Pruning tomatoes (Fine Gardening)

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Pruning Tomatoes

How to manage your plants for better health and better fruit

Illustrated with beautiful Drawings of Susan Carlson

Undoubtedly, the main reason tomatoes are so widely grown is that home-grown tomatoes taste so much better than their store-bought counterparts. But another reason for growing tomatoes is the intrinsic vigor and hardiness of this nightshade relative, which almost always guarantees a successful harvest. However, the rapid growth of a healthy tomato plant can also lead to problems. Like all plants, a tomato is a solar-powered sugar factory. For the first month or so it’s in the garden, all of the sugar it produces is directed towards new leaf growth. During this stage, tomato plants grow very rapidly, doubling their size every 12 to 15 days. Eventually, the plants make more sugar than the single growing tip can use, which signals the plant to make new branches and to flower. This usually happens after 10 to 13 leaves have expanded, at which time the plant is 12 to 18 inches tall. In the next few weeks, the entire character of the tomato plant changes. If unsupported, the increasing weight of filling fruit and multiple side branches forces the plant to lie on the ground (see Staking and spacing options). Once the main stem is horizontal, there is an increased tendency to branch. Left to its own devices, a vigorous indeterminate tomato plant can easily cover a 4- by 4-foot area with as many as 10 stems, each 3 to 5 feet long. By season’s end, it will be an unsightly, impenetrable, disease-wracked tangle. Continue reading Pruning tomatoes (Fine Gardening)

An Innovative Technique to Plant Parsley (Home Gardening Tips)

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An Innovative Technique to Plant Parsley

April 29th, 2008

Parsley seeds are very small in size and because of this they create several problems while planting. As a gardener you might have encountered one or other type of difficulties at the time of sowing these seeds. Here is a smart way to do it. You just need to be a little careful and it will strike perfectly.

To start with you should take a pot. This won’t cost you much. However you may depend on your own choice. Fill this pot with potting soil. On the top of the potting soil layer just add a thin layer of seed raising mixture. Ensure that the layer of seed raising mixture remains just a thin layer only.

Now create a small groove in this mix. This groove should be created in such a manner that it covers all the way around the pot. Take seeds in your hands and sprinkle them quite thickly. Having finished with this step you should cover this back.

Do not try watering the seeds at this stage. This is a trick out here. This process would result in an erratic sprouting. Now take a flask of boiled water and pour it on to the seeds. You must also ensure that water in this case must be real hot. This will turn the seeds extremely hot and immediately after pouring it will be consumed within the soil. This way water will be cooled straight away instantly.

You will certainly observe amazing germinating results even in less than three weeks time. You will also be happy to see that the seeds have germinated in thick populations and their growth is very fast. As a gardener you know that this clearly means thinning the parsley out.


Guerrilla Gardening Secretly Greens New York (Google / Gothamist)

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June 3, 2008

Guerrilla Gardening Secretly Greens New York

The worldwide Guerrilla Gardening movement has been around in some form for quite a while, in New York the Green Guerillas even took over a vacant lot on Bowery in the 70s. Since then some residents of the city have been embracing the idea of secretly beautifying the landscape and beginning their own guerrilla groups here. There’s solo mission seed bombings and joining community tilling troupes like Bushwick’s Trees Not Trash…but what about the more “illicit cultivation,” the more underground nocturnal planting.

The New York section of the GG message board seems to be somewhat active as of late, with one entirely too short thread discussing where the most horticulturally neglected places in the city are. Some locales brought up were the US Passport Office on Varick St, a lot where the Q/B crosses the grid between Woodruff and Crooke Aves, and East New York. What other major (and minor) patches of land or lots need to be greened? Maybe the plant-barren Williamsburg State Park could use some guerrilla interest.


Guerrilla Garden in Red Hook, circa 2006, via Apartment Therapy.

By Jen Carlson in Arts and Events | Link |

Gardening in the basin: How dry is it? (Google / Alomogordo Daily News)

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Gardening in the basin: How dry is it?

The Daily News
By Bev Eckman-Onyskow, For the Daily News

How dry is it? From March 3 through May 27 I had .08 inches of precipitation in my Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) gauge. There was a trace May 14 after a light shower, but it vanished overnight. Then on May 29 there was .11 inches. That is not going to do much to make a garden grow, but mulch can help retain moisture in the soil.

First, the drought. Our area is in “D2, severe drought,” according to the May 29 Drought Monitor from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The drought conditions in this area are projected to run through August, which is a little late for the monsoon season. Alamogordo has watering restrictions, limiting watering to three days a week before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m., depending on odd (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) or even house numbers. What’s a gardener to do in this high-desert arid climate? Consider watering through 2-3 inches of mulch. We are even-numbered, so I water late on Saturday and early on Tuesday over the longest spread of days. I believe in deep-watering, 6-8 inches for flowers, 12 inches or deeper for shrubs and trees. I stick the hose nozzle into the ground just inside the drip line on woody perennials, and set the timer for 20-30 minutes, depending on the temperature and whether I’m going to water once or twice that day, and then move the nozzle to the next plant. Continue reading Gardening in the basin: How dry is it? (Google / Alomogordo Daily News)

Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area (Google / LA Times)

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Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area

Scott planted the garden on the median early in the morning to avoid detection. He continues to weed and clean. Residents encourage his work.

Stealth growers seed or plant on land that doesn’t belong to them. The result? Plants that beautify or yield crops in otherwise neglected or vacant spaces.
By Joe Robinson, Special to The Times
May 29, 2008

BRIMMING with lime-hued succulents and a lush collection of agaves, one shooting spiky leaves 10 feet into the air, it’s a head-turning garden smack in the middle of Long Beach’s asphalt jungle. But the gardener who designed it doesn’t want you to know his last name, since his handiwork isn’t exactly legit. It’s on a traffic island he commandeered.

“The city wasn’t doing anything with it, and I had a bunch of extra plants,” says Scott, as we tour the garden, cars whooshing by on both sides of Loynes Drive.
Scott is a guerrilla gardener, a member of a burgeoning movement of green enthusiasts who plant without approval on land that’s not theirs. In London, Berlin, Miami, San Francisco and Southern California, these free-range tillers are sowing a new kind of flower power. In nighttime planting parties or solo “seed bombing” runs, they aim to turn neglected public space and vacant lots into floral or food outposts. Continue reading Guerrilla gardener movement takes root in L.A. area (Google / LA Times)

Herbs fun to grow can spice up recipes (Google / Review Journal)

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GARDENING: Herbs fun to grow and can spice up recipes

Herbs are riding a crest of popularity. With all the emphasis on going green, more and more people are turning to growing their own produce and that includes herbs. They’re useful, beautiful and, most of all, fun to grow.

Most herbs grow best in full sun, with relief from the afternoon shade. They need good drainage. That means herbs are suited to the same conditions you grow flowers or vegetables.

Add them with your scrambled eggs or create a gourmet meal with these herbs. If you are following a favorite recipe, spice it up or add fragrance to the dish. And herbs can generate creative gifts for your family and friends.

Some herbs are tall, suited primarily for the vegetable garden. Others are short or spreading, perfect for a low border or in patio pots and hanging baskets. Because of their diverse habits, colors and textures, use them in garden designs, formal plantings or scale them down to landscape proportions.

Just what are herbs? Botanically, they are seed-producing annuals, biennials and perennials that do not develop persistent woody tissue and may die at the end of the season. If you are still not sure, it is a plant valued for qualities such as medicinal properties, flavor, scent or the like.

Establishing an herb garden requires a bit of forethought, because some herbs can become very aggressive. Herbs are almost insect and disease-free and have a way of re-establishing themselves, once planted. However, you’ll appreciate them more, if you take time to plan ahead.

Never be fooled by the size you buy. You are buying a baby with surprising potential. Give your plant room to spread out and self-sow, but plant near your kitchen door for easy access. Listed below are some of the most popular types:

• Basil or sweet basil is a short, bushy annual grown for its leaves and tender growing shoots. Pinch back the plant shoots to encourage full growth. Dry the herb for use in soups, stews, salads and sauces. It’s a winner when used in patio pots and easy to start from seed or transplants. Consider the purple-leafed varieties to spice up your landscape.

• Bay laurel is an attractive shrub or tree. You’ll harvest the shiny, dark green, leathery leaves any time, but you’ll find the younger leaves tastier. Use when preparing stews, spaghetti or pot roasts. Or add them to marinades and sauces in small amounts.

• Chives are the smallest of the onion family, producing thin, hollow, grassy-type, dark green leaves that get about a foot tall. Late in the spring, small, round, pinkish to purple flowers appear. Occasionally, let the plant reseed itself. To keep chives in a youthful growing condition, clip clumps back when they get above 6 inches tall. Wash the foliage and chop it into small pieces. Store some in containers and use as a flavorful topping for vegetables, meats, salads, omelets and soups.

• Coriander or Chinese parsley, can be used in everything from pastries to sausage. It is easy to grow from seed, but becomes very difficult to transplant because of its taproot. It likes some relief from the afternoon sun. Harvest this herb when leaves reach ankle height, removing the top 3 inches of growth to keep plants bushy.

• Mints do best in a moist, rich soil with relief from the afternoon sun. But beware, because they also are invasive. They often strangle other herbs in the same bed. Corral them by planting in separate beds or containers. Harvest mint often to regenerate new growth and keep it under control. Dry in bunches hung upside down and use in candy, drinks and jellies. Fresh leaves are usually more flavorful than dried, and you can freeze them. They are easy to grow from transplants or take runners from established plants.

• Oregano will reach your waist at maturity. To keep it vigorously growing, pick leaves before flowers appear because that is the peak of flavor. Then dry or freeze leaves for seasoning soups, roasts, stews and salad dressings. Place a pot of oregano near the kitchen door for added beauty and to get at when cooking. It makes a wonderful accent plant when cascading over raised beds, rock gardens or containers.

• Parsley is a good low-growing border and container herb that also is decorative. Once growing, pluck outer leaves as you need them. Be careful to preserve the inner growing shoots to keep new growth coming.

• Rosemary is a durable perennial with attractive gray-green foliage and a low-spreading growth habit that will stay below your waist. It is breathtaking against rocks, fences and in containers. And the herb becomes very intriguing in tubs, hanging baskets, atop low walls or anywhere the plant can flow downward. Use the leaves for seasoning pickles, jams, sauces and soups.

• Sage is a low-growing gray-green shrub that contrasts nicely with other herbs or plants. Mix it in flower or vegetable beds, pots and along walkways. Sages are very versatile. Use the leaves fresh, dried or frozen to season meat, dressings, cheese and tea. Start from transplants, seed, cuttings or divisions. However, be careful, as overwatering is the leading killer of this herb.

• Thyme is available in many different forms. Most are attractive, low-spreading perennial plants, but the more upright types that grow a foot tall are best for cooking. All do well in morning sun, although they can tolerate full sun as well. They need ample moisture, but well-drained soils. They’re great small plants for herb patio pots and baskets. Use fresh, preserve in oil or dry on paper towels and store.

• Fennel is a perennial that looks much like dill with its yellow flowers and feathery leaves, and gets about shoulder height so it makes a good background plant in landscapes. All plant parts are edible, with spice coming from the dried seeds. Leaves and seeds have a pleasant licorice flavor and are a good seasoning for fish, cheese, vegetables and pastries. Start nipping leaves when they get ankle high. To get the highest quality, take off top growth to stimulate the plant.

A tip for raised bed gardening (Google / The Compost Bin)

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Raised bed gardening

If you’re thinking about building raised beds for your vegetable garden, definitely go for it. Plants do better in deep soil and as long as you don’t walk in the beds, you’ll also avoid soil compaction. Now what root wouldn’t want to grow in nice loose, deep soil? If I was a root, I’d tell all my root friends, “Hey come on guys, nice deep, loose soil over here, let’s go!” But this weekend, I had my first bad experience with raised beds. You see there was a root invasion from trees that were pretty far away. The closest trees to my vegetable garden are at least 30 feet away but I guess that’s just a short hop for tree roots. It’s almost as if one of these roots said to all his buddies, “Hey come on guys, nice deep, loose soil over here, let’s go!” So on Sunday, I was planning on planting some more salad greens but wound up spending the afternoon digging and pulling roots out of my beds. I always wondered why Mel Bartholomew in the book Square Foot Gardening advised to build a bottom to raised beds. At the time, I was like, why build a bottom, what is this guy crazy? I want earth worms to tunnel up from underneath my garden beds and munch on all that compost that I loaded in there. More like Square Foot Craziness, no bottoms on my raised beds.


Posted by AnthonyA tip for raised bed gardening (Google / The Compost Bin)

Gardening can help your grocery bill (Google / Gazette Xtra)

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Gardening can help your grocery bill


Please read an interesting full text at the website of the Janesville Gazette (URL above)


Good gardening guides (Google / icNewcastle-Homemaker)

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Good gardening guides

Apr 5 2008

by Hannah Stephenson, The Journal

The bookstalls are putting on a blooming good show this year and  Hannah Stephenson  suggests some of the best reading material.

IF you’re looking for inspiration as the warmer weather beckons, try leafing through some of the excellent books out this spring, bringing you advice on everything from growing fruit and veg to design and practical tips.

There’s a plethora of new books out this year on every conceivable way to grow every conceivable fruit and veg, pushed further by the Jamie Oliver effect and with all the big guns jumping on the grow-your-own bandwagon.

These include Alan Titchmarsh, with The Kitchen Gardener (BBC Books, £20), and the RHS, with two yummy titles including a revised edition of its Vegetable & Fruit Gardening (Dorling Kindersley, £20), featuring advice from experts on growing more than 150 different foods, and Grow It Eat It, (April 1, Dorling Kindersley, £9.99), aimed at junior chefs and gardeners who can get to grips with healthy eating and grow the food themselves.

If you want something a little quirkier, wait till the May publication of Forgotten Fruits, a guide to Britain’s traditional fruit and vegetables, from orange jelly turnips to Dan’s mistake gooseberries, by Christopher Stocks (May 1, Random House, £16.99).


Neil Wormald on summer vegetables (Google / Times Online)

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April 6, 2008

Gardening tips: Neil Wormald on summer vegetables

– If you want to brighten up the vegetable plot this summer, then Swiss chard ‘Bright Lights’ is an ideal crop. A fast-growing, decorative plant, it produces stems in shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, pink and purple, topped with large green or bronze-coloured leaves. It prefers a sunny spot and a fertile and moist but welldrained soil, and can be sown now. Scatter the seeds in drills, 1in deep, and once the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin them to 9in apart. The mildly flavoured leaves and stems will be ready for harvesting in early summer. Continue reading Neil Wormald on summer vegetables (Google / Times Online)