Tuesday, April 26, 2016

How to plant tomatoes like a pro

A tomato is a tender fruit that is easy to grow but there are some tips and tricks that help them grow more successfully - and I am going to share mine with you!  Last year I got just shy of 200 lbs of tomatoes out of my garden.  My tomato plants were almost 10 feet tall and they produced until the first frost when I gathered all the stragglers and put them on my windowsill to ripen.

For a while I was buried in tomatoes.

It was glorious!!

This is the third year I have used this method and I have had SO much success that I want to share how it works.

So first, gather your materials

Blood Meal
Fish Meal
Tomato Plants

(You'll want to process your eggshells and aspirin in the food processor to crush them.)

Step 1: Buy the leggiest tomato plants you possibly can.  And by leggy I mean this:

You want long, tall stalks.  If they are in bigger pots that is fine, but root structure doesn't matter as much as stalk length.  

Step 2: Dig a trench.  The trench should be 9-12 inches deep and 12 inches wide.  My beds are 6 ft so that makes my trench in these example pictures 6'x12"x12".

Step 3: Amend your soil.  For each 6'x12"x12" trench I add 1 cup blood meal, 1 cup bone meal, a dozen or so egg shells and 2 aspirin (eggshells and aspirin are crushed up in the food processor).  I put all of this in the bottom of the trench and I mix it in with soil really well.  Don't worry if you can't see it when you are done.  The plants will find what they need.

Step 4: Gently remove all the leaves below the first branch.

What you want is a long stalk with no leaves except the top 2 or 3.

This stalk is 14 inches tall and I cut all of the branches and leaves off but the top two branch sections.  Do you see how fuzzy the stalk is?  Every hair on the stalk will turn into a root if you bury it in the dirt.  Which in the end, gives you an incredibly strong root structure for your plant!

Step 5:  Lay your plant in the trench sideways, like so:

(All the amendments are at the bottom of this trench, covered in a light layer of soil.)  

NOTE: Those with less space, I fit 6 14"-18" tall plants laying down in a 6ft trench by laying the tomato root ball to stem:

I lay them this way in the bottom of the amended trench.  Then, as I cover it with soil and gently bend the leafy end up towards the sun:

Step 6: Fill the trench with soil until it reaches it resembles tiny tomato plants, all in a row.  

The amendments in this trench will feed the plants and boost the green production before they are ready to flower... speaking of flowers!  NOTE: If your plant has a flower before you put it in the ground, remove it!  The early fruit is not worth the drain on the plant while it is trying to grow all it's leaves back.

Step 7: WATER DEEPLY.  You just shocked the pants off this plant.  It needs time and water to recoup from the trama.  However, you will quickly see the plants turn even more green and start to put on new leaves.  With in weeks, they will have caught up and grown past all their counterparts.    

One more NOTE:  Dogs love bloodmeal and fish meal.  If you must, put cages around your tomatoes to keep your fury friends out!  

That's all folks!  Happy Gardening!

Want the best recipes for your incredible harvest of tomatoes you're about to have?

 Here you go:

Jalapeno Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Tomato, Chickpea & Feta Salad


Thursday, April 21, 2016

{this moment} - Dandelion Boy

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A walk in my yard on an April morning

Sometimes I just want to sit and marvel at my little, hardworking space.  Neighbors behind, roads all around, and yet, country living at it's finest.  This morning, I looked out the back window as I got back from my walk with a wonder!  Just under the clouds was the piercing sun.  Cutting through the gloom above and sending beams into the bushes at the back of the yard that I can not possibly capture on film with my current skill level.  

Vestiges of yesterdays games with today pollen covering it all.  Moments of utter peace, before humans wake (it was about 6:20 in these shots), but the birds are all up and hard at work. 

The rain has been welcome for the past few days.  The unusually warm days of last week made me nervous and slowed down the growth of my grass and seedlings with it's premature swelter.  

I let the chickens out for the first time in weeks.  The grass is filling in nicely.  The holes are small enough at this point to let the hens go around as long as I am out to shoo them away from the sparse spaces.  They immedetly went for a nice long dust bath under the Service Berry bush where it is always dry.  There are no dusty spots in the run when it rains.  

After their bath, they started flitting around the yard, singing and clucking and pestering each other for every drown worm they found.

I headed to the garden where the apples are all in full, glorious bloom. 

Spring is the season where possibilities seem endless and the bounty already almost good enough to eat... and yet, it rarely pans out that way.  The rain saturates the apple blossom so that the bees can't effect their work, the late frost kills off half the branches on one of my blueberry bushes making the other difficult to pollinate, the chickens get into the garden when I am not working and rip up my new seedlings in the lettuce bed.  

True gardeners know better than to bank on the promises of a warm spring.

And yet....

Spring sure is sweet!


Friday, April 8, 2016

Funny for Friday! You might be a whole foodie if....

You might be a whole foodie if...

You wake up each morning and decide what grain to make into flour for breakfast (or lunch, or dinner)

If you have ever soaked almonds for two days, peeled them, used a stick blender to blend them into vegan almond whipped cream... only to have your kids hear the ice-cream truck and ditch your healthy treat for yellow #5.

If you have ever had to explain what the tails on sprouted wheat look like.

If you don't have room for your sough dough bread because your sprouts are in the fridge phase.

If you panic a little because someone in the house throws compostable items in the trash.

If you don't own a microwave.

If you get bummed when you have to buy eggs at the store.

If your Vita-mix gets washed twice a day.

If you have ever used fresh-made spinach juice to color deserts.

If 'gluten free is the way to be', unless of course, you grind your own organic grains.

If you have ever had to turn down a kombucha scoby or water kiefer grains because you have sourdough on your counter and you have heard those bacteria 'don't get along'.

If your children know the texture of jicama and spurulena.

If you are constantly explaining what is in everything, like these homegrown-pumpkin-spelt-flour-muffins-with-fair-trade-chocolate-chunks I just made.

If you have a specific place in your kitchen where you kneed the bread.

And if you understood all of this (and a bit of it even made you laugh), you might be a whole foodie.

What would you add?  

Happy Friday, Folks!
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