The Companion Plant You ALWAYS Should Grow Around Tomatoes

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small farmWinter is nearly gone and gardening season is just around the corner, which means it’s time to consider what you might do similar and different from last year.

Author and expert gardener Sally Jean Cunningham has a suggestion: Try companion planting.

By planting unique combinations of vegetables, herbs and flowers, you can minimize pests and diseases – while boosting your garden’s yield!

Cunningham, author of “Great Garden Companions,” is the guest on this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio.

She says the Native Americans’ “three sisters” method is just scratching the surface in companion planting.

Cunningham also tells us:

  • What always should be planted around tomatoes, potatoes and beans.
  • Why she doesn’t use traditional gardening methods when companion planting.
  • Which vegetables, flowers and herbs should not be planted close to one another.
  • Why she believes most bugs in the garden are actually good for vegetables.

Finally, Cunningham tells us about her favorite types of mulch — and most of them are dirt-cheap.

If you’re a gardener who can’t wait to get your hands dirty this spring, then this is one show you don’t want to miss!

5 Perfect Tomatoes To Grow That Will Feed Your Family & Stock Your Pantry!

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5 Perfect Tomatoes. Of all the plants we grow in our garden each year – there is simply not one more valuable than the amazing tomato. For us, it is so much more than just an incredible fresh vegetable. Beyond

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8 Simple Tips To Grow Your Best Tomato Crop Ever. Period!

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If you are like most avid vegetable gardeners, you are always searching for new ways to grow your best tomato crop ever. And with good reason! Ripe, juicy, tomatoes are amazing to eat, especially fresh from the vine. But a great

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The Space-Saving, ‘Upside-Down Way’ To Grow Indoor Tomatoes This Winter

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The Space-Saving, ‘Upside-Down Way’ To Grow Indoor Tomatoes This Winter

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Indoor gardening can be a great way to have fresh vegetables year-round and satisfy your green thumb during the winter, but if you live in a small home or apartment, it can be challenging to find enough room for your plants. One solution is to turn your indoor garden on its head – literally.

Many vegetable plants that do well indoors – including cherry tomatoes — can be grown upside down. This not only saves you space, but it can give you a visually appealing container garden, too.

Hanging gardens have been around for centuries and are ideal for those without a lot of space. While we typically think of them as being outdoors – on an apartment balcony, for example – the method works just as well indoors.

Starting Your Indoor Hanging Garden

Since you won’t want to move your plants around too much once you get them started, your first step is to find the location in your home where you’d like to grow your vegetables. Ideally, it should be an area that gets plenty of sun, such as a south-facing window. Natural lighting is best for this type of growing, as setting up grow lights can get rather awkward for a hanging garden. (Although, with the right arrangement, grow lights can work.) Also, for an upside-down hanging garden, you must use a plant that has been started; planting from seed in an upside-down pot is extremely difficult.

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You will need a place where you can hang your containers, so you’ll either want to install sturdy hooks into the ceiling or have some kind of rack system. Whatever you choose, you will want to make sure that it can support the weight of the containers and potting soil, along with mature plants. Since some soil and water will come through the bottom of the container via watering, it is also a good idea to prepare a tray or mat underneath your hanging garden to prevent making a mess.

The next step is choosing containers suitable for the types of plants that you will be growing. Drill holes in the bottom of the containers (about 2 inches in diameter for larger containers and slightly less for smaller ones). To make the work a little easier, find a place to hang the containers while you are planting so you won’t have to flip containers around.

Choose a good potting soil that has been amended with compost. You also will need something to anchor the plant in place in the bottom of the container, such as fabric, cardboard or foam. Add a slit to this material and work the plant’s roots through the material into the container and then fill in soil around it. If you wish to optimize your space even more, you can use the top of the container to grow things such as salad greens, herbs or even radishes. Just be sure that whatever you plant in the same container has similar growing requirements (sunlight and watering needs etc.). While the initial planting tends to be a bit more labor intensive than it would be with an upright garden, many indoor gardeners find the space-saving benefits to be well worth the extra effort at the beginning.

The video below shows how to accomplish this with a kit, although most homesteaders already have the supplies they need.

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Now that you have your indoor hanging garden, simply care for it the same way that you would for any of your upright plants. Enjoy the unique appearance and tasty, fresh vegetables all year round!

What Can You Grow?

There are many vegetables that may be grown upside down, but here are some of the most common:

  • Tomatoes – you can grow any size tomato upside down; however, cherry tomatoes are the easiest to manage since they won’t get as heavy.
  • Peppers – whether you like them hot or sweet, you can grow just about any type of pepper in an upside-down garden.
  • Cucumbers – again, by choosing a smaller variety such as pickling cucumbers, it will be much easier. Bush cucumbers should be avoided when using an upside-down growing method.
  • Eggplants – eggplants have similar needs as tomatoes, and you can have success growing them in a hanging garden. Choose a slender Asian variety or miniatures.
  • Beans – both pole and bush beans can do well in a hanging garden.
  • Strawberries – want to add something a little sweeter to your inverted garden? Strawberries can be easily grown upside down.

If you have ever decided that indoor gardening wasn’t for your because you didn’t have enough space, then perhaps the idea of having a hanging garden might be enough to make you reconsider. You can grow a variety of produce or just start with something simple like some cherry tomatoes!

Have you ever grown an indoor hanging garden? What advice would you add?

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

The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

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The 9 Most Productive Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors During Winter

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There’s more than one way to plant a bounteous vegetable crop. It’s possible to have a hearty garden even if you don’t have space in the backyard, even if you don’t have a patio or balcony for containers, and even in the dead of winter.

The approach may be different than planting seeds in the ground, but it isn’t difficult to grow vegetables in the convenience of your toasty, warm home. And, unlike growing vegetables outdoors, you’ll have total control over temperature, water and light – all without bothersome bugs and pesky weeds.

You may, however, need to provide supplemental lighting, especially if you’re growing vegetables indoors during the winter months. If the atmosphere in your home is dry, mist the plants frequently or raise the moisture level with a humidifier.

Vegetables aren’t fussy about containers. Nearly anything will suffice, as long as it has a good drainage hole in the bottom. Use a good quality potting mix. Don’t attempt to use garden soil; it won’t work.

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Starter plants may be difficult to find, but if you plant seeds, the top of the refrigerator is a good place to provide a little extra warmth for germination.

Now that you know the scoop on growing vegetables indoors, here is a list of the best, indoor-friendly veggie plants.

1. Tomatoes do well indoors with plenty of light and warmth, but they need a good-sized container – preferably at least five gallons, even if you grow dwarf or patio varieties. Once the tomatoes bloom, you’ll probably have to help with pollination by giving the plants a gentle shake to release the pollen. Choose indeterminate tomatoes, which will grow and product fruit indefinitely.

2. Eggplant and peppers belong to the same plant family as tomatoes, and their growing conditions are similar. Look for dwarf varieties that take up less valuable growing space.

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3. Carrots generally need deep soil to accommodate the long roots, but you can plant dwarf or round types successfully in pots. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of moist potting soil, and then clip the tiny seedlings to ½ inch apart soon after they germinate. Once the carrots reach 3 inches, thin them again to a distance of about an inch.

4. Radishes are easy to grow just about anywhere, and growing them indoors is no exception. Like carrots, round or dwarf varieties fit best in containers.

5. Potatoes don’t require a lot of space, but they need large, deep pots because you’ll need to add straw or compost to build up layers over the plants as they grow. You can even grow potatoes in a garbage bag with the top rolled down; then roll up the top as they grow.

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6. Mushrooms are a fun indoor crop. It’s easy to get started with kits, but you can also purchase mushroom spawn and do it yourself. The growing medium depends on the type of mushroom, but you may need to stock up on straw or sawdust. (Or rotten manure if your mushrooms are in a garage).

7. Beets do fine in lower temperatures, but they need plenty of light. Don’t crowd the plants, as beets need space for the roots to develop.

8. Lettuce is one of the few vegetables that you can plant in a small pot if you’re low on space. Like beets, lettuce is a cool season vegetable that doesn’t require a lot of heat.

9. Green onions do great in a sunny window. They don’t require much growing space if you harvest them while they’re small.

What would you add to our list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

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

How To Easily Preserve Tomatoes – No Canning Required!

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When most people think about how to preserve tomatoes, images of spending hours in the kitchen, sweating over a hot pot of boiling water, during the dog days of summer appear. However, this year, it is time to take a

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How to Save Heirloom Tomato Seed

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How to save heirloom tomato seeds using the fermentation process | PreparednessMama

Seed Self-Reliance This year I grew Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, an heirloom variety known for its huge fruit and excellent taste. You’ve got to love the name! Unfortunately, the plants did not do well in my new garden plot and I only had a few tomatoes for fresh eating. Fortunately, I gave a few plants to […]

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Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You

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Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You

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It is never more gratifying to be a gardener than when luscious ripe tomatoes are rolling off the plants and into our kitchens. For most of us, though, there are often far more tomatoes than we can eat at the time. After slicing, sautéing, roasting, making salads and salsa, adding to pizza and ratatouille and grilled burgers, and filling the freezer with sauce, there is only option left.

It is time to can tomatoes. People have been canning tomatoes for long enough that everyone and their great-grandmother—and I do mean that literally—has strong opinions on how it should be done. Some folks use strictly paste tomatoes, meaning only those varieties developed specifically for use in homemade sauces. Others use any varieties of tomatoes at all, from commercial or traditional to heirloom, in all shapes and sizes.

There is no single correct answer when it comes to the best tomato varieties for canning. The primary difference is that paste types usually have less water content and therefore require less reduction for sauces and ketchup. Taste, texture and personal preference are factors that matter.

The thing about canning tomatoes is that there are a lot of choices, not the least of which is whether to use a pressure canner or a boiling water bath canner. And the right answer to this question is that both methods are correct.

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This is unusual. For almost every other food, there is only one right choice. All vegetable, meats and seafood products need to be pressure-canned for safety. And while fruits can be processed using a pressure canner, it would diminish the quality of the product.

Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You

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So why can tomatoes go either way? To explain, let me first talk about acid. The value of various foods are either very acidic—which registers very low numbers on the pH scale—or very neutral and registering very high pH numbers.

Almost all fruits range from 3.0 to 4.0 and are considered to be high acid. Vegetables range from 4.8 to 7.0 and are considered to be low acid.

And then there are tomatoes. The average tomato sits at 4.6, right on the cusp of high acid versus low acid. In this sentence, “average” is the key word. If the average is at 4.6, that means there are some varieties that are a tad more acidic, and a few—particularly some of the heirloom types—that are a little less acidic.

Therefore, the safety rule with tomatoes is to acidify them. By adding a little acidic content to every jar of canned tomatoes, we can be absolutely sure that they are adequately acid. Just a tablespoon of lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint of tomatoes does the trick. It is super easy, inexpensive and does not affect the taste of the finished product.

It may sound as if it is alright to skip the acidification step—adding the lemon juice or citric acid—if you are pressure canning, but that is not the case. Acid needs to be added with both processes, and here is why: The directions and processing times for both canning methods have been tested using acidified tomatoes. If you do not use added acid, the processing times given may not be adequate.

The major difference in canning tomatoes using the boiling water bath method versus pressure canning is processing time.

For example, tomatoes packed in water take 40-50 minutes (depending upon the size of the jars) in a boiling water bath canner and only 10 minutes in a pressure canner. Tomatoes with no added liquid take a whopping 85 minutes in a boiling water bath canner and 25 minutes in a pressure canner. With crushed tomatoes, there is a huge time difference as well—35 to 45 minutes versus 15 minutes.

However, there is more than just processing time to consider. Using a pressure canner involves 10 minutes of venting, several minutes to build pressure, and more time to depressurize after processing. When you add it up, the actual time differences are less dramatic.

So why use a pressure canner for tomatoes? Many people say it is about the quality of the finished food. Pressure canned tomatoes often have brighter colors and flavors, retaining more of that tart zing that only a fresh backyard tomato can pack.

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Either way, there are some basics to go by. Following is a synopsis, although complete step-by-step directions can be found either in Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which can be purchased for under $10 at most stores, or accessed free online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Canning Tomatoes: Here’s What Grandma May Not Have Told You

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Prepare your supplies. Wash and rinse jars and lids, and keep warm. Assemble equipment:  canner, jar lifter, funnel and headspace tool.

  1. Peel tomatoes by dipping in scalding water until skin loosens, plunge in ice water to make them cool enough to handle, and pull skins off. Trim ends. Cut or crush as needed for recipe.
  2. Prepare your canner and heat the water to simmering.
  3. Add lemon juice or citric acid to each jar.
  4. Pack tomatoes according to recipe: crushed, whole or halved packed in water or tomato juice, or whole or halved with no liquid added. Add salt if desired.
  5. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids to finger tight.
  6. Process in either boiling water bath canner or pressure canner, following times and procedures for the one you are using.

Processing times cannot safely be mixed and matched. It will not work to use pressure canning times in a boiling water bath canner, or to go with times given for whole tomatoes with added liquid for crushed tomatoes. If using the boiling water bath method for whole tomatoes, follow that recipe to the letter.

I have canned many tomatoes and have used very nearly all of the permutations—with liquid and without, whole and crushed, boiling water bath or pressure canner processed. I admit that I do not have a single go-to way of doing it. An hour and 25 minutes is a long process time, but once it’s boiling, I can set it and forget it. Pressure-canned tomatoes do seem a little tastier, but it is more of a multi-step process than a boiling water bath. Crushed tomatoes are easier to pack into jars, but require more prep work and yield a product that I tend to use less in recipes. Most years, I do a variety.

Even though it seems a little more complicated at the outset, tomatoes are the perfect food for canning and are just right for those who prefer a wide variety of methods. And as long as you use an approved recipe, there is no wrong way to can garden-fresh tomatoes.

What canning advice would you add? Share your tips and secrets in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

13 Do’s & Do Not’s of Growing Tomatoes

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13 Do’s & Do Not’s of Growing Tomatoes Tomatoes are wonderful to grow, eat and can. They can be stored for years when canned and provide us with great flavors and nutrients. I personally have not grown any tomatoes for a few years, that is my own fault because I have had a few problems …

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6 Big Tips To Keep Tomato Plants Healthy And Productive In The Summer

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Summer has arrived and the heat is on, and that means tomato season is here! We depend heavily on our tomato crop to stock our pantry to enjoy pasta sauce, salsa, tomato juice, ketchup, barbecue sauce and more for the entire

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7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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Companion planting — the practice of intentionally planting two or more species in close proximity to each other — has many advantages.

Paired properly, companion plants can help each other grow, deter pests, reduce weeds and even improve flavor. Unfortunately, not all plants are ready to link leaves and sing “Kumbaya” together. In this post, we’ll look at vegetable pairs that should be kept far apart from one another.

1. Corn and tomatoes

While you’d think a common enemy would make for good friends, in the garden it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Both corn and tomato are vulnerable to the same worm and the same fungal infections and if planted too close together, it makes it easy for invaders to conquer both at once.

2. Cucumber and sage

It sounds like it should be the name of an enticing new lotion fragrance, but as friendly as they may seem in the cosmetics aisle, cucumber and sage have no business being together in the garden. In fact, cucumbers and almost all aromatic herbs have an antagonistic relationship. The strong scent of sage and other herbs are likely to affect the final flavor of the cucumber, resulting in an unpleasant off-taste.

3. Radishes and hyssop

Another herb-vegetable combination to avoid is radishes and hyssop. Hyssop is a fragrant flowering herb used to scent potpourri and prepare teas, but it also tends to wreak havoc with radishes. Don’t write off hyssop entirely, though — it’s great for luring away cabbage moths and is said to help make grapes grow.

4. Onions and peas

Mom may have spent a lot of time trying to talk you into eating the onions and peas hidden together in a casserole dish, but out in the garden you can keep them as far away from each other as you’d like.

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In fact, the entire legume family and the entire allium family tend to “go Godfather” on each other, likely because onion (and its many relatives like shallots, leeks and garlic) set up root systems with large radii that have a tendency to hoard needed nutrients from beans and peas.

5. Tomatoes and potatoes

7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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While it may be fun to say their names together, tomatoes and potatoes don’t belong together in the garden. Both are subject to the same early and late blights, making it easy for a problem with one to quickly become a problem for both.

6. Dill and carrots

Dill participates in some of the most complicated companion planting relationships you’re likely to find in the vegetable garden. Loved for its small yellow blossoms and bright perky flavor, dill will do great things for asparagus plants, broccoli plants and a wide range of others. On the other hand, it seriously inhibits carrots. Both part of the Umbelliferae family, dill can cross-pollinate with carrots to a disastrous end. Even more confusing? The relationship between dill and tomatoes. Planting dill and tomato together will benefit the tomato … at least until the dill reaches maturity, at which point it will start to stunt the growth of tomatoes and should be moved.

7. Strawberries and cabbage

Save any combination of strawberries and cabbage (and other brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower) for the salad bar. While strawberries appreciate the presence of onions, thyme, bean, and sage planted nearby, they get tired of having to call the cops on their pest-prone cabbage neighbors.

Although far from an exact science, keeping these neighbor no-nos in mind when planning your garden will help you get the most out of your garden space.

What would you add to our list? Share your advice in the section below:

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

All You Can Eat: 6 High-Yield Vegetables Your Summer Garden Needs

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All You Can Eat: 6 High-Yield Vegetables Your Summer Garden Needs

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Some garden plants require intense diligence and extensive resources to coax out a single flower or handful of berries. Other species, however, are determined producers, bearing bushel after bushel of fresh, sun-ripened, bounty.

Want to get the most “bang” for your gardening efforts? In this post, we’ll look at some of nature’s top producers and why these “bunny rabbits” of the vegetable world ought to be included in your home garden.

1. Tomatoes

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Nothing screams summer quite like a tomato plant covered in bright red fruit. It’s no wonder these plants require caging or other support — a 10-foot row of tomato plants on average yields 15 pounds of sun-ripened bliss over the course of a season. And even more amazing, by taking special care to pick varieties appropriate to your growing conditions, properly amending the soil, and providing adequate support, it’s possible for a single plant to produce that much (or more!) on its own. Even taking into consideration the inherent challenges of growing tomatoes, it’s well worth the effort to include these high-producing summer staples in your garden plot.

2. Summer squash

There’s a reason August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. Even if you’ve only planted a few of these prolific plants, you’re likely to be swimming in squash by the end of the season!

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Set aside a 10×10 plot specifically for zucchini and you will literally find yourself surrounded by more than a hundred pounds of deliciousness. To keep plants producing, pick zucchini while they’re relatively small — the size of a large cucumber or so. Not only does smaller summer squash taste better than their ginormous counterparts, but the frequent picking will stimulate additional growth.

3. Winter squash

Not to be outdone by their warm-weather counterparts, winter squash are another family of plants sure to bulk up your garden yields. Like summer squash, a dedicated plot of winter squash can easily produce a hundred pounds of fruit over a season. And with so many varieties to choose from, you’ll definitely want to set aside a space for them! Whether it’s pumpkins for home-grown Jack-o-lanterns and pie, vitamin rich butternut squash, or fun-to-eat spaghetti squash, there’s sure to be a variety for every taste. And, unlike many vegetables which must be carefully preserved in order to enjoy long term, an abundance of winter squash isn’t likely to be a problem — most winter squash will keep well into the winter months if stored in a cool, dry location.

4. Cucumbers

Not only are cucumbers easy to plant from seed directly in the garden, but if you can keep the cucumber beetles at bay, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by piles of pickle-worthy produce. You can expect roughly 12 pounds per 10-foot row or 120 pounds per 100 square-foot plot. Want to extend your harvest? Consider staggering seed-starting dates, adding a few plants each week for a rolling harvest that lets you enjoy fresh cukes throughout the season.

5. Beans

All You Can Eat: 6 High-Yield Vegetables Your Summer Garden Needs

Image source: Pixabay.com

Beans are another crop that can easily go gangbusters in a home garden. Not only are individual plants high producers, generally averaging up to 15 pounds per 10-foot row, but because they grow so quickly from seed to harvest it’s possible to rotate through multiple bean plantings in a single season. And while bush beans are notable producers, anyone who knows, well, beans about gardening will tell you that pole beans are where things get particularly impressive. Pole beans are happy to crawl up supports, producing over and over for weeks or even months before petering out.

6. Rhubarb

Finally, any list of high-yield hotshots wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to rhubarb. A rare perennial vegetable, rhubarb returns season after season, expanding as it grows. Considered low-maintenance and long-lasting, once a rhubarb plant is established it’s one of the easiest ways to guarantee a hefty harvest from the garden.

Few dilemmas in life are as delightful as discovering your garden has grown even more food than you can consume immediately. High-producing vegetable plants are the perfect plan for a harvest that can be shared with friends or preserved to enjoy throughout the year, making them not only a great way to maximize the return on your garden, but also the satisfaction that comes with those efforts.

Which high-yield vegetables would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

Sources:

http://www.msuextension.org/gallatin/documents/horticulturedocuments/PlantingASuccessfulHomeVegetableGarden.pdf

http://www2.ca.uky.edu/agcomm/pubs/id/id128/id128.pdf

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

DIY Tomato Ladders: No More Lame Cages

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DIY Tomato Ladders: No More Lame Cages Tomato is one of the most popular plants for beginner gardeners. But, growing tomatoes is tricky. It’s because the plant’s body is so thin that it’ll fall to the ground when the tomato has grown big enough. If you don’t do something about it, the plant will easily get …

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How We Prune Tomatoes For A Healthy, Productive Crop

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It’s hard to believe that the first week of June is nearly in the books! But as the temperatures start to warm up, and the garden begins to take off  – it means it’s time to start pruning our tomato

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A Lazy Gardener Struggles to Cage her Tomatoes

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Caging tomatoes lazy gardener style - A lazy gardener struggles to cage her overgrown tomato plants | PreparednessMama

This year while I was busy creating a new garden I got lazy with my tomatoes. They were planted on time and given nutrients. I even spent a few weekends pinching out suckers to give them plenty of room to grow. What I did not do was purchase tomato cages to contain them. Now this lazy […]

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Grow Epic Tomatoes!

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Grow Epic Tomatoes! Karen Lynn “Lil Suburban Homestead” Karen Lynn a professed “tomato” addict once titled herself the “Tomato Queen” on the boards at various homesteading sites but realized she could grow a prolific amount of tomatoes but has always felt like she could do more if she had more tomato knowledge.  Former co-host of … Continue reading Grow Epic Tomatoes!

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7 Nifty Garden Tricks To Try This Year!

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It’s almost time for the garden to go in – and if you are anything like Mary and I – you’re more than ready to put winter behind and get those plants in the ground! It seems like each and

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How To Create A Simple Garden For Salsa, Sauces, Soups and Salads!

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Nothing compares to the taste of freshly made salsa, pasta sauce, soup or a beautiful salad from your very own garden! With nothing more than a tiny plot of backyard space or a sunny patio – you can easily create and

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How To Grow Healthy Tomato Plants This Year

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“How Can I Grow Healthy Tomato Plants?” That is by far the most frequently asked question to the blog each and every summer – and with good reason. Whether it be blight, black rot, insect damage, or watering issues – the

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How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

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How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

Feel that chill in the air?

As much as I hate to, it’s time to say good-bye to our tomato plants. Cold weather is coming and with it comes the tomato killing frost.

The good news is saying good-bye doesn’t mean you have to toss all the remaining green tomatoes out with the vine. Sure, you could eat fried green tomato sandwiches to your heart’s content. But the other option is to pick them and wait for them to turn red. 

Yes, you guessed it. 

There is a way to ripen green tomatoes indoors.

Here’s what you need to do:

Pick your mature green tomatoes, bring them inside and set them on the kitchen counter. 

That’s it. It’s that simple. 

In a few days to a few weeks your tomatoes will turn red. (Time varies depending on tomato variety, and what growth stage they were in when you picked them.) 

Here’s a picture of mine going through the counter top ripening process right now…

How to Ripen Green Tomatoes Indoors

If you’re thinking, what if I have too many to leave on the counter?

If it isn’t practical to leave the tomatoes on your kitchen counter, there’s another method you can try. Sue Condlin, the Cooperative Extension Director of Lee County, North Carolina tells us how to ripen a large number of green tomatoes using newspaper and a box: 

If you have green tomatoes that are still pretty firm, and not showing any color at all, you can try this method. Pick the tomatoes, wash them, and dry them. Wrap in newspapers, place in a box in a single layer and store in a cool place. Tomatoes should not be allowed to touch. Store the box in a cool dry place, such as an unheated basement or garage. Check the boxes regularly for signs of ripening, and remove those that are starting to change color so they can finish ripening on your counter top.

Will ripening a tomato inside affect it’s flavor?

Probably. Nothing beats a vine-ripened tomato in the middle of summer.

However, tomatoes that are ripened indoors still taste better than any you’d buy at the store. I’ll attest to that. Homegrown’s always better, right? 

So, go pick your green tomatoes, and then share this post with a friend. 

The more green tomatoes we can save from the compost pile, the better. :)

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How to Grow Tomatoes

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How to Grow TomatoesTomatoes seem like the ultimate vegetables (although they are technically a fruit.) They can be used in everything from sauces to salads, and add a nice bright red color to a primarily green-colored garden. They are also easy to grow, right? Well, in some cases they are.

Some people have no problem growing tomatoes and end up with so many that they end up sharing them with their neighbors, while others can’t seem to get their tomatoes to grow at all. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few rules to follow:

1) Place your seedlings a fair distance apart. Plants don’t like to be crowded, especially tomatoes. Their small stalks need plenty of space to grow. If you’re starting them from seed, you can place several seeds in the same pot and thin them out later. Once they’re ready to be transplanted outdoors, make sure to leave at least 6 inches between each plant. This will give them enough room to grow while leaving you space to place a cage or pole by them later.

2) Plant your tomatoes where they will receive plenty of light. Tomatoes need between 14 and 16 hours of sunlight each day. This means that they need to go in a very sunny section of your yard. If you place them in the shade, they may grow, but will be stunted. You might also end up with a lot of green tomatoes that refuse to ripen. Avoid this by planting them in an ideal spot that’s free of shade.

3) Water your tomatoes a lot. This is especially true at first, when the tomatoes are mere seedlings. Once they begin to grow, they will still need plenty of water. Test the soil with your hand to see if it is moist enough. If they soil seems dry, then water them. However, you don’t want the water to sit in puddles on top of the soil, as too much water can be harmful as well.

4) Pinch off sucker branches. These tiny branches form in the triangle made by the stem and another branch. They appear as leaves at first, then begin to grow and form a separate branch growing out of the first one. Pinch off these fledgling branches and remove them before they grow too large, as they can take away from the nutrients needed to grow properly sized tomatoes on the original branches.

5) Be careful when placing the pole or cage into the soil. If you place the pole or edges of the cage too close to the plant, you could damage the stem or the root system. You’re better off placing the pole or cage several inches away from the main part of the plant and then loosely tying the plant to it to keep it upright. You also don’t want to tie the twine too tightly, as this can damage the plant, not to mention kill it if the twine begins to bite into the stem of your tomato plant.

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 Pic by Photon_de