I tend to be a bit obsessive about tomatoes. In my summer garden, they are allotted the most space, the sunniest spots, and the beds with the fluffiest soil. And, inevitably, I run out of good garden spots before I run out of tomato plants that need to be planted (this is not how one should plan a garden. It makes sense to have spots for all of the plants you are going to grow. I forget this rule every year when seed buying/trading time arrives.) The result is that I usually have a half-dozen (or more…) tomato plants that need to be planted in pots every year. Here are some of the varieties that have worked well for me, as well as recommendations from other garden writers.
1. ‘Japanese Black Trifele’
‘Japanese Black Trifele’ is tied with ‘Brandywine’ for my favorite tomato. The fruits are slightly pear-shaped, and turn a gorgeous mahogany color at the shoulders when ripe. The flavor of this heirloom tomato is sweet, complex, and a little smoky — just delicious. The fruit color makes this a nice
Sometimes ants are pests, marching through our kitchens on an industrious quest for crumbs. But when faced with more serious pests — namely those that destroy crops on which people’s livelihoods depend — we can also use ants to our advantage.
Published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, a new research review suggests ants can control agricultural pests as efficiently as synthetic pesticides, with the bonus of being more cost-effective and generally safer. And since many pesticides pose a danger to helpful wildlife like birds, bees and spiders — not to mention humans — ants might be a key ally in feeding the planet’s booming human population.
The review covers more than 70 scientific studies on dozens of pest species that plague nine crop varieties in Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia. Because ants are organized as “superorganisms” — meaning the colony itself is like an organism, with individual ants acting as “cells” that can move around independently — they are uniquely capable of hunting down pests and then overwhelming them.
“Ants are great hunters and they work cooperatively,” says author Joachim Offenberg, a biologist at Aarhus
There are a number of different ways that farmers try to increase their cows’ milk yield, which usually focus on making changes to their diet.
However, research suggests that cow comfort could play a bigger part than we thought when it comes to reducing lameness getting the most milk out of cows.
Did you know that a cow has to move an average of 400 litres of blood through its udder to produce every 1 litre of milk according to The Big Cow Black blog?
That’s the equivalent of running a marathon for a human, which highlights how important it is to keep your cows healthy and injury free.
In trials carried out by Dr Nick Bell from the Royal Veterinary College cows which had hock swellings and ulcers were switched from mattresses to deep sand beds and saw a jump from 8,200 litres per year to just under 10,000.
The research also found that lying time increased from 11 to 13 hours a day after bed comfort was improved, and a similar study in Wisconsin found that deep sand beds reduced lameness by a third.
Dr Bell said:“Bed comfort comes
Parking lot lights has become one of the many light sources that consume maximum percentage of electricity per month. From dusk till dawn, parking lot lights will be kept switched on in almost all companies, so as to help late night working staff to easily park their vehicles and proceed towards the elevator that leads them to their respective floors.
Apart from electricity consuming gadgets such as computers, printing and photo copy machines, ACs, coffee makers, etc, and other such equipment, parking lot lights are the only source that can enhance the number of zeros in any company’s electricity bill. Hence, almost all business management services are looking for alternative power sources that can help them reduce such unnecessary addition of extra digits in their monthly financial expenditure.
Solar power supply sources have become the best alternative for electricity sources these days. Apart from being an eco-friendly way of lighting up the parking lot areas, solar energy is comparatively quite convenient.
- You can get the solar lights installed on either sides of the path or even parking area without any need to find the electricity outlet in the nearby surroundings.
- Easy installation of parking lot solar lights will save you from drawing exclusive
When you’re starting a gardening business, be it gardening, selling products or offering landscape design services, you’ll need various forms of equipment to get you started. Here we offer a look at some of the items of equipment you may need to consider.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re starting to run a business, but one key element is getting yourself equipped with all the items you need to successfully run a business. If you’re starting a gardening business from scratch, you’re likely to need a number of essential items to get you started.
If you’re selling your services as a gardener, handyman or landscape designer, then there are several key essentials that you’ll need to have at hand. For example:
- Gardening tools, such as a trowel, spade, shears, fork, kneeler, watering can, wheelbarrow and secateurs.
- Garden products, such as compost, lawn care items, paving and soil.
- Plants, such as flowers, trees, shrubs and seeds.
- Large pieces of equipment, such as a lawnmower or hedge cutter.
- Gardening wear, such as gloves and other safety items.
- Garden design tools, such as a drawing board and laptop to create designs on.
These are just a few examples and you may well think of many more – when you start
Nestled deep in the sticks of Schoharie County in upstate New York, lays Raven Crest Botanicals, a 250-acre sanctuary of an organic farm. Over 80 herbs are grown at Raven Crest for a variety of teas, tinctures, elixirs and skin care products. Susanna Raeven, owner of Raven Crest Botanicals, strives to bring “non-toxic, safe and effective, hand-made herbal products, made in small batches with love and intent” to her clients to “help them find balance in their lives with the generous support of the plant kingdom.”
Raven Crest teas, elixirs and tinctures are derived from Mother Earth without harming her, made well for Susanna’s supporters to be well. Ms.Raeven uses a variety of permaculture methods to ensure that each and every one of her products is natural, organic, and pesticide and fertilizer free.
Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer, the “Father of Permaculture,” describes the farming method as an environment where all elements within a system interact with each other; plants and animals working together in harmony. Holzer outlined major themes of permaculture:
- Multi-functionality: every element fulfills multiple functions and every function is performed by multiple elements
- Use energy practically and efficiently, work with renewables
- Use natural resources
- Intensive systems in a small area
- Utilize and shape natural processes
Growing cucumbers is among the most popular activities in backyard vegetable gardens across the country. In fact, almost half of the nation’s home vegetable growers – 47 percent according to Susan Littlefield, horticultural editor at the National Gardening Association – plant cucumbers. That makes cukes America’s No. 2 most popular homegrown vegetable. (Tomatoes, which should surprise no one, are the runaway favorite at 86 percent.)
There are two forms of cucumber plants, bush and vining. Bush selections form compact plants and are ideally suited for small gardens and containers. Vining plants, however, may be the better choice. They clamber up trellises and produce fruit that is straighter with less disease and insect problems than cukes grown on bushing plants.
Cucumber plants make two basic types of fruit, those for slicing and those for pickling. There are many varieties of each. Pickling varieties seem to reach their peak faster than slicing varieties.
Growing cucumbers is easy if you have a garden space that gets maximum sunshine. If you follow the few simple directions below from the National Gardening Association and don’t have unexpected late spring freezes, you should begin harvesting cucumbers in 65 to 105 days.
Planning and preparation
1. Select disease-resistant varieties.
2. Choose a sunny
If growing your own food isn’t your cup of tea, Cassie Liversidge is out to change your mind. Be forewarned, though, that if you love tea, Liversidge has already won half of the mind-game battle.
Liversidge, an artist, writer, and gardener who lives in London and says that one of the best parts of her day “is sitting in bed in the morning, reading to my children and drinking a cup of black tea,” has written a book that explains how anyone can easily plant, grow and harvest a large variety of common plants from which they can brew teas and tisanes. “Homegrown Tea: An Illustrated Guide to Planting, Harvesting, and Blending Teas and Tisanes” (St. Martin’s Press) is due out March 25.
“One of my main reasons for writing ‘Homegrown Tea’ was because I would like people to utilize and understand the plants they grow so that we can all live in a more sustainable way,” said Liversidge, who came to love plants and develop a healthy respect for sustainability at an early age when she was growing up at her parents’ plant nursery. “When you have grown your own, you naturally learn about that plant, not only how to grow
Hello tomato harvest time. If your garden (or farmer’s market, or neighbor’s garden) is suddenly overwhelming you with fresh tomatoes, don’t be intimidated, start filling the pantry.
Here are five ways to take advantage of the bright flavor of this fruit during the coldest days of winter.
1. Slow Roasted Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a no-brainer way to use up tomatoes, and this recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients — 5 pounds of overripe Romas, garlic, salt, basil, thyme, and olive oil — and basic technique: Jerry roasted his quartered tomatoes at 175 degrees overnight.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation details the procedure for preserving tomato sauce, but you can also just pop the sauce in the freezer (try putting it in airtight bags on cookie sheets to freeze it in a flat, space-saving shape).
2. Whole or Halved Tomatoes Packed in Water
Not sure you’ll want to use those tomatoes as sauce? The National Center for Home Food Preservation can also tell you how to save them as whole or half fruits packed in water (or tomato juice).
You’ll start by dipping the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins break open — which should take less than a minute —
My friends, perfect tomatoes are not those red tasteless orbs for sale at your local national grocery chain store, however nice they look. The most perfect tomato is the one you’re going to grow in your garden this summer and is defined by its taste and texture: It is juicy, acidic, flavorful, maybe even spicy, and a whole different tomato from store-bought fare. How are you going to grow that tomato? Follow the guidelines below.
When it comes to tomatoes, you’ve got thousands of choices of varieties. Heirlooms, hybrids, determinate, indeterminate, some more tolerant to cooler temperatures, some more resistant to disease. Some are green, white, yellow, orange, purple, while others are striped. To even begin to describe the various varieties is outside the scope of this article, but the variety you choose matters.
You should choose a variety that is suited to your local climate. How do you find that out? The best way is to ask local seasoned gardeners. This might be a local farmer who sells at farmers markets, might be a neighbor, or might be a gardening expert at your local garden center. Whatever way you get the information, starting with genes which are adapted to your local
Companion planting is part science and folklore. Grouping friendly plants together in the garden is suppose to help enhance growth, flavor and protect plants from pests. As an urban gardener with a small garden, my interest in companion planting is mostly centered on maximizing space. If my tomatoes actually benefit from growing alongside these plants, well, that’s a bonus.
Here are 12 companion plants I grow with my tomatoes in containers.
Borage is suppose to protect tomatoes from tomato hornworms, but the science behind that has yet to be proven. Although, last year I didn’t grow borage alongside my tomatoes and I caught my first tomato hornworms in the garden. So maybe there’s something to be said for its repelling properties. Grow borage for the leaves and flowers that have a fresh, cucumber-like flavor. Add the young leaves and blooms to salads, soups, and summer drinks.
The genus Tagetes is well known for it’s qualities to repel garden pests. They produce a substance called alpha-terthienyl, which helps reduce root-knot nematodes in the soil.
Sometimes called pot marigold, but the Calendula genus should not be confused with marigolds listed as
The sun is shining, flowers are blooming and the weather is absolute perfection. Summer is finally here! What better way to celebrate the season than to throw a garden party? Even if you have limited outdoor space you can still host a wildly successful outdoor soirée, you just have to be willing to plan cleverly and be creative.
Brew some iced tea, break out your favorite summer duds, and invite as many friends over as you like. Follow these eight simple tips, and you’re sure to have a fuss-free, classy garden party, no matter the size of your space.
1. Cover Your Bases
No matter how delicious your spread, no guest wants to share their hors d’oeuvres with unwanted insects. Protect your serving area with a hanging net, or place shoo-fly covers over platters and bowls that can be easily removed and replaced by guests. If you really want to impress your guests, try decorating your covers with whimsical summer designs.
2. Turn Up the Brights
Festive, colorful accessories can be a great way to add drama to a small space, and what better occasion than a garden party? Accentuate the beautiful blooms and lush greenery of your outdoor space by adding bright DIY tissue-paper flowers. Or, try classing
Frost is the dictator of the beginning and ending of your gardening season. Planting dates of most plants evolve around the first and last average frost dates of your gardening zone.
In mild-winter regions, where an occasional light frost is the worst it gets, the best way to extend the season is to keep on gardening through the winter. Along with winter gardening come many benefits including fewer pest and insects, less watering, and the taste of many winter crops is delicious. In addition to many cool-season vegetables, annual flowers such as pansies, calendula, stock, and primrose thrive in the winter. Autumn is prime planting time for a winter garden. Here are some tips to help you along the way to your perfect winter garden.
Plant on the north side
Choose a location for your plants with northern or eastern exposure rather than the south sky. Plants exposed to the south sky will be exposed to the southern sun on warm winter days and thus experience greater daily temperature variation.
Apply a 3-4″ inch layer of mulch to your garden, after the soil freezes to keep the soil cold rather than protecting the soil from becoming cold. This will help reduce root
Since ancient times, people have used plants to heal themselves. Frescos dating to 1500 or 1600 B.C. found on a Greek island are said to depict a goddess cultivating saffron for medicinal use. Today, using plants to treat disease is widespread in most cultures. And did you know that many herbal remedies can be found in your garden? Check out our list of common remedies that may have you reconsidering what’s a weed.
Editor’s note: Just like prescription drugs, plants can cause adverse side effects. Always consult a medical professional before taking any medications, including herbal remedies.
Dandelions — yes, the hated weeds — can be a diuretic. They also contain potassium, which experts say is lost through excessive urination. Some apply it topically to treat eczema, while others take it internally for arthritis and even intestinal disorders. Its leaves are thought to regulate blood sugar levels.
Rosemary, native to the Mediterranean region, is part of the mint family Lamiaceae. A recent study found that the carnosic acid in rosemary may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The oil in its flowers is antibacterial and anti-fungal. It improves circulation to the brain, which is why it has often been associated with “remembrance.”
As everyone’s resolutions remind us, we love attaching a number to advice, a number smaller than the one I regard as most realistic: The Twenty Three Thousand Four Hundred and Sixty-Two Things It’s Important to Remember Before Getting Out of Bed.
So be warned: I haven’t really honed it down to only seven; these are just the first seven essentials that came to mind when I decided to do this. And not in order, either.
- Make Compost
- Use Compost
- Plant Crops in Wide Beds
- Feed the Soil, Not the Plants
- Share Something
- Be There
Short version: Mother Nature never throws anything away.
Longer version: Composting is the rare silk purse from sow’s ear, something for nothing, win-win. You start out with kitchen, yard and garden debris and wind up with two benefits: 1) a great soil amendment, and 2) many green points for avoiding the landfill.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that compost’s last name is bin, and that careful layering and turning are part of the deal. But piling shredded leaves in a corner counts too. So
As you walk onto your carefully manicured lawn, an unsightly raised pattern of grass and broken earth catches your attention. Curiosity gets the better of you. You step on the raised ground, and it suddenly gives way. Has this ever happened to you?
Or maybe this: You’re surprised to find mounds of dirt ranging from the size of a baseball to a basketball that have appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the gorgeous green grass you’ve worked so hard to maintain.
If these scenes sound familiar, Alan Huot has some disheartening news for you. Sorry, you’ve got moles.
“Tunneling and mounds of dirt thrown onto the lawn are classic signs of mole activity,” said Huot, who lives in East Granby, Connecticut, and has more than 30 years of experience in controlling wildlife pests and nuisances ranging from moles to beavers to coyotes.
Don’t despair, though, said Huot, a National Wildlife Control Operators Association certified wildlife control professional. “There are some practical things homeowners can do to get rid of moles.”
The most effective method, he said, is trapping. When shopping for a trap, Huot advises homeowners to consider several important factors. These include:
- Efficiency. Will the trap catch moles?
- Safety. Many traps have dangerous features such as
Are you an insect magnet? If you aren’t, you probably know one. Insect magnets attract annoying insects the second they walk outdoors — or so it seems.
If this describes you, take comfort in knowing that one of the ways you can fight back against mosquitoes, gnats, flies, no-see-ums and other pesky bugs doesn’t have to involve covering yourself with a sticky spray or engaging in chemical warfare. To help you enjoy going outdoors, try strategically placing insect-repelling plants in your garden or on your patio.
Essential oils in these plants act as nature’s bug repellent. Insects tend to avoid them. You can even use some of these plants to make your own natural bug repellent.
But know that simply including insect-repelling plants in your landscape will not in itself ensure your garden is insect free.
“There’s not enough research in this area to support that,” says Dr. Bodie Pennisi, an associate professor and extension landscape specialist at the University of Georgia’s Griffin campus. “The concentration of oils is not there to offer that kind of protection.”
There may be fewer insects, but no one’s done the research into how many plants, planted how close together, would be effective in repelling insects to any great
Many readers have expressed interest in creating their own organic garden in their own backyard. As a result, I wanted to share a few tips for starting a backyard garden that is organic, sustainable and earth-friendly.
There are numerous benefits to planting your own organic garden at home. It enables you to eat the freshest fruits, herbs and vegetable. At the same time, you act to help reduce the amount of pesticides and toxins in the environment. As organic produce can be costly in the supermarket, growing your own delicious organic produce at home can also save money.
Gardening Tip #1 – Plan
Plan your garden before planting your crops, it’ll help you reap the best harvest possible. Make a decision on what fruits, herbs and vegetables grow best in your area and find local sources that sell organic seeds.
Decide how much space you can use for your garden and what the budget will be. For smaller yards, a container garden works well. You can also make a small herb garden with pots and boxes. By planning you can coordinate what plants grow in the spring, fall, winter and summer to create a year long harvest.
Gardening Tip #2 – Less is