Indeterminate Or Determinate Tomatoes – Which Is Right For Your Garden?

Indeterminate Verses Determinate Tomatoes - Which One Is Right For My GardenIf you are a tomato gardener, then you know there are several thousands of tomato varieties to choose from. If you are an advt tomato grower you know that all tomatoes are classified as either determinate or indeterminate.

If you are brand new at growing tomatoes, you might be asking, what is the difference between these two classifications? And which class type should I choose for my garden?

Sea Spring Seeds says that you can read a gardening book or magazine, ask a fellow gardener, or review the seed catalogs. They say these are all good starting points, but even taking these steps can still leave you deciding on the right variety for your garden. To make the choice easier, tomatoes must be broken down into their basic elements, and only then, can an informed decision be made.

Know Your Tomatoes Classification

Is it not true that before buying a car you test drive it first? Or you try on the close or shoes first before purchasing them? The same is true of deciding which classification of tomato you want to plant in your garden. But in the case of you won’t test drive or try the tomatoes on first, but rather investigate the best variety of tomatoes you want to plant in your garden.

We noted at the start the two classifications of tomato plants, determinate and indeterminate. The difference between the two are how they bare fruit.

Determinate

determinate tomato Determinate tomatoes are more compact, and for that, they are referred to as “bush” tomatoes because of their growth habit. A determinate verity could be referred to as having limits. How so?

Their buds are at the tip of stem, which naturally stops stem growth. This class of tomato most often does not need support.

Blossoms and fruit grow at the same time, and the harvest lasts between 7 to 10 days. Determinate tomatoes yield their entire crop all at once.

After the plant has produced the fruit, and has been harvested, the plant will start to weather and die.

Determinate’s are also great for container gardening.

Each determinate verity will produce at different times. When purchasing the seeds or plants from a on-line source, catalog, or local nursery, it should be list on the label as to the number of days to harvest after planting the seed or a plant you bought.

Knowing this information will allow you to space out your determinate tomatoes so that you can receive early, middle and late season yields.

Indeterminate

Indeterminate tomatoes usually grow longer vines and need support, like stakes, cages or fencing to support their stems.

Indeterminate TomatoThis class of tomato has no limits, as the buds form on the side branches and the tips of the stems continue growing, doing so like a vine. These types of tomatoes can grow up to 10 feet high.

The blossoms and fruit grow at different times, and the harvest can last several months. They can also give fruit in the Autumn util the first frost.

Indeterminate varieties are an ideal choice for fresh food lovers who want to enjoy bright and succulent tomatoes directly off the vine throughout the growing season.

We can see there really is no correct answer when deciding between determinate and indeterminate tomato plants. It really hinges on your own preference and circumstances to determine which is right for you.

Also keep in mind most tomato gardeners grow indeterminate tomatoes for fresh eating, and smaller, meatier determinate for canning and sauce-making.

If space allows, why not experience the best of both worlds and incorporate both determinate and indeterminate varieties into your vegetable garden.

What Others Are Reading:

How to Banish Blossom Rot From Your Tomato Garden

How to Banish Blossom Rot From Your Tomato GardenBlossom rot, or blossom end rot, is a common problem encountered by professional and back yard tomato gardeners.

You may be asking what is blossom rot?

It is a disease that that can be identified by a dark, rotten spot at the blossom end of developing tomatoes.

But no need to despair, as there are techniques you can use to counter act blossom rot before it even starts.

It is pertinent that you follow through with the methods, because once the end rot appears on an individual fruit, there is no way to cure the affected tomato.

You can cut away the rotted portion of the tomato after you harvest it and safely eat the portion that was not affected, but it is best to eliminate the problem before it reaches that point.

How To Prevent Tomato Blossom Rot

Let’s examine these questions:

  1. How does blossom rot start?
  2. How can I prevent it from showing up in the first place?

Blossom end rot is a physiological affliction of the tomato plant. Initial symptoms can  and consist of small, light brown flecks and lesions occur initially on green fruit that are clustered on the blossom end of the developing fruit.

As the disorder worsens, a circular to oblong, dark brown, firm lesion develops on the blossom end.

If blossom rot is left unchecked, you can lose a large portion of your entire tomato crop to this condition.

What causes blossom end rot is the plants deficiency in calcium.

Adequate amounts of calcium are needed in order for tomato plants to produce their fruit properly.

Even if you have plenty of calcium in your soil, your plants may not be able to effectively absorb it for a number of reasons. When this occurs, your plants are at risk of contracting blossom rot.

Prevention

Now to answer the question of how to prevent blossom rot in the first place?

To prevent blossom end rot is making sure your plants have getting enough calcium and are able to absorb enough of the mineral.

soil test kitBefore planting your tomatoes, be sure to have your soil tested or do it yourself with an inexpensive soil testing kit.

Ideally, your soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH somewhere running between 6.2 to 6.8.

The plants also need a constant supply of major and minor plant nutrients as well (Bonnie Plants).

To start, if your soil is too acidic, add some limestone to increase the pH.

Use caution when adding this soil amendment, because adding too much will cause the soil too be, to alkaline.

If this occurs, or if your soil is naturally alkaline, you can amend it with rich organic matter, elemental sulfur or an acidifying fertilizer, such as ammonium sulfate.

It can be very challenging to lower soil pH, however, because limestone in the ground is continually dissolving.

If you live in an area where alkaline soil is a fact of life, you may want to build raised beds to create a more favorable environment that tomato plants will thrive and produce tasty fruits.

water base of tomato plant

Image Credit: HGTV – Garden

Once your soil is at the optimum pH level, you’ll want to ensure your plants are receiving adequate moisture.

Optimal tomato growth requires regular and deep watering, so that water gets all the way down to the entire root system.

Make sure your plants are receiving 1 to 2 inches of water weekly, and more if a warm spell comes on.

To reduce the chance of foliar diseases, water the base of tomato plants and avoid getting water on the leaves, especially if you’re watering in the evening.

Blossom end rot will usually occur at the start of the season as the first fruits appear.

If you notice your tomatoes are showing possible signs of blossom rot, make sure your plants are watered deeply every 4 to 5 days. If it is extremely hot in your area, water them even more frequently.

To determine when it is time to water your plants, dig down 3 or 4 inches into the soil. If the soil is moist, wait 24 hours and check again. When the soil at that level is dry, it is time to water again.

seaweed extractFinally, many tomato gardeners also swear by liquid kelp (seaweed) extract as a way to combat blossom rot.

Sea Kelp contains a natural substance you can use to condition soil, and it can contain more than 70 vitamins, minerals and enzymes essential to the health your tomato plants.

The extract and fertilizer are readily available in local garden centers, large home improvement stores or via online retailers. You may want to test it out on part of your garden to see how it works for you.

Although blossom rot can be a garden dilemma, it is time will spent in preparation and planning your tomato garden, which will go a long ways towards eradicating blossom end rot from your garden.

Header Article Image Credit: Durham County Master Gardener Volunteer Program

What Others Are Reading:

The Best Tomato Varieties For Your Container Gardening

The Best Tomato Varieties For Your Container Gardening

A great alternative for the tomato gardener with limited garden space is to use buckets, pots or containers to grow tomato plants.

Container gardening offers many advantages, such as growing a few plants in containers is a lot less intimidating to beginning gardeners than trying to plan and care for a large vegetable garden. Without a doubt, it is much easier to care for and maintain a small container garden than a large outdoor area.

Planting your tomatoes in a portable set up allows you to move your tomato plants around so they get the necessary sunlight each day. Though growing tomatoes in the sun is necessary, but the fruit themselves do not need sunlight to ripen, as the tomato actually ripens fastest in the absence of sunlight. Tomatoes ripen because of heat and ethylene gas, not because of sunlight (Gardening Know How).

A word to the wise, not all tomato varieties are perfect for container gardening. To ensure that you receive great tasting tomatoes, and the biggest possible yield, then take a look at these three tomato varieties.

Container Gardening With The Right Tomato Plants

Japanese Black Trifele

Japanese Black Trifele TomatoAlthough the Japanese Black Trifele is considered a great container tomato, be advised that it can be found in both indeterminate and determinate varieties.

Before buying a particular plant, you’ll want to make sure the ones you are considering are the more compact variety.

The pear-shaped fruits of the Japanese Black Trifele will develop a deep mahogany color as a sign that it is ripe. This beautiful fruit is as visually appealing as it is delicious. You can expect a sweet and smoky, multi-layered taste.

Rareseeds says the plants produce loads of fruit all summer long, and has been a favorite with many seed savers.

Sungold Cherry Tomato

 Sungold Cherry TomatoThe Sungold cherry tomato is a indeterminate hybrid. These tangerine-orange cherry tomatoes are super sweet and savory.

The plant boasts as a vigorous, disease resistant plant, and as such this cherry tomato plant is very strong and requires very little care.

Also, a single Sungold plant can give you cherry tomatoes all summer long.

Brandywine

Heirloom Organics says that the Brandywine tomato is among the oldest heirloom tomato varieties, and have been grown for well over 100 years. The fruit is a large, slightly sweet, pink, beefsteak tomato that can weigh 1 ½ pounds. It is an indeterminate growing vine plant that can reach 9 feet in height with plenty of light and heat.

This tomato variety consistently wins first place in tomato taste tests not only in the United States, but throughout the world.

Some other great tomatoes to grow in your container garden include the Wapsipinicon Peach, with its delicious and fuzzy fruit or the intriguing Black Krim heirloom variety which yields large purple and red fruits.

The tomatoes we have mentioned here is far from a comprehensive list. With thousands of tomato varieties to choose from, you are sure to find great options for your container gardening.

What Others Are Reading:

How To Grow Tomatoes By Seed

young woman holding a tomato plant - How To Grow Tomatoes By Seed

The decision to grow tomatoes from seed is a personal one, as many gardeners prefer to simply purchase plants to transplant directly into their vegetable garden or containers. Those who choose to plant by seeds are a bit more adventurous and prefer the more hands-on of growing tomatoes from seed. Of course, this is a much more time-intensive process than simply buying an established plant at the nursery.

Growing tomatoes from seed isn’t too difficult, and it is tough to beat the contentment that comes from seeing the materialization of your patient efforts taking shape.

Using The Right Seeds

For starters, you have to start with the right kind of seeds. If you’re going to use seeds that produce a hybrid tomato variety you won’t have much results. Why? They just don’t grow true to the parent plant the way a good, old-fashioned heirloom will.

According to Mother Earth News, hybrids are more productive and disease-resistant than open-pollinated tomato varieties or heirloom tomato varieties. But open-pollinated tomatoes generally offer the richest flavors, and the great thing about planting heirloom seeds, you can dry out and save the seeds to plant in future seasons. Hybrid tomato breeding focuses on the needs of commercial producers who favor tomatoes that resist diseases and ship well, often allowing flavor to take a back seat.

Here are a few on-line sources were you can purchase tomato seeds.

After you have bought your favorite heirloom seed varieties, just follow the steps outlined below.

How To Germinate Your Seeds

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone MapYou’ll want to germinate the seeds indoors, roughly 6 to 8 weeks before the last spring frost in your area. If you aren’t sure when to start, click the image to the right to be taken to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to check out the “last frost in your.”

To get started, purchase several containers of sterile seed growing mix. Moisten your containers, and make shallow holes about 1/4 inch deep. Then, drop the seeds into the hole and gently cover with dirt.

If you are using larger containers, that allow planting several seeds, you will need to make furlongs 1/4 inch deep. Place seeds into furlongs, at 1/2 inch apart.

large heated propagatorWater the containers very gently, and then place them in an area which consistently reaches and holds between 75 to 80-degrees Fahrenheit, such as on top of your refrigerator.

If you happen to have a heated greenhouse, or a propagator to germinate your seeds, then even better.

As soon as you see the seeds begin to sprout, immediately add a strong light source from either a florescent grow bulb or natural sunlight.

true identifiable tomato leaves appearingAfter about a month you will notice the first “true” and identifiable tomato leaves begin to appear.

This tells you that it is time to transplant your seedlings to bigger containers. This is known as “pricking out” your seedlings.

With a spoon or fork, scoop out each individual tomato seedling. Transplant individual seedlings into containers at least 3 to 4 inches in diameter filled with moistened potting mix.

Gently water in the seedling after planting. When spring weather reaches and holds 55-degree temperatures at nights, move your plants out into the sun for a few hours at a time to harden them off. Gradually increase sunlight exposure daily over a week, until they can sit outside all day.

soil test kitBefore transplanting your seedlings, be sure to check the pH level of your soil to ensure it is not too acidic or alkaline.

Growing Garden Tomatoes says that your soil pH should be between 5.5 to 6.8 for tomatoes. Home soil testing kits can be purchased at gardening and home improvement centers, and many major cities offer soil testing for a fee.

When you are ready to transplant your plants, remove the bottom branches and plant up to just below the bottom leaves to ensure healthy growth and a strong root system.

Add  a tomato support in the form of cages or stakes and water gently. As your tomato plants grow, simply water soil when dry and enjoy your harvest!

Here’s a few recipes you can use your ripe home grown tomatoes in.

Garden Fresh Tomatoes and Salsa

Sweet Tomato Chutney

What Others Are Reading:

Which Tomato Will You Grow For Your Homemade Sauce

Which Tomato Will You Grow For Your Homemade Sauce

With thousands of tomato varieties available today, selecting the variety of tomatoes you want to grow in your garden can seem like an overwhelming project. Tomatoes are very diverse, as each variety offers up its own unique set of characteristics, such as flavor, size, and even color.

Is your objective for growing tomatoes to serve up tasty tomato sauce, then it would be well worth knowing that some varieties, not all, are better suited for making the sauce.

There are some speciers of tomatoes that have few seeds in their flesh, and a firm meaty texture. Let’s take a look at 5 varieties that fit the bill for a tasty tomato sauce. These 5 varieties of tomatoes may be familiar to you, and possible not.

Great Choices Of Tomatoes For Your Perfect Sauce

Russian Big Roma

Russian Big Roma at a Farmers Market

Russian Big Roma

The University Of California – Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners program says the Russian Big Roma is disease-resisting, and a favorite heirloom paste variety, as well as using to make sauces.

Unlike most paste and sauce tomatoes, this is an indeterminate variety which produces lots of large (2 x 4 inch), dark red fruit, with a splendid “tomatoey” flavor.

San Marzano

Compared to the Roma tomato, the San Marzano tomatoes are thinner and more pointed. The flesh is much thicker with fewer seeds, and the taste is stronger, sweeter and less acidic. Expert tomato growers describe the taste as bittersweet.

Again, the Mater Gardener’s program says the San Marzano is a “Tomato Festival” favorite.

This Italian tomato variety produces an 8 ounce, deep red fruit, that is 4 inches in length. And though the San Marzano in the raw or uncooked has a lot to be desired in respects to flavor, the process of cooking them down to make sauce releases magic qualities, and therefore you will want to grow them year after year.

Polish Linguisa

Polish Linguisa tomato

Image credit: Tomato Geeks

The Polish Linguisa is a variety of tomato from Eastern Europe, and it was brought to the USA by Polish gardeners in the 1800’s.

This particular tomato has bright red fruit, and according to the Tomato Geeks, it has a broad range of uses:

  • Paste
  • Sauce
  • Canning
  • Drying
  • Freezing

Jersey Devil

one half pound Jersy Devil tomato

Image Credit: Teresa Giovanzana

The Jersey Devil tomato is a extremely prolific producer of 4-5” long, bright red fruit that are shaped like banana peppers.

They are very meaty and sweet, with few seeds. The Master Gardeners say it is an excellent tomato for canning as well as eating fresh.

Teresa Giovanzana boasts a 1/2 pound Jersey Devil in the 2013 tomato season.

Amish Paste

Amish Paste tomatoes produce bright red fruit up to 12 ounces that vary greatly in shape from ox-heart to a rounded plum shape.

From the Pennsylvania Amish (USA), the tomato is a large, meaty, bright red heirloom with superior taste, and a nice balance of sweet and acid.

The Amish Paste has been chosen by Organic Gardening magazine as a top paste tomato, as it is juicier than most other paste tomato varieties. Though it is a great tomato to make paste, it also is worth eating straight from the garden. Add some to your favorite salad or sandwich, but make sure you save enough to makes lots of thick and full-bodied sauce!

Tomatoes on VineAll the tomato varieties above are – indeterminate, also called vining tomatoes. The plant will grow continuously until it dies, usually in Fall with the first deep frost.

Once they produce flowers and set tomatoes they will do so continuously until the plant dies.

The five tomato varieties that we reviewed, is far from comprehensive, as there are lots of other terrific choices that can be used to make succulent pastes and sauces.

These tomatoes are a great starting point, because you can easily find seeds at your local garden centers or online. Try adding some or all of them to your garden this year for truly outstanding results during harvest time.

What Others Are Reading:

How To Use Household Cleaners With Safety

Shelves in pantry with cleaners for home close-up - household cleanersToday’s household cleaning products not only make life easier, they are said to make it a lot healthier, as well. Whatever the cleaning challenge, you can probably find a product that’s perfectly suited to getting the job done right.

Cleaning and killing germs are serious business, plus the medical community agrees that cleanliness practices — such as regular hand washing and keeping your living area clean, are key in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

Today many individuals, like us here at Splendid Recipes and More have turned to cleaning products that have been labeled “Green,” meaning their products that are environmentally friendly to the earth, as well as the one using the product.

Using Household Cleaners With Safely

But what if you the reader hasn’t decided yet to give up traditional cleaning products as of yet, like all-purpose cleaners, ammonia, bleach, and toilet bowl cleaners, among many others, are you cautious when using them?

The following information are reminders for cautious cleaning when using such cleaning products.

all-purpose cleaner - household cleanersAll-Purpose Cleaner

Some commonly purchased all-purpose cleaners include:

These type of products are designed for diverse in home tasks.

The FDA recommends not using such cleaners that contain antibacterial properties, like dimethyl benzyl ammonium, which is an organic salt (note: not all salts are inorganic like NaCl), composed of the (negative) anion Chloride (Cl-) and an organic (positive) cation, dimethyl ethyl benzyl ammonium ion (Yahoo Answers).

The FDA says that cleaning products with antibacterial agents can actually help create forms of bacteria that are much harder to kill or disinfect.

The Journal Antimicrobial Chemotherapy published a study in 2008 on the use of antibacterial consumer products containing ammonium compounds and drug resistance in the community.

The researchers reported that after 1 year of assigned product usage, were one group used cleaning products with ammonium compounds and triclosan, were as the other group received cleaning products without antibacterial agents – and found that the group using ammonium compounds and including triclosan made bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli resistant to one or more antibiotics.

_______________________________________________________________________

The More You Know

Antibacterial Cleaners: Can They Do More Harm Than Good?

________________________________________________________________________

Ammonia

ammonia - household cleanersTrace quantities of ammonia are found in the earth’s atmosphere, which is produced by the decaying process of nitrogenous animals and vegetable matter. Ammonia and ammonium salts are also found in rainwater but in small quantities.

The global industrial production of ammonia in 2014 was 176,300,000 tonnes,  a 16% increase over the 2006 global industrial production 152,000,000 tonnes (Waste Disposal Professionals).

Ammonia can cut grease, but so can many other cleaners. If you use this solution for doing so, it is best to dilute it with 8 parts water to 1 part ammonia. When mixing, always add the water to the ammonia, and not the other way around.

When working with ammonia wear gloves and in a ventilated area. The solution though found in nature, can cause blindness if splashed into the eyes. It may be best to wear eye coverings when using it.

CAUTION: Never mix ammonia with bleach. If you do, it will cause a vapor that will immediately cut off your breathing as the vapor enters your lungs. If you pass out, CPR will not revive you.

Bleach

clorox bleach - household cleanersBleach is a powerful bacteria killer. It is best for use to wipe away mildew or cleaning the kitchen surface after preparing raw meats.

CAUTION: Be careful not to mix bleach with toilet-bowl cleaners or ammonia.

Always wear gloves and work in a ventilated area to protect yourself when cleaning with bleach.

Glass Cleaner

windex - household cleaners

The name speaks for itself, as glass cleaner is used to clean glass and windows.

It is best not to use full strength ammonia-based window cleaners.

Test performed by Consumer Reports noted that you can dilute glass cleaners and still get your windows and glass clean.

Toilet-Bowl Cleaner

These cleaners are used to not only clean, but also disinfect your toilet. A word of Caution from the American Association of Poison Control Centers, corrosive toilet-bowl cleaners are top on the list as the most dangerous toxic cleaning solution found in homes.

It is recommended to only use such toilet-bowl cleaners when you really need them for rust and stains.

Toilet-Bowl Cleaner - Household cleanersKeep in mind that there is no US law that requires manufacturers of cleaning products to list ingredients on their labels or to test their products for safety.

It is also estimated that the average US home contains anywhere from 3 to 25 gallons of toxic materials, most of which are in cleaners.

Labels of household cleaners that contain the words,  DANGER, WARNING and POISON give only a general idea about the seriousness of the substances a product contains. In fact, a New York Poison Control Center study found that 85% of product warning labels are inadequate (GAIAM Life).

These are household cleaners that contain the words DANGER, WARNING and POISON:

  • Drain cleaners
  • Oven cleaners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Glass cleaners
  • Floor and furniture polish

The take away of this article should be to use caution and safety when using traditional household cleaners.

What Others Are Reading:

What Would We Do Without Vinegar?

What Would We Do Without Vinegar? - white distilled vinegarWhite Distilled vinegar is great for cleaning. Cleaning with vinegar is much safer than using commercial products that are filled with chemicals.

Were you aware that distilled vinegar can be made from rice, malt, wine, fruit, balsamic, apple cider, kiwifruit, coconut, palm, sugar cane, raisins, dates, beer, honey, and kombucha (fermented tea), among other food items?

Not only can vinegar be make from many foods, it also has many uses around the home, inside and out.

After reading what those uses are, you might just ask – What Would We Do Without Vinegar?

Many Uses For Vinegar Other Than In Culinary

White vinegar contains a higher percentage of acidic content, therefore making it more ideal a household cleaning agent over darker vinegar’s, like apple cider vinegar.

Glassware – 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar added to a gallon of rinse water, will remove soap scum or film from glassware.

Coffee Maker -Till the coffee maker reservoir with vinegar and run it through the brewing cycle. Doing this will remove stale coffee residue. After running vinegar through one brew cycle, run fresh water through it twice to remove any vinegar taste.

Top Cleaning Secrets

Image credit: Top Cleaning Secrets

Iron – Have stains on your electric clothes iron? Remove them by mixing one part salt with one part vinegar in a heated small aluminum sauce pan. Use this mix as well to polish your iron the same as you would silverware.

Chrome – To polish chrome and stainless steal, moisten a cloth with distilled vinegar and wipe clean.

Windows – Are your windows stained with water spots dew to your sprinkler system? Straight vinegar will remove the spots.

Bathroom – Vinegar and baking soda together will remove the soap film build-up from your bathtub, as well as deodorize your toilet. Just pour some undiluted vinegar into the toilet bowl and let stand about 5 minutes, then flush. If you have hard to work with stains, you may need to use some elbow power.

Grease – They say that vinegar will remove filmy dirt residue from the stove and refrigerator. we found it works best when baking soda is used with it.

Culinary Uses For Distilled Vinegar

wilted vegetables restored

Image Credit: Food Hacks

Vegetables – Any slightly wilted vegetables in your kitchen? Bring them back to life by soaking them in cold water and vinegar.

Cabbage – Add vinegar to the water before cooking cabbage. Doing so will prevent the smell of this cruciferous vegetable’s smell from penetrating the house.

Meat – 1/2 cup of your favorite vinegar and a cup of liquid bullion makes a great meat tenderizer.

Rice – when cooking rice, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the boiling water for fluffy rice all the time.

Fish –  Maybe you might know where we are going with this one, as fish can smell up the house. Reduce the fishy odor by rubbing the fish with white distilled vinegar before scaling it.

Cheese – This one was a knew one for us…To keep your cheese fresh for longer, just wrap it in a clean cloth that has been dampened with vinegar and then sealed in a air-tight container.

Eggs – To produce better formed egg whites, such as when poaching eggs for Eggs Benedict, just add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water.

A guest post at Thrifty Fun wrote, “If you want to make poached eggs, vinegar is very helpful. If you add a tablespoon of it to the boiling water and then slide your eggs into the water, your egg whites will stay together and not mix with the water very much. Your poached eggs will look like the shape of an egg as opposed to looking like a pancake. I just learned this trick and I’m quite pleased with it.”

Onion Odors – After you have prepared your culinary dish that called for onions, just apply some distilled vinegar to your hands to remove any onion odor.

White distilled vinegar is also best to use when pickling. Dark vinegar’s, like cider, red wine, dark balsamic, are great for pickling, but these darker vinegar’s can discolor lighter colored pickles, like pears, onions, or cauliflower. White vinegar will not discolor your lighter colored pickles.

Other Uses For Distilled White Vinegar

got weeds use vinegar

Image credit: Pinterest

Molly Maid (located in the U.K.) shares these many uses for vinegar outside the home.

Weed Remover – Pour or spray white distilled vinegar onto weeds growing in the cracks between paving stones or in your driveway. Saturate them so that the vinegar reaches the roots. Reapply on any new growth until the weeds are gone.

Barbecue Cleaner – Vinegar can help remove charcoal build-up from your grill. Spray white distilled vinegar onto the cooking grate and clean the surface with a soft cleaning brush. Scrub the grate thoroughly, then rinse.

She also explains how white vinegar can be used to clean garden furniture, shine your dogs coat, prevent mildew, and how to keep your cut flowers fresher for longer. Link here to find out more: Molly Maid.

We mention how you can use white distilled vinegar to make poached eggs for Eggs Benedict – try our recipe by linking here.

What Others Are Reading:

Household Chores You Need To Take Care Of This Spring

Opened window with a green field outdoorSpring is the perfect time of the year to give your house a good, thorough cleaning inside and out. You may have a list of things you do every spring to deep clean your home.

Here are seven chores you may have not thought of doing as part of your spring cleaning inside the home, as well as outside. What are they you ask? Let’s examine.

Inside The House

Dryer

dryer vent fire

Image Credit: Air Duct Cleaners

Dryer vent cleaning can help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your dryer, as well as safety. How so? An Austin, Texas based company called – Air Duct Cleaners – explains that about 15,500 fires are started every year due to dryer vents being clogged.

Air Duct Cleaners say that a lint clogged dryer vent can cost a home owner an extract $18-24 a month to dry their clothes. A clean duct means shorter drying time, and your dryer lasts longer.

If you find your dryer taking longer than 40 minutes to dry clothes, or the top of your dryer is hot, there is excess lint on your clothing, or your clothes have a musty, moldy smell, then it’s time to clean your vents.

Furnace

If you keep your home fairly clean, then changing the furnace filter every 3 months is a good idea, and also the manufactures recommendation. Changing out your filter regularly will not restrict air flow (as a dirty filter will), and keeps the furnace from over working. A clogged filter that over works the heater can increase the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.

Sump Pump

sump pump in a house basement

Image Credit: Indiana Foundation Service

 

For those who may not know, a sump pump is used to remove accumulated water that has collected in the sump basin, commonly found in homes that have a basement.

The water enters the basement through the perimeter drains of a basement waterproofing system, funneling into the basin from rain water or natural ground water, specially if the basement is below the water table level (Wikipedia).

If you have a basement with a sump pump, spring is a great time to test it to see that it is clean and operates correctly. Make sure as well that the outflow is draining properly.

Battery Check

carbon monoxide detector Most homes now days have either or both a smoke alarm, and a carbon monoxide detector.

Both units use a 9 volt battery, and it should be changed for a new one every spring, even though the battery may have 6 months to a year more life.

Better to change it than have your home burn to the ground, or stop breathing during the night due to a carbon monoxide leak, because of a dead battery.

Outside The House

There are two things you will want to add to your spring cleaning list outside of your home and they include gutter cleaning, and tree limb trimming.

Gutters

You might clean your gutters in the fall season, but doing it in the spring as well, will save you some costly repairs to your home.

Gutters have drains and spouts, and if they are clogged with last years falling leaves, then rain will not be able to freely flow off your roof.

Gutters and Guards Inc. explain that if your gutters are neglected it can fill with debris, like dead leaves, dirt, pollen and even shingle grit. With spring showers you will have water overflowing, which will cause, water leaks, foundation damage, soil erosion, mold and mildew growth, and standing water.

Clean gutters help carry water away from your homes foundation, so there is no costly repairs.

Tree Trimming

Be sure to prune any dead limbs or branches so they do not break off during fierce seasonal winds. Also if a tree that is covering your walk way leading to your door has dead limbs, you have an increased risk of the limb breaking and falling on visitor’s to your home.

What’s For Lunch

While spring cleaning you may get hungry, so here are some great lunch ideas…

Organic BBQ Hot Dogs and Potato Pack

Rotisserie Chicken Baguette Sandwich With Basil

Orange Ginger Pork Meatball Soup found under – Pork – That’s What’s For Breakfast Lunch And Dinner

What Others Are Reading:

Making Japanese Kokedama’s For Indoors Or Out

Still life with blooming violet and garden shovel over grey background

japanese grass planted the kodedama method

Japanese Grass Planted The Kodedama Method -Image credit: Cafe Maria

Kokedama is a Japanese variant of the bonsai. Basically, kokedama, translation from Japanese literally means “moss ball.”

It is the practice of removing a plant with its roots from a planter or pot, then surrounding the roots with a mud cake, then wrapped with moss, and held together with string.

This type of planting works well with succulent plants, such as those that are placed in doors, as well as herbs, and other out door plants.

The Telegraph a newspaper distributed in the United Kingdom, says that the kokedama method of planting started in Japan, and skipped over to the Netherlands before finding its way to the United States, and since 2015 the method has found its way to England and into the hearts of plant lovers there.

Collage of Fedor Van der Valk ‘String Gardens’Fedor Van der Valk of the Netherlands acknowledged as the king of contemporary kokedama, took the planting method one step further and suspended his moss wrapped botanicals from pulleys. Mr. Van der Valk calls his creations string gardens.

There’s nothing new though about hanging garden’s. King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon indulged his queen with what is now one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the hanging gardens of Babylon, built around 600 B.C.

Marisa Lopez of Saving My Culture, says that kokedamas are elegant, and can be placed in any environment or in your garden.

This technique provides a simpler alternative to the bonsai, and is easy to grow – even for people who do not have much time to take care of plants.

Would you like to learn how to make your own Japanese kokedama to hang out in your garden from your trees or other support?

Lowe’s has a 40 second video demonstrating the ease of making kokedamas for inside your house or out in your garden.

What Others Are Reading:

How To Grow More Vegetables In Less Space

How To Grow More Vegetable In Less Space - Elevated Raised Bed Vegetable GardenPlanting a garden of vegetables shoulder-to-shoulder, or close cropping as it is called, is not a new idea. If you have a small plot or space to grow a garden of food, close cropping of vegetables is an in expensive and easy way to increase your harvest, specially if you have a small plot.

Here are some examples of how you can grow an abundant vegetable garden in your limited garden space.

How To Grow More Vegetable In Less Space

The Native Americans introduced the concept of close cropping to European migrants to North America, starting in the mid-1700’s.

The Natives were said to have planted corn, beans and squash interdependent and with great success harvested edible crops from the same space.

The nitrogen-rich beans used the corn stalks for climbing, were as the ground-clinging squash with its large, prickly leaves extinguished weeds and reduced water evaporation from the soil.

Corn requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, therefore it benefits the most in this shoulder-to-shoulder gardening.

Planting a vegetable garden in a square or diamond pattern, such as is done extensively in places like the United Kingdom where spacing is limited, is a great way to practice close cropping.

How To Close Crop A Garden

When purchasing seeds, be sure to get pole beans and not the bush variety. As for the squash seeds, purchase the trailing variety and not the compact variety. The best time to plant your vegetable seeds depends on the planting zone or hardiness zone you live in.

image of pole bush beans and bush beansAlso the night temperatures need to be above 50 degrees, and again depending on were you live in the U.S. that could usually occur in late May, to early June (though with global warming you could start planting by mid-April to early May).

Link Here For The USDA Hardiness Zone Map 2016 – We need to say that this map by the USDA that is serviced at Greener Earth Nursery is really cool. After you have linked to the page, you will see a US map, and just below it is a box were you put your zip code (above box it reads: USDA Zone For Your Zip code). After you click”Go,” you are taken to a page of the state you live in with surrounding towns and cities hardy zones.

Choosing Your Seeds

Unless it doesn’t matter to you, be sure to choose non-gmo heirloom seeds. After reading the article, please watch this brief, and very informative 48 minute video by Heirloom Seed Expert Stephen Scott on GMO Farming.

Here are some links to on line stores to buy your certified non-gmo heirloom seeds…

Annie’s Heirloom Seeds

Radish at Annies Heirloom Seeds

Radish at Annies Heirloom Seeds

Her – Beginner’s Garden Collection for a small plot of land is only $11.75 for 1 packet and it includes…

  • Annie’s Lettuce Blend
  • Annie’s Radish Mix
  • Basil, Genovese
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Contender Bush Bean
  • Muncher Cucumber

Other on-line sources include…

Sustainable Seed Company – Certified Organic

The owners of this seed company say,” We ARE American seed farmers not just seed re-sellers.  We know what we grow”. Their moto is – Trust the Farmers who GROW, not those who only SELL the seeds.

Terroir Seeds LLC

Link here to their – 4 Sisters Garden Seed Collection. It has the original three, corn, squash, and pole beans, with sunflower seeds added (price per pack is $15.70).

4 Sisters Collection by Terroir Seeds LLC

4 Sisters Collection by Terroir Seeds LLC

They note that it was Buffalo Bird Woman of the Hidatas tribe who was said to have planted sunflowers with the original 3 Sisters Garden.

She put to use old agricultural practices in the fertile bottom lands of the Missouri River.

Choosing And Preparing Your Garden Plot

When choosing an area for your close cropping, test to see that the area receives at least 8 hours and less than 6 hours of sunshine everyday. Have some compost on hand and rake it into the soil as you break it up. and rake the soil.

Next, build a mound about 12 inches high and between 18 inches and 3 feet in diameter. If you’re in a dry area, flatten the top of the mound and make a shallow depression to keep water from running off.

Planting Corn

Plant four corn seeds in a square at the top of the mound. Be sure to space the seeds 12-inches apart and 1 inch deep. After planting the seeds, cover with soil and saturate with water 2-inches deep.

Weeding and Planting the Pole Beans

When your corn has sprung from the soil and has reached just 4-inches above the soil, remove any weeds that have grown on the mound. Now plant 4 pole bean seeds 6-inches from the base of the corn and 1-inch deep. Cover the seeds with soil and water the mound.

Your corn has a head start, so it will be tall enough to support the pole beans once they have sprouted and start crawling up its stalk.

Weeding and Planting the Squash

About 7 days after the beans sprout, remove all of the weeds that have grown on the mound. Now plant the 6 squash seeds 1-inch deep and 1-foot from the base of the corn and the beans. Cover the seeds with soil and water the mound.

Weeding and Watering

Continue weeding the mound until the squash takes over and shades the new weeds from the sun preventing them to grow. Keep the soil moist to about 6-inches deep.

What if you don’t have a plot of land? Do you have a sunny balcony? Or live in an urban apartment were you can garden on the roof top? How about a community garden? Do you have a sunny patio were you can do some container gardening? If so then here is how you plant your 3 Sisters Garden of vegetable seeds.

Planting A Three Sisters Garden In Containers

If your outdoor gardening space is limited, or you have no plot of land, you can still have a vegetable garden. How you may ask? Will it won’t be a traditional garden per say, but you can create a mini three sisters garden in an outdoor container, such as a 1/2 of a large whisky barrel.

To simulate this way of planting, use a large container with holes or gravel in the bottom and fill it with potting mix and compost.

Once you have the container filled with soil, follow the above instructions, but plant only 3 corn seeds instead, and thinning to 1 corn stalk, 2 pole bean, and instead of squash, you can plant 1 mini pumpkin seed. Place the container

Gardeners Supply Company

Image Credit: Gardeners Supply Company

where it will receive at least eight hours of light, and no less than six hours of sunlight each day.

Gardeners Supply Company has a great selection of pots and planters. They even have Season-Extending supplies, which is a great advantage to container gardening. Follow this link to view what pots and planters might fit your vegetable garden container: Gardeners Supply Company