Pinching Tomatoes – Therapy in the Garden
Many people really enjoy growing tomatoes. And there’s a great variety of plants – from small cherry tomatoes to the larger slicing tomatoes. We go to great lengths to water, weed and protect these special plants.
One of the questions people ask about caring for tomato plants is how to pinch off the suckers that emerge between the branches. Removing the suckers on indeterminate tomato plants is important. Indeterminate tomatoes are tomato plants that continue growing in length throughout the growing season. However, you do not want to remove the suckers from the bush (determinant) tomato plants because these are smaller growing plants.
Staking is another important consideration in tending to tomato plants. I have staked tomatoes one way for many years – learning the skill from my grandfather. (Doesn’t it all go back to ideas gleaned from other gardeners?) My grandfather used to use wooden stakes and tie up the plants with string.Read more
Tomatoes – Garden Choices
For many of us, spring has arrived earlier than normal, and we’re are eager to start planting many of our favorite vegetables. Best to stick to the cold weather crops, such as lettuce, kale and spinach until the ‘last frost date’ has passed. However, don’t wait too long to start to select the tomatoes you want to plant in the garden. Have you been checking out some of the heirloom varieties?
‘Cherokee Purple’ has a distinct darker color with a slightly salty and acidic taste. Looking for a milder flavor. Try ‘Pineapple’ or ‘Orange Strawberry’ that have a sweet and slightly fruity taste. Do you want to grow a tomato that will cause some to raise an eye brow, as well as offer a sharp tangy flavor – grow the ‘Green Zebra’ variety. How about trying the ‘Great White’ tomato which has a mild flavor while ripening. It is white while young and turns a light yellow/pink color as it ripens.
Several companies offer these and other seeds, including Seed Savers Exchange (www.seedsavers.org), Native Seeds (www.nativeseeds.org) and, one of the oldest seed houses in America, D. Landreth Seed Company (www.landrethseeds.com).Read more
Therapy and Creativity in Nature
Recent articles in the newspaper lead me to believe that creative ideas are often born in nature. Two articles in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have focused on greenhouses and garden sheds as women and man caves, respectively. These are places where one feels comfortable among plants and garden settings. We are relaxed to dream and let the mind wander to create new ideas in these nature filled spaces.
The WSJ article “Where Ideas Can Take Root” talks about a retired architect who spends his time in his man cave (aka – potting shed) to start seedlings for his garden, read about new plants, explore gardening magazines and pot up new plants. I think we can relate to these settings and find them comfortable places to spend time. Why not plan on adding a green house, potting shed or similar structure to your home. It may become a sanctuary for you and a place to explore new ideas. We are more creative when we are in settings where we are free to daydream.
The WSJ article by Anne Marie Chaker can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304537904577279573163112352.html?mod=ITP_personaljournal_1Read more
SIGNS OF SPRING
The midpoint of winter is marked by one of our favorite animal friends – the groundhog. This hibernating creature has been immortalized in the 1993 film “Groundhog Day.” In the movie, Bill Murray relives Groundhog Day over and over, for approximately 42 days (it is actually only 36 days by some estimates). Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog and real star of the movie, predicts whether we will have six more weeks (42 days) of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, then we will have an early spring. And most everyone hopes for an early spring
So, can we consider ground hogs to be a good predictor of spring? Maybe they are just a folkloric part of nature. However, we are looking for those signs in nature to tell us when spring will be here. (It officially arrives on March 20th in 2012). These various signs help us feel better that spring is around the corner. There are other predictors, as well. Have you seen any of the early flowering bulbs begin to emerge? Forsythia starts to flower heralding the advent of the season. I just saw a crocus blooming in my yard. What nature related indicators can you identify?Read more
Sunflowers – an essential part of every therapeutic garden
Hopefully spring will not be that far off. Thoughts are already turning to the garden and what to plant this year. I’m thinking that this may truly be the year of the sunflower. Reading about all of their virtues – it’s surprising that we do not plant more of them in our gardens.
The sunflower flower is native to the Americas, along with blueberries, squash and pecans. Sunflowers are a source of food, such as seeds for snacking, grinding the seed for flour or using the oil for cooking. They can be used as dye for coloring clothes a purple color. Sunflowers are also be used medicinally to cure snakebites. Even the stalks can be used as a building material.
Best of all – sunflowers just make you feel better. Looking at their happy yellow color can brighten any mood. They remind us of the sun with their bright yellow petals. They are cheery and make great gifts. Sunflowers come in a range of colors from yellow to sunset red. Elf is a great dwarf variety to grow with kids. Look for ones, such as especially good for snacking. Be sure to add them to your list of ‘must have plants’ for the 2012 garden.Read more