Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Love Tomatoes

Did you know?

It is a proven fact that tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in gardens across North America with hundreds of varieties on the market.
The tomato has come a long way to reach today’s height of popularity. Originating in South America, the tomato was classified into the Solanaceae family, which includes the belladonna and deadly nightshade, when introduced into Europe. In the 16th century, botanists described the fruit as inviting as a peach but unfit for human consumption.

Today, tomatoes are found everywhere from ketchup, salsas, sauces, or fresh in salads or sandwiches. Not only great tasting and versatile, studies are now showing many health benefits, namely the antioxidant, Lycopene which is primarily found in tomatoes and tomato products. Lycopene has been shown to help counteract the harmful effects of substances called "free radicals" which are thought to contribute to many chronic diseases and age related processes in the body.

Tomatoes are very easy to grow. In order to produce fruit before the end of the summer season, they need to be started indoors around the middle of April and then set out when the danger of frost is past, however like myself I start them in February so I have them extra early.  Nothing tastes better then a fresh tomato from the garden.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Starting Annuals

Yep, its that time of year again.  It's time to start the seedling.  Most annuals can be started in March or April for our summer gardens like one of my favorites, marigolds.                                                
However, some need to started in January and February if you want them to bloom this summer.  Most usually bloom within 6-12 weeks, hence sowing them in March and April and can be sown out in the garden hopefully with fingers crossed by the end of May in these parts of the great North.
Not all annuals are actually true annuals.  Some are tropical perennials that we treat as annuals.  Spring bulbs act the same way like my favorite dahlia.  It is a zone 8-10 and would no way life here without lifting them in the fall.
Some do not always want to bloom the first year, so to insure that they do you need to start them in January or February to give them at least a 5 month heads up on bloom time.
There is also quite a few factors involved in starting our seedling and the major one being light.  Sometimes mother nature is not always there for you this time of year so we rely on grow lights.  Fluorescent lighting will also do fine providing they are cool white.  They need to be set about 6" above the seed trays and moved up as the seedling begin to grow.  Using a timer is also a great way to ensure they are getting the needed light.
So what are one of those annuals you ask.  Begonias.  One of the most popular begonias now is the Tuberous Begonia.  The Nonstop Series of multiflora begonias are smaller but have numerous blooms and are quite expensive if bought at your local nursery.  However, the seed is not cheap either, but spending $15-$20 in seed can give you hundreds of dollars of annuals if you were to buy them.  Your gardens will be exploding with massive planting.
They are rather slow at starting and putting them in the pots is rather a challenge too.  The seed is so tiny, you can barely see them with the naked eye.  These gems need to be started in January.  They grow best on the surface and them covered with a plastic dome in a well lit spot at about 24-26 degrees celeius.  Becareful though, they start producing tubers then go dormant if they do not get up to 15 hours of light.  So after all that you should see green in around 20-25 days.
They like to be warm and well lit and only need watering if the soil is getting dry.  After your have reached germination leave the dome on as they like and need the extra humidity. Within a month of germination you can start to see the leaves and this is when it is time for their first transplant.
It is suggested to put a dome over them again for about a week.  Fertilizing is recommended with a half strength all purpose soluble fertilizer every 2-3 weeks.
Soon they will need a second transplant and using a 4" pot is best.  Once again water only when the soil is dry.  Overwatering will most likely rot them.  In late May they can start to be hardened off and by June they can be planted out in the garden in partial shade in hot summer areas or full sun in cool areas.  Enjoy them for the rest of the summer.  It will be well worth it. 
Another begonia is the wax begonia.  They are a little faster and  a little less complicated to grow then the tuberous but equally as small and fragile in the beginning.  They can be started in February but prefer longer days of light, up to 18 hours and can be grown a little cooler at 15-18 degrees celeius once they are up.  Since they are a smaller plant, transplanting them into a 3" pot is sufficient.
Here are a few other annual that should have a earlier start. 
Zonal and Ivy Geraniums
Annual Penstemon
Flowering Maple
Madagascar Perwinkle

Happy Gardening

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  I am excited for the 2011 year as 2010 did not end so well with  a death in the family days before Christmas.  It sure can drag the Christmas spirit down but yet you hold strong for your young family as they do not realize what has really happened.  So today as I was going through so pictures I thought it would be nice to recap some of the past year.   

Long pasted are the days of these. Ahhh, spring.  The glorious meadow of trillums, otherwise known in these parts as the Mayflower.  I can already smell their aroma.

And the birth of nature....Killdeer eggs. These beauties were actually in the same field as our 400 cows and were never ever stepped on.  They are simply stunning.  Mom always tried to get me to turn the other way but faking a broken wing.  Amazing how nature takes care of itself.

This is my favorite picture of summer 2010.  Our three beautiful children playing at our beach.  They always play till the sun goes down.

Tiger lilies standing tall. They are special to me since they come from my grandmothers gardens years ago.  A little piece of her proud in the garden.

Fall, my favorite season however spring is just on its tail.  Just some of the 200+ acres of corn to be harvested. 

Natures beauty.  The maple bush.

Sure don't blame this dahlia for not opening.  I wouldn't either if I had a cap on my head like that.  Burrr....

I hope you enjoyed my little recap of the year gone by.