Thursday, January 31, 2013

More Tomato Companion Planting Info

We've discussed companion planting with tomatoes in the past. But with the huge amount of traffic that blog has received, we've decided to look at this topic in more depth.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants in gardens, so it is natural that so many people are interested in the plants that they grow best with.

Asparagus: Tomatoes are a friend of asparagus. They help to protect asparagus from asparagus beetles by releasing solanine and attracting natural predators of the asparagus beetle. A chemical derived from asparagus juice has been found effective on tomato plants as a nematode killer,, including the root-knot sting, stubby root and meadow varieties.

Basil: Improves growth and flavor of tomatoes. 

Bee Balm: Like basil, it helps to improve the growth and flavor of tomatoes. It also helps attracts beneficial insects like bees.

Borage: Helps to deter tomato hornworms. Also attracts bees. When planted near tomatoes it helps to promote growth and disease resistance.

Carrots: These share space well with the tomato. Carrots can be planted while the tomatoes are still small and are usually ready for harvest by the time the tomato plants start to take over all the space.

Celery: Grows well with tomatoes. 

Chives: Improves growth and flavor of tomatoes. Helps to deter some insects and pest.
French Marigold: Helps to dispel white flies. 

Garlic: Can be used as a spray to help control late blight on tomatoes also helps to prevent red spiders.

Geranium: Repels Japanese beetles.

Horehound: Stimulates and aids fruiting of tomatoes.

Mint: Improves tomato health and deters ants, rodents, flea beetles, fleas, and aphids.

Nasturtium: Deters aphids, whiteflies, and pests of the cucurbit family. Attracts predatory insects.

Onions: Get along with tomatoes when planted together.

Parsley: Adds vigor to tomato plants. Attracts hoverflies and parasitic wasps.

Peas: Gets along with tomatoes when planted together.

Peppers, Bell: Does well when planted near tomatoes.

Petunias: Helps repel pests.

Poached Egg Plant: Attracts hoverflies.

Do not plant the following near tomatoes:
Brassicas, Corn, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Potatoes

Tomatoes like to grow in the same place year after year unlike other plants. They also make a great container plant, there are special tomato planters made just for planting tomatoes in containers.If planting tomatoes in the garden, you will want tomato stakes to help stabilize the plants as they get large and heavy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do NOT Compost These Items

Sometimes when you are just starting out with a compost pile it is hard to know just what you should and shouldn't put in there, for a list of items you should add please visit Over 70 Things for the Compost Pile. We've done some research on the things you should NOT add to your compost pile.

Cat, Dog, or Human Fecal Matter. While manure from chickens, horses, and cows is fair game, carnivorous animals' waste can introduce disease and parasites to your garden and to you when you harvest your food.
Diseased Plants. Plants that are diseased should never be added to compost. This can introduce the disease to new plants.
Meat, Fat, Grease, Oil. These items can attract pests and they can also coat your items in the compost preserving them and preventing them from breaking down.
Printed Glossy Paper. There are chemicals in the ink that may not break down well, as well as foil and glossy papers that do not do well in the breaking down process of your compost.
Salad Dressing, Mayo, Oily food stuff. These items will not break down well. They will stink up your garden and attract pests.
Sawdust from Treated Wood.
Weeds. Do not compost weeds as some seeds are not killed by the heat of the compost and the weeds will come up where you place your compost later.
Anything Treated with Pesticide or Herbicide. This can cause your compost to be fatal to your garden.

Don't forget, Red Hill General Store carries composting equipment and tools.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Over 70 Things for the Compost Pile

Sometimes when you are just starting out with a compost pile it is hard to know just what you should put in there. We've done some research on the best items for your compost pile.

Things you CAN compost:
100% Cotton non-dyed Clothes - cut into small pieces
100% Wool Clothing- cut into small pieces
Barnyard Animal Manures - bury well in your compost to avoid flies. Do not use pet or human waste in your compost.
Brown Boxes - shredded/torn
Brown Packing Tubes - shredded/torn
Brown Paper Shopping Bags
Burlap Sacks - shredded/torn
Cereal - stale
Christmas Tree - should be chopped up very well, preferable with a wood chipper
Coffee Grounds
Coffee Filters
Corn Husks
Cotton based tissues, napkins, and paper towels
Crackers - stale saltines
Crepe Paper Streamers
Dead Leaves - not from diseased plants
Dried Grass
Dust Bunnies
Egg Cartons - the PAPER ones
Egg Shells - need to be mashed into a fine powder
Fall Leaves
Fish Parts/Seafood Scraps - best for large piles so they can be buried well
Floor Sweepings
Flowers from floral arrangements
Fresh Cut Grass
Fruit Peelings
Herbs & Spices that are old
Jack o'Lanterns
Jelly, Jam, or Preserves that are old
Kitchen Scraps
Laundry Lint (not fabric softener sheets)
Loofahs - the natural ones not synthetic - shredded/torn
Nut Shells - not walnut those can be toxic to plants
Old Bread
Paper plates - be sure there is no waxy coating on them
Pasta leftovers - must be plain and cooked
Pencil Shavings
Plant Prunings - not from diseased plants
Pine Needles
Pizza Box - shredded/torn
Pizza Crusts - tear into small pieces and bury well in the pile
Popcorn Kernels
Potpourri - ONLY natural
Pretzels - stale
Rice leftovers - must be plain and cooked
Sawdust - from untreated lumber
Shredded Newspaper
Soy/Almond/Rice milk
Spent Flower Blooms
Tea Leaves/grounds/bags
Toilet Paper & Paper Towel Rolls - shredded/torn
Trimmings from electric razor
Twigs - old & dry need to broken into small pieces

Vegetable Peelings
Wine Corks
Wood Ashes - in small amounts
Wood Chips
Wrapping Paper Rolls - shredded/torn
Wreaths - ONLY natural

Don't forget, Red Hill General Store carries composting equipment and tools.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Container Gardening Indoors for Veggies

Indoor container gardening is a great way to grow small vegetables, herbs, and certain fruits. If you live in an area that has minimal outdoor space, or if you want to try growing crops during colder months inside where it is warm, indoor container gardening might be for you.

First you will need containers to garden in, the containers that are able to be used vary greatly. You can use polyethylene plastic bags, clay pots, plastic pots, metallic pots, milk jugs, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and planter boxes. The container you use needs to have good drainage, hold soil without spilling, be able to support the plants as they grow bigger, and should not contain any chemicals that are toxic to plants and/or human beings. Several vegetables that can be grown in backyard gardens can be grown in containers, although a container's diameter and depth need to be considered when selecting what vegetables to grow. The plant density depends on individual plant space requirements, and rooting depth.

The best vegetables for indoor container gardening are going to be vegetables that take up little space. Some examples are: carrots, radishes and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers.

Another factor to keep in mind when choosing the plants that you want to grow in your container garden is how much sunlight your container will get each day, this factor will greatly affect what you can grow. A south facing sunny window is the best location for growing plants indoors. However, if you are very dedicated, there are grow lights that you may be able to incorporate into your indoor container garden, but these lights are not necessary if you have a well lit area in your home, unless you are growing fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. These plants will also need supplemental light, such as a combination warm-white/cool-white fluorescent fixture, during winter months. Insufficient light will result in tall, spindly plants and failure to flower and set fruit.

When choosing your soil for your container plants a lightweight potting mix is ideal for vegetable container gardening. This enables you to have the best possible soil for your plants.

When planting your container crops you will need to fill a clean container to within an inch of the top with the slightly damp soil mixture. Peat moss in the mix will absorb water and mix much more readily if soaked with warm water before putting the mix in the container. Sow the seeds or set transplants according to instructions on the seed package. Put a label with the name, variety, and date of planting on or in each container. After planting, gently soak the soil with water, being careful not to wash out or displace seeds. Thin seedlings to obtain proper spacing when the plants have two or three leaves. If cages, stakes, or other supports are needed, provide them when the plants are very small to avoid root damage later.

You will want to check your plants' need for water fairly frequently as with small containers they can sometimes dry out quickly. To make watering easy it is smart to set the pots in large trays that have an inch or two of decorative stones in them. Not only will this prevent your having to move the plants in order to water them, which may discourage you from watering when you should, but it will also provide humidity, which is a major requirement, especially during winter when the house is warm and dry.

What works or doesn't work for you in your indoor garden?

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