Friday January 31, 2014
I've been busy the last few days trying to finalize the tomato seeds I want to order for this year's garden. I have plenty saved of tried and true favorites such as 'Brandywine,' 'Japanese Black Trifele,' and 'Yellow Pear,' but I try to make a point of trying a few new-to-me heirlooms every year.
I'm almost positive I'll be growing 'Jaune Flamme,' a small-fruited variety that has a reputation for being very flavorful. Cherries and other small-fruited tomatoes are always a big hit around here, especially with the kids. Most of those are eaten before we can even get them into the house. Other small fruited tomatoes I like are 'Yellow Pear,' 'Red Pear,' and 'Red Currant.'
Another variety I'll be trying this year is 'Pruden's Purple,' a beefsteak heirloom variety that is rumored to equal or surpass 'Brandywine' in flavor. We'll see about that -- 'Brandywine' is probably my all-time favorite tomato. I have a feeling I'll enjoy comparing and contrasting the two this summer.
Along with those two, I have several packets of seeds I've received from friends, and I can't wait to try them. I'm sure there will be at least one or two impulse tomato seed purchases during February and March. Sometimes, I just can't help myself.
Which heirloom tomatoes are you planning on growing this year?
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Wednesday January 15, 2014
About Container Gardening guide Kerry Michaels has a useful (and fun) list of questions one should ask oneself before deciding to start plants from seed indoors. There are several things to consider before diving into the world of indoor seed starting. First, there's the equipment and space issue. Seed flats take up space, and often more than you think they will. If you don't have a really nice, bright window, you will have to rely on artificial light. This takes up even more space, and relies upon having a power source nearby.
But, as Kerry's list suggests, perhaps the biggest part of deciding whether to start seeds indoors is evaluating yourself. Are you gong to be attentive enough to see this through? You will have weeks ahead of you during which the tiny seedlings will be relying solely on you for light, water, and nourishment. You will be their only protection from pest and disease issues. Once they are planted outside, it gets easier.
But, I digress. It's a useful and lighthearted list. Stop by and check it out!
Monday December 30, 2013
This week's question:
"I've heard that growing sprouts indoors is easy, but then I read about E. coli in sprouts and I wasn't sure if it was safe to try. Can I grow my own sprouts? And how would I do it?"
Growing Sprouts Safely
Any food that you consume raw carries a risk for food-borne illness, and that includes fruits and vegetables. There have been about a few cases of outbreaks of illnesses due to raw sprouts. Most commonly, the problem is Salmonella or E.coli bacteria. I've been growing and eating raw sprouts for over ten years, and haven't had a single problem. There are many things you can do to help ensure a healthy batch of sprouts:
- Look for seeds specifically labeled as "sprouting seeds." These seeds are guaranteed to be pathogen-free.
- Keep everything clean, clean, clean. Start with a very clean jar, soak the seeds in fresh, clean water, and rinse with clean water. When they've finished sprouting, rinse and dry your sprouts and store them in a clean plastic or glass container in the refrigerator.
- During the soaking process, keep your sprouts in a cool, dark place.
- Don't soak your seeds too long. It should take one to three days, tops, for most sprouts. Soaking and rinsing longer than that will increase the likelihood of encountering harmful bacteria.
Sprouts are a tasty, nutritious addition to the diet. If you follow a few simple precautions, there's no need to worry about E. coli or other bacteria. It's very easy to do -- here are simple instructions for growing sprouts in a jar.
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Thursday November 28, 2013
I don't know about you, but I am in full holiday shopping mode. We're just about finished shopping for the kids, and now my attention is turning to the gardeners on my shopping list.
Books are always a good choice, especially if you're buying for a gardeners who is just starting out. When I started gardening, Barbara Damrsoch's Garden Primer was my constant companion, as were the Lone Pine books dedicated to growing in my region. Other favorites came along: McGee and Stuckey's The Bountiful Container; Gayla Trail's You Grow Girl and (more recently) Grow Great Grub; and Stu Campbell's Let it Rot!
Here are some great gardening book reviews from the gurus here on the About.com Home and Garden channel. Happy shopping!
What are your favorite books about gardening?
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