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Tomato Facts

If you are like most folks, tomatoes are your favorite homegrown vegetable. As long as you have full sun and are able to supply your plants with food and water, you will be rewarded with that fresh, juicy, delicious, tasty (are there enough adjectives?) treat we all love.

Why am I bringing this subject up now? Well, I am tired of winter and writing about tomatoes helps me visualize the warmer months. And, I want to pass along a few tips to those of you who are getting ready to select your seeds in the coming weeks. This info will also be helpful to those of you who will be buying plants later in spring. (Here is a link to Tomato plant info from Bonnie Plants which will be widely available in garden centers this spring.)

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Our Grandkids love our cherry tomatoes!

What to plant? There are hundreds of varieties from which to choose. Besides the range of colorful tomatoes (red, pink, orange, yellow, etc.) and the size and shape, there are some technical descriptors that can be useful.

Determinate varieties will be more compact and do not require staking. Since this type of tomato tends to produce a heavier crop over a several week period, it is a good choice for canning.  These are the type of tomatoes that are best for containers.

Indeterminate varieties grow vertically bearing tomatoes until frost, so cages or stakes are recommended.

Hybrid varieties have been developed by the plant breeders to resist or tolerate the wide range of diseases that can frustrate. Capital letters, such as V, F1, F2, EB, N, etc. signify the specific disease resistance you can expect. Hybrids also tend to produce more fruit on each plant.

Heirloom varieties have the textures and flavors that our grandparents enjoyed. When they found a tomato they liked, they saved the seed year to year. Since they were mainly interested in taste, they did not mind if there weren’t as many fruits per plant or if some of their plants got fungus, they just planted lots of plants.

Until spring, stay warm and think summer when you can grab a tomato right from the vine and take a big juicy bite.

Our Indoor Year-Round Veggies

We are very excited to harvest our salad greens 12 months a year from our new indoor garden set-up.

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We start our lettuce seedlings using my AeroGarden Harvest model using the AeroGarden Seed Starting System that holds 31 biodegradable grow sponges.

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In 10 days or so the seedlings are ready to transplant to one of the self-watering planters that we have moved inside from our deck. (I have many blog postings about our success growing a wide range of veggies on our deck using these self-watering planters and Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix.) The seedlings grow very fast using the AeroGarden 45-Watt LED Panel which is a perfect substitute for natural sunlight. We stretch our harvest by cutting individual leaves… the more we cut the more they grow. There are a large range of growing systems available from AeroGarden so that even if you have no outside place to grow, you can harvest your own veggies inside!

Apply For a Kids Gardening Grant Now

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation and KidsGardening believe strongly in the positive effects that gardening can have on a child’s life, including increased emotional well-being, love of fresh fruits and vegetables, more physical activity and better academic performance.

Edible gardens to pollinator habitats, urban farms to sensory gardens, the Gro More Grassroots Grants will support all types of community-driven garden and greenspace projects that directly engage youth. Grant funding will support the creation of new gardens and also the expansion of existing ones. Click here to find the 2019 application.

The Gro More Grassroots Grant application will be open until February 15, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. EST. 175 grants, ranging from $500 to $1,000, will be awarded based on youth engagement, community impact, and sustainability, among other factors. Winners will be announced on the first day of spring, March 20, 2019.

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Frenchtown neighborhood creates urban farming hub and educational pavilion in Tallahassee, Florida

My Most Popular Blog Postings in 2018

Happy New Year!  These three blog postings were the most popular during 2018. I am also giving you a link to one of my favorite humorous blog postings:

Number 1: How to Kill Dandelions and Other Weeds in Your Grass
I get asked this question a lot: “What kind of weed and feed should I put down to kill dandelions and other weeds without hurting my good grass?” My answer: “The kind that actually sticks to the dandelion leaves and kills it root and all.” (Click here to read more)

Number 2: Spread GrubEX On Your Lawn Now
A lot of people think that grubs are just about the worst thing that can happen to your lawn… and I agree. Even a carefully tended lawn can become a nightmare when you’ve got grubs. (Click here to read more)

Number 3: Put Down Grass Seed OR Kill Weeds?
This is a big question in early spring: “My lawn needs everything what should I do first, put down seed or kill my weeds?” The reason why this question is tricky is because many of the weed controls will harm new grass seedlings. (Click here to read more)

My favorite blog posting this year that may bring a smile to your face:
World Naked Gardening Day, Saturday May 5
Mark your calendar: The 14th annual World Naked Gardening Day is this Saturday (always celebrated on the first Saturday of May). To kick off my all-day celebration (Click here to read more)

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Busted… Caught naked while snipping some fresh lettuce for my salad!

Why it is Important to clean Up Your Vegetable Garden

Listen to smart vegetable gardeners and they will tell you: “Clean up your vegetable garden before winter to help control insects and diseases next year.”

Since I have learned a great deal by following the advice of smart vegetable gardeners, I clean up all remaining “summer” veggies (like peppers, tomatoes, basil, etc.) in late fall/early winter. I also mix compost into our Georgia clay while I am at it.  If you do not have your own compost, Miracle-Gro Nature’s Care Organic Garden Soil works great.

So put on your jacket and get some exercise cleaning up your veggie patch.

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Remove old tomato plants from your garden in fall to minimize disease and insect problems next year.

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Turning your soil helps reduce over wintering diseases and insects. Add some compost or ground up tree leaves.

Scotts Ice Melt with Heat Lock Technology

The first major snow storm of the season and it is not even officially winter yet … it is time to stock up on Scotts Ice Melt with Heat Lock Technology. With 4 times the melting capacity of rock salt, you will be all set. The Heat Lock Technology Coating keeps hands & paws protected from the calcium chloride core during application while the non-staining formula reduces the potential for damage to your drive & walkways. Apply before, or soon after, the snow starts to fall for the best results, but Scotts Ice Melt can penetrate ice, even at -25 Degree F. Scotts Ice Melt is tough on ice, but easier on everything else.

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For best results, apply preventatively before or soon after snowfall begins, to prevent excessive ice buildup. If snow is deeper than 2 inches, plow or shovel surfaces, before applying product.

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Apply evenly onto the surface to be de-iced at a rate of ¼ — ½ cup (2 — 4 oz.) per square yard, depending on the amount of snow and ice present. Wait 5 — 10 minutes to give the formula time to loosen the ice from the surface. Remove melted ice, snow and slush to prevent refreezing.

Christmas Present Idea for an Indoor Kitchen Garden

Here is a great gift idea for that special person on your list who loves to cook AND really appreciates healthy, fresh food. The good thing about this gift is even if that person has never grown anything or even if that person has no outdoor place to grow things they can be successful!

Click here to view a range of videos that will help you learn more about the Miracle-Gro AeroGarden system for growing herbs, salad greens, vegetables, and flowers.

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The new AeroGarden Farm can grow up to 24 plants at once.