Tip: Keep Picking Those Vegetables

Do you know exactly when to pick some of the more popular vegetables? Pick vegetables to keep them producing. Pick green beans when pods are 3 to 4 inches long, but still smooth and smaller around than your little finger. Pick zucchini when it’s less than 5 inches long. Tomatoes are best when left to ripen on the vine, they lose flavor when picked to soon. Cucumbers are meant to be picked before they start turning white on the bottom, remaining all green. Pumpkin last several months when picked after the stem is brown and the pumpkin is mostly orange. If corn cobs feel full through to the top and the silk are dark brown, then grab an ear and snap downwards.

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Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

Organic Nutrition – Vitamins & Supplements

Are you getting all the nutrition your body needs? Do you want to save money on your vitamins and supplements? In this article, I will answer both of those questions and tell you how. Most of us don’t eat healthy nor do we eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. When you are constantly on the go, your food intake generally consists of fast food or food that you made fast from home. Neither are generally very healthy for your body. People are becoming more and more health conscious everyday. In addition to eating my fresh vegetables, I take organic vitamins and supplements, which is something everyone should be doing to keep themselves healthy.

Over the last six months, I started shopping more at the local health food store. I recently bought a product from a local health food store called probiotics. This product cost me $87.95. The next day a friend told me about a website where she was saving money on all her health products. So naturally I had to check it out. After a few clicks, I found the same product for $53.00. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I immediately drove to the store and returned my product. Saving money is one of the best things I can do for my and my family.

The moral of the story is you should shop around instead of settling for whatever is convenient. You need to save money with fuel and food prices still on the rise. So, do yourself a favor and go to House of Nutrition and save yourself a ton of money. They have over 25,000 Brand name products at over 50% off store prices on health and beauty products as well as vitamins and supplements.

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Happy Gardening!! Enjoy!!

Heirloom Tomatoes – How to know if your tomatoes are heirloom

Do you know what an heirloom tomato is? A particularly large number of heirloom tomato varieties are available today, mainly because tomatoes normally do not cross-pollinate. An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been around for 50 plus years.

Seed saved from heirloom fruits, non-hybrid varieties, produce plants fairly identical to the parent plant. Many of the odder colors and types that have resurfaced lately have their origins in these older, self-saved varieties. The plant type is usually large, sprawling and late compared to current commercial varieties.

Disease resistance may also be expected. If the gardener wants to try a few truly weird or tasty types of heirloom tomatoes, these usually mature some fruits almost anywhere except in the shortest-season areas in Northern states. Specialty seed houses and exchanges are a source of the widest variety of heirloom tomatoes imaginable. I also have seeds of many heirloom varieties mentioned below.

Heirloom varieties can include Green Zebra, Beefsteak, Mortgage Lifter, Arkansas Traveler, Brandywine, Bloody Butcher, Amish Paste, Stupice, Marglobes and Rutgers to name a few. These tomatoes made this list because they perform well under a wide range of conditions and delivering the flavor people want from homegrown tomatoes.

If you like them enough to start saving seeds, which is the first step toward cultivating varieties that are especially well-suited to your garden, you can save the seeds in a cool dry place for next year.

And now I would like to offer you free access to my gardening journal when you subscribe to my blog, a 16 page journal that you can use season after season. Click on Subscribe to My Blog.

Happy Gardening! – The Organic Home and Gardening Gal & Master Gardener

“7 Great Tips for Huge Tomatoes & Healthy Plants”

I have got 7 great tips for growing the fattest tomatoes, but it takes a little work to coax your tomatoes into really packing on the pounds. First of all, you’ll need to provide your tomato plants with full sun, fluffy soil with plenty of organic matter, lots of space between plants, an inch of water per week, and support (stakes, fence or cages).

Second, wait to mulch until the ground warms up and the tomato plants begin to flower. Third, fertilize every two weeks with a diluted fish emulsion fertilizer, consisting of two tablespoons of fish emulsion to one gallon of water (but be careful not to provide too much nitrogen, or you’ll get a lot of foliage and few fruits).

Once the tomato plants begin to grow, the real training begins. Then, allow only one stem to develop, and pluck off suckers when the plants are very young. Suckers are the sprouts that form between branches and the main stem.

Next, remove all but two or three fruits from each plant. It’s best to eliminate developing fruits at the top of the vine and leave older fruits at the bottom.

After that, prune off tomatoes that develop farthest from the stem and leave one fruit per cluster. Finally, prevent branches from breaking by supporting the tomatoes with pantyhose or yarn when they start to get really big. You will now have a knock out tomato ready to break records.

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Growing the Best Tomatoes

“The most popular garden vegetable is the tomato. Varieties are available in a wide range of sizes, colors and shapes. Each having its own flavor and use.

Tomatoes can be propagated by seeds or clippings. They will germinate between 60F and 95F with optimum conditions between 75F and 90F. At 75F they will generally sprout in about 1 week. If you don’t grow your own seedlings and must buy transplants make sure you choose sturdy plants. The greener and shorter the plant the better, as they will grow best when transplanted. You should avoid plants that are tall and leggy, and those that have flowers on them already. If you do grow your own seedlings a grow lamp for supplemental light is a good idea. Even if you have a window that faces to the south the light the plants receive is not sufficient. Seedlings should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before transplanting them outside. The seeds should be planted 1/8 inch deep in a sterile seed starting mix in either cells or flats. After germination the seedlings grow best at 70F.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to transplant you seedlings outdoors if the soil or weather is cold as the temperature can shock the plants. Hot caps and other protection can help the plants early in the season. All covers must be removed if the temperatures exceed 85F. Tomatoes do better if they are planted deeper than the original containers they were started in. They should be set in the ground just below the lowest leaf, allowing the plant to obtain a stronger root system. Tomatoes need a constant supply of moisture, and if you don’t receive at least one inch of rain per week, supplemental watering is necessary. Mulching will also help retain water, and drip irrigation is a good way to supple water without wasting it.

If you plan on staking your tomatoes do it right after you transplant your seedlings. If you wait too long the plant will have developed a mature root system, and the stakes may damage them. Tomato cages are an alternative to tomato stakes, but as these have short spikes as well it is best to set these up as early as possible. The advantage of a tomato cage is the fact that you don’t have to constantly tie up your growing plant to the stake.

Once the plants begin to grow they need to be pruned. Snap off “suckers” so that there are one or two vigorous stems. This should be done when they are about 2 to 3 inches long. If you are staking your tomatoes you should tie the stems to the stake with soft string. Form a figure-8 with the stake in one loop and the stem in the other. This will give the stem room to grow and prevent constriction. You should start tying about 10 to 12 inches above the ground and continue as the plant grows.

Avoid fertilizing your tomatoes with too much Nitrogen as this will lead to excessive foliage growth and not enough fruit production. Heavy rainfall or inconsistent temperatures also lead to poor fruit growth. Unfortunately we cannot control mother nature. For most soils, you can side dress a 5-10-5 fertilizer and work it into the top inch of soil. You should start fertilizing when the fruits are about 1 inch in diameter and repeat fertilizing again when the harvest begins.”