Homegrown tomatoes are incredibly delicious, but what do you do when you do not have room for a garden? How about growing tomatoes in a container garden? Tomatoes are one of the easiest plants to grow in containers and even if the only space you have is a 12 inch square on your front porch, you have enough room for a tomato container garden.
Choosing the Right Container
Almost any container will work for tomatoes, but grow boxes are very nice. Grow boxes allow you to control the flow of the water to the tomato plants which improves the chances for growing healthy plants and producing wonderful, ripe tomatoes. If a grow box isn’t an option, try and find a container that is at least five gallons or larger. Ensure there are holes in the bottom for drainage.
You can also try using bushel baskets lined with plastic bags with holes in the bottom of the plastic bags for drainage. Bushel baskets will hold at least three tomato plants and they look very nice sitting on a patio or deck.
Selecting the Tomato Variety
The dwarf tomatoes work the best in containers. If this is your first tomato container garden, try one of the cherry varieties for a patio like a Pixie II or a Tiny Tim. These types of small plants produce very tasty fruit, but don’t need a lot of support in the container. They will also produce very early.
Planting the Tomato Plants
When selecting tomato plants for your containers, choose strong, stocky plants to transplant into the containers. Prepare the containers by filling them with a mixture of potting soil and compost, approximately 50/50, ensuring it is thoroughly mixed. Fill the container to within a few inches from the top. Place the tomato plants in the container, three or four per container with between 3 to 4 inches between plants. Water the container thoroughly, ensuring the soil is soaked all the way down to the roots and below of the tomato plant. Set the container in a location where it will get at least six hours of full sun each day.
Caring for Container Tomatoes
Water the containers more often than a traditional garden because container gardens will dry out more easily. It will be necessary to check the container garden daily to ensure it stays moist and does not dry out. During the heat of summer, it may be necessary to water the plants daily. Check the tomato leaves for brown spots or for insects. Apply fertilizer every other week or so and apply it around the base of the tomato plant. If the leaves begin to turn brown or the fruit begins to get brown spots, try placing crushed egg shells around the base of the tomato plant.
When the plants flower, shake the vines to release the pollen and help pollination along a bit. The tomato plants should start producing fruit within a couple of months.
When the growing season is over, bring the containers inside if you have a sunny place to place them. They will continue to produce fruit as long as they can receive six hours of direct sunlight each day. This can prolong the growing season quite a bit. Growing tomatoes in a container garden is a great way to get fresh vegetables and maximize the space you have available.
Children love playhouses and creating one in the garden is fun and easy and the children will enjoy helping you create it. Your children will spend many happy summers playing in one of these and it will become one of their fondest childhood memories.
What You’ll Need
A nice sized section of garden area. Make sure there’s room enough for the kids to play inside.
Sunflower Seeds (various types, we like very tall ones and then smaller ones)
Various herbs (we like chamomile, lavender, mint, basil, oregano, marigolds and other similar herbs)
Decide On A Shape
Decide what shape you want your garden playhouse to be. You may wish to draw it out with string prior to planting your seeds.
Planting Your Playhouse
Plant your giant sunflower seeds as the outer “walls” of your playhouse. Space them far enough apart that children can go in between them, but close enough together that they make it appear like a secret garden.
Plant snow peas near the tallest sunflowers. They will grow and wind up the tall sunflowers. Children will enjoy nibbling on these while they’re playing so be sure to show them how delicious they are.
Intersperse the herbs throughout the sunflowers and plant smaller sunflowers in between as well. You want it to appear as if there is a quaint little garden fence along the outer “walls” of your playhouse so be creative and make the herbs appear to be a fence line or add pops of color here and there.
Plant the carrots along the inside “wall” of the tallest sunflowers. These make great snacks for hungry children while they’re in the playhouse.
Help your children water their playhouse every day. Talk to them about how some plants grow faster than other plants. Talk about how some plants have edible seeds (sunflowers) and some have edible roots (carrots) while some have edible flowers and delicious leaves.
Furnishing Your Playhouse
Depending upon the age of your children, you may wish to put some lawn furniture inside the playhouse area. We have a hammock we like in ours.
You could make the inside like a sand castle as well and have a sand bucket or some “earth moving” tools like toy dump trucks etc. Get creative and make this playhouse as personal as you can for your children.
Winding Down The Season
As the season winds down and the sunflowers begin to tip over teach your children about how to dry sunflowers. Remove the heads of the flowers and air dry your seeds. Then toast them with some sea salt and enjoy eating them.
Uproot the remainder of the sunflower stalks and put them in a compost pile. Save the herbs and dry them for eating with dinner in the winter months. Remind the children how the herbs grew in their own playhouse.
Oregano, lavender, chamomile and marigolds will come back year after year so there is no need to remove these. Basil will need to be replanted each year.
Enjoy playing in the playhouse.
It’s a good idea to choose your favorite vegetables to grow and plan beds for early, middle of the season and late varieties.
Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, some need 8. Some quick growers like lettuce and radish can be grown between the rows of plants that take longer to mature, like beet or corn, thus making full use of the area available.
Vegetable Gardens Need Extra Watering
Throughout dry periods, vegetable gardens need extra watering. Most vegetables benefit from an inch or more of water each week, especially when they are fruiting.
During the growing season watch for insect pests. If you discover a bug problem early it will be much easier, but be careful to not use pesticides once the vegetable are close to being picked unless it becomes an absolute necessity. Organic gardening is one healthy and environment-friendly option. Once you have reaped your crop, put the vegetable waste into your compost pile so that it can be recycled for next spring.
It is important to protect your vegetable garden from wild animals looking for a tasty treat. Make sure your garden is surrounded by a fence that will keep out dogs, rabbits, and other animals. The harm done by wandering animals during one season can equal the cost of a fence. A fence also can serve as a frame for peas, beans, tomatoes, and other crops that need support.
Protection is needed in order for your vegetable garden to yield a bountiful harvest. Hard work will pay dividends if necessary precautions have been made.
In the US, farming is $6 billion industry. To keep it that way and with the health and welfare of the public in mind, the Department of Agriculture has taken steps so farmers can shift to organic farming. This does not only save money but also has some health benefits.
But first, we have to know what organic farming is. This is a technique that has been practiced by ancient civilizations that simply relied on the land they worked on, the sun and the water to make the harvests grow.
Organic Vegetable Backyard Garden Chemical Free
It was only when scientists invented fertilizers and pesticides that we moved away from this technique because it was thought that this will make the crops bigger and harvesting faster.
Unfortunately, the use of fertilizers and pesticides has done more harm than good. The chemicals used are harmful but never in small dosages. But imagine what if somebody consumes this in excessive amounts and unknowingly develops an illness or their baby has birth defects.
Such threats are real which is why we have to do something before it happens. Before the Department of Agriculture wanted everyone to go into organic farming, tests were conducted.
The results show that organically grown vegetables have more nutrients and vitamins compared to conventional farming. The same goes for its taste.
Organic vegetables do not have hydrogenated fats, artificial flavor or coloring, sweeteners, additives, preservatives or residual antibiotics. This means that what you get is all natural. But don’t forget to wash these first before it is cooked to remove any residue from the compost used in helping it grow.
The government or the Department of Agriculture is not the only one who should push farmers to shift towards organic farming. You can do your share by talking to the farmers themselves as they are the ones who plant them. You can also start planting organically grown vegetables yourself because they cost a bit more in the supermarket.
Before you start planting, check how big is the area so you have an idea what kind of vegetables can be planted given your limited space. You then need to buy the necessary tools and make some of them yourself. This information can be found online, in books and from the gardening store.
If you don’t want to start making an organic vegetable garden using seeds, you can get starter plants instead but be aware that they cost a bit more and this takes the thrill out of gardening.
But if money is no object to you, by all means get this from the store. Just make sure that there is a stamp which certifies that this has been approved by the Department of Health, Quality Assurance International, California Certified Organic Farmers or the Oregon Tilth Farm Verified Organic.
If everyone does their share, no one will use chemicals and fertilizers anymore. Everyone can live healthy and eat healthy. At the same time, we are able to protect the environment so future generations will be able to use the land we have used to plant their crops in the future.
Organic vegetable gardening is truly the way to go. If you noticed, some restaurants have done their share as well by making people know that whatever they use is organic.
Just because you don’t have huge, elaborate gardens does not mean you cant accentuate what you do have with l garden bridges. Garden bridges could be just what you need to turn those mediocre garden areas into something quite splendid.
Garden bridges can add a touch of country or formal design to a garden. Small garden bridges are easy to find. There are many garden bridges that you can find in garden centers or home improvement centers. One of the best places to find small garden bridges may be online. There are lots of sites that have many ideas for small garden bridges.
Make Your Own Garden Bridge
If you are good with a hammer and nails you may even be able to make your own garden bridge. Plans are available at building stores and at online sites. You will find many choices for garden bridges at these online sites and you can also see photos of many different bridge styles.
A garden bridge can be a big benefit for your garden space. A small garden bridge will look attractive in a smaller garden and draw attention to a specific area.
You can choose the right small garden bridge if you do a little planning ahead of time. If you have a smaller garden you will want a smaller garden bridge. Look at the space you have and decide where a bridge would fit in. Consider more than one area and then choose your favorite.
There are some lovely gardens that are small in size but large in beauty because garden bridges have been added in just the right places.
Growing plants require a nearly endless supply of the best nutrients to maintain quality plant health. This is true whether the gardener is attempting to grow ornamental flowers, fruits or vegetables. Fertilizer is often added to the dirt as a way to replenish the depleting nutrients that are sucked up by the plant life during growing season.
Organic and chemical fertilizers provide essential nutrients including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen. Plant life requires these essential ingredients along with other valuable trace nutrients. Applying the right amount of fertilizer, and the correct percentages is based on a variety of factors, but are all highly dependent on each particular plant’s needs.
Testing the Soil
By taking a test on the soil, the gardener can easily determine its acidity, or pH factor. This will provide all the necessary information to determine which nutrients are deficient in the soil. The soil test can be used to help the gardener adjust the types of fertilization used to replenish the nutrients. Even the best testing provides only minimal results when determining how much nitrogen needs to be added to the soil.
Garden centers at the local home improvement store or hardware store will offer sample test kits. These types of tests can give the gardener significantly more information on the soil by analyzing its content. It is possible to achieve high quality soil without using a soil test, but requires significantly more guesswork in selecting the best fertilizer.
An organic amendment is often used in conjunction with strong chemical fertilizers. An organic amendment can be nothing more than compost. The organic matter will continuously decompose and leach out many of the essential nutrients it contains to provide vital ingredients for the soil.
Some gardeners choose to add bone meal as a natural organic substitute for blending in phosphorus with the necessary chemical fertilizers. Additionally, blood meal and manure can provide the necessary nitrogen, and pot ash can generate potassium. All organic amendment should be blended into the soils before planting begins.
When It Is Time to Fertilize
Each different type of fertilizer has its own unique time for application for blending into the soil. It is often listed on its bag. Traditionally, all types of fruit and vegetable plants will benefit greatly by having higher levels of phosphorus during the early part of the growing season. It is phosphorus that encourages the production of healthy stems and roots.
During mid-season, adding more nitrogen to the soil can help in the fruit and foliage production. However, too much added nitrogen will often create too many leaves and only a minimal amount of flowering buds.
For the consummate gardener, over fertilizing the soil can cause just as much damage to the plants as not applying enough fertilizer. When the gardener is in doubt, as to whether or not they should feed the garden plants more fertilizer, it is always advisable to wait until the plant life begins producing less. Only then can the gardener be assured that the proper addition of fertilizer is required.
What benefits are in organic gardening besides having a more beautiful garden or eating healthier veggies and fruits? Actually there are more special benefits than most people and organic backyard gardeners ever think about. This article will tell you about the additional benefits and give you some thought provoking ideas that may surprise you.
Did you know you can feed children around the world with your organic garden? “How in the world can you do that?” you ask. It’s really quite simple and only takes a little more planning and work on your part.
Share Your Backyard Garden
When you began to plan your own personal natural garden you should layout a larger and grander garden. It doesn’t make any difference if it’s for flowers, veggies, fruits or bushes to beautify your yard. That’s right! Make it bigger. When it’s harvest time you will have more flowers, plants and veggies than you can possibly use.
Instead of plowing under the excess crops from your organic gardening or inundating your friends and relatives with it take it to the local Farmers Market or the Flea Market and sell it. Chances are you won’t have a problem selling it and you may end up with a pocket full of cash. Take the cash from the sell and donate it to your favorite “Feed The Children” charity. When you do this a starving child will benefit from your garden, long after you harvested your crops.
Another great benefit from raising your own organic fruits and veggies is it’s a great school project for your child’s school. Help your child and their classmates set up their own organic garden. The immediate lessons they learn will be about how to help the environment, healthy eating, teamwork and it makes learning fun for them. Again, set it up, so the children can take the crops to the local Farmers Market or Flea Market to sell. The proceeds from the sell can be used to buy something which will benefit all of the children of the school.
This next benefit is one that is seldom thought about by your children or possibly by you. This is the benefit of the physical exercise you and the kids will receive by working in the garden. You know that the kids today don’t play outside the way you did when you were a kid. An hour a day of working in your garden will help in weight loss (burning calories), lowering blood pressure, strengthen the heart and lungs, build muscle, sharpen the mind. Relieve stress and sleep better. The end result being you and kids will be much happier and healthy to boot.
One last benefit you will realize by you when working with the earth and growing things organically is the restoration of your spirit and soul. You will receive such a sense of well being when you have a fruitful harvest, you just can’t beat it. You will know you have done your part to help “Mother Nature” return to her natural state and touched all the other human beings by doing so.
As you have just read the benefits to organic gardening can benefit not only yourself and your family, but you can actually reach out and make a difference in the world.
Herbs are an important addition to the fruits and vegetables that we grow in our gardens. However, they do not have to be just plain old green plants. Most flowering herbs can more than hold their own when put up against any flower garden.
They have beautiful foliage and bright blooms. The herbs give you a double bonus by not only looking beautiful, but also being practical as well because they can be used for your crafts or cooking needs.
Flowering Herbs In Your Backyard Garden For Color
Having a border made of flowering herbs is a great compromise for those that have limited space because the plants serve double duty as a perennial border as well as an herb garden. There are many easy to plant beautiful herbs that you can use for foliage and flowers. Most of them bloom with colors ranging from silver, pink, lavender, and bronze, as well as white and yellow.
One of the first perennial herbs that you can use is anise hyssop. This perennial will grow bushy clumps, having stems that branch upright and are topped with lavender blue flowers. These flowers will bloom somewhere between mid to late summer.
The flowers are very attractive to beneficial insects and pollinating bees, which in turn will benefit your entire garden. Both the flowers and leaves of this plant are very fragrant when they are dried or fresh and are great to use for a potpourri mix.
Bee balm is another great flowering herb. This usually blooms in the summer with red flowers, however, some may also come with purple, pink, or white blooms. This herb will also spread on its own.
A delicate looking but very sturdy and easy to grow plant is feverfew. This herb will bloom from early in the summer to early fall. The flowers are white pedaled with yellow centers and look like mini daisies. These plants will grow up to 2 feet tall.
The very distinctive fragrance and look of lavender is also a great addition to your garden. The tall spikes of purple blue flowers sitting on very slender stalks over narrow leaves that have a silvery color give lavender a distinctive look.
It will bloom around midsummer and makes a great border. The only consideration for lavender is to be sure it has very good drainage.
Meadowsweet is a great perennial herb that blooms with white clusters of flowers during mid to late summer. Dark green large leaves will grow in clumps and spread by creeping. You will need to divide these plants around every 2 to 3 years to help control their spreading.
The purple coneflower otherwise known as echinacea, will produce sturdy stems in clumps that are topped with large daisy like rosy pink flowers that contain raised centers that are brown and orange in color.
Using flowering herbs in your garden as a border, or just in general, can make a great addition to the look of your garden as well as providing great herbs for your cooking and craft needs.
The demand for organic products has become quite overwhelming in recent years. Wherever you go, many people are choosing to buy organic products over regular ones, whether it’s food, cosmetics, toiletries or cleaning products. The reason is that organic products tend to be much safer. They contain no toxins or artificial chemicals.
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, there is no doubt that organic varieties do offer more health benefits. However, many people still prefer to buy the regular types because of the cost factor. With the added processes and regulations that apply to the production or manufacture of organic products, it’s only natural for them to be priced slightly higher than their regular counterparts.
Starting Your Own Organic Garden
Does this mean you have to pay top dollar in order to enjoy the health benefits of organic produce? Not necessarily. There is another option, and that is to start your own organic garden. By planting your own organic fruits and veggies, you can have yourself some healthy produce without having to spend a lot of money.
Contrary to what many people may think, it’s not very difficult to start an organic garden. It’s basically the same as regular gardening except that you won’t be using any chemical fertilizers or pesticides at all.
If you already have an existing vegetable garden and you want to make it organic, it’s a good idea to make the switch gradually. This will give both you and your plants time to adjust to the change, and will eventually yield far better results.
One of the basic chores that you need to learn when starting an organic garden is composting. You can begin by digging a compost pit in a corner of your yard, where you can dump your vegetable cuttings, fruit rinds, dried tree leaves, and other organic matter that you would ordinarily throw into the trash can. Over time, these bits of garbage will turn into an excellent soil amendment and fertilizer, which you can add to your planting soil to make it richer.
Getting Rid of Pests
One of the biggest challenges that you may have to face when starting an organic garden is getting rid of pests. This is particularly difficult if you have become used to spraying pesticides onto your plants, which is what most people do.
In organic gardening, chemical pesticides are not used at all. You will need to find an organic replacement or find another method for taking care of the pests on your plant.
There are many natural pesticides you can use. You may just have to try a few of them before finding the one that works best. These natural pesticides include cayenne pepper, wood ash, lemon juice, diatomaceous earth, and neem oil. In any case, it is best to be vigilant so that you can address pest problems before they get any worse.
In the beginning, growing your own organic fruits and vegetables may take time, effort, and some getting used to. But once you get to reap the rewards of your hard work, all your efforts will definitely have paid off.
The summer is a busy time for gardeners – some plants will grow like wildfire and others will be liable to perish under the hot summer sun. With a little TLC and plenty of water there is no reason why every plant shouldn’t flourish and bloom in the summer months – extra water and fertilizer is really the key to having a beautiful backyard summer garden.
Here are a few more backyard garden tips to help you get the most from your garden this summer.
” It can be a little tempting to over water lawns during the summer months, I know, you wouldn’t think it possible but a lawn only really needs two – three inches of water per week.
” Watering your lawn (and the rest of your garden) early in the morning will reduce the amount of water which is lost because of evaporation.
” You need to treat your lawn every 4 or 6 weeks with some lawn food – the slow release food is the best choice.
” Don’t forget to mow your lawn quite regularly. You should mow the grass every time it has grown around a half an inch to an inch for the best results.
” Flower beds need to have plenty of organic mulch to help them retain as much moisture as possible.
” Give your flower beds plenty of water – the soil should be always moist but never soggy.
” Your flower beds will also need to be fertilized quite regularly through the summer – at least every three or four weeks.
” Dead head flowers to promote more bloom and new growth – pinch back any stems which are becoming leggy.
” You may need to water newly planted flowers more than once per day until they become established and settled in the flower bed.
” Trees also need lots of fertilizer to encourage rapid growth during the summer, especially citrus fruit trees, deciduous fruit trees and desert trees.
” When you water these trees make sure that they have plenty of water to around 3 inches of depth.
” If you want to plant any citrus, fruit or desert trees now is a good time to do it.
Summer Gardening Pests
The plants may be glad to see the summer but it is also the time when you have to be most vigilant against diseases and insects.
” Keep an eye on your trees and shrubs for foliage which suddenly begins to wilt
” Branches which begin to die at the end (around 6 – 8 inches at the end) may be victims of the female cicada – she may have selected to lay her eggs. If you can see slash marks measuring around ¼” that’s probably the culprit – you can’t do anything to control it but the damage is usually pretty limited.
” Prickly pear cactus is extremely susceptible to cochineal scale – white fluffy globs – blasting them off with water jets is usually sufficient to sort them out.
Summer is the time when most people can really enjoy their garden and following a few of these summer gardening tips will ensure that you have a beautiful garden to enjoy.