There are thousands of varieties of tomatoes. Hybrids, heirlooms, determinants that grow like a bush, and indeterminates that grow like a vine.

  • My favorite hybrids are probably Better Boy, Big Beef, Husky Cherry Red, and Celebrity.
  • Top heirlooms are Pink Brandywine, Red Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple.

For the most part, these are all thin-skinned varieties with great flavor that produce many pounds of tomatoes per plant. Some other varieties produce very few tomatoes even under ideal conditions.

So if you see some of the above for sale in your area of the country, give them a try. No. 1, I recommend that people plant a great tomato each year that will give them lots of tomatoes. After that, try something new.

What do you do with all those tomatoes? Sell them through a farmers’ market, distribute them within the community, do a ton of canning—or give them away to lots of grateful friends?

I love the flavor of homegrown tomatoes, and growing them is a hobby I really enjoy. I do not sell any of my tomatoes. I do not can, freeze, or dry any either. I give away as many as I can to friends, relatives, neighbors, my barber, my dry cleaner, and so on. Sometimes, I just leave a box of fresh tomatoes on someone’s porch . . . and I haven’t had any returned yet!

What do you find most valuable about being part of The Grow Network community?

I come into contact with hundreds of people when I’m teaching. America is probably the most diverse nation on earth, with many differing views on life and politics. Vegetable gardens and homegrown tomatoes . . . turning back to the basics . . . healthy living and healthy eating—all these put us on the same page, and differences are forgotten. The Grow Network offers a forum for all of this, with something there for everyone. When we live life in the fast lane and finally slow down to enjoy a homegrown garden, it’s surprising how rewarding it can be.

 

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8 Genius Uses for Buckets on the Homestead

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Life on the homestead requires a lot of creativity and frugality. The “five R’s” seem to be constantly in play: Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, and Repair. Nothing ever goes to waste—today’s trash simply becomes tomorrow’s resources.

When buying something new is necessary, I usually try to make sure the item fits at least one of the following criteria:

  1. First, does the item have more than one alternative use or purpose?
  2. Second, does the item take up minimal space?
  3. Third, is the item inexpensive?

My Favorite Homesteading Tool

My absolute favorite “tool” on the homestead actually fits all three criteria: none other than the five-gallon plastic bucket. Not only do these wonder tools nest neatly into a tidy stack, they also have a seemingly unlimited number of uses.

Whether you are into homesteading, preparedness, or permaculture, five-gallon buckets are essential tools of the trade!

Getting Buckets for Free

A note about price: If purchased from a hardware store, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3 to $five-dollars per bucket. But you can acquire them for FREE from your grocery store’s bakery department. All you have to do is ask nicely for the buckets that their icing came in. Other free sources include pickle buckets from hamburger joints, soap buckets from car washes, and lard buckets from Mexican restaurants.

Of course, be prepared to clean them!

Uses for Buckets

The Bucket List

So, what exactly can you do with a five-gallon bucket once you procure it? I thought you’d never ask! Below, I showcase some general ideas that I use quite frequently. (If you’re keen on any given idea, more detailed tutorials can be found all over the Internet.)

1. Container Gardening

First and foremost, five-gallon buckets make for outstanding container gardens when you drill drainage holes in the bottom of the buckets. While some permaculturists might frown on the idea of container gardens, they are quite useful if you want to keep invasive (opportunistic) plants such as mint from taking over your garden. Additionally, in a grid-down situation, you can easily secure your food indoors overnight to protect from potential looters. That brings a whole new meaning to the words “food security!”

2. Growing Mushrooms

Another clever use for buckets is growing edible and medicinal mushrooms in them. Just drill staggering holes in the sides of the bucket, fill the bucket with free coffee grounds from the local corner coffee shop, and inoculate with the spawn of your favorite mushroom.

3. Organizing Your Tools

A five-gallon bucket also makes for a great tool bag. Either online or at your local hardware store, you can buy organizers that are specifically made for buckets and have all kinds of compartments. The outside sleeve compartments of the bucket are ideal for your smaller tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. On the inside of the bucket, you can store your heavy-duty tools like your hammers, axes, and saws.

Read More: “No More Disappearing Tools With This Simple Trick!”

4. Making Wine

You can even make wine with a five-gallon bucket. Simply pour in some apple cider (sans preservatives), sugar, and yeast. Drill a hole into the lid, insert a rubber grommet, and then insert an airlock bubbler (available for a dollar at most home-brew stores). The Big Bird/Cookie Monster–style explanation is that the “yeasties” eat the sugar and essentially poop out carbon dioxide and alcohol. The airlock bubbler allows the carbon dioxide to escape, but prevents oxygen or other contaminants from entering your wine. There are a few more specific steps and ingredients that go into producing quality wine, but this is basically how wine is made! People drink alcohol in both good times and bad. Wine making can prove to be a very valuable and profitable skill in a grid-down scenario.

Uses for Buckets

5. Feed the Worms

One of my favorite uses of a five-gallon bucket is as part of a vermicompost system (a.k.a. a worm bin). Red wiggler worms are voracious eaters. I feed them my shredded junk mail and food scraps. In return, they give me “black gold.”

If mushroom compost is the Cadillac of compost, worm castings are the Rolls Royce!

6. Make Compost Tea

In addition to vermicompost, compost tea happens to be the secret of success for many master gardeners. And with a five-gallon bucket, you can brew your own compost tea right at home. All you need is an air pump for aeration, some worm castings (compost), non-chlorinated water, and a few other ingredients. After two days of brewing, it is ready to spray on your crops using a pump sprayer. Your plants will grow twice as big, twice as fast!

Read More: “Compost Tea: An Easy Way to Stretch Your Compost”

7. Make a Mousetrap

Have a mouse problem, but don’t have the heart to set out a traditional mousetrap? Well, you can make a catch-and-release mousetrap out of a bucket and a few pieces of wood, plus peanut butter for bait. The contraption reminds me of the board game Mouse Trap that I used to play as a child!

8. Filter Water

Lastly, you can make a heavy-duty water filter from two five-gallon buckets stacked on top of each other. The top bucket has a ceramic water filter that filters out the dirty water dumped into it. The bottom bucket has a water spigot that allows you to extract the newly filtered water.

I hope you enjoyed some of the examples I’ve provided of why five-gallon buckets are the absolute best and most versatile tool for homesteading, preparedness, and permaculture. Five-gallon buckets not only serve as a container to grow your food in, they can be used in creating the fertilizer that enriches your garden. To top it off, you can use buckets to collect and ultimately store your bountiful harvests!

What about you? What’s your favorite way to use a five-gallon bucket? Leave me a note in the comments!

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Food Supplies. Tomatoes, Picking & Preserving.

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We have started harvesting our tomato crop & preserving them. We may dry some like last year, but for now we are bottling them.
We always put stakes in for our tomato plants, but sometimes they get away from us! One day they don’t seem large enough to tie, & the next time we check they have gone beyond tying! I am never game to try tying them once they have got to a certain size, because invariably the stems break.
Then there are the volunteers from last years crop, we could pull them out, but we never do. We can always use more tomatoes. These volunteers grow madly all over the garden & the paths until the paths are impassable! Stakes do make the picking easier, but I find it no great hardship to pick from the sprawling plants on the ground.
12 jars so far, this is the product of 4 baskets as at the top of this page, & we still have a lot to pick, & the crop is still ripening.

40 Ideas for Gardening with Kids (that actually make it fun)

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I’ve gardened with kids, and it can be a scary endeavor. Images of crushed plants and premature picked fruit can make one think that it may not be worth including the kids. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare. I have gardened with 5 kids and am still around to talk about it.  Here are […]

Where to Buy Heirloom Seeds

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A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying plants from the local hardware store. I knew that the purchasing of these plants was taking away from the self sufficiency of my own garden. I wanted a better option and that option came with heirlooms seeds and sprouting seeds. Now I start my …

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Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest

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Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest The move to replace invasive species of plants with natives is a very interesting one. Its an admirable goal that makes a lot of sense. Its beneficial to the environment and the wildlife.  I think we are going to see an incredible uptick in people and businesses pushing for …

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Growing Lettuce From Seed

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Growing Lettuce at Home

When lettuce is mentioned, many people think of the standard iceberg lettuce found in supermarkets and restaurant salads. But that is changing quickly with the growth in popularity of different types of lettuces, mainly due to the flavors and colors that they offer. When you’re growing lettuce from seed at home, you can choose from the full spectrum of seed that’s available.

At farmers markets, health food coops, and organic food stores, a big variety of lettuce types have cropped up.  Their colors range from deep red to mottled greens, all the way to almost white.  And their flavors vary from noticeably sweet to tangy, and slightly bitter.

Iceberg lettuce, originally bred as a hybrid, is now offered as open pollinated varieties and has been around long enough to be considered by some as an “heirloom”!

Eating with the Seasons

We have come to expect lettuce year round. We’ve been educated by the supermarkets about what our vegetables should look like, what they should taste like, and when they should be available. And for most of them, we expect them to be available all year.

Many people are surprised to learn that lettuce is a cool-season crop.  It will bolt, or go to seed, readily during late spring and early summer months.

Where I live, it is best to plant lettuce early in the spring and then again in late summer or early fall when the temperatures start to cool off.

Infographic: Save Our Seeds

Better Lettuce Seed Germination

Lettuce seeds won’t sprout when soil temperatures are above 80° F.  But they will start to Freckles-LettuceWeb1-germinate as low as 40°F, making it ideal for early- and late-season planting.

When temperatures are too high, a plant hormone is produced that stops the germination process. This is called thermo-inhibition. This trait is a carryover from wild lettuce that originated in the Mediterranean Middle East, where summers are hot with little moisture. If the lettuce seeds were to sprout under these conditions, they would soon die out and the species would go extinct.

Choose Heat-Resistant Lettuce

Thanks to traditional plant breeding, several varieties of lettuce have been selected for heat-tolerant characteristics. And some of these are open-pollinated, meaning you can save the seeds from year to year.

Some examples are Saint Anne’s Slow Bolting, Summertime, Black Seeded Simpson, and Jericho. Just because these are heat tolerant doesn’t mean that they will grow through the summer. It only means that they won’t bolt or turn bitter quite as quickly.

Growing Lettuce from Seed: Tips & Tricks

Thanks to ongoing research on lettuce traits, there are some techniques home gardeners can use to extend the sprouting for lettuce seeds into the warmer months. The optimum soil temperature for most lettuce seeds is 68°F, with some varieties sprouting in the 40-75°F range. The temperature of the soil must be taken—not just the air temperature, which can be several degrees different.

Imbibing or soaking the seeds in cool water for 16-24 hours in a well-lit area before planting will increase the germination percentages greatly. Red light has been found to be the best color, but if you don’t have access to a non-heating red light, sunlight or full-spectrum light was found to be almost as good. In warm conditions, soaking the seeds in the dark can actually decrease their germination rates. And soaking for less than 16 hours has little to no positive effect on germination rates.

Read More: 7 Tips to Start Seed Like a Professional Grower

Extending the Lettuce Season

Successful methods of extending the season for lettuce in the garden include laying a thick mulch of straw or wood chips on the ground at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. This insulates the soil from becoming too hot and helps to preserve moisture in the soil.

Lightly shading the lettuce plants can provide enough of a temperature drop to keep them from bolting, sometimes up to 3-5 weeks. Shade can be from a shade cloth or a row cover on a low tunnel, or by companion planting tall, wide-leafed plants such as some types of pumpkin.

The traditional rule of thumb of “plant early and plant often” can be adjusted for lettuce as “plant late and plant often.”  When temperatures start to drop, be ready to start more lettuce seed for a second harvest in the fall.

Read More: A Cheap and Easy Way to Extend Your Growing Season

(This article was originally published May 22, 2014.)

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The Prepper Tool That You’re Not Using!

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Imagine someone gave you a tool that would greatly help you in your preparedness.  All you need to do is learn how to work it.  If you took a few minutes of your time to understand it and work with it, it would pay off significantly!  Would you take that time?  Would you figure it out?  Well, you do have a very powerful tool!  And you are more than likely not taking advantage of this prepper tool!  Let me explain.

I’m going to start off talking about my pre-prepper days.  I’m in education.  When I transitioned from the classroom to the Instructional Specialist position, I put in a lot of hours and time trying to prove to my administrators that I had what it took to become a leader.  After long hours, I started to… the only way that I can explain it is, I felt “thin,” like I was being stretched.

I was putting a lot out, but I wasn’t putting anything in.  Because I have done a lot of leadership development, outside of the education setting, I knew this wasn’t a good place and that I needed to start putting new ideas and fresh insights into my mind.

Because I like technology, I started looking into using RSS readers and podcasts to start reading articles and listening to shows that were providing new and fresh ideas in education, technology, and leadership.

Benefits of Purposeful Growth

Something happened!  I started feeling energized.  At work, I started seeing things with fresh perspectives, trying new things out and providing good ideas to others.  I saw the benefit of purposefully planning my personal development.  You can’t stay stagnant.  You need to always grow yourself!

When I started in preparedness, I implemented the same approach.  I started reading, listening and watching prepper related articles, podcast and Youtube channels.  It wasn’t long before I realized that there was a need for one central location that could link to all the great preparedness content out there. That’s when Prepper Website was born!

I still read, listen and watch prepper related articles, podcasts and Youtube channels!  But I also read, listen and watch articles, podcasts and Youtube channels that are not prepper related.  I also listen to audiobooks.  In fact, all of this is my primary means of entertainment, as well as learning.  I could probably get rid of the TV if it weren’t for the stupid Hallmark channel.  Don’t tell my wife I said that! 😉

The point is that you need to be purposeful about your growth, preparedness, and other areas too!  You already visit Prepper Website and navigate the internet.  More than likely you are watching Youtube videos too.  But the tool that you are most likely not utilizing is podcasts!

A Prepper Tool for Everyone

If you drive to work, workout, run, walk the dog or just have the radio on in the house during the day, you can listen to podcasts.

Technology has increased so much that it is so easy to bring up a podcast on your phone and listen to it.  In fact, you can set it to where it downloads automatically, and it just appears.  You can listen to it and then delete it from your phone to save space!

If you are going to start listening to podcasts, you’ll need an APP.  There are many good APPS out there for Android phones.  I use Pocket Cast.  It cost $3.99, but it is worth it!  Before Pocket Cast, I used Beyond Pod.  Stitcher also has a good APP that you can download for free.  iPhone and Ipad users have iTunes that will download podcasts.

Most of these APPS have a search function that you can just type in the name of a podcast or just a topic.  If a podcast you’re looking for doesn’t show up, you’ll have to get the RSS feed, usually displayed on the podcast’s website, to add to your podcast APP.  But it is very simple!

If you are looking for podcasts to follow, I listed the podcasts that I have in my APP, along with some other notable podcasts here.

Get That APP!

Check out this video on the Pocket Cast APP.

 

Here are some other links to videos that show you other podcast APPS

Final Thoughts

If you have time where you can put in some earphones or listen in your vehicle, you have the opportunity to add some real beneficial ideas and information to your mind.  Remember, there are podcasts on every topic imaginable!  There is something for you.

Do you already listen to podcasts?  Please share some of your favorite prepper and non-prepper podcasts in the comments below.

Peace,
Todd

 

Fertilizers, feeding your plants!

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Fertilizers, feeding your plants! Bobby “MHP Gardener” Audio in player below! Before you plant a seed or seedling, you need to apply some fertilizer to the soil or container. What kind and how much depends on what you’re growing, and your particular style of growing. So it’s important to have a good understanding of the … Continue reading Fertilizers, feeding your plants!

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Tips For Building Emergency Food Stocks

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Tips For Building Emergency Food Stocks Have you been trying to build an emergency food supply, only to turn around and use up all you worked to stock up? It can be incredibly frustration and make you feel like you’re failing when that likely isn’t the case at all! Most people, when first starting to …

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The Next Gen of Preppers

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The Next Gen of Preppers Regardless of what you may think or feel about the millennial generation, there are certain things about them that have far exceeded their parents’ generation. Information, for example. All they’ve ever known is to Google search. They have little to no concept about the Dewey decimal system, cassette players, or …

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How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar For You Or Your Chickens

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How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar For You Or Your Chickens Sprouts are great for us and our lovely chickens. They are full of nutrients and much-needed sustenance. You can use sprouts in your every day foods, I prefer them in salads It gives the salad a great crunch and taste. For chickens …

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Magic Food: 7 Vegetables You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps

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Magic Food: 7 Vegetables You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps

Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons

There is a great form of recycling that is easy, fun and nutritious: re-growing vegetables from leftover scraps. You don’t need much to get started — just containers, soil, water and a sunny windowsill. Sometimes you don’t even need the soil.

Many vegetables have the ability to regenerate, and you can regrow quite a few common veggies with as little as a glass of water. It’s a great project for any time of the year, but especially during colder months when you likely don’t have access to your garden.

To help you begin, here is a list of vegetables that are easy to regrow.

1. Lettuce and cabbage — After you prepare a salad or a stew, do you toss the lettuce or cabbage heart in the trash or on the compost pile? Next time, place it in a shallow dish with about a half-inch of water and then put the dish on a sunny windowsill. The water will get cloudy and a bit smelly, so you will want to replace it every day or two.

After three days or so, you will notice new leaves sprouting. When they are large enough for eating, you can harvest them. Leave the head in some clean water, and you can repeat the process.

2. Scallions, green onions, leeks and fennel – Set the white root base in enough water to completely cover the bulb and then place the container on your windowsill.

The All-Natural Fertilizer That Doubles Your Garden Yield!

Replace the water every few days. After a week or so, you will notice new growth. You can keep regenerating these bulbs and even can transfer them outdoors in the spring.

3. Onions – Onions need a bit more room, but they are still easy to grow. Place the onion’s root section in a cup of water on a sunny windowsill and watch for sign of regrowth. When the bulb has grown back, transfer the plant to a large pot of soil. You can replant it in your outdoor garden during the warmer weather.

4. Garlic – Did you know that you could regenerate a garlic plant from just one clove? Here’s how: Plant the clove root-end down in a pot of soil and then place the pot where it can get direct sunlight.

5. Ginger – To regenerate the root of the ginger plant, which is the part you use in cooking, take a fresh piece and submerge it partially in soil with the nubbins pointing upward.

Place the pot in indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist, and the root will begin growing within about two weeks. To obtain fresh ginger, pull up the plant, harvest some of its root and then repeat the process.

6. Celery – Celery takes a while to regrow, but the results are worth it. Place the base (about an inch or two) in a jar of water on a sunny window ledge. As with some of the other veggies, you will need to replace the cloudy water regularly. Tiny sprouts begin to appear in about a week. After a few more weeks, you will see enough growth to harvest.

7. Bean Sprouts – Soak your leftover dry beans overnight before spreading them out evenly on towels to dry. Repeat this process three or more times until you begin to notice sprouts appearing. You may use the sprouts on sandwiches and in salads. Store any leftover sprouts in the refrigerator.

Like many gardening projects, regrowing vegetables takes some time and some patience. Usually, the fresher the scraps, the better the results will be.

Keep in mind that many plants are sensitive to chlorine or fluoride. If you are on a municipal water system, consider using distilled water for your kitchen scrap garden. Also, if your windowsills do not get much sunlight, grow lights will work well.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Medicine Growing Your Own!

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Medicine Growing Your Own Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! It’s almost spring, and that means it’s that time of year to get planting your medicinal herb garden. The question is, what herbs are the most important herbs to grow? In this episode of Herbal Prepper Live, we will cover a wide variety … Continue reading Medicine Growing Your Own!

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How To Grow Ten Tons of Organic Vegetables!

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How To Grow Ten TONS of Organic Vegetables! If you’re homesteading or have a farm, you are probably always looking for ways to maximize your produce yield. Obviously, you don’t want to lose time or resources on a bad harvest, plus there is always the winter to stock up for. Just imagine, though, if you …

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Calculating the Cost of Growing Your Own Food

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Calculating the Cost of Growing Your Own Food There are plenty of rewards from growing your own produce. Self-reliance, the potential for extra income, and of course the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables are all great reasons to grow your own garden. For a garden that is cost-effective and productive there is a bit …

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24 Ways to Prepare for Your Spring Garden in the Dead of Winter

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prepare-spring-garden-in-winterIt can be hard to think about gardening when it’s below freezing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Cold weather is the perfect time for planning!

If you are thinking (like I might have perhaps thought in the past) that you can just grab a few packs of seeds from the local hardware store or super store in April or so, put them in the ground, and you’ll see something come up in a few months, well, you’re mostly wrong. You definitely can grow food during the cooler months! It’s not rocket science, but it does require some thought and planning.

Fall Preparation

Before it freezes (or at least quickly after the first frost):

1. Remove and discard diseased parts of plants. But not into the compost! (If you put them into the compost, the weeds could sprout up wherever you use the compost later.

2. Mulch over any plants that might be susceptible to the cold (about 8″ deep), including over-wintering vegetables such as carrots, so they are still alive in the spring.

3. Make sure all beds are composted or mulched. A compost pail with a charcoal filter will allow you to start your compost stash inside the house while controlling odors until you can empty it outdoors.

4. Clean up, maintain, and properly store garden tools and equipment. Note any that need replaced. If you need a new set of good quality hand tools like the ones in this kit, add it to your Christmas list!

5. If any garden tools need significant repairs, take them in to be fixed.

6. Start a wish-list of gifts you would like. The holidays are approaching!

Planning for next spring

7. Order seed catalogs. There are multiple good companies, so go ahead and order a few. You may be surprised by what you find, and really good catalogs will have your mouth watering and you itching to start digging in the dirt. A couple of my own favorites are Seeds of Change and Baker Creek.

Remember: if you want to save the seeds from the plants to grow new plants in the future, you almost certainly will want heirloom varieties.

8. Decide if you want to use cold frames or another technique to extend your growing season. Plan and build accordingly, if you want to go for it.

9. Start diagramming/planning what you want where. Once you have a very general plan – vegetable garden, herb garden, annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees planned out – it’s time to start getting more specific. A journal specifically designed for gardeners will give you room to plan your garden, journal your efforts, and then make notes about what worked and what didn’t.

10. Check the viability and test germination of any seeds you have on hand.

11. When planning, start with the plants that take the longest to mature and will be there for the longest – the trees. Next come bushes, then perennials including any perennial herbs, annuals including vegetables, and finally any potted plants.

The last would be plants that can’t survive in your area that you really want. In my case, I have some potted chamomile and an aloe plant that I bring in during the winter. Other people have lemon trees, but it could be almost anything.

12. Ask these questions for trees, bushes, perennials, and annuals:

  • Do you want to plant any new ones?
  • What kind?
  • How will planting these affect other plants you’ll put nearby? If you put in a tree that gets very wide, so you probably won’t want to plant bushes or anything long-lasting near it, but annual flowers could do great and provide a nice pop of color!
  • Are there any other plants that cannot coexist with it?
  • What plants do really well with it?
  • Where do you want them on your lot? You may realize that you want a vegetable garden near the driveway, but you need some bushes between it and your teenage driver.

13. Start picking out what you want! I think this is the most fun. I can totally lose myself in seed catalogs.

Guidance on Picking Plants

14. Decide what you are looking for, and why. I like unusual varieties of common plants, like yellow carrots or banana melons. You might prefer more traditional orange carrots. This article with advice from a master gardener may help you make these decisions.

15. Do you want to involve your kids? My youngest loves picking out plants. It makes him crazy-happy to pick out, plant, nurture, and (sometimes) eat plants. There are areas in the garden with nothing planned so he can put whatever makes him happy. And yes, sometimes he decides on a spot I know or that makes me a bit crazy, but it still goes there unless I have a really good reason not to – like it’s right exactly where the mower will kill it.

16. Don’t forget to check which grow zone you live in. Your county or state extension service might have more detailed information available, or ask at a local nursery, to get the best information.

17. If you plant an herb garden, be sure to check which weeds are considered weeds or pests in your area. I planted lemon balm, which can go crazy, but I made sure to plant it where the driveway, a brick walk, and the house formed three sides, containing it a bit. (It’s apparently a member of the mint family, and they all grow like crazy pretty easily.) Yarrow is also considered a weed, but not invasive like lemon balm. So, to me, as a not-so-active-gardener, that just means yarrow will be harder for my chronic neglect to kill.

18. Think about what you actually use and eat. I planted about 8 oregano plants a few years ago and they grew great – but I rarely use oregano in my cooking. I love the smell of lavender and it’s a slight bug repellant, so I have planted a bunch of that around the house. I am interested in herbal remedies, so I planted yarrow, several kinds of mint and chamomile. The last two are potted. One, so it doesn’t spread and take over everything, the other because it can’t survive a winter outside in our climate.

19. Use kitchen leftovers to start new plants. Since you’ve already eaten them, you know these are veggies you’ll like. Growing pineapples this way is easy, too.

Steps to Take Mid-Winter

20. Consider the weather – is it an unusually cold or snowy winter? Is it mild? If it is mild, then you probably don’t need to do anything extra to your plants, but if it is a really cold or snowy year, you might want to protect your plants better. Last year, I lost almost all of the strawberry plants that I had nurtured from a few starts over the previous four years! A layer of mulch over top of them would have kept the cold out and the plants alive, even though they didn’t need it in previous warmer winters.

21. Take advantage of the increased visibility from all the plants dying or being dormant and take a good look at your grounds. Are there areas of erosion? If so, you have a project for spring and can start researching and planning how to best fix it.

22. Can you see roots damaging walls, foundations, pathways, or anything else? Don’t forget to check the area near the septic field and the well. In the spring, have a professional take care of any problematic roots. Research a good tree service and ask for referrals from friends and neighbors.

23. Where does the snow and ice melt first and where does it last? That gives you an idea of what spots naturally receive more sunlight or less sunlight. Of course, the micro-climate(s) in your yard will be a little different when the trees have leaves and as the angles of the sun change, but this will give you a starting point.

24. It’s finally time to start planting, even with the ground frozen rock-hard. Start your hardy (early season) plants indoors. In four to six weeks, you can put them in the ground and start the next group of plants inside. A Grow Zone map can  help you determine what to plant and when, as the weather begins to warm up.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your family get excited for your garden for next summer and you’ll have a great growing season!

Enjoy the process and the produce!

This article was updated on November 17, 2016.

PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food

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PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! The process of gardening is the result of more than tilling, planting,  weeding and harvesting. It is also the result of preparedness to overcome challenges such as location, pests and other unforeseen complications like unusual weather. Imagine the pressure a prepper will … Continue reading PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food

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Book: The Backyard Orchardist

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See larger image The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers. Appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar, a trouble-shooting guide for

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The Easy-To-Grow Ginseng Alternative You Can Harvest Within WEEKS

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The Easy-To-Grow Ginseng Alternative You Can Harvest Within Weeks

Image source: Wikipedia

 

Used and revered in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, the root of the ginseng (Panax ginseng) plant has become increasingly popular in the West for use as an herbal medicine, as its adaptogenic and longevity-promoting properties have become more widely recognized around the world.

However, due to overharvesting in the wild, questionable sourcing practices, and the fact that it is difficult to grow, it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain a good source of ginseng for personal use.

Enter gynostemma (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), a vining herbaceous Chinese plant that exhibits comparable qualities to those of ginseng, but is much easier to grow yourself, and is considered to be one of the top anti-aging longevity herbs of Asia. For starters, let’s take a look at the health benefits of consuming gynostemma.

Learn How You Can Make Powerful Herbal Medicines, Right in Your Kitchen!

There are many health benefits of gynostemma:

  • Contains many important nutrients that the body needs, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese and phosphorous.
  • Helps to rid the body of toxins, waste and harmful microorganisms.
  • Supports a healthy immune system.
  • Helps to bring overall balance to the body, and can aid the body in dealing with a number of different health conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and acute and chronic inflammation (fights the free-radical damage that leads to aging of the body’s cells).
  • Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Supports healthy digestion.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Reduces pain.
  • Supports a healthy liver and nervous system.
  • Helps to significantly increase the body’s production of superoxide dismutase, one of the most powerful antioxidants produced within the body.

Gynostemma can be taken as a tea, powder, tincture and in capsules. The tea is very tasty, making it a pleasure to consume. Both the leaves and the stems can be used medicinally.

The Easy-To-Grow Ginseng Alternative You Can Harvest Within Weeks

Image source: Flickr

Gynostemma is considered to be quite safe for most people and can be consumed on a daily basis for overall health and wellness. In fact, there is a large group of people in China that consume gynostemma tea daily and typically live to be more than 100 years old!

Growing Gynostemma

The gynostemma plant can be grown from seed or from starter plants, and is an easy-to-grow herbaceous (non-woody) perennial. The leaves and stems are tender to frost. It will grow perennially in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, although it can be kept in a pot indoors during the winter in colder climates. Once established, it is root-hardy to at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

New ‘Survival Herb Bank’ Gives You Access to God’s Amazing Medicine Chest

Gynostemma needs rich, moist soil, and sunny or partial shade conditions. The plant’s tendrils allow it to grow more than 20 feet up a trellis, and it also can grow onto shrubs or trees, or as ground cover.

Spread by rhizomes, gynostemma can become invasive once established, especially in warmer areas, where it can grow year-round. Plant it in a larger container to keep it from running amok within and beyond your landscape.

The plants are dioecious, having separate male and female plants that are needed in order to produce seeds. The seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then sown 2-3 per pot in rich compost, thinning the seedlings once it can be determined which one is the strongest. The seedlings can be planted outside once the danger of frost has passed.

This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or to treat any particular medical condition. Always consult with a qualified health practitioner when considering the addition of any herbs or supplements into your health and wellness routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions. 

Have you ever grown gynostemma? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Sources:

http://www.jiaogulan.org/category/jiaogulan-health/jiaogulan-aging/

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Gynostemma+pentaphyllum

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

Tomatillos: How To Grow The ‘Secret Ingredient’ Of Mexican Restaurants

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Tomatillos: How To Grow The 'Secret Ingredient' Of Mexican Restaurants

Image source: Flickr

 

Want to try something a little more exotic in your garden this year? There is a yummy summer fruit that you may have tasted, but know little about. Tomatillos, also known as husk tomatoes, play a big role in some favorite and common dishes served often in Mexican restaurants – and they’re delicious.

Let’s take a look at this popular fruit that doesn’t get a lot of attention. They are a small, round and green (or greenish-purple) summer fruit, which can also ripen to a yellow, purple or red color if left long enough. Tomatillos originate from Mexico. They are part of the nightshade family and related to tomatoes, but that is where the similarities end.

Tomatillos have a paper-like skin and are usually about one to two inches wide. They are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as niacin, potassium, omega fatty acids and manganese. Their taste is rather tart, and they are often used for sauces and salsas. They can be eaten raw or used in salads as well. Other uses for this useful summer fruit – yes, some people call them vegetables — are in baking dishes, dressings, stews and guacamole. Some people even use tomatillos in omelettes, curry and chili. It seems that the sky is the limit for delectable uses.

Get The Best Deals On Non-GMO Seeds For Your Garden Right Here!

This remarkable little plant is great for beginning gardeners, since tomatillos have very few disease and pest issues. Tomatillos are known to be very decorative, as well.

Planting

tomatillo-408704_640

Image source: Pixabay.com

Tomatillos LOVE the sun and fertile soil. If you want, plant seeds indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost. Make sure you grow them in a space that will get plenty of warm sunlight, and use compost to enrich the soil for the plants. If you buy seedlings, bury the plants until about two-thirds of the plant is covered, and each plant about three feet apart. A trellis would be helpful, as the tomatillo plants will require support as they grow. Supporting with a trellis also ensures there is a good amount of air circulation around the plants. Tomato cages work fine. The soil needs to be moist at all times. Mulch can be used to help keep moisture even in the soil and to prevent weeds. Soil also needs to have good drainage.

Growing

Plants will be three to four feet tall, and about the same for width. They fruit continuously through the season. Bees will come to the yellow blossoms of the tomatillo plant. You will need at least two plants, but often more, as tomatillos need cross-pollination. Each plant should produce around one pound of fruit for the season. Tomatillos are accustomed to a warm climate, so soggy ground will ruin them, but they still like moisture. Remember: Mulch works well with tomatillos. They can also live in drier conditions, but they are not drought-resistant. When using tomato cages for support, make sure there is at least two feet between each cage.

Timing

Within 75 to 100 days of transplanting, you should have enough tomatillos to make a salsa.

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Some varieties ripen around 60 days from transplanting, so be sure to read labels or do research on what type you are planting.

Harvesting

When the fruit has filled out the husk part of the plant, but is still green, you should harvest. The fruit will split the husk if it is allowed to ripen further. The flesh should be firm. It will not be as juicy or have bright colors like a tomato.

Storing and Freezing

You can pull the plants and store them in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator. Store-bought tomatillos will keep up to three weeks in the fridge if you wrap them in paper. When freezing, remove the dry husks and clean the fruit, which will have a sticky film on it. Place the tomatillos in sandwich bags and put them in the freezer. You can thaw as many as you need and leave the rest by using this method. Tomatillos also can be cleaned and cut up before freezing for further ease. Freeze right after picking to ensure the smallest loss of vitamins and nutrients.

If you are ready to try something new and different this year, tomatillos could be the fresh idea for you.

Have you grown tomatillos? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Growing Fruits All Year Long!

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Growing Fruits All Year Long There is no denying when it comes to the fact that fruits are good for our body. Some fruits have their health benefit “specialties” but regularly including them in one’s diet will ensure an all around health boost. But, even better than just consuming fruits would be growing them in … Continue reading Growing Fruits All Year Long!

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The Super-Nutritious Grass You Can Grow Indoors, Eat, And Transplant To Your Yard

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The Super-Nutritious Grass You Can Grow Indoors, Eat, And Transplant To Your Yard

Image source: YouTube

There are many benefits to growing grass indoors. For example, wheat and rye grasses are very healthy if you juice them. Also, if you can spare some sprouted seeds, they make a great addition to oatmeal, bread and other recipes. Additionally, indoor grasses in pots bring the green inside in winter and help beat winter blues.

How to Start Wheatgrass and Rye

First, decide how much grass to grow. A 10 inch x 10 inch tray will take one cup of seed to yield approximately 10 ounces of juice. If you want a supply of grass to add nutrition to your winter diet, you will only need a tray or a couple of pots; you can cut the grass you need and re-seed when shoots are no longer being produced. You may want to sprout seeds at intervals of a week or so throughout the winter, to provide you with a supply of wheatgrass that is continually being refreshed by new sprouts. You also can grow a larger tray of grass or several trays, if you have space and you want to attempt transplanting in the early spring. Obviously, this method is not going to cover multiple acres, but you can grow enough to test the grains in a smaller plot or cover a plot intended for later-sowing crops.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

Use sterile soil if possible to discourage mold growth. Wheatgrass is extremely easy to grow given the right conditions, and will grow quickly. For rye, you may want a container with better drainage as it grows a bit more slowly. Cooler and drier indoor air is generally best for grasses indoors, versus warm and humid, to prevent mold growth.

Here are a few basic steps to get started.

  1. Soak your seeds overnight, in water just covering them.
  2. Sprout your seeds in a jar or sprouter. You can follow our sprouting instructions.
  3. Place a thin layer of sterile soil in your tray or pots. Plant your sprouts on top of the soil, and thoroughly moisten. Leave in a dark area.
  4. Cover, and water thoroughly daily (if needed) to prevent drying.
  5. After four days of growth, remove the cover and move to an area of indirect sunlight. You can also grow grass under full-spectrum lighting
  6. Harvest grass with scissors when each shoot splits into two blades. This will take about a week or two. Cut the whole grass shoot and consume immediately, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
  7. If you intend to transplant grass, allow it to regrow indoors without being harvested, and begin your next wheatgrass crop in a different tray. However, if you are not going to keep the plants, you can dispose of them into the compost and begin again.

Using Grasses in Food

Wheatgrass is an excellent source of potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber. Some claims suggest that a pound of wheatgrass is worth the nutrition of 23 pounds of vegetables! Rye grass has much the same nutritional value and flavor as wheatgrass. However, most of those nutrients are not accessible without juicing.

Hand-cranked grass juicers needn’t be expensive, but will be an integral part of your kitchen in the winter months. If you’re considering a juicer, look for a stainless-steel model that clamps to a table or countertop; it will last longer and reduce your labor. One pound of harvested grass will yield about 12 ounces of juice.

The Best Kept Secret In Indoor Self-Reliance Gardening…

Many people enjoy mixing this with the juice from an apple or carrots to sweeten it.  It can, however, be enjoyed on its own; just remember how many vitamins you’re getting out of it and drink it down.

Transplanting Your Grass in Spring

You may be able to move the plants outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked. If your region is prone to late frosts, move trays outdoors on warmer winter days to harden plants before transplanting, or place plants in cold frames to protect them from the harshest weather. Eventually, you can tear the root system and work the grass a little into the soil. If the soil is kept moist, the roots will take hold where they are and the grass will rebound, helping with soil retention and preventing weed growth.

If you wish, you can start letting the plants grow and go to seed. In the late summer and fall, you will be able to harvest grains for food, as well as save seeds for next year’s winter grasses. This way, you and your family will never be without the nutrition you need to be healthy and strong.

What advice would you add on growing wheat grass and rye grass? Share your tips in the section below:

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CASH from Square Foot Gardening

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In his best-seller, Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew showed gardeners his revolutionary system of planting in square foot sections to boost vegetable yields. Now in his follow-up, Mel tells you everything you need to know to be a successful square foot gardener. Earn $5,000 or $10,000 or even $20,000 per year – even with limited […]

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