Yielding An Abundant Tomato Crop With These Gardening Tips

tomato cluster ripening on vine - Yielding An Abundant Tomato Crop With These Gardening Tips If you want to grow the healthiest and most delicious tomatoes you possibly can this gardening season, take some pointers from the pros. There are a few very easy ways to implement, and therefore consistently grow a rich harvest of tasty, lush, mouthwatering tomatoes.

Why not try out the following organic gardening tips and see for yourself the biggest and healthiest yield your tomato plants can give you.

Organic Gardening Tips For Growing Succulent Tomatoes

Tip #1

Whether growing in containers or in the ground, make sure you select a location that will give your plants 6 to 8 hours of natural sunlight.  Also, make sure you have enough room between your tomato plants to not only provide for adequate air circulation, but it also assures adequate room for the plants to grow not only upwards, but for extending their stems.

Tip #2

illistration of transplanting a tomato plant

Illustration by Hyperion Yard

If you are buying plants to transplant, make sure you plant deep for the best possible results.

Burying the stem of a tomato allows the plant to sprout new roots which will help improve strength and vitality of the plant.

This also provides better absorption of the nutrients your tomato plants need to grow faster and healthier.

To do this, remove the bottom sets of leaves and bury the stem up to just below the bottom of the remaining leaves.

Experimenting with the above description for transplanting tomato plants to the first true leaf, when compared to just covering the root ball has shown to increase tomato yields by 18% and up to 26% percent for every 25 pounds of fruit at first harvest, according to Dr. Charles Vavrina at the Southwest Florida Research & Education Center.

Rodale’s Organic Life writes, that the secret to great tomatoes is all in the roots. Plants with big root systems need less water and can stand up to summer storms.

To encourage your tomatoes to put down robust roots, start by taking a look at the stems of your tomato seedlings. The fine “hairs” lining the stem develop into roots when they come into contact with moist soil. Burying a large portion of the stem at planting time effectively doubles the size of the plant’s root system and encourages productive plants.

Tip #3

This tip is crucial to planting, growing, and harvesting an abundant of tomatoes. Test your soil. Why? Tomatoes grow and produce well in soil that is more acidic, between 6.0 – 6.8 pH.

You can take a sample of your soil to the horticultural department of your local collage or University for lab testing, or you purchase a pH level testing kit.

After you have discerned your garden soils alkaline and acidity levels, you can add the appropriate organic soil amendments to reach the recommended 6.0 – 6.8 pH for tomatoes. Most garden centers can tell you just what you need to do to get your soil perfect.

Tip #4

prunning tomato suckers for better fruit

Image credit: Fine Gardening

 

Trick your tomatoes into being stronger by plucking the first flowers that appear. This allows your tomato plants to grow more extensive root systems, as well as a mature and developed leaf canopy, before any fruit is produced.

You should also prune any suckers, which are the little offshoots of the main stem below your first fruit-producing branch.

Fine Gardening says that doing so will allow most of the sugar produced in the first 30 days after transplanting, to be directed to the developing fruit, since the only competition is a single growing tip.

Tip #5

Use tomato cages or supports to grow your tomatoes vertically. When you allow tomato vines to lay on the ground, your plants are much more susceptible to pests and diseases.

When you provide vertical support, these garden dangers have a harder time attacking your plants. Sprawling vines also take up valuable space in your garden.

Tip #6

Organic fertilizer for tomatoesSouthwest Gardener says to fertilize your tomato plants once a month for in-ground tomatoes, and every three weeks for tomatoes in containers.

Adding organic compost, either your own or store bought will also help to encourage healthy growth and a bigger harvest.

Scratch compost into the ground around the stem, and at the same time, trim a few of the upper leaves on each plant.

Tip #7

Whether you decide to plant determinate or indeterminate varieties, consider planting new tomatoes three weeks after your original plants are planted. This will extend your growing season and guarantees that if you run into any weather or pest problems, you are still sure to enjoy multiple, healthy harvests. This means you won’t need to harvest and use your entire crop at once.

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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

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How To Use Avocados In Your Culinary Adventures

Avocado salad and tuna. Isolated on a white background.Avocados are a popular fruit, though used like a vegetable, can find its way into almost any dish. It just seems that when adding avocados to a culinary or baked good, the dish has been enriched. Like this one at Tracy’s Culinary Adventures – Fudgy Triple Chocolate Avocado Brownies, Bobby Flay‘s Crunchy Avocado Salad, or how about pairing avocado slices with grapefruit as in Simply RecipesGrapefruit Avocado Salad.

Avocados have a lot of descriptive words to explain its flavor. Such as a creamy, buttery, and smooth fruit, with distinctive colors like bright yellow and green. Their aroma can be described as floral, green, grassy, freshness, and earthy.

The texture of the fruit is a butter rich melt in your mouth taste and feeling.

How To Pit An Avocado

Pitting an avocado is not hard at all. As a matter of fact you can become a pro in no time once you know the technique.

Avocado Trivia

list with pictures of avocado varieties

Image Credit: 17 Park Side

Do all avocado varieties taste the same? What do you think, yes they do, or no they do not? If you decided on, “No they do not,” you are correct.

There are taste variations between the different varieties of avocados available for consumption.

Not only does the variety determine the taste but it is also affected by the season and how ripe the avocado well get.

It is recommended to taste test the avocados that come into season and are fully ripe, so that you can see which ones you prefer to use in your recipes.

The summer and Fall season avocado favorite among many individuals is the Hass, and the spring season avocado favorite is the Fuerte.

Just remember you can get these avocados out of season because of international trading of produce, but they will not taste the same as when having them in season.

Tips To Selecting A Ripe Avocado

The appearance of a ripe avocado will vary based on the avocado you are selecting.

The Hass variety is one of the creamiest, making it suitable for spreads, dips, and any recipe requiring mashed avocado. Other varieties are firmer and better when consumed in whole slices or chunks.

man shopping for produceThe way to tell if the avocado is ripe or not is to hold the avocado in one hand, and place the thumb of the other hand over the small stem, then gently try and see if you can move the stem.

If stem is firmly in place and cannot be easily removed, that is an indication that the avocado is still not ripe.

The fruit should be fairly heavy and free of blemishes.

To ripen an unripe avocado for use, place it on the counter at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. It would be best not to refrigerate it, as refrigeration halts the ripening process, so you should not store unripe avocados in the refrigerator unless they have already been cut open.

Avocados ripen after they are harvested and not on the tree. If you are picking an avocado off a tree, you should pick a large one with even, dark coloring and a firm texture. After picking it, you will need to let the fruit harden on the counter for 2 to 7 days before it will be ripe and be ready to eat.

If you do not plan to eat the avocado immediately, it is in your best interest to buy an avocado that is still unripened. A ripe avocado will usually only last for a few days in the refrigerator.

To speed up the ripening process, place the avocado in a brown bag with an apple or a banana. These two fruits will release a gas called ethylene, a chemical linked to the ripening process.

Here is our featured recipe using an avocado.

Tuna Salad Stuffed Avocado

1 avocado

Avocado salad and tuna. Isolated on a white background.1 lemon, juiced, to taste

1 tablespoon chopped onion, to taste

5 ounces cooked or canned wild tuna

2 sprigs fresh dill, chopped

Himalayan salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Cut the avocado in half and scoop the middle of both avocado halves into a bowl, leaving a shell of avocado flesh about ¼-inch thick on each half. Cut removed flesh into small chunks.

Add lemon juice and onion to the avocado in the bowl and mash together. Add tuna, avocado chunks, dill, salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Taste and adjust if needed.

Fill avocado shells with tuna salad and serve.

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8 More Uses For Your Lemon

 There are many uses for a lemon, with the most common being used in culinary cooking and baking desserts. Oh and not to forget drinking lemon juice with warm water in the morning to get the digestion moving.

There are in fact 8 more uses for that lemon you have in your kitchen. Let’s see what they are.

Your Cutting Board

A combination of Himalayan salt and lemon juice is said to be the top cleaner for your cutting board.

lemon slice on a cutting board After using the board rinse it under running water. Next sprinkle the board with salt, and rub 1/2 a lemon (cut side down) over the surface of the cutting board .

After dubbing the intire surface, let the board sit for about 10-15 minutes, and rinse again with water. The two food items together remove orders, germs, and help prevent stains.

Harden Brown Sugar

What a drag when you go to reach for the brown sugar, and it has harden.

To soften it up, just add the peel of half a lemon to the packaged brown sugar, and allow to sit overnight. The sugar will absorb the moisture of the lemon peel, tuning that harden brown sugar soft and manageable once more.

Wilted Leafy Greens

leafy green lettuceDon’t you just hate it when you want to make a salad, and you find your leafy greens have wilted in you. No worries though.

Just add cold water to a large bowl. Next add the greens and juice from 1/2 a lemon, and place in your refrigerator for about an hour, then dry the greens thoroughly.

Smell Fresh Refrigerator

Who knew a cottonball with a few drops of lemon juice could remove food orders from your refrigerator.

Faucets That Sparkle

Hard water stains on faucets can be removed with a cloth that has been dampened with lemon juice. Just rub the hard water spots until they disappear.

There are still more uses for that lemon, such as for a sore throat. Just add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to 8 ounces of warm water, then gargle and swallow. Lemon juice is so strong that it kills germs and bacteria.

You can even soak your finger nails in lemon juice and warm water for 5 minutes, once a week to remove any stains from your nails.

Lastly, after you have juiced your lemon for the above uses or any way you use your lemon, do not through away the peel. Freeze it.

 Place the peel in a zip-lock baggy and place in the freezer. When making a dish or dessert that calls for lemon zest, and you rich for the lemon, but so sad it’s not there. Don’t fret, the frozen lemon peels to the rescue.

Just grate the frozen peel, and you have fresh lemony zest. You can also do this with lime and orange peels.

What other uses do you have for your lemon, besides cooking and baking?

Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast

Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast

Fresh organic foods are a great way to start your day. GMO foods compared to organic  foods has a lot of conversation. It is true the vitamins maybe the same, but the phytonutrients  are not. Phytonutrients are produced in the vegetable or fruit to combat insects and infections, the more phytonutrients the better.

Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals. As we noted they are called phytonutrients or phytochemicals.”Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs, and other threats.

But genetically modified plants have been compromised. How? With glyphosate engineered into the seed, the plant has no reason to fight of infections, and insects. In turn, the plant becomes lazy so to speak, and the phytonutrient production in the plant is much less, meaning less nutrients.

There are more than 25,000 phytonutrients found in plant foods. When you eat or drink phytonutrients, they help prevent disease and keep your body working properly.

Some of the important ones include:

These nutrients act as antioxidants in your body, meaning they tackle harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout your body. GMO foods compare to non gmo have much less antioxidant abilities.

It only makes since to eat all natural non gmo foods, that have been seeded, grown and harvested organically. To learn more about glyphosate link here to read, What Do You Believe About Glyphosate.

Now for our featured recipe: Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast.

2 apples, color is your choice

1/2 cup blueberries

2 large eggs

2 large or 4 small slices Sourdough bread

1/4 cup coconut milk

8 ounce coconut water

1 teaspoon tapioca-root

1-2 teaspoons coconut sugar

pecan pieces

large shredded dried coconut pieces

Ingredients above make for 2 servings

straining apple juice pureeCore one apple, leaving skin on and add slices to a Nutri-Bullet, food processor, or blender. Add the coconut water and processes.

Next, over a medium sauce pot strain the pureed apple. Once the juice has drained, save the puree in a glass bowl. Add some lemon juice, and coconut sugar, and you have fresh homemade applesauce. Save in the refrigerator and eat within 3 days.

With the other apple, leaving skin, core, remove seeds, and slice thick pieces into thin slices.

Add apple slices to the sauce pot. Bring apple slices to a soft boil. Next, add tapioca-root to a little water, and stir into sauce pot. Continue stirring until juice thinks some. Do not over boil the tapioca, as it can loss its thickening ability.

Next add coconut sugar and stir in until well combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

eggs and coconut milkBreak eggs into a dish and add coconut milk, and mix together.

cooking sourdough french toastHeat a large ceramic coated skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of grass fed butter, and melt. Coat both sides of sourdough slices and add to pan. Cook both sides until golden brown, but not burnt.

Apple-Berry Topped Sourdough French Toast

On individual plates, add 2 slices of cooked bread, and spoon on cooked apples with syrup. Top with 1/4 cup blueberries, pecan pieces, and shredded coconut. Enjoy the start of your day with this all organic breakfast.

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Mindful Eating and Why It’s Important

Mindful Eating and Why It’s Important

Mindful eating can also be described as

  • Apprehensive
  • Careful
  • Cautious
  • Cognizant
  • Conscious
  • Conversant
  • Knowledgeable
  • Observant
  • Respectful
  • Solicitous
  • Vigilant
  • Wary
  • Watchful

Replacing Mindful with any of these words, like Careful Eating, or Knowledgeable Eating, or how about Vigilant Eating would imply to the following when eating.

Respectful Eating - Mindful Eating and Why It’s ImportantEat like a connoisseur of food and smell, savor, and see the color and texture of every bit you take. Make sure when you are eating that you are sedentary, always sitting, and avoid standing up, and don’t stand in front of the fridge and eat. That is not Respectful Eating.

Set your table with your fine China, crystal, and silverware. Or at least something graceful and pleasing to plate your food, doing so will make your meal feel special. Avoid the colors red and yellow. They have an effect on your emotions causing you to want more food.  That would be Knowledgeable Eating.

Always remember the purpose of eating is to enjoy what you’re eating, and not to eat just to fill a void.

Don’t multitask. Focus on what you are eating, that’s practicing Observant Eating.

Turn the television off, as well as the cell phone. Research as indicated that watching TV while eating prompts mindless eating, and not Vigilant Eating.

Practice putting your fork down between bites, this will allow you to chew your food more. The fork in hand would only signal to put more food in Apprehensive Eating - Mindful Eating and Why It’s Importantyour mouth before you have swallowed what is already there. Putting your fork down between bits would be Watchful Eating.

Rate your hunger before you eat. Using a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not so hungry and 10 being very hungry will help you to avoid emotional eating. That would be Cautious Eating.

 

Stay hydrated as thirst can impersonate hunger. That would be Apprehensive Eating.

Solicitous Eating - Mindful Eating and Why It’s ImportantIf you’re the cook enjoy the process of preparing food in place of rushing through it. If you’re not a cook, get in the kitchen and help, and enjoy the feeling of preparing great food.

Be mentally present, in the moment, as it were, while you’re dicing, shredding, grating or chopping the food.

Breath in the aroma of what you are cooking. Notice how cooking can relieve stress. That would be practicing Solicitous Eating.

Try new foods and get out of the mindless eating pothole, trench, and furrow. That would be Cognizant Eating.

Wary Eating shows a suspicious attitude to junk food, fad diets or yo-yo dieting.

A person who practices Conversant Eating knows or remembers from experience why they have changed their bad eating habits to healthy eating.

Those who practice Conscious Eating fully appreciate the importance of a healthy diet that includes complex carbohydrates, good fats, and protein.

If you practice Careful Eating then you are paying close attention to accuracy and details of Mindful Eating.

 

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Peaches are a Delight

Peaches are a Delight

Peaches and Herb - Peaches are a DelightThere are a few things that come to mind when we refer to peaches being a delight.

Such as ‘Peaches & Herb‘ who were an American vocalist duo, once comprising Herb Fame and Francine “Peaches” Hurd Barker. Peaches & Herb were a delight to listen too.

Peaches  Geldof - Peaches are a DelightThere is the beautiful and delightful ‘Peaches Honeyblossom Geldof-Cohen’ who was an English journalist, television presenter and model.

Peaches Scrubs - Peaches are a DelightHow about those cute and delightful ‘Peaches Scrubs‘ a brand name scrubs for nurses and medical assistants.

Then there’s those peaches that were voluntarily recalled nationwide (USA) by Wawona Packing Co. at its Cutler, California, warehouses between June 1 and July 12 of this year (2014), because they were believed to have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Local peaches at the Whole foods Market - Peaches are a DelightSeveral other soft skinned fruits as well were recalled, like nectarines, plums and pluots.

What a big setback for us all who love peaches, and especially National Peach Month (August 2014).

Because of that recall, there really have not been any good sales on peaches this year.

The cultivation of peaches began in China as early as 2000 B.C., and by 300 B.C. the Greeks and Persians were also cultivars.

In the first century A.D., Romans began cultivating peaches, and from Italy, the cultivation of peaches spread throughout Europe and to the Americas, where the early settlers planted them all along the eastern coast (Agricultural Marketing Resource Center).

There are two basic types of peaches, the ‘clingstone’ and ‘freestone’. The flesh of the ‘clingstone’ clings to the stone or pit of the fruit. The peach flesh of the ‘freestone’ separates easily from the pit or stone.

In the United States as of 2012, 26 states are cultivating peaches. In that year 965,420 tons of peaches were harvested. Of that harvest, 490,320 tons were sold as fresh produce, and 475,100 tons were processed, either canned (364,640 tons), flash frozen (90,210 tons) or dried (9,800 tons).

If you are able to budget some fresh peaches on your weekly shopping, here are some great recipes to use them in.

Basil Marinated Peaches

4 firm-ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and quartered

1 oz. opal basil leaves (about 2 cups loosely packed)

1 tsp. grated lime zest

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Place the peaches and basil in a medium bowl, and set it aside.

Combine the lime zest, sugar, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Then pour the hot syrup over the peaches and basil. Cover, and chill for 2 hours.

You can serve them with Vanilla Pound Cake, Crepes or with a dollop whipped cream.

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Warm Berries and Peaches with Mascarpone

Warm Berries and Peaches with Mascarpone

Image credit: finecooking.com

2 Tbs. granulated sugar

1 tsp. ground ginger

4 cups ripe mixed berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)

3 medium ripe nectarines, thinly sliced

1/4 cup mascarpone (or cream cheese)

In a large (12-inch) skillet, combine the sugar and ginger with 1/3 cup water and put the pan over medium-high heat.

When the water comes to a boil, add the berries and nectarines and cook, stirring frequently, until the nectarines have just started to soften and the juice released from the berries has thickened slightly, 4 to 5 minutes.

Let cool for a minute and then transfer to individual serving bowls and garnish with a dollop of mascarpone.

Peach Mango SalsaPeach Pecan Cake

There is also Peach and Mango Salsa and Peach and Pecan Cake.

Peaches also have vitamins-A and C, including the trace minerals iron and magnesium, making it a fruit that enriches your blood with oxygen and helps your muscles relax.

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