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Archive for November 2008

Can Help Me Find This Bean Seed

November 26th, 2008

I am looking for a bean seed called Little Greassy. It is a old bean and comes in white and brown. Hope you can help me find this bean seed. Thanks Joyce G.

To Seed or Not to Seed

November 26th, 2008

If you’re a serious gardener (and by serious, we mean your garden grows a little larger each year), then you know how backbreaking it can be to plant seeds by hand.  It’s also an inefficient way to plant, since it’s difficult to maintain consistency when you’re working in the soil.

For a small investment in seed planting equipment, you can save yourself a serious amount of time—and of course, your knees and back will thank you. A seed planter ensures straighter rows, uniform row spacing, and nearly no physical effort from you. You simply fill the hopper and walk behind the easy-to-push seeder, and let it do all the work.

The EarthWay Precision Garden Seeder comes with a row marker, a planter stand, a precision planting depth gauge and 6 standard seed plates.  Seed plates contain multiple size and shape openings, each designed for specific types of seed. If you plant a wide variety of plants, you will also want to consider buying the optional seed plates to match your seed types.
 
Precision Products’ Garden Seeder is small but efficient.  The concave wheels form a mound over the newly planted seeds and cleat the ground for correct drainage. Two hoppers allow planting and fertilizing in one pass. It comes with a storage pouch, 6 seed plates, a reversible row marker and it has a 5-pound hopper capacity.

The Lambert All-in-One Seed Row Planter comes with 6 seed plates to handle 31 common vegetable seed sizes. The fertilizer hopper has a flow control for proper density of application. It also includes a pouch mounted to the handles to hold extra seed, gardening gloves, a notepad or any other small supplies you need as you work. This seeder plants the vegetable seed, fertilizes it, covers it and marks the row all in one pass. It has an adjustable depth shovel to ensure seeds are planted at their ideal depth in the soil.

Today’s well-designed seed planters are compact and take up very little space in the shed, but their functionality is large. Seed waste is minimized with these planting devices, because the spacing of seeds is even and precise. Once in the ground, the seed is covered and the next row is being marked simultaneously. The seeds are also planted at a uniform depth.

Garden Harvest Supply carries all these garden seeders, and all three are crafted of heavy-duty, long-lasting and weather-resistant materials. They’re meant to clean up easily after planting.  GHS also carries an extensive variety of organic vegetable seeds.

Caspian Pink Heirloom Tomato Plant

November 24th, 2008

In the gardening world, tomatoes are the barometer of a good harvest. If you produce a bountiful crop of sweet tomatoes, nothing else matters. And, every gardener loves showing off his or her prize maters like a piece of artwork.

Heirloom tomatoes are certainly nothing new, but they’re taking on a whole new level of popularity among purists. Since they’re not genetically altered for perfect round appearance, uniform color or any other set of traits like the hybrid varieties, they aren’t necessarily the most beautiful or normal-looking fruits. But heirloom tomatoes have a wide range of flavors, textures and skin variations, and their uniqueness is only matched by their unrivaled flavors.

Caspian Pink Heirloom Tomato plants produce fruit in 75-80 days. The plants are semi-determinate and are in the beefsteak family. The name comes from the discovery of this tomato along the shores of the Caspian Sea in southern Russia. The fruits ripen from the bottom of the plant first, and they weigh in at a hearty 11 ounces and up. Some growers report fruits heavier than two pounds!

Caspian Pink Heirlooms are fleshy and meaty, with plenty of juice and sweet flavor coming from squat-shaped fruits. Not coincidentally, the dense flesh is pink-red in color. Caspian Pink Heirloom tomatoes often beat Brandywine in flavor contests.

This heirloom tomato is a semi-determinate variety, meaning it will grow from 3 to 5 feet in height and produce fruit throughout the growing season, as opposed to determinates, which are short and bushy and provide all their ripe fruit at once—or indeterminates, which vine and produce tomatoes throughout the growing season. Caspian Pink is a mid-season producer, bearing ripe fruit around 75 or 80 days. Determinate tomato growers usually prefer a harvest all at once, if they can or preserve tomatoes. Indeterminate and semi-determinate growers usually want to pick ripe fruit for the longest possible growing season. Some gardeners like a mix of both.

Like all tomato plants, Caspian Pink Heirlooms like lots of full sun and heat. They do best in a well-drained soil that’s slightly acidic with plenty of good organic matter worked in. Caspian Pink Heirloom tomatoes are ripe and ready to pick when their shoulders’ take on a deep pink color. Don’t pick fruit from the stem. Use a sharp knife or shears and cut fruit to avoid bruising the plant or the fruit.

When considering tomato varieties to plant, things to consider include your garden or container growing space, your ideal harvest time(s), your soil and water, and the recipes and preparations you’ll use. Some tomatoes excel when sliced raw for salads, others when cooked in pasta sauces or baked into casseroles. Each tomato has qualities that set it apart from all the others. So, why not plant a few varieties and see which ones work best for your garden, climate and table? Enjoy the sweet rewards of tomato gardening, and make sure to include Caspian Pink Heirloom plants in your mix.

Asparagus Jersey Supreme–Hybrid Male Crowns

November 23rd, 2008

These six words all deserve some attention.

Asparagus is considered a delicacy among vegetable lovers everywhere. The spears are prized for their unique flavor and versatility in preparation. Asparagus is also an attractive garden plant, even in the off season. If you love eating asparagus, you’ll also love growing it. Like all vegetables, asparagus fresh out the garden far outshines anything bought in a supermarket.

Jersey Supreme is a cultivar that is especially popularbecause it adapts to most environments. It can handle cold climates (from Zone 4 through 9) and it’s also drought tolerant. Jersey Supreme Asparagus plants outyield the other two Jersey varieties, Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight. Spears are plump but not squat, and medium length. Jersey Supreme is a great universal variety for all cooking preparations, including boiling, roasting, baking, stir-frying, freezing and pickling.

The"Hybrid" part of Jersey Supreme Hybrid Asparagus means the variety was bred for specific qualities. In the case of Jersey Supreme, the coveted qualities are a bountiful harvest, as well as a high tolerance to crown and root rot, rust, and fusarium wilt. Hybrid asparagus varieties hold up well in cold weather. Some even tolerate frost and light snow.

All-male crowns are preferred for several reasons. Traditional asparagus plants have both male and female counterparts. All-male hybrid plants don’t produce seed, which in the female plant takes energy and nutrients away from producing the edible vegetables, and it also creates a weeding hassle for gardeners when the seeds drop to the soil. All-male varieties have much higher yields of spears.

The crown is where the production happens. Asparagus should be grown in either full or part sun and dry to average soil. Asparagus is best planted as one- or two-year-old bare root plants in early spring. First, make a trench about 8 inches deep in soil with good drainage. Add organic matter and a high-phosphorus fertilizer to the bottom of the trench. Space plants about 18 inches apart in the row. Cover the crowns with soil and water moderately to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Gradually fill in the trench as the young plants grow. Asparagus roots will spread horizontally underground as the plant matures.

Do not harvest any asparagus spears the first year after planting. A light harvest can be made the second and third years. In subsequent years, the harvesting period should end by mid- to late June to allow for growth and plant nutrient storage.

If you’re new to Jersey Supreme Hybrid Asparagus, try planting a few along with other Jersey varieties to see which ones produce best for your soil, sunlight, water and climate conditions. All three cultivars produce deep green spears that are plump, succulent and attractive.

Plain, steamed asparagus is as popular as any preparation. However, it can be served like most green vegetables, cooked into casseroles, covered in béarnaise or hollandaise sauce, roasted with garlic, or parboiled and chopped into cold salads. It preserves wonderfully, frozen or pickled for feasting throughout the cold winter months.

Season Starter™ Plant Protectors

November 23rd, 2008

Early season tomato and pepper starter

It might not be very Zen to rush your garden’s produce, but it sure is gratifying to speed the first ripe tomatoes and peppers to harvest time by a month. And now gardeners everywhere can extend their growing season, planting earlier and continuing to harvest long after the first frost.

Season Starter™ employs a simple concept to insulate plants against the cold. Like a polar fleece jacket, the Season Starter holds in heat to extend your growing season by two full months. It wraps around your plant to keep dipping temperatures from hurting the developing leaves and produce.

Season Starter is a transparent plastic teepee made up of several long cylinders that together hold 3 gallons of water. You place it on level ground, fill each of the cylinders 2/3 of the way full with water (it helps if your garden is near a garden hose, but it’s not required if you can carry watering cans), and then allow it to sit for a few days or longer to warm up the soil. Then, transplant your young plants inside the shelter.

The transparent plastic allows sunlight to reach the plants. The heat of the sun is captured and stored by the water in the tubes and it keeps the entire structure warmer throughout the cooler night temperatures, releasing the heat to the interior. It’s almost like having a mini-greenhouse around your garden plants.

You can plant a full month prior to your last frost date of the spring, even when the ground is still covered in frost crystals. The Season Starter heats up the soil, making it workable when you’re ready to plant. You can harvest produce a full month past the first frost of fall, as well. Season Starters protect plants against temperatures well below freezing!

Filled, the Season Starters measure approximately 18 inches in diameter by 18 inches tall. Empty, they take up virtually no room in storage. Season Starters can be used year after year.

Ideal plants for this method of early planting are herbs, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and melons. One caveat is that the Season Starter can tip over and crush plants as you’re filling the tubes with water, so it is recommended that you fill it before you plant. The standing wall of water will be ready for seedlings to be planted in the ground, in the interior. Or, you can set up the Season Starter after planting if you place a bucket or wire cage support around the seedling in the interior as you fill, allowing the teepee shape to become balanced and centered. Fill each of the 18 tubes equally, then remove the bucket or center support through the open top.

The Season Starter wall of water can be left in place through the entire growing season. Just make sure to keep the cells constantly filled to an equal level. During the hottest days of summer, the Season Starter works in the opposite fashion, absorbing heat from the outside and moderating it on the inside, so plants don’t get scalded.

After the last produce is harvested from most gardens, your Season Starters will protect your plants to keep them producing another month or more past frost and freezing temperatures. When the season is completely finished, simply drain the water from the cells and store Season Starters in a shed or garage until the next gardening season is about to start.

Which Potatoes Should I Plant

November 21st, 2008

I live in Live Oak, Texas, next to San Antonio. Our growing season is long, however summer temps average in the mid 80′s to high 90′s and we do have 1 or 2 days (or more) that hit 100. I would like to have potatoes in my 2009 garden. Raised planters are used here as my soil is all black heavy clay.

Could you recommend 2 early varieties, 2 mid season varieties and 2 late season varieties for this area? Nothing beats the taste of home grown. And my friends kids are beside themselves when they get to see something they’ve grown come to harvest! With all their electronic junk, they sometimes react like gardening is something entirely new. I love it! Thank you for your help, I want to order as soon as possible. Tina G

Eggplant isn’t just for Parmagiana

November 20th, 2008

How to Harvest Eggplant PlantsEggplant is a warm-weather crop that is easy to grow, and it’s a colorful, attractive addition to the garden. Fruits vary from small egg-shaped globes to heavy oblong teardrops to skinny foot-long Asian varieties, and the glossy skins can range in color from deep purple to light violet, lavender, yellow, white, green and pink.

You can start Eggplant indoors 8 to 10 weeks in advance and transplant to the garden, or plant seeds directly in the garden after the threat of frost has passed. Choose a warm, sunny garden spot. Soil should be well-drained, fertile and rich in organic matter. Eggplant needs calcium, so an addition of mineral lime to the soil before planting is beneficial. Allow a foot or two of space between plants, and water frequently to maintain moisture in the soil.

Begin picking eggplant as soon as they’re big enough to eat and keep picking them throughout the growing season, to encourage production of new fruit. They should be shiny and firm, but not hard to the touch. Always cut the fruits from the stems, rather than pulling or twisting them off. As the frost season approaches, you can pinch off flowers to encourage faster maturation of fruits already ripening.

Eggplant will keep in a cool, dry location one or two weeks after harvesting. Because eggplant is so easy to freeze or dry, canning isn’t the preferred method of preserving it. Eggplant needs to be blanched before freezing. It is a low acid food, so you’ll need to add citric acid or lemon juice to the boiling water, to prevent the discoloration of the flesh. After four minutes of blanching, slices can be separated with sheets of waxed paper before freezing for use later.

Methods for cooking this vegetable vary widely, and each will determine its flavor and texture, and consistency. Skin can be peeled or left on. Eggplant can be boiled, broiled, baked, breaded and fried, or roasted. Stuffed eggplant is a delicacy in many ethnic cuisines. One thing is for certain, garlic and eggplant are a winning flavor combination.

There are as many ways to serve eggplant as there are types of eggplant. Recipes abound for Indian pickles and chutneys, as well as Far East Asian gourmet pickled relishes and dips. For more traditional dishes, stuff with bread crumbs. Or, bake with cheese, pasta, tomatoes and onions. Mix with a variety of other veggies and sauces to create casseroles that are a huge hit served piping hot from the oven. Or, combine diced eggplant with wild rice and mushrooms for a hearty winter stew. Cooked into recipes, eggplant will freeze wonderfully for individual servings to be microwaved later.

With its firm and meaty texture, vegetarians and vegans love the diverse uses for eggplant, sliced and diced to make salads, veggie burgers, soups and entrees. Roasted, it takes on a rich, thick texture and nutty flavor. Roasted eggplant is one of the main ingredients of Middle Eastern foods like Baba Ganoush, a hummus dip.

Dehydrating eggplant allows it to be stored in a cool, dry pantry for months. To rehydrate, simply soak slices in warm water and add to recipes like fresh produce.

Discover Diatomaceous Earth

November 20th, 2008

One of the biggest problems mankind faces is also the tiniest. Small pests in the form of fleas, ticks, flies, ants, roaches, grubs and slugs can all be maddening if they infest your space, whether inside your home, on your pets or livestock, around your garden, or in your lawn. Luckily, nature is a clever inventor, and it has created something better than any scientist could manufacture to handle tough pest problems…naturally.

Diatomaceous Earth, also known as fossil shell flour, is a wonder insecticide. It is available in many forms but for this short article, we’ll focus on food grade. And we’ll get to why, in a minute.  First, some basics:

Diatoms are algae-like plants that eons ago left their skeletal remains to create sediment in the earth called diatomite. Diatomite is chalky and can be mined and ground up into a fine mineral powder that is similar to talcum.

Diatomaceous Earth is a natural fossilized product. Each particle has microscopic clumps of fragments with razor-sharp edges. When insects make contact, these particles slice right through their exoskeleton, or protective outer layer, causing them to suffocate and die. It kills insects without toxic chemicals or insecticide fumes.

Another form of diatomaceous earth is used in pool filtration devices, but it’s treated and heated to perform a specific function not intended for use with plants or animals. Food grade is called that because it can actually be ingested by pets and livestock without damage to them. In fact, it is commonly used to rid them of intestinal parasite problems. It is safe for use nearly everywhere and it will eliminate destructive and annoying pests from your home’s interior and exterior. Best of all, it doesn’t affect earthworms, which are desirable underground residents that keep soil fertilized and aerated.

The only warning with using food grade diatomaceous earth is not to breathe the dust. Application must be performed by an adult and precautions must be heeded to avoid irritation to mucus membranes.

Because it can be ingested, Food Grade DE is an exceptional solution to fleas on cats and dogs.  It can be applied directly to their skin, underneath their coats.

Bedbugs have become a huge problem in the United States in the past couple of years because they’re resistant to traditional pest control chemicals. Just when you think you’re rid of them, they keep showing back up.  Diatomaceous Earth has been successful in complete elimination of them.

Silverfish, aphids, cockroaches, lice and earwigs can safely be eliminated by simply dusting where these insects hang out.  Sprinkle Food Grade DE inside cabinets, behind appliances, near sewer pipes and drains, around baseboards or anywhere around the home or barn exterior to keep bugs at bay.  It only takes 24-48 hours for the insect problem to be taken care of but in cases of heavy infestation, reapplication may be necessary.

This organic product is available in a 5-pound household consumer size as well as a 50-pound industrial size.

Knobby Kohlrabi

November 19th, 2008

Fresh Kohlrabi PlantsFrom the first bite, everyone gets hooked on kohlrabi. The stems and leaves grow out of sides of the globes, giving the vegetable an odd, choppy exterior shape and exotic appearance.  It looks like a root crop, but it grows above ground. The young leaves at the top are edible and extremely nutritious, like all greens, but this vegetable is most beloved for its crunchy interior. There are green, white and purple varieties, all with the same crisp white interior flesh that is similar to a water chestnut or a turnip but with a mild flavor that makes it an extremely versatile veggie.

Kohlrabi is the perfect diet food: one cup contains fewer than 40 calories but it packs a wholloping 5 grams of fiber!  It’s a good source of potassium and calcium, as well as vitamins A and C and folic acid.  Sliced and served raw with dip, it will disappear quickly from appetizer plates.  It’s popping up in recipes from basic to exotic, for cooking in curries and soups and casseroles. The texture is satisfying as a crunchy raw snack, and it’s mild enough to go well with most dressings and dips. Cooked, it acquires a soft texture and mixes wonderfully with butter or cream sauces, and nearly every seasoning. Kids love kohlrabi because of its sweet, delicate flavor.

Kohlrabi will store well in a root cellar or refrigerator for up to a month, but make sure to harvest or buy globes that are firm and fresh looking, with no yellowing on the leaves. The sweetest and most ideal size for harvest is 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

A cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage and cauliflower, kohlrabi is similar in flavor to broccoli stems or a very mild radish. Kohlrabi is simple to prepare: use a very sharp knife and peel carefully, as the outer skin can be tough and woody. Once the white globe is revealed, you can create all kinds of wonderful snacks, side dishes or entrees. Cut the raw flesh into round slices or long spears to munch on instead of starchy snacks. Coat cubes with olive oil and roast to get a caramelized glaze, bringing out the natural sugars. Mix julienned slices with raw carrots and mayonnaise for an inventive cole slaw.  Steam diced kohlrabi and top with butter for a satisfying side dish.

Sliced kohlrabi is firm enough to make excellent pickle spears. The stems and leaves can be cooked or mixed raw into dishes along with the white interior.

When harvesting kohlrabi or buying bunches in the supermarket, choose firm, heavy bulbs with no blemishes on the outer surfaces. The larger the globes, the tougher the outer skin.

Gardeners love how hardy kohlrabi is.  It prefers cooler temperatures and will produce a spring and fall crop in some growing regions.  Seeds can be sown as soon as the soil can be worked, or they can be started indoors and transplanted. They require very little space, needing to be spaced only 6 inches apart.  Kohlrabi grows quickly and can even tolerate some snow, for late fall harvests.  This vegetable is relatively disease and insect resistant and it will thrive in most well-drained soils. Mix a good organic compost into the soil and use a general purpose fertilizer to promote quick growth. Water generously throughout the growing season to produce the most moist and mild-flavored vegetable. Clip the green leaves any time to cook like spinach.

Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight Hybrid Male Asparagus Crowns

November 17th, 2008

Plant researchers have developed high-yielding asparagus hybrids with many traits that surpass the older open-pollinated varieties. Novice gardeners and professional growers alike will appreciate the benefits of the all-male Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight Hybrid Crowns.

Traditional asparagus varieties have male and female plants. Female plants produce spears but also produce seed when the plant is in the fern stage. The production of seed takes the plant’s energy and nutrients, reducing the yield of the tasty spears. Also, the seeds fall to the ground and germinate, creating a weeding hassle in the garden.

The perennial asparagus plant can be grown in the same garden for 20+ years. The plant is prized for its flavorful and nutritious spears. The crown of the plant is the critical growth center. As each growing season progresses, the rhizomes develop buds that produce the spears for the following warm-weather months.

All-male asparagus varieties, like the Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight hybrids, are renowned for their heavy yields, producing 2 to 3 times the thick, tasty spears of traditional varieties. Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight are especially well suited for temperate and cool climates. Jersey Knight is even tolerant of hard freezes and can be grown in many parts of the U.S. to Zone 3.

Attractive, dark green spears with purple bracts are large, uniform, and succulent. These frost- hardy all-male Jersey hybrids are resistant to rust, Fusarium wilt, and crown and root rot.

If you’ve never experimented with the new all-male Jersey hybrid varieties, try planting a few each of Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight to see which ones do best in your soil, sunlight, temperature and moisture conditions.

Asparagus should be grown in either full or part sun and dry to average soil. Asparagus is best planted as one- or two-year-old bare root plants in early spring. First, make a trench about 8 inches deep in soil with good drainage. Add organic matter and a Triple Superphosphate Fertilizer to the bottom of the trench. Space plants about 18 inches apart in the row. Cover the crowns with soil and water moderately to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Gradually fill in the trench as the young plants grow. Asparagus roots will spread horizontally underground as the plant matures.

Do not harvest any asparagus spears the first year after planting. A light harvest can be made the second and third years. In subsequent years, the harvesting period should end by mid- to late June to allow for growth and plant nutrient storage.

Asparagus spears are considered a delicacy by many, coveted because of the delicate flavors, interesting textures, and versatility of preparations. Fresh spears can be boiled, broiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. Roasting imparts a caramelized exterior and the sweetest flavors.

Pickling asparagus allows it to be combined with a variety of seasonings to suit every palate, and the spears maintain a soft but consistent, firm texture, perfect as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre. Asparagus can be frozen, canned, or pickled, and there are countless recipes on the Internet and in cookbooks for preserving your harvest’s overstock. Jersey Giant and Jersey Knight are varieties especially well suited to home canners and those with a desire to enjoy the unique flavors and nutritional value of asparagus all winter long, because the produce is abundant, providing meals at harvest and long into the cold months.

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