Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Growing Tomato Plants from Trimmings/Stem Tip Cuttings

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Well, as the garden season in my area is approaching its latter days, I decided to do a little experiment this year with my tomato plants.  It is something that, for whatever reason, I never thought about doing, but it involved a technique that I used to use for houseplants.  It involves a simple process, often referred to as “stem tip cuttings” and/or what I like to call “growing from trimmings,” and it works like a charm.  Anyway, all you have to do is cut a healthy portion of your plant off from one of the tips, set it in a container of water, and within a few days, roots will start to develop and you can transplant back into the soil when the root structure is decent, and presto; you have a new plant!

You can use whatever type of container(s) you like, but the way I did it, involved me placing a 5-gallon bucket near my garden that was full of water.  I added several trimmings from my tomato plants (as I was topping them for better yield) into the big bucket of water.  Of course I lost a few, but since I was already topping my plants anyway, it didn’t matter.  Also, it is a good idea to cut back a few leaves from the stem that you are placing in the water.  This will help more energy be focused on growing a root structure as opposed to the strain of keeping all of its foliage hydrated.  Most of my stem tip cuttings from my tomato plants, were anywhere from 16 to 24 inches long.  You will most likely have a higher success rate from shorter trimmings, but I had plenty of tomatoes and took the chance.  I have a few transplanted as of now and they are doing great at the moment.  I just hope that there is enough time for them to fully develop. 

Outside of this method saving you 4 to 6 weeks or more (depending on how large your cuttings are) in time, since you are not starting the plants via seeds, there is also another benefit to this, which is the fact that you can select your healthiest plants to clone (which is basically what it is).  I find this to be an excellent late season option, for the ones who still want tomatoes for several more weeks.  Just think, some places in the world grow these suckers all year long!

This brings me to another option, which is something I haven’t tried yet:  Growing Tomato Plants Indoors. 

fluorescent_grow_lights

If I decide to buy some fluorescent grow lights, I may give it a GO this Fall/Winter, but I’m still not sure.  However, if I do decide to grow these self-pollinating tomato plants inside, you can bet I’ll be using the new plants I got from my prior trimmings/stem tip cuttings.  Anyway, if you’re interested in such things, you may need to check out a nice selection of fluorescent lighting and/or growing lights, below:

———> Click Here to Browse through a Fine Selection of Fluorescent Grow Lights <———

—End of Post

‘Topping’ Tomato Plants toward the end of Growing Season…

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tomatoes_1  This is something that I recently tried this year, as I have always denied the whole pruning philosophy when concerning tomato plants, but this year I had another problem, which was a good one, and that being the need to “top” my tomato plants (I’ll get to the reason for this, in a moment).

  Well, even though this post is about ‘topping’ your lovely tomato plants, and since I’ve already managed to gripe about pruning fanatics, I shall provide a quick excerpt from ehow.com that speaks about pruning:  “What Is Pruning and Why?  Pruning tomato plants means removing unwanted side-shoots, or suckers, from the main stem. This will keep your plant from getting too bushy. It will also cut down on the amount of fruit your plant produces but allow it to produce larger-sized fruit. Pruned tomato plants will also produce fruit earlier than other plants.”

Even though that is the concept of pruning, I’m yet to see why anybody would want to do that!  If you have excellent soil and your plants are thriving, why would you not want your tomato plants to be bushy and have loads of tomatoes?  If you yearn for over-sized tomatoes, then perhaps you need to try other types of plants, like the beefsteak tomato, for example.

Anyway, we are not pruning anything in my garden patch, but I did have to resort to “topping” this year, which is where you cut the tops off, in hopes that the remaining small tomatoes will produce decent-sized red ones toward the end of their growing season.

To make a long story short, I had a great growing season this year, and most of the things I planted did really well.  However, I have never had a year when the tomato plants seemed like you couldn’t kill ’em even if you tried.  Normally, they die out toward the end of summer…  But this year, they kept thriving (maybe I’m getting better at this) and this is what has brought me to this topping situation.

You see, after your tomato plants have been around for quite a while and have grown to enormous size, it gets to the point that your tomatoes get smaller and smaller as your plants vine out.  Think about how much further the fruit is from the roots, as it grows…  Well, one can normally wait for them to slowly grow and ripen when you have an ongoing, excellent yield, but not when you are heading toward the end of your growing season!  So, instead of having to throw a bunch of tiny green tomatoes back onto the ground, if you top the plants (remove/cut the tops off just above the potential  fruit clusters), you will have a better chance of those last sets of tomatoes growing to full size, as no more energy and nutrients will be wasted on unnecessary growth and/or foliage.  Pretty simple stuff, eh?

Although I don’t grow this particular crop, since it is illegal, I have heard of people topping their marijuana plants to get it to bud faster and provide a quicker, higher quality yield.  I don’t even know if I should have mentioned that last tidbit, but either way, the concept remains.  If cool weather is just a month or two away and you still have tomato plants that are producing green tomatoes, then topping your plants may be the solution for you.

Side Note:  This only applies to the larger varieties of tomato plants, as it might not be a good idea to ‘top’ your small/medium-sized tomato plants; cheers!

Related Articles:

* Garden Experiment:  Growing Tomatoes Naturally

* Garden Pest: Tomato Hornworms

* Fried Green Tomatoes – Southern Tradition

* Fried Green Roma Tomatoes

* Black Walnut Trees Killing Tomatoes

—End of Post: ”Topping’ Tomato Plants toward the end of Growing Season…

Garden Pest: Squash Bugs

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It seems that every garden season or at least every other one, I have a new visitor (garden pest) enter my glorious growing areas – no matter how many times I change locations, move the crops, etc.  Although, I always manage to have a decent yield while staying organic without the use of insecticides, pesticides, poisons, chemicals, and so on.

In the past, I have wrote about other garden pests, such as the Japanese Beetles – that once decided to come into my corn field as a throng of silk-eating freaks, and as the battle raged on, I was still victorious minus several ears of corn; ha!  Last year I got to finally meet the beloved Tomato Hornworms, as those fat, green caterpillars got catapulted  from my garden in a ballistic fashion, after realizing that they were eating my tomato plants like a crazed glut!

This year, I decided to grow more squash than usual, so guess what?  I got visited by lots of squash bugs!  By the way, I experimented with a different way to grow squash, as I staggered my planting session into two-week intervals and spread them out in different areas in the yard.  This allowed me to not only have an ongoing supply of squash, but it also gave me a good idea of how well the plants did in different areas and conditions, such as more shade versus more sun, soil conditions, etc.  All in all, I found out that squash, at least the ones I planted, do better in areas that get sun during the first and latter parts of the day, and shade during the middle of the day.

Well, I’m getting off subject here, and I was going to briefly talk about these pesky little garden pests known as “squash bugs.”

In my opinion, these bugs can easily be worked around without the use of poisons.  The main thing, is to make sure your squash plants get a good start in fertile soil with enough water, as once they grow to a large size, it doesn’t seem to matter if the foliage is being ate by these squash bugs.  It is when they attack early and get on the young squash plants, is when your yield is mostly affected.   Basically, if you have a healthy squash plant that is flourishing, by the time these bugs do enough damage to kill the plant, you would have most likely already picked several squash from the plant.

Anyway, if you know what to look for, you can remove these little devils before very much damage occurs.  First, you need to know what the squash bug eggs look like:

squash_bugs_eggs

Please note, you must check underneath the big leaves on your squash plants, as well, because they like to hide these egg clusters on the underside in addition to the egg clusters that are in plain site.  At any rate, it shouldn’t be much of a problem for you to scrape the eggs off so you can discard them.  Without the use of chemical sprays, that’s all there is to it, really.  If you have a massive amount of squash plants and want to keep things organic but are too lazy to check your plants for squash bugs and/or squash bug eggs, well:  You better make sure your plants are thriving from the start and it wouldn’t hurt to use some organic compost, beforehand, to help give ’em the boost they need to combat this particular garden pest.

Below, is a photo of the Squash Bug nymphs, not long after they hatch:

squash_bugs_nymphs

This next image, displays an adult squash bug:

squash_bug_adult

Well, now that you know what may have been eating your squash plants and just how easy they are to locate and remove, you have no reason outside of bad weather and soil conditions, to not have an excellent yield of squash!  My favorite way to prepare yellow summer squash, is of course the least healthy – which is breaded and fried, but it is so yummy!  Ha!

—End of Post

Video: Growing Asparagus is Easy!

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asparagus…I recently watched a video about growing asparagus and just how easy it is to grow.  All of this time, I have thought it was one of those crops that involved special care and time.  The reason why I thought that way before, is because I evidently read some crap on the web a few years back, that most likely spawned from a few idiots that were just typing poppycock in hopes they would make a few bucks via their advert networks.  Anyway, in a moment, I’ll provide a video that explains in a simple fashion, just how easy it is to grow.

I already knew that asparagus has the ability to grow year after year without the worry of having to replant, but I’ve heard some folks act like some years you couldn’t get any yield and would have to let the plants “strengthen.”  Going by this video, the yield picks up the second year and thrives, under normal circumstances, for many more years to come.  Of course, you need to take care of the soil and make sure it is fertile enough, has enough nitrogen, etc.

Another well known fact about asparagus that isn’t included in this particular video, is the various health benefits a person can get by eating it.  There are medicinal properties as well, but instead of me turning this “how to grow” post into a “health benefits of” article, I’ll just drop down a Wiki link, so you can get started:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparagus

Random Tidbit: “Asparagus is a useful companion plant for tomatoes. The tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle, as do several other common companion plants of tomatoes. Meanwhile, asparagus may repel some harmful root nematodes that affect tomato plants.”

You can always search the web for more info, but try to only read from reliable sources.  When it comes to cooking this stuff, I’ve seen people steam it, bake it, grill it, use it in stir-fry, and even eat it raw.  Hell, even the store-bought asparagus out of a can taste great to me!  I especially like eating asparagus when I’m in a meat mood, lets say steak, and all I mainly want is to eat the meat but need something else to add to my plate for balance.  This is a healthy choice for a 2-course meal because it is power-packed with nutrients, and this is what I mean by balancing out a meal that lacks variety.

Oh, when I do eat asparagus out of a can, all I do is put it on a plate, drizzle it with a little canola oil and sprinkle some seasoned salt and black pepper on it, throw in the microwave for about 45 seconds, and presto!

Now, lets get back to growing asparagus and the video I’m about to provide, to show how easy this is.  Anyway, in a thumbnail, the guy just dug a few trenches about 8 inches deep, dropped in some 2-year-old asparagus crowns, keeping them about 8 inches apart, covered them back up with dirt, and his crop took off within weeks.  Okay, at any rate, that’s enough rambling from me.  Check out the video, below:

—End of Post “Video: Growing Asparagus is Easy!”

Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…

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Whenever I mention Okra, there is usually somebody that will say something like this:  “Say whaaa?  You eat Okra?  Eeew!”  Ha-ha!  But seriously, this stuff is really good and I think more people would like it, if they’d just try it or perhaps cook it a few different ways, etc.

okra

I will say, at least in the U.S., Okra seems to be more of a “southern thing,” sort of like Fried Green Tomatoes.  One must remember, here in the south, we’ll batter & fry almost anything possible, hence forth the obesity problem at hand; LOL!

At any rate, I just happened to think about this particular veggie today, when contemplating what I’m going to do for the garden season of 2012.  It seems that every gardening season is different for me, since I have moved several times of late.  This year I have limited space, and I’m thinking about getting the most out of my yard by doing something I have never done before, which would be planting in multiple sections and in strategic areas.  I mean, I planted in sections once before, when I had a big open field; I had 2 separate growing areas, but one of them was mostly a corn field

Now that I have normal-sized yard without much room for a big garden, I’m going to have to get creative, to say the least.  Anyway, this post isn’t going to be highly informative or anything,  just me rambling about cooking and growing okra along with a few of the health benefits it has, and so on…

Okra is extremely easy to grow and doesn’t have any special requirements that stand out.  If you can grow tomatoes and peppers, you should have no problem growing okra.  Although many people recommend starting this plant from seed sown directly into your garden, I find it easier to just buy the plants small and transplant them into your garden.  Yes, it costs slightly more but it is my garden and if I want to take a shortcut, it is my business!  Ha!  The only seeds I usually sow directly into the soil are the large ones, like corn, squash, zucchini, etc.
I have read before that it is a good idea to rotate your okra crop (change locations) every year because they are very susceptible to diseases from the soil and those beloved garden pests.
If you have fairly decent soil or use organic compost and whatnot, you will most likely not have to even worry about fertilizer.  Or, you can take the easy way out (if you don’t use compost, etc.) and apply a small amount of miracle grow (or other types of fertilizer) a few times, when your plant starts growing larger – to insure a good yield.

It is a good idea to pick your okra at a small size, or it will be too tough to eat and the seeds in the pods will be quite large.
I usually pick it anywhere from 3.5 to 5 inches, albeit I have picked some a little larger and they still be tender – depending on how fast they grew.  Speaking of that, if you have a lot of okra plants and they start to yield, if you do not go out there every day and pick ’em, you’ll have green pods coming out of your bunghole!  Yes folks, they really produce quick, once they start to take off!

I’m not going to spend any more time talking about growing this easy-to-grow vegetable.  Now how about cooking these tasty delights?
Being from the south, I can tell ya right now, I prefer to batter them in corn meal and fry those suckers in oil.   I slice up a good mess, roughly 3/8ths to 1/2 inch slices, bread them with my flour & seasoning, and drop them in a preheated skillet full of canola oil.

I have also boiled them in a mixture of water, soy sauce, and pepper seasoning, and they turn out great.  When I boil ’em, I keep the pods whole.  I have also pickled okra, although I wasn’t that impressed because it ended up tasting like pickles instead of okra, but whatever floats your boat!

There are many ways to use okra when cooking, not just the ways I mentioned above.  Many people put them in soups, stews, and stir-fry, as well.
Some people cook them with Lima beans, tomatoes and corn, which is something I believe they call “Okra Succotash.”

Now, what about those health benefits?
Like any organic vegetable that isn’t laced with pesticide and chemicals, it has obvious health benefits. …The usual vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, blah, blah, and so on and so forth.
However, there is a distinct quality in okra that is really good for your digestive tract.  The slime or “goo” in okra is a very beneficial fiber and helps lubricate the large intestine.  Okra’s mucilage (that slime or goo stuff that forms when you cook it) binds cholesterol and bile acid which helps flush the toxins and excess cholesterol out of the body via your intestinal tract.
Okra has been known to help people with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) along with other ailments.
Here’s a web page I just found online, that speaks about some of these health benefits in further detail:  http://www.pyroenergen.com/articles07/okra-health-benefits.htm

Well, enough about this okra subject.  Now I’m ready to fry some, but I don’t have any at the moment.  I look forward to growing some this year, though, along with several other things; good luck with your crops and enjoy the garden season of 2012.  Cheers!

—End of post “Growing & Cooking Okra – The Health Benefits of…”

Garden Pest: Tomato Hornworms

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As I mentioned on my “Garden Season of 2011” post, I was doubting if I’d even put out a garden this year – especially since I was moving, in between two houses, getting a late start, etc.

Well, I ended up planting a corn field over at the other place I left that was for sale, and a small tomato patch at the new house.  Last year, the biggest garden pest I had was Japanese Beetles.  Those pesky little beetles were eating the corn silks and part of the ears last year, but I planted my corn later this year and, for whatever reason, I didn’t have a problem with ’em this particular growing season.  Actually, I figured they would be the type of garden pest that would get worse each year until I totally moved my crop to a different area.  Anyway……

This year, and for the first time in my gardening career, I have had problems with my tomato plants.  I’ve heard of cutworms or whatever, but I’ve never had dealings with Tomato Hornworms before!  Those bastards can really do some damage, as they are some serious freakin’ gluts!  Look below, for a couple pictures of those fat, green caterpillars with horns:

tomato_hornworm

tomato_hornworm_1

Yeah, they are fat, green, and have a red horn sticking out – near their bunghole region.  Of course, a lot of people may be looking for the “how to remove” advice, but I’m going to keep it short.  Personally, other than the enjoyment of working in a garden, I mainly grow the food I plant to have organic produce from fertile soil that, in return, has a  full, rich flavor that you can’t find at your common grocery stores.  So, I manually remove these garden pests when possible and go ahead and accept the fact that some of my yield goes to the insects and animals, etc.  But what is left, will be totally organic.

Now, if you are a big fan of insecticides and poisonous sprays, I recommend that you get one that is especially formulated for caterpillars – if Tomato Hornworms are your problem.

These green, hungry devils eat like crazy; they eat the tomatoes and the plant itself.  It often looks like somebody went by and trimmed your plant with scissors.  However, they are not cutworms, but similar; cutworms usually cut your plant off close to the base.  To rid yourself of them, it is good to not let the weeds build up around your plants, which act as a breeding ground, till the ground as often as needed, and to place tin foil, cardboard, etc., around the base of your tomato plants.  Of course, there is insecticide for cutworms, as well; I just try to steer clear from poisons and chemical sprays.  Hell, if I wanted my garden to be full of chemicals, I’d just not ever plant anything and would buy all my produce at the local market.

Well, I mainly wanted to do a quick post over the Tomato Hornworm in case people are out there searching online using phrases like “these damn green worms are in my garden and eating my tomato plants,” etc.  If I would have kept a check on my tomato patch more often, I could have removed them quicker and less damage would have occurred.

At any rate, good luck with your crops!  Cheers!

Update:  Due to a special request/question in the comment field, below is a picture of what the Tomato Hornworms ultimately turn into, which is a Five-spotted Hawk Moth:

five-spotted_hawk_moth

—End of Post

Garden Season of 2011

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This may be the first year in a long while, that I don’t get to enjoy the garden season.  I was hoping to put out another huge garden and add some more posts this year into the Garden Category of this blog, but as of now – unless something changes – it looks like the growing season of 2011 has went to crap for me – due to many reasons.  This sucks because who knows what all I would have learned this year, while battling new pests, weather conditions and possibly growing different types of crops?  Oh well, it looks like I won’t need that Chest Freezer after all…

Excuses, excuses…  I’ve had so many delays this year; the damn weather hasn’t helped any, with it being the wettest year that I can remember down here.  About the time things start to dry up enough to be workable, here comes more freakin’ rain.  I figure that even if I did put out a garden this year, with as much as it has rained all year, that there would be some mega drought for the duration of our growing season, and I’d have to spend  a lot of time carrying 5 gallon buckets to and from the nearby creek and the garden area, just to get the plants water.  Yeah, I know, a water pump would be way more efficient, but I’m poor, so what can I say?

I’ve also had trouble with my Rear Tine Tiller; it is old but it still worked great, except for the fact that I broke the cable that attaches to the lever which controls the throttle and the tines for plowing.  Well, I had it rigged up to where I could still use it this year, but after my step-dad “gave it a look,” he sort of broke what I had installed to make it half-ass work, so now it doesn’t work at all – nor is it worth fixing since it is ancient history anyway.

Also, the place where I live that has this big open field for growing stuff, has now been put up for sale.  I just pay rent here, so I’d hate to put too much time & effort into this place or yard, and then be told that the house has sold and I have x-amount of time to get out.  I’ve also had relationship issues, and now I’m currently (who knows for how long) back with an Ex-girlfriend and, of course, she wants to move from here as well – but due to other reasons besides the fact that the house is up for sale.

So, with all that being said, I’m about ready to just say “to hell with it” and be done with it this year.  I may just give it another try in 2012.  Hey, what a better time for a big agricultural comeback, since 2012 is supposedly the year of the “Mayan Prophecy of Doom,” isn’t it?  Ha-ha!

Anyway, since I probably won’t be updating the blog this year with garden-related topics, I’ll just drop down a few links to some of the more popular posts in that particular category, from 2010:

* Black Walnut Trees Killing Tomato Plants

* Corn Plants Falling Down in the Garden?

* Radishes didn’t produce?

* Organic Fertilizer – Natural ways to Fertilize your Garden

Well folks, for now, I’ll just pretend that my garden of 2011 ended up somewhere in the Lost City of the Incas, as depicted below:

Machu_Picchu_overview

To see more images of the Machu Picchu, visit: www.perpendicularity.org/machu-picchu.html

For all the ones who did manage to put out a garden this year:  Good luck with ya crops and happy harvest!  Cheers!

Fried Green Tomatoes – Southern Tradition

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One of the joys of having your own garden, is that you decide what goes into the soil and you determine when you want to pick it.

It’s not like you can go, at least not around here, to the market and purchase green tomatoes, for example.
Fried green tomatoes is what I like to call a “southern tradition,” although the act of frying these green delights have become more widespread – as more & more folks try them for the first time…and love ’em! The southern U.S., especially the Southeastern area, is notorious for frying anything that can possibly be fried.
On a side note: Maybe that is why I recently read about Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama being the top fattest states of America.
You can read more about that here: http://today24news.com/health/mississippi-tennessee-and-alabama-are-top-fattest-states-of-america-301372

Yep, that Southern Tradition involving the good ol’ frying pan may be one of the many culprits towards health issues; but lets not ruin this post by talking about obesity; enjoy yourself for now and go grab some green tomatoes out of your garden and get the frying pan ready…

This is how I prepare them:

To serve two people, as one of the side items to the entree, I usually go out and grab 3 medium-sized green tomatoes. They don’t have to be totally unripe, either. In fact, some of the best tasting ones I’ve cooked, was the ones that were just starting to turn yellow-orange in spots – although I usually pick the big green ones.
I slice mine fairly thick, into at least 1/4th to 3/8th inch slices – put them on a plate and set aside.
On a separate plate, I pour out my batter mix using half flour and half corn meal. I then, add a decent amount of seasoned salt, black pepper, Season All, and just a small amount of sugar into the batter. I take a fork and mix it all up until the contents are evenly distributed.
I go ahead and add my oil into a large skillet and preheat it on medium-high; I use Canola oil.
I batter the green tomatoes and drop them into the hot oil.
I fry them fairly quickly over medium-high heat, and on the second turn over, I usually add Louisiana Hot Sauce to one side.
Fry them until desired doneness is achieved.

They are best served within an hour or so, but they can still be ate after refrigerating; they just won’t be crisp and will end up being more mushy and whatnot – upon re-heating from the fridge.

Fried_Green_Tomatoes

Extra tidbit:   If you end up with a lot of green tomatoes towards the end of the growing season and/or would like to know of a couple excellent ways to ripen them in a quicker fashion, look below…

The best way to ripen green tomatoes:  some folks have good luck by placing their unripe tomatoes in a cardboard box while covering them with newspaper or other means of cover – while placing them in a dark place.  Some experienced gardeners simply use a brown bag, by placing the green tomatoes into it and then crinkling or folding the bag semi-shut…so the ethylene gas can enhance the ripening process.  I’ve used both simple methods and they are very effective.   You can read more about the natural effects of ethylene gas, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethylene

Just remember, once you place your tomatoes in the refrigerator, whether ripe or not, the ripening process stops – so make sure they are at the desired ripeness before doing such.

Japanese Beetles – Garden Pest

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I’ve planted many small gardens over the years and have never had that many problems with pests. But this year, I grew my first large garden in an open field with loads of various plants including a separate area for a corn field. Well, everything was going just fine until late June when these clumsy, awkward, ugly, pesky Japanese Beetles started showing up.

Yeah, I was real impressed with their appetite, as they devoured the leaves off my Okra plants along with several other plant varieties. But what disgruntled me the most, is when they entered into the corn field. They love to eat the silks off the ears of corn and if they get to it early enough, it will devastate your yield. Luckily for me, I had planted so much corn that I still had a decent crop. The beetles didn’t effect the end result of the rest of my harvest, but what will they do next year?

I’m not one to use poisons and sprays, since the whole point of growing your own food, at least to me, is to have fresh, organic produce. Anyway, I’ll provide a picture of this garden pest, along with an excerpt from Wikipedia about “control” when it comes to Japanese Beetles. If you enjoy gardening and you see these buzzing freaks enter into your green kingdom of vegetation, you may be interested in the following:

“Research performed by many US extension service branches has shown that pheromone traps attract more beetles than they catch. Traps are most effective when spread out over an entire community, and downwind and at the borders (ie, as far away as possible, particularly upwind), of managed property containing plants being protected. Natural repellents include catnip, chives, garlic, and tansy, as well as the remains of dead beetles, but these methods have limited effectiveness. Additionally, when present in small numbers, the beetles may be manually controlled using a soap-water spray mixture, shaking a plant in the morning hours and disposing of the fallen beetles, or simply picking them off attractions (that’s what I did this year), since the presence of beetles attracts more beetles to that plant.”

Read more about these annoying bastards, here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_beetle 

japanese_beetle

At any rate, I’ll be on the lookout for these beetles next year and prepare to combat this garden pest without poisons; If needed, I may possibly bring a fu*king blow torch to the scene!

Black Walnut Trees killing Tomatoes

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This is one of those things that many people are not aware of, as you would have to be trying to grow tomatoes near Black Walnut trees to encounter such a gardening debacle.

Black Walnut trees emit a substance known as “juglone” that can damage and/or kill tomatoes along with several other plants, but most commonly the tomato plant. This harmful substance comes from the leaves, branches, walnut hulls, roots, and pretty much the entire tree. English Walnuts, Pecans, Hickories, and Butternut trees also produce juglone, but not near as much as Black Walnut trees.

The purpose or shall I say the advantage gained by secreting juglone, is the effect is has on inhibiting the surrounding plant growth near the tree itself – albeit there are still several varieties of plants & weeds out there that can grow near this tree.  This process of releasing juglone into the ground, allows for these pesky trees to compete and combat any potential nutrient-robber around.

Walnut trees are nice to have, provide decent wood, and are worth a good dollar value and so on, but if you plan on having a garden, especially if you’re growing tomatoes, you need to take precautionary measures.
I’ve recently relocated, and last year I had to chop down roughly 8 to 10 of these lovely garden pests since I wanted to have a decent size crop this year.

The person who lived there before, could not understand why they never could grow anything or have good yield in the field that was surrounded by these trees. Upon moving into the area, I quickly realized what the problem was and, since I also built a fire ring, I got to chopping. I also cut down a few other trees as well. I used the Black Walnut wood to repair an old bridge, and I used the other trees for the fire ring. I saved some of the ashes from the wood I burned, but only from the trees that didn’t contain juglone, and used it for a soil amendment this spring, as I explained in my post titled “Organic Fertilizer – Natural ways to fertilize your garden.”

Anyway, back to the subject… If possible, simply grow your tomato plants and/or plant your garden far away from any Walnut, Pecans, Hickories, and Butternut trees. If you do decide to cut down the trees, remove the debris from the area. It often takes many years for these types of trees that emit this toxic substance, to effect your garden plants due to the slowly developing underground root system. Adding organic matter into your growing area, like a rich compost, will help enhance the microbes in the soil which, in turn, helps break down juglone and promote plant survival. One final note, as a gardener, you should always be on the lookout for any type of garden pests, potential problems or possible poisons near your garden and, as always, good luck with your crop……

A tomato plant's foe, the Black Walnut tree.

A tomato plant's foe, the Black Walnut tree.