Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Bad is Monsanto? Mother Earth News Article

Monsanto is constantly adding new food plants to its ensemble of “Roundup Ready” varieties that resist herbicide damage, and Dow has soybeans that survive being sprayed with 2-4D. That’s my planet, my water we’re talking about. There is so much Bt corn pollen out there that no garden is safe from it, and rotting residue from Bt plants is messing with the life cycles of stream-dwelling insects. With Monsanto and other companies polluting the world with genetically modified pollen and plants, Bayer killing off honeybees with imidicloprid, and Dow turning horse manure into killer compost, maybe we should worry about big Corporations. A lot.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revenge of the Chili Peppers

I run across this British Video which graphically illustrates why Chili Peppers are so Hot for people and yet not hot at all for Birds. Watch this fun vidio

I recently had experience with drying Chili Peppers. Unfortunately, while handling a few for the seeds, I failed to use protective gloves on my hands. My hands are almost healed up from the leasons caused by the hot juice from these peppers. And all the skin has almost been completely renewed. (After 4 uncomfortable months) At the time of the article, I was already feeling the discomfort - but I didn't realize how long it would take to heal the tiny cuts that would appear overnight on my hands. I learned later that I could have use some vegetable oil on my hands according to some people to protect my hands. I'll know better next time. Look for the article "How to Dry Peppers" right on this blog. And Please wear protective gloves. The "Dollar Stores" have them for about $1 per package of 3 pair of throw-a-ways.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Fashioned RAG RUG-Mother Earth News Link

Like GrandMa used to make out of old rags. So Cumfy on your feet. Make it big. Make it small. Make it plain or make it colorful. And its fun!

Mother Earth News Link to a short fun article showing you and your kids ( who will want to help ) how to make it in just a few hours.

If this link does not work directly from here: Try copy and paste into your Browser address field.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bobs Journal - Transplant Tedium and Little Green Onions

I can just hear people say, "My Gosh!, How tedious!"

And- "Planting pencil lead sized onions into tiny little holes must be boring!"

And, "I wouldn't have the patience for it." (Translates into, 'This sounds like work...and I'm really lazy....!"

So, Yes and No. It's only tedious if you have something more important to do.  Or you'r  afraid of a tiny bit of work - or you "just don't enjoy that type of thing."

Actually,  transplanting tiny onion sprouts into pencil round holes in the soil, or transplanting tiny tomato or pepper seedlings into pots has a certain rhythm to it.

 You might just find yourself humming along with the flow of that rhythm.  Kind of like a mantra.  Or a continuous prayer - if you feel like communicating with God.

 And noone else has to know if you feel awkward about it.

Perhaps you think I exaggerate but this is the perfect setting for spiritual contemplation - unless, of course,  you "don't have the patience" for it. Artists and Nuns know what I am talking about. If you are a real Gardener, you  know what I mean.  If you haven't tried it - you should.

Some people discover this quality in Gardening all on their own. And they know what a wonderful things it is. It brings down your Blood Pressure without pills. It banishes anxieties.  And even fights depresson if you are so afflicted.

 "Digging in the dirt", setting on your butt, in the fresh dug soil,  transplanting onion sets or tiny tomato plants somehow connects you with infant plants - and life - and maybe the universe too  -  if you think about it.  Take time. Try "tedious transplanting". You might be pleasantly surprised!

GrandBob's Journal
September 5, 2009 - Monday

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grow Your Best Fall Garden - Mother Earth News Link

Filling garden space vacated by spring crops with summer-sown vegetables will keep your garden productive well into fall, and even winter. Here's expert advice on the second half of the gardening season, including a planting guide.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spring is Always Late in Western Kansas

I'm from near Oakley, Kansas where I grew up on a small cattle and wheat farm. The small town of Oakley is where Interstate 70 "dog-legs" Northwards up towards Colby, Levant and Goodland and into the Colorado foothills; as you probably already know. It is truly "flat-land" country  all the way to the Colorado line where the land starts to rise and ripple and grow into the foothills and finally at Denver it turns into the majestic Rocky Mountains                                                                                                                                                       

If you ever watched the TV series "Jericho", Oakley was the town depicted in those - After the Bomb, WWIII stories where the young boy in the first episode watches the Hydrogen Bomb Mushrooms rise over Denver 250 miles to the West,  Kansas City in the East,  Dallas in the South and Chicago in the North East. The Western Kansas plains and Oakley  are one of the safest places to be after a Nuclear Attack. So they say. The town of Oakley has even had a "Jericho" day,  so I've heard.

Springs always seemed a little late out there. Easter Sunday usually came with snow or  ice still on the ground.  Here, near Wichita, Kansas; we see Crocus come up in late February most years. I never seen a Crocus in Western Kansas. Though there were probably a few scattered instances maybe where there was a little more protection from the frigid prairie winters.

As a kid, we planted our Henry Field garden seeds in late May, - if we planted any at all. Our folks were usually more concerned about the state of the tough Russian Winter Wheat coming on in the early spring.  They had literally prayed for a little winter snow in this semi-arid flatland. The hard, reddish kernels had been dropped in long furrows in the fall and  waited to come up in the chill of early spring. The wheat spears are the only green to be seen this early in spring for several weeks. I loved to see it's promise of Spring again after a hard cold winter in Western Kansas. 

Long ago, over a hundred years ago; A few Red Winter Wheat seeds had been brought from the Steppes of Russia near the Caucasus mountains 100 years or so earlier which had been settled  by the  "Volga" Germans - Our Great Grandfathers and Grandmothers who's children years later sewed wheat seeds in their clothes and their childrens clothes traveling light for the long grueling ship ride over. Escaping from the Bulchivic Revolution and  the now frantic Tzar Nickolas - the King of Russia who had demanded that the sons of the Volge Germans join him and hisd White Russian soldiers against the Reds.  Him, his Queen and even his young  children later to be shot down in the woods of Moscow by Lenons henchman. One daughter, Anastesia, becoming a legond as the hidden Queen of the Russians for many years. Until DNA proved otherwise from hair samples  from the remains of the Royal Family found in those same Moscow woods a few years ago. All were present and accounted for - even Anastasia.
Germans in Russia?  Invited their by Catherine the Great - also a German, wife to the King (Tzar) of Russia to help "Civilize the peasents" around the late 18th century. She had "inherited" from her dead husband Peters estate (who she was expected of poisioning). Germans, from the homeland, were  given  land-grants to setup their own Republic in Germany - which could still be found on turn of the century maps found in old history books. They settled along the Volga River valley . German Lutheran and Mennonite farms and villages on one side of the Volga; German Catholics on the other. Minding their own business and trading with each other when necessary. d Sometime it became very necessary to even share Clergy and for good reason.

 Once a year, itenarate priests  or ministers arrived to  baptize the babies, and marry their fathers and mothers when love couldn't Wait another year or two for the Catholic Priest or the Luthern Minister to do the honors.  So they made do.

If one or the other religious made it in alive from their dangerous circuit through the  little German Republic - both sides of the river were happy!   Whoever made it first in the spring, Lutheran Minister or Catholic Priest,  served Both sides of the river.

First, these Giants of Men,  said prayers over the frozen dead who had been stacked like cordwood in some shed away from the wolves through the eyeball freezing winters - waiting for the Ground to thaw and maybe a priest or minister arriving in the spring to bury them with proper form and dignity. There was little or no religious animosity among the various pioneers. They were to busy trying to survive to worry much about religious differences.

Not all died from disease or accident or old age.  Many times, whole villages were wiped out by merauding Caussacks on horseback, gleefully dancing with pioneer babies on spearpoints.   Killing the men and boys and elderly, pillaging and stealing everything. including the  young woman for themselves. The German settlers of the Volga Valley begged Catherine to send troops to put the raiding tribesman in their place.  She paid no heed. The German settlement asked for help several times and for soldiers to protect their farms and homes and villages.partitioned her.  Simple farmers, unprotected  from wild tribes of uncivilized causacks  their wild horses and their spears.

 Finally, after nearly a hundred years of surviving on their own,  when the Russian Revolution revolution started, and Moscow was threatened; Tzar Nicolous told these farming people who had been given their Own republic and never given promised protection or anything from Nicholous or his predicessors; these sons would have to join his defending White soldiers against the Bulshivicks and later the "Reds" who had been egged on by Validmer Lenon to take the city of Moscow. You seen it in Dr. Jevogo.  This demand from the Russian Tzar was the last straw. Many of the Volga Germans packed a few belongings and departed from the harbor of Odessa on ships heading for  America in the  year of 1875.  The trip took over a month. Mostly families huddled together in the wet, stinky hulls of the ships. Finally arriving in New York and catching a train that eventually ended them up in Topeka, Kansas. My Grandpa told me how he strolled down the boardwalks of the town while his mother and father bought provisions and transportation. A team of horses and a wagon. He was 12 years old.
ailed on a weeks long trip to  America - again to settle Western Kansas that so resembled the Steppes of Russia which they had left behind. Their home for 100 years. And they had  brought their hard red winter wheat, that had been sewn into the childrens clothes on their back bringing it over to plant in the familiar western plains of Kansas. Many  died in the hull of the ships from various diseases.  Generations remember  Christopher, a great. great uncle of mine, on my mothers side, who died on the way over at 7 years from some dreaded disease that swept the boat, and whose body had to be dumped into the sea by his distrout parents. Immortilized forever in stories they pass down. 

These were the people who settled Hays, Kansas. Ellis County, Russel, Quinter,  Gove County and later even further west to Grainfield and later closer to Colorado near Oakley in Logan County. And in the nearer area of Central Kansas, the Minnonite farmers many of which had also escaped the Russian Revolution who still speak German at times today.  Later, back in Russia, after the struggle with Hitler began, Stalin was to wipe the area clean, and dissolved the Republic completely, sending the rest of the Germans who hadn't left yet another century later;  to their death in Siberia- Loyal to Russia still after all those years, but accused of spying for Germany entirely without justification. 

The people of Hays, Kansas were still speaking fluent Low German when I was a kid. My mother going to school at 7, and learning English on the school playground - so well- she all but forgot her mother tongue by the time she had become an adult.  There was no Second Language classes then. My mother learned her english on the playground of a country school.You learned English then because you wanted to fit in. You wanted to be "An American". You may start our as an immigrant in a neighborhood or ghetto because of ethnicity or race, or nationality or all of the above; but you strived to not be held back by it.

My grandparents on both sides spoke broken German. They wanted to become Americans and so did their sons who gladly fought for the United States in World War 1 and 2 for the privaledge of being an American.

This is part of what the Volga Germans went through to become Citizens of the United State. These were the people who helped develope some of the richest land in the United States. The "Bread Basket of the World," as it was to be later called.

These are the people in Western Kansas who raised me. The land that so resembles the Steppes of Russia where my Grandparents migrated from as children with their immagrant parents.  These were a people whose story has just began to be told.

Their first days in Kansas were not easy. My grandmother remembers when they first arrived  in Fort Hays as a train of several families in wagons.  Fort Hays where Buffalo Bill shot buffalo for the Union Pacific railroad coming from the Eastern Sea Board soon to be united with the golden spike with the otherline from the Western Seaboard. They arrived a few years to late to see him. But German families would go out after Church and pick wagon loads of  Buffalo Bones to take to Fort Hays to load on the train to go back East to be made into Buttons for fancy dresses.  

 The Cival War had recently been ended by just a few years. The Indian wars were fast becoming history. There was no Ellis Island or Statue of Liberty to greet them. These  were still years into the future.

They were fresh off the Union Pacific train arriving in an English (England) established town pulling in with their wagons and horses purchased in Topeka; camping out on the prarie outskirts of the town  and nervously watching the curious Union Soldiers and tamed Indians as they casually  walked over  and checked out the giant iron  pot of soup full of hard little German Dumplings and brown beans that smelled so good. A few indians and soldiers even ventured to try out the strange looking German food. 

The natives sure seemed strange, but  the land was as flat and fertile as it was in  the steppes of Russia! And the Climate, with it's cold winters and hot dry summers, perfect for hard Red Winter wheat. And so they survived, and grew and prospered. The little towns surrounding the fronteer town of Hays. Named after A soldier. Built up by English Dandies who read about Cowboys brought over Herford Cattle and played polo on the plains and finally grew bored of the Old West and went home to England leaving  the town to the German Emagrants .

Little German towns sprung up around Hays. Many named after a sister village in Russia. Leibenthal and Shencshen. Villages of   of love and beauty. Russel to the East struck oil. Ellis to the West raised Chrystler - the Car magnate.  And the German decendents kept moving west toward Colorado to become even bigger farmers and ranchers.

My folks ended up way out west in Logan county, Oakley the county seat by default if not by fact. Oakley became  commerce center for  the entire county.  So busy that at one time it sported 2 uptown theaters and 2 drive-in theaters.  A Golf  Course. A swimming pool. 2 beer Joints. 2 drugstores, 2 doctors and several main line churches.  3 public schools and a new Catholic  parochial school. 2 busy resteraunts and 2 new car dealerships. Ford and Chevrolet. 

 Saturdays were shopping days for the farmers. The mainstreet was full of slow moving teenagers in cars crusing Center street. The good days lasted until I was out of High School. Then things changed for Oakley. Progress passed it by.
But that is another story...

As a kid, I loved the climate of the farm in the Spring, Summer and Fall in Northwest Kansas. But I hated those cold Siberian Express winds and blizzards out there on the rolling flat prairies. Nothing out there to slow the wind down. Hardly a tree in sight on the sometimes table flat farmland, and frozen prairies in the winter and green winter wheat  and lush prairies in the spring.

It got really nasty in the Winter. Animals had to be fed and protected irregardless of how you hate to go out there - twice a day. And in really bad weather, checked even more often and provided extra feed and made sure the stock-tank was cleared of ice for the livestock and for the big goldfish that usually swam below; so they could get enough oxygen to breath.

Those were the days when you went out at 5:30 am; even in the snow, and ice, and cold, (if the weatherman at "K-Triple-X Radio  so chose) to "do your chores". Finally, maybe an hour or 2 later you got into the house to eat a real hot breakfast. (We didn't have PopTarts then). And change into decent clothes for school.

15 or 20 minutes later we walked nearly a quarter mile to the mailbox where we caught the big yellow school bus every morning.

When you got to school - at least your freshman year of High School - you had to take "PhysEd". Physical Education they called it. Frankly, I resented it immensely as a kid.

I'd already had 2 hours of PhysEd battling the weather and feeding the cows or milking the milk cows and maybe the chickens or pigs. I figured I was fit enough. The town kids needed it worse then me. At least some of them did. Especially Denny!

Back then, the "chore" you were awarded with by your folks, depended on your age - and your physical stamina! Not your sex.

Boy or girl. Didn't matter. You usually started doing farm chores at the age of 6 or 7, if only to feed the chickens or gather eggs, or bucket feed an orphan calf with fresh milk from the cow if you were strong enough - and agile enough that is! Hungry calves can be very aggressive and insistant. Many a kid has been bumped on his butt by a 2 week old Calf. Covered with several quarts of Cows Milk.

Anyway, later on at school, at about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon; you hopped back on the bus and bumped your way home with 20 or 30 screaming little kids. And usually a stressed out, angry bus driver yelling over his shoulder telling them to sit down and shut up every 5 minutes! He usually had to contend with One fight a day. Or maybe two! - One on the way to school. And One coming home. Boy Vs. Boy - Girl Vs. Girl, - Girl - Vs. Boy. We were coed back then too.

Finally getting home from school, you changed clothes and gulped a ham sandwich and swigged some milk down(which we had by the gallons). We were expected to hurry out, and do more "PhysEd", (evening chores) out in the barnyard or milkshed, or the stuffy chicken house.

Finished with your evening chores, you washed up and sat down to a hardy "Supper". We didn't call it "Dinner" back then. Only the Doctors Boy and the Lawyers Son in town called it "Dinner".

Farm kids had "Dinner" at around Noon during the Summer months and also on Sundays. Saturdays were usually spent in town when the folks went shopping for the week. You probably just skipped Dinner. If you could trade in a few pop bottles from underneath your mothers kitchen sink, or "gunny sacks" that you could steal out of your dads feed shed, you could "trade 'em in" for a buck or two for fun on the town while your Mom shopped and your Dad sat in the Sale Barn.

All day long Dad visited with his neighbors while they auctioned off feeder cattle and fat hogs. Our auctioneer only had one arm, no hands to grip the mike, but he was one of the best auctioneers in Kansas- hands down! Dad would be eating a hotdog and a cold coke or a hamburger and and maybe some fries and analyzing the market and contemplating if he should start selling off extra livestock because the buffalo grass wasn't greening up as it should that spring. It never seemed to rain much.

We would usually have plenty of time to see a western movie, a short newsreel, and always a WarnerBros. Cartoon! And you usually had what was left of a couple bucks to buy a Popcorn and a Coke! If you really made a haul with the bottles or the sacks, you could take home two or three Marvel comic books!

The only super hero's (other than the Singing Cowboys) that made it to the movie screen in those days were Tarzan and Superman. That's it! Well, maybe Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and the Roadrunner were heros too!

We survived - and Thrived through the bad and the good of Country living! What a wonderful way to raise a kid! Most of us were forever grateful that our parents provided such a good life - after we grew up !

My kids, growing up in the city, missed so much. They missed the great wonderful enriching environment of farm living. The solitude, The wanders of nature missed in town life.

And the adventures. Riding our bikes to distant neighbors, or a fishing hole or  six or seven miles into town and back home again as a challenge.

The views of distant, small town Wheat Elevators poking out of the ground, upside-down Mirages, seen on the early morning horizons of Fall and Springtime, glowing in the early morning sun, strung out along a giant 360 degrees far horizon.

The smell of buffalo grass burnishing under the scorching sun on a hot July afternoon.

The Wild Sunflowers sharp smelling, tarry resoness in our fingers after being freshly broken off the stem so you can pick at the yellow pedals one by one.

The taste of new winter wheat awash with dew just 4 inches tall on a foggy spring morning.

Or the howl of a coyote in the deep hours of a late summer night.

And the low co-o-o of a dove perched in a lonely tree as evening falls.

The distinct sharp song of the Meadowlark on a fencepost at sunset.

Or the stern stare of a Chicken Hawk a few hedge down as he watches for the errant Field Mouse or Ground Squirrel to just try to make a run for it!

And the old experienced "Nanny Cow" standing alert and alone on guard over the baby calves hidden in the tall grass in the lower draw, while the young mothers graze blissfully over on the far side of the hill. Her vigilance a volunteer contribution to the safety of the new crop of young babies Some only a few hours old.

And finally the brilliant starry nights in the Winter, sharp. Almost too cold to breath. But you hardly noticed. Your a farm kid, you probably didn't even Own a pair of pajamas. And you wouldn't have seen the need. Even when you had to get up in the middle of the night and run barefoot through the snow - to the bone-chilling outhouse somewhere out there in the scary darkness.

You could make it to the little house in about 4 seconds flat! Because you had lots of practice.

Some farm kids become great runners like Jessy Owens who took home 4 Gold Metals in Berlin in 1939. Right under Hitler's bent nose. Jessy was a black  kid  raised on a farm in his early years. I bet He didn't have indoor plumbing either! REA electric line were strung to the farm about 1951. Indoor plumbing arrived a few years later.

You bet! I clearly remember growing up in Northwest Kansas. I'll bet it's still not too different even today.

Well folks, I hope I didn't bore all of you who are reading this.
Sometimes, it helps our outlook on things to see how other folks got to be where they are.   

Tell your Friends about GrandBob,s  Garden.

Hopefully, within a few weeks I will have a report
on How to Build a Hoop House for 65 Dollars (or Less).
Start a raised garden early, or extend it a month with a
Hoop House. 


Monday, September 14, 2009

H1N1 Flu - Symptoms-Prevention - Direct Link to Mother Earth News

Learn all about H1N1 (swine flu) and the seasonal flu viruses, including how H1N1 developed, how flu viruses spread, how to prevent the flu, and who's most at risk to get these flu viruses. Plus, read about natural flu prevention and treatment options — from herbal supplements to vitamin D recommendations — and find links to even more useful information.

Click here to read more.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How To Save Tomato Seeds

It's roundup time for most gardeners. Clean up the garden a bit. Put up the tools. Sit back with a cold beer or glass of ice tea and just rest awhile in the shade. Enjoy the coming fall. The cool. The color. The pollens... Even the butterflies.
Yesterday, I was carrying out some fermented juice from a muskmelon which is a by product of extracting seeds from pulp. Anyway, I spilled the tiniest bit of juice on one of my fingers that was holding the pan. There was a flutter next to my ear. A butterfly resembling a monarch landed on my knuckle and start sucking away what I'm sure was for him an ambrosia of the gods! I waited for him to leave. And waited, and waited... Finally, I turned around, walked up the back steps of the patio and opened the double doors to the kitchen, and walked in. The butterfly still perched on my knuckle. It's long syphon still sucking up the juice on my knuckle. I show it to my grand kids and daughter who said it was a sign of good luck. I seen it as a blessing. I turned around and walked back outside. He stayed a few more minutes until he had his fill, then suddenly flew away.
Folks, isn't it great to be a gardener. And now- back to work.

But for some of us. We're not quite finished. We're maybe eyeing that big overripe tomato on the counter and wandering if we should save some seeds for next years garden, or as a gift to a garden friend or maybe our kids starting their own gardens. How about that special Black Tomato or Tiger tomato you picked up at the Farmers Market. Wouldn't you like to try That next year in your own garden. Or maybe even those great Roma's you picked up at the Supermarket yesterday.

Or just maybe you suddenly realized how fast the Old Fashioned -Heirloom favorites are vanishing from the seed counter and even from the garden Catalogs. Some by accident and others, I fear, by design. Some say even ordinary vegetables are being genetically altered so they can be patented and "Owned" by hungry agricultural conglomerates - who would like to control all seeds. Even the ones the cottage gardener like you and I would plant. They want to make it Illegal to even save your own seeds as has happened with most varieties of field Corn and Soybeans. Is it really happening in the Cottage Garden? And to the independent Truck Farmer? I don't know. But it wouldn't hurt to save all the varieties of seeds you can before they vanish! Maybe we should have started a long time ago.

Here is everything you need to know to save all the Tomato Seeds you want. There are clearly 4 separate stages. Preparation. Fermentation. Drying and Preservation.

A. Preparation
Tools and Materials You Will Need:
Knife to cut a tomato.

A Spoon - A grapefruit spoon works nicely.

A Fork.

A large Tea Strainer - 4 to 6 -inch diameter is good.

A Coffee Filter - A paper or cotton towel will work in a pinch.

A Small Funnel

A paper plate or ceramic plate etc will work

A Kitchen sink or other source of running water is handy.

Rubber Gloves for sensitive hands


A Small Open Mouthed Plastic bottle preferably with the original screw-on lid. Often used for Orange Juice, Chocolate Milk, Gatorade etc. This will become your fermenting bottle. Or an ordinary Jar with a hole in the top would work too.
Lets Begin

1. Find a nice specimen of the Tomato you want to save seeds from. This should be ripe - even a little over ripe wouldn't hurt! We want to be sure the seeds inside are mature.
2. Carefully slice the tomato horizontally through the middle.

Using the grapefruit spoon, dig out all the gel and seed matter unto a plate.

4. Using the Fork and a plate, gently work the pulp and seeds down to a texture of juice and seeds. Do not press hard on seeds so as to damage them.
5. Pour the pulp into the Tea Strainer.

6. Carry the Tea Strainer and the Pulp to the sink and start working out some of the pulp through the strainer in full running water.

7. Using your fingers, gently rub the Gel through the screen as you run water through. Best use rubber gloves as the screen may abrade and scratch your fingers. Remember, some tomatoes are very acid. This plus scratching the tips of your fingers on the Tea Strainer is a recipe for sore fingers for several days.

This is a messy process but you will get used to it. Here I show rubbing the pulp and gel through but I would advise using throw-away plastic gloves or rubber gloves if your skin is sensitive.

Eventually most of the Gel will disappear down the drain and you will be able to pick out most clumps of remaining tomato pulp.

9. After a few minutes of rinsing and working, almost all the Gel is gone and most of the Pulp. Pick out as much Pulp as possible with your fingers and commence to the Fermenting Stage.

Fermenting Stage
1. Turn the tea strainer with its seeds over on top of a plate. Tap out all the seeds into the plate. Set aside while we prepare the fermentation bottle.

2. Using a small funnel, work the seeds out of the plate and into the fermentation bottle made from the juice bottle. When all the seeds are in, add water to about 2/3rds full.
Note #1
If you have the cap for the bottle, carefully drill a 1/4 to 3/8" hole through the top. For safety sake, drill from the inside of the cap out slowly and carefully. With a piece of sandpaper smooth out the hole. You now have a fermentation bottle with a Cap which will look like this.
It will give you years of service. Once you make a few, your good to go!
Note # 2
If you have lost the cap, you can make one out of aluminum foil. Hold it with a rubber band and don't forget to poke a hole in the top to allow air into the bottle. Why? Because fresh air in the bottle allows Aerobic Fermentation to take place. No awful bad smells when you open the bottle. If no fresh air is allowed in, the fermentation will be Anaerobic - without air - and most likely the seeds will rot too and you won't be able to stand the smell. A word to the wise. Always allow air to reach the mixture and shake gently every day. It makes for happy seeds. (;-)

4. With the seeds in the bottle of water and the cap on, set them in a warm place for the left over Pulp and Gel on and around the seeds to ferment. You may see a little foam or the water clouding up. This means the seed is shedding fermented Pulp and Gel. A good sign.

5. Gently shake the bottle a couple of times once a day. After a few days, dump the original water out, add new and set the seeds up on the shelf to continue the fermentation process that will continue to clean the seeds.

6. Continue this process for about a week. Dump out the old water and rinse the seeds still in the bottle thoroughly. Dump the seeds and water back into the sieve . Shake and knock out as much water as you can. Again turn the sieve over as you did before and knock them out into a plate with a coffee filter in it. Now begins the -

Drying Stage.

1. Be sure to label the Drying Plate with the Date, The Name and Possibly the source of the original plant.

2. Set the plate in a warm dry place for the seeds to dry thoroughly. I use a library shelf. Stir the seeds at least once a day. If seeds are clumping together, gently break them apart. The seeds should never be over one layer. Never laying on top of one another. 2 or 3 weeks should be more than sufficient to dry them thoroughly.

3. Pour them into a dry container. I use old pill bottles that have been cleaned out. Or some people go to the hobby store and get change envelopes. In a pinch, you could use a small mailing envelope.

4. Again, Label the seed container with the type of seeds - Tomato - The Variety, and the dated prepared. I also sometimes add the source of the doner tomato. Have Fun!

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section. I answer all comments.

Thanks for stopping by!


Copyright Robert Mader 2009

All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Homemade Dill Pickles

As you probably noticed, the new banner picture at the top is dedicated to Home Canning. It's going on Fast and Furious here. Especially Dill and Bread and Butter Pickles.
The Butter Pickles are the ones with the fancy red peppers and spices in the picture.
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I found this great article by Bobbi Rightmyer in the Kansas City Examiner. Including an easy to follow recipe. Here is the link.

If the link doesn't cooperate, just Copy and Paste the above address into your Browser and enter.

My daughter, who is a neophite at gardening convinced me that there is a certain cucumber that is a "Pickling Cucumber" as apposed to the ones you cool in the fridge, cut and chomp on! She planted "Bush Pickling Cucumbers" and I planted common old "Straight Eight" Cucumbers. Hers brought in a great big crop of pickles. My cucumbers were just fair to midling. Just goes to show you...

I did notice a difference. The Pickling Cucumber has only a few small seeds toward the center. The Big "Straight Eight" Cucumbers of mine had seeds almost out to the rim of a cross slice. We also noticed last year, they seemed to have a mushy texture when pickled as apposed to the Pickling Cucumber that is smaller on the average and makes a "Crunchy" Pickle.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beautiful 12 Year Old Voice for a Beautiful Cause

Wonderful 7th Grade girl sings "Keep Holding On!" with her guitar for her 4 year old friend - who is suffering from a form of Neural Cancer. YouTube Video:

Check out: http://Taylor.Org

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How To Dry Hot Peppers

What do you do when you don't want to Pickle a Peck of Picked Peppers?

You String 'em UpFont size!

By Pat Mader

A close friend planted a really huge Garden, to which they added a variety of Peppers. Bob wanted to add to his growing collection of Hot Pepper Seeds so he dropped a little hint. He brought over several large coffee cans - for putting around their Tomatoes and Bell Peppers, and several 1-inch hot pepper plants of 3 varieties: Anaheim, Hungarian Hot, and Cherry Peppers.

The tiny plants were duly planted and several weeks later; our friend handed me a 3 gallon bucket full of assorted h0t peppers. Now what?

Bob only needed a few for his seed collection which left me with a Peck Sack of Picked Peppers! So I decided to try my hand at stringing them up to dry. Here are the 3 methods. Try any you like.

Stem Wrapping Method

The First method was to wrap the stems tightly with a long string of yarn - adding one pepper after another. It really looked good. Until I tried to hang the peppers up to dry! The whole darn thing unraveled and peppers went from "Heck to Breakfast". Across the counter, To the floor, and under my Bar Stool perch! But I still had the string of yarn in my hand...It fell apart to fast and I didn't get a picture.

Stem Tying Method

My next attempt was more successful. I tied each stem, knotting the yarn each time.

But it was an awkward procedure and the pepper spacing on the string was left to chance. That's when Bob stepped up and said that he read that some people dry their Hot Peppers by sewing them together. You wouldn't believe the images That brought to mind. Ladies at Sewing Machines inserting one pepper after another... But I decided to try it.

Sewing Through the Stem Cap Method

For the Sewing Through the Stem Cap Method, I used a regular needle and sewing thread - but heavier thread may be better. Sewing into the base of the Stem Cap, close to the pepper, I strung the Hot Peppers quite easily. And they look nearly as good at those pepper decorations you see. Hang the Hot Pepper Strings in a Door Way or on a Garage or Attic Rafter.

We are still in the "Wait and See" stage of this experiment. Will the thread break? Will the Peppers dry OK? Will the seeds be OK? All I can say for now, is it sure looks pretty!


It's best to wear protective gloves when working with Hot Peppers expecially. However, All peppers have oils that can burn your eyes. And I am here to tell you. You won't like it. Just a wiff on your fingers and rubbed accidentally into your eye is excruciating. Get under running water immediately if this happens and and flush your eye for several minutes - while your jumping up and down and yelling bad words. Small amounts of juice can even burn your hands and fingers.

Additional Methods of Drying

Place sliced Peppers out in the hot sun on a sheet or window screen.
I would not recommend plastic sheeting or screen - or any type of galvanized window screen.

The roof of a car works good. Don't forget about the Peppers. I've even heard of using the bed of a Truck. Dry in the sun on one side for 8 hours, then turn them over for another 8 hours. The peppers are done when they snap!

Be sure to cover them nightly if you leave them out to keep the bugs off!

Copyright Robert Mader 2009
All Rights Reserved

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Great Video Link - Make Your Own Potting Soil

Save a ton of money on Potting Soil. Make your own Basic Mix. Even add your own organic fertilizer. Video Link:

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Pork Loin Roast and Fresh Baked Vegetables

Prepared by Amber Coffman
Amber lives in South Central Kansas near Wichita, Kansas. It's her first Real Garden - and what a lovely one it is!

After a few fits and starts, She and her husband Dan soon had a beautifully laid out garden. They tilled, laid out, and planted with every kind of vegetable they could think of. And now it's loaded with Tomatoes, Peppers, Onions, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Okra, and even Watermelons and Cantaloupes. They even had a few rows of Sweet Corn - which the bugs got before They did!

Better luck next year! Out toward the back fence is a row of Giant Sunflowers which not only draw birds of all kinds, but also butterflies and bees to pollinate the Garden.

Amber carried an armful of Beautiful frilly Celery to deliver to a merchant at the Home Town Market last Saturday morning. What else could she do with all those fresh vegetables?

How about a delicious Pork Loin with Fresh Baked Chunky Vegetables?

With some Fresh - just picked vegetables out of her first garden - and a $8 Pork Loin - Amber whipped up a Sunday dinner fit for the most discerning palate! Here's how she did it. But first. Take a look at this:

Font size

Roasted Pork Loin with Chunky Fresh Vegetables

It certainly looks delicious, doesn't it? And it Is!

Things you need
Small Bowl
Large Skillet
Baking Sheet
Measuring Spoons
Oven with Broiler
Several Toothpicks
Knives, Spatulas
Oven Mitts



3 - 5 pound Pork Loin [ You want this unseasoned]
1 Package Bacon (12 Oz to 1 Pound)

Dry Ingredients

1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon (dried) Parsley


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Fresh Vegetables

4 to 6 small Potatoes [ Early Garden Potatoes most Tasty ]
1 Small Onion [ Pearl Onions are OK ]
2 Medium Zucchini Squash
2 Medium Bell Peppers
1 Large Tomato

In a small bowl, combine the Dry Ingredients
Rub the Dry Ingredients mixture on the Pork Loin.

In a skillet, with the olive oil, braise the seasoned pork loin on med to med high heat. Approximately 3 minutes each side, and on the ends.


Lay Bacon Strips across the Baking Dish for the length of the Pork Loin.
Lay the Pork Loin in the Baking Dish on top of the Bacon Strips.
Wrap the strips up and over the Pork Loin and secure the bacon with toothpicks.

Set the Broiler and Place the Baking Dish with the Prepared Pork Loin in the oven. Broil for 6 to 10 minutes or until the Bacon is Crisp.
Set the Oven on 350 degrees and bake the Pork Loin for 30 minutes. Leave in the oven with the heat on while you prepare the Vegetable Pieces.

Cut the potatoes, onion, zucchini, bell peppers, and large tomato into bite-sized pieces.

Place the Vegetable pieces on a baking sheet and season to taste. Place in the oven with the Pork Loin and finish baking everything for one hour.

Finishing Up

When finished baking, Carefully - Using the Baking Gloves -pull the Pork Loin and pan of roasted Vegetables out of the oven. Pour the liquid from the Pork Loin, and arrange the baked vegetables around the roast to make " a lovely presentation". Those are Ambers words...
Oh - Don't forget to take out the toothpicks!

This is enough to feed 4 adults and have left left-overs for midnight pork sandwiches or for tomorrows work lunch!


Copyright Robert Mader 2009
All Rights Reserved

Visit : Http://GrandBobsGarden.Blogspot.Com
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How to Make Stonehenge Pots!

Ovea a thousand years ago, the ancients of Europe made pots and planters out of blocks of stone. A few can still be found near the doorways of thached roof cottages in England today - still growing plants! Here is a Wikihow on making look-a-likes that are much lighter. Note: Due to their alkilinity, plants that like alkaline soil
will flourish. Acid loving plants - as in most vegetables and Roses etc. will need a yearly suppliment of acid. Old pine needles etc. worked into the soil. Also, though the article doesn't seem to mention it, be sure to use a duskmask when mixing materials. Portland Cement dust is not good for the lungs!

How to Make Hypertufa Planters

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Would you like to give your garden a different look? Hypertufa, or tufa, plant pots have a coarsely textured, stone look. With their thick, porous texture, they are good quarters and backdrops for smaller plants, such as cacti, succulents, and alpine plants. These are versatile pots that you make yourself, so they can be any size you want. Does that tickle your green thumb? If so, read on.


  1. Have your supplies ready, especially the pots or molds you will use.
  2. Mix three parts peat moss, three parts Perlite, and two parts Portland cement in a wheelbarrow, bucket, or other large container.
    • Measurements may be approximate.
    • Try to get all the lumps out of the peat moss for best texture.
    • Wear gloves and avoid breathing near the mixture.
    • You can use a shovel or trowel to stir.

  3. Gradually add water and stir the mixture, until you achieve a stiff, workable "mud pie" consistency.
    • You should be able to form a ball of the mixture in your hand.

  4. Place some of the mixture in a plastic plant pot, bucket, or other form.
    • Whatever you use as the form should be much larger than the opening you want in the finished plant pot, because the walls will be quite thick.
    • Make sure the shape of the pot or form you use will allow you to remove the finished planter easily. It should have sloped sides with no undercuts.

  5. Press the mixture against the sides of the form, leaving a thick wall with an opening for a plant. Make the walls 1-2 inches (2.5 to 5cm) thick. You will be able to see the shape of the finished plant pot as you complete it.
  6. Add a hole in the bottom for drainage. You can use your finger to form the hole.
  7. Allow the planter to dry thoroughly for about 7 days.
  8. Carefully un-mold the planter and add soil and plants.


Video that is the source of the article


  • Try this using this material to make stepping stones and other garden statuary, too.
  • Use Portland cement, not ready-mix concrete.
  • You can embed materials, such as leaves, in the sides to create imprints. Or, texture the material with a wire brush.
  • Hypertufa is quite alkaline and may cause the soil you place in it to become alkaline, also. Choose plants that prefer alkaline soil.
  • Tufa[1] is a naturally-occurring, porous rock formed by precipitation of calcium. Hypertufa[2] is a mixture of Portland cement and various aggregates in imitation of naturally-occurring tufa.
  • You can mix the dry ingredients and store the mix, wetting only as much of it at a time as you need for one project.[3]
  • Please be aware of the possible environmental consequences[4] of using peat moss. See the tips section for more information.


  • Wear gloves when handling Portland cement and avoid skin contact. If your skin does contact this mixture, rinse well.
  • Avoid breathing the dry mixture or getting it in eyes.
  • If you are particularly ecologically-minded, you may wish to consider the possible ecological consequences[5] of using peat moss.

Things You'll Need

  • 3 parts peat moss
  • 3 parts Perlite
  • 2 parts Portland cement
  • Water
  • Container in which to mix (wheelbarrow, large plastic bin/bucket)
  • Gloves
  • Shovel or trowel
  • Plastic plant pots or other containers to use as forms
  • Leaves or other texture items (optional)

Sources and Citations






Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Hypertufa Planters. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bruce Springstean - Pay Me My Money Down-Song

Copy and paste this link to your Browser to hear this fun song by the Boss!

To Much Fertilizer and Electronic Soil Testers

Sometimes we don't think to much about pouring on great amounts of soil amendments like Cow Manure to increase soil fertility - or Pine Needles or Cotton Boll etc. to help the til of the soil. With just a little for sight and study, it could mean the difference between Great Soil and Disastrous Soil.

Pine needles for example, are highly acid. They are a great amendment in itself if you need less alkaline soil. I'm pretty sure, when the corn silage (as one person added to his soil) broke down in the soil, it also produced a lot of acid. At a certain stage of breaking down, it will actually produce alcohol. Alcohol slows down growth in plants. To much kills them. Add a little cow manure, and you may find that your plant leaves suddenly turn yellow for awhile or even die! Fertilizer Burn.

I build a nice raised bed last year. Added bagged top soil, cow manure and cotton boll. I planted close to 300 onion sets in this bed. The onion sets were planted at the correct depth, placed 3 to 4 inches apart, and watered Religiously in early spring. Most of them came up and grew - for a while. However my onion bed was a complete bust! Most of the onions died and I only got a handful out of the whole plot.

Move forward to this year. After the plot had lain fallow over the winter. I again planted 300 or so onion sets just as before. I changed nothing. Added nothing to the plot. Didn't even cultivate it. Just made furrows about 4 inches apart, plunked down the onion sets the correct distance apart and at the correct depth and again watered them religiously. ( I'm very religious...) Lo and behold, the onions are tremendous this year with Beautiful big healthy bulbs on Yellows, Whites, and Reds alike. Do you see what made the difference?

The summer and wintering "aging" process produced a wonderful soil for my onions this year. This same plot of soil last year was just too Acid I believe. It burned my onions up. I recently tested this Onion Plot to see what the pH was now, after a year and one/half of time to mellow out. The pH is at 6.8. Somewhere between Good and Great for Onions.

Now that I have learned to use it, my Ferry-Morse Electronic Soil Tester is great. I bought it early this spring. I had never tested soil before. It's the best $24.99 garden tool I ever bought. I got mine from True Value but I have seen them in most Plant Nurseries and Big Box Store plant departments.

The first one was a complete bust. I put new batteries in it and it never moved past neutral after several tests. I took it back and they happily replaced it. I got a winner this time. However, the 800 number I called on the first tester bulletin they included in the box, didn't work. Soooo. Trust your Hardware Man to get you a good one...and read the instructions well throughout until you are sure you know what your doing so you don't ruin the instrument the first time out.

Don't always think a lot of fertilizer is the answer. If your going to amend your soil, try to do it in the fall so it has time over the winter to mellow out a little. Your plants will love you for it.
GrandBobs Garden


A lot of people swear that we should prune tomatoes. The Indeterminate kind that produce through a season rather than over a short 2 or 3 week kind. This video from Fine Gardening Magazine (Sister to Fine Woodworking) by Tuton press gives you the basics of pruning. Even if you do not do pruning and let your Tomato Plants bush all over, you should pinch off all growth along the main stem of a foot or less above the ground. This helps prevent fungus growth from the ground up - although I have found it will not guarantee that you will stop it. Just copy and paste the link below.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I intended to catch a shot of our Sweet Potato in a Jar last week which would have been a whole month since we selected it from the grocery store and plunked it in a jar of water. About once a week I changed the water. Eventually, I will have to take it out and pot it. But It can go for months with no problem. I plan on adding very diluted Miracle Grow about one a month. Come back in a few weeks and see how this amazing plant has grown! Great Fun watching it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Gardening for the Health of It

Can Early Retirement Save Your Life?
(Don't show this to your kids - they might try it!)
This letter was written in response to another in one of the garden groups I frequent. The owner of the group did not publish it because she felt that I was getting a free advertising ride at her groups expense - Since I run my own blog. So I sent it to several other garden groups where the owners didn't feel that way. I hope you enjoy it and check-out my blog! And let me know what you think!

Absolutely, and when I figured out a way to retire a few years early, I dropped out from the rat race of getting up every morning at 5:30 to hit I-235 which took me to work at 7am and working sometimes until 4:30pm. (Starting time used to be 6am but the new company owners couldn't get out of bed that early....)

I'd already had Sextuple Bypass surgery and went back to work to a physically demanding assembly job. ByPass Heart Sergery is not considered disabling - at least it isn't for the likes of a common assembly worker. I needed the company insurance. My constant lifting/pushing work and long hours and half-hour - eat out of fat glutted machine, lunch periods - were slowly killing me. And unlike most of my fellow workers, I knew it. When I told them of my decision, "I'm getting out while I still have some health left to enjoy life"; My supervisors and co-workers were aghast! How could I quit now? I obviously couldn't afford to retire early on these wages! And I wasn't dead yet! Even. Fortunately, I Am a Veteran. The V.A. paid off big time with medical expenses when I had to retire early from my job.

However, as the days slowly wound down to that Blessed last day of work, and my supervisors and managers finally realized that I was Really going to do it; One of my supervisors asked me how I managed to fight the company for a small, early out pension of $125 a month - which I was Entitled to - one of the benifits they mentioned when I hired on - but they Really were dragging their feet about setting it up: People not returning necessary papers. Not answering phone calls or going on "Vacations" etc. Giving me 1-800 numbers to the New York Main Office to answer important and required questions, that never seemed to reached the proper person. Until I got a sympathetic secretary - who must have been "out of the loop". I was amazed! An International Company worth Billions of dollars - a Name Brand manufacturer who of course will remain unnamed whose stocks had just been split at $65, couldn't seem to be able to do their part in getting my tiny pension.

I told my supervisors to: "hang tough - and don't give up. Remember your entitled to what they promised you. Don't let them discourage you or wear you down. Don't let them pat you on the back and 'smooze' you. It's their job to keep you here. They would have to replace you." Which would take about 5 minutes in this enormous industry! But that would be inconvenient.

On my last day, my co-workers shook my hand. My Supervisor for the line I worked on shook my hand as well and with tears in his eyes, wished me well. (I didn't get any "official" recognition, nor a $15 mantle clock and a "Chip-and-Dip", 15 minute, after Work Party. Like the old timers get for a full 20 years or more. But I figured I could live without the lunchon and I figured I really didn't need a $15 mantle clock!

It wasn't so much the thought of loosing me that put a tear in my supervisors eye, but mostly the Envy of Not being in my shoes that really hurt him, I'm sure.

A few months later, he and another supervisor put in their resignation and retired early and left. 6 months later, another supervisor who had been fighting the same kind of health problems as mine, retired - early - by about 8 years. We all must have lost retirement money - but I think we all saved our life too! Gosh, what a loss... They had taken the words of a common worker seriously. All of them are now happy with their decision. I meet them at the local Wal-Mart on occasion. Low rollers, just like me. And ther're enjoying their life away from the "Real World" very nicely. Bless Them!

It doesn't take much money to be happy if you have a small garden to enjoy. Travel? I can Goggle most of what I haven't seen, if nothing else. At my age, Fishing is free here in Kansas, even if the only thing you can catch is giant Catfish, Bass. etc. and participate in early spring Trout Tournaments. We won't do much Sailfish fishing here until Climate Warming really gets in gear and brings the ocean up to the Kansas-Oklahoma line.

I begin to teach myself to draw and watercolor about 2 years before I retired. I always wanted to do that. I knew I needed something to do when I left the "Working World". (You don't have many office conferences on an assembly line, so I didn't get any work time to learn golf - or any clubhouse golf expense money.)

ANYWAY, I'd quit drawing when I was 10. Drawing was not the manly thing to do back least for a 10 year old farm boy. I Was foolish little farm boy back then don't you know. What wonderful work I could do Now if I hadn't quit.
Instead of still being in the amateur learning stage. I did go on to learn photography - before the digital camera.

So now, there are no gym workouts for me to get bored with before my 2 year contract is fulfilled with ---- Gym. They are still around aren't they??

There are no Mall Miles to "fast-walk" every day. I have better things to do with my time.

I made up a business card. "GrandBob's Garden - Gardening for the Health of it". It says Who I Am Now! If anyone needs my address or telephone number, I hand a card to them. They cost me 3.75 cents postage and handling for 250 cards from "VistaPrint". A good company for business beginners that I could recommend - but I won't here...

I "work-out". Everyday. Anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours a day in my garden depending on how I feel and how nice the weather is. I love it. My whole body gets a good workout and my blood pressure goes down. Doesn't cost a penny, and I never get bored.

So, I have my Blog. I have my home garden with the Victorian -Dodge City - Picket Fence, I designed and build it myself around my little 30 X 35 plot where I grow, and experiment and photograph -Tomatoes, and Flowers and Bugs and Stuff.

I had the opportunity this spring to start and coordinate a new Community Garden with the blessing and help of my small town City Council. (The Mayor at the time though I had a great idea. It started with an e-mail. We worked it out together, from the rules to follow to the size of the plots and direction they would lie on - East to West and the North Side for Corn and other tall crops. You pay $10 per small plot. And whatever you grow is all yours. Free water! Of course, the $10 for the plot pays the City for it's water. Can't beat it! I bought 8 plots. A nice sized second garden for me to play with.

And, just a block away; A new "Home Town Market" site was constructed in the Historical District secton of the Town - This area had been practically leveled in a tornado 10 years-ago. One vintage little cottage and a couple of vintage store fronts, now in excellent repair by the City, survived the storm. A very nice lady plants beautiful flowers all over. She directs the landscapeing "the park". She also is a Volanteer.

I won't mention the two authentic looking "Out Houses" that actually have running water and flush toilets and warm blowing hand dryers behind the "BlackSmith"
Storefront and the Art Gallery that front the drive past. The Home Town Market is a place to sell your produce if you want too. Or your craftwork if you wish. It runs through the summer months and costs $20 a booth. Bring your own tables and chairs! Not bad. Most people are sold out by noon so I understand! You should come to visit and shop on Saturday mornings! You'll have fun. People are friendly. And there is usually a Bar-B-Q wagon parked nearby to tempt you while you browse around.

When I feel like it, I fish in the town's small stocked lakes, and I draw and do watercolor landscapes and people and Cats and Dogs. And the Lord looks out for me and mine for anything else we need.
ps: Some people will resent me writing about my plan for living. They don't see the money in it. That "cushion" the call it - to die wealthy on that they just got to have. They call themselves "advantaged....


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Amazing Look into the throat of a Wyoming Tornado!

One of the most amazing Tornado videos ever shot of a live tornado turning "Top Towards the tornado chasers! Only 2 miles away!


BREAKING GARDEN NEWS! - Slugs and Snails - Amazing Organic Pesticide Discovered in Your Kitchen!

"Slugging It Out With Caffeine" by Janet Raleff

"Anyone who has raised tomatoes in a moist environment knows the tell-tale sign:
Overnight, a ripe orb sustains a huge oozing wound. If you arrive early, you might catch the dastardly culprit; a slug.

Who would have thought that a defense was as close as your coffee cup?"

Check out the full article at:

Saturday, June 6, 2009


How'>">How to Grow a Tomato Plantfrom wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Are you yearning to grow your own sweet, juicy tomatoes? Luckily for you, tomato plants can grow almost anywhere. But as with most vegetation that produce a fruit, a little "tender, loving care" or TLC goes a long way. With adequate sunlight, water, and patience, you'll be greatly rewarded.


  1. Buy a tomato plant from a nursery and transplant it to your garden for the first-time grower. More experienced growers will find it easy to start their own tomatoes from seed, beginning, as appropriate, in a greenhouse or sunny window indoors.
    • In most cases, there's no reason to pay extra to buy larger plants.
    • Good first-time growers’ varieties include Better Boy, Creole, Big Boy, Early Girl, Brandywine, Celebrity, Lemon Boy, or just about any cherry or grape tomato variety.
    • Plant several varieties rather than all of one type-- this ensures a steady harvest. As a rule of thumb, it's good to have two plants for each member of the family who will eat tomatoes. If you plan on canning or making salsa, use up to four plants per person.
    • Plants usually cost US $4 or less.
  2. Choose a sunny spot to place the plants. Place tomato plants in a site receiving full sun (7 hours or more daily) Tomatoes need lots of warm sunshine for optimum taste.
  3. Prepare the garden bed by adding lots of compost (5 to 8 pounds per square foot/25 to 40 kilograms per square meter) to the soil. Turn compost into the top 3 inches (6 to 8 cm). Tomatoes demand a growing medium rich in organic matter. If you don't make your own compost, use store-bought compost or composted manure available in the 40-pound bags. Compost or Manure is usually less than US $5 per 40-pound bag.
  4. Transplant the tomato deeply. Bury about 75% of the plant. It’s okay to bury some of its leaves. New roots will emerge along the buried stem, giving the plant a development boost; a new transplant needs to focus on root production.
  5. Give each plant about 1 gallon (about 4 liters) of warm water (about 80 degrees F/ 27 degrees C) within ten minutes of transplanting to avoid transplant shock.
  6. Space tomato plants 18 to 36 inches (45 to 90 cm) apart; space them half the suggested distance in warmer climates, especially if using tomato cages. The normal distance recommended is for plants allowed to bush out hugely on the ground, while planting closer together in cages allows the plants to shade each other's fruit, helping prevent burn and allowing a sweeter flavor.
    • Don't forget to leave yourself enough space to get in between the plants to water, weed, and harvest. Those cute, little seedlings may not remain that way for long.
  7. Continue to water about 16 ounces (about 500 ml) of warm water per plant every day for the first 7 to 10 days after transplanting.
  8. Wait a week or two after transplanting,and then place a mulch of straw, dried grass, or pine needles to control weeds and keep the soil moist during dry weather. The mulch should be about an inch (2.5 cm) thick and surround at least a circle 12 inches (about 30 cm) in diameter around the stem. Pine needles are especially good for helping raise the acidity of the soil.
  9. Ensure that plants are receiving 1 to 3 inches (2.5 cm to 7.6 cm) of rain weekly. If not, give each plant about 2 gallons (about 7.5 liters) per plant per week, beginning 14 days after transplanting.
    • The tomato plant should be watered 2 to 3 times weekly (so, water each plant with about .75 to 1 gallon each time (about 3 to 4 liters).
    • It's okay in hot or dry weather to water even more frequently with larger volumes.
  10. Consider using a tomato cage or a stake to support the tomato vine about 14 days after transplanting.
    • A stake should be at least 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) thick and 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long. Pound stakes about 12 to 24 inches (30 cm to 60 cm) deep, at least 2 inches (5 cm) away from the plant. Secure the plant to the stake using loose knotted double-loops that won't strangle the plant. Stakes can be made of bamboo, scrap wood, electrical conduit, or iron bar.
    • While it is less common, they can also be vined on a trellis or fence, like grapes, beans, squash, and other vining plants. This can produce especially large yields, but is less popular because tomato plants grow so large and bulky.
    • A cage should be at least 48 inches (1.2 m) tall, even taller if you grow the plant well. Some tomato plants can be more than six feet (1.8 m) tall in cages. Cages have a tendency to bend if the plants get heavy, and sometimes collapse in summer storms. Carefully pull leaves and secondary stems inside the cage as the plant grows. Cages cost less than USD $4 each.
    • If your plants routinely outgrow purchased tomato cages, get some hardware cloth (wire mesh) with a broad grid and cut it and roll it into wide cylinders to make your own, larger cages. Bend the wire ends around the wires on the opposite end, making a circle. This type of cage may need a strong stake for support.
  11. Choose whether to use use chemical fertilizers. Tomatoes can grow very well organically, provided the soil is well enriched with organic matter. If you do use chemical fertilizers, try using half the recommended concentration per gallon (using package directions), but fertilize twice as often, in order to avoid the stress caused by the feast-famine of the longer fertilization gaps.
    • Over-fertilization can cause plants to grow too quickly, leaving them more susceptible to disease and insects.
    • Remember that your goal in growing tomatoes is fruit, not leaves. Fertilizers, especially when used in excess, may cause the plant to produce more leaves and foliage.
  12. Shake your plants gently once or twice each week for about 5 seconds once flowering begins. According to the National Gardening Association, shaking the tomato plant increases fruit production by more evenly distributing pollen.
  13. Watch for fruit to appear 45 to 90 days after transplanting. Tomato plants usually have small, green fruit to start. Wait until the fruit is of good size with a bright, deep coloring. This means that the fruit is ripe and ready to pick. The texture of the fruit can also determine if it is ready to pick. Ripeness is usually determined by a slight softness. Be careful not to squeeze too hard and bruise the fruit. Also, be careful of allowing it to become overly ripe, which results in a very soft tomato.



  • For those who live with little ground space, or only a porch: plant tomatoes using only a pot! Take a pot about 18-24 inches high, about 15-20 inches wide. Fill with soil, fertilizer, etc. Plant tomato and cover soil with plastic black cloth that lets water through small holes. Cut around the edge in a circle and tuck the edge into the soil. This keeps weeds and bugs out. Buy long plastic stakes and put 3-4 into pot around plant and use plant tape to hold it.
    • Ripe tomatoes can be protected from predators by carefully placing a "Ziploc" type bag over the fruit from the bottom to the stem. Close the bag from both ends at the top to the stem-leaving a 1/4" on each side for air flow. Cut the lower corner for drainage and air flow. Don't be disappointed; spend the time bagging it!
  • Another fun idea for the space-restricted gardener is to start an upside down plant.
  • Tomatoes prefer a soil pH range of 6.0-6.8. Blossom-end rot can be caused by a calcium deficiency and occurs frequently on acid soils or during stress periods on soils with seemingly sufficient calcium. Source:" rel="nofollow">Tomatoes Ohio State University.
    • To correct a calcium deficiency: bring about one gallon (about 4 liters) of water and a tablespoon (15 ml) of lemon juice to a boil. Add six tablespoons of bone meal to the water, stir well, cook covered for 30 minutes to help dissolve. Allow to cool. Solution may not be completely dissolved, that's okay. Feed each plant at leaves and roots one quart (about 1 liter) of solution. Repeat treatment a second time in three to five days. Bone meal is high in calcium and phosphorus.
  • Fruit may be picked any time after it starts changing to its ripe color and set on a sunny windowsill to ripen indoors. This will reduce the chances of it rotting on the vine or being eaten by a bird or squirrel. Tomatoes do, however, taste sweeter when ripened on the vine, so you need to balance risk of threats versus taste.
  • Use a tomato cage or tomato stakes after the plant has been in the ground for six weeks to make harvesting easier.
  • Prior to setting your seedling in the ground, toss a couple handfuls of organic material in the bottom of your planting hole. As the roots grow deeper, they'll hit this layer of nutrients just in time to really boost your fruit output.
  • When planting in the ground, you can place a large coffee can (opened on both ends) over the plant and push it halfway into the ground. When watering, fill the can to the top with water, which will then descend directly to the roots and allow the plant to flourish. Check for "suckers" (branches that grow in the joint between the main stem and other branches). There is a myth that suckers do not produce fruit; this is not true, but they do use some of the plant's nutrients as they grow. As a general rule, leaving suckers will produce more fruit, but smaller, while pinching them off will cause the plant to grow larger fruit, but less of it (because there will be fewer branches).
  • Purchasing Organic plants from your local farmers market can help ensure that your plant is free of pesticides and other possibly harmful chemicals.
  • You can get started earlier in the year by creating a temporary greenhouse. Make or buy cylindrical tomato cages made of heavy duty fence material. Use vinyl coated welded wire with a 3"x5" mesh, 5 ft. tall and about 1'6" in diameter. Plant the seedling and sink the cage into the dirt 4-6". Then take some sturdy, clear plastic (available in the garden center) and tape it securely to the cage. Moisture is retained and the plants are kept nice and warm. Remove the plastic when the plants emerge from the top of the cage or begin to form fruit, whichever happens first.
  • Use manure tea for fertilizer. If you have access to well rotted manure, you can make your own fertilizer. Put the manure in pantyhose or cheese cloth. Place the "tea bag" in a 5 gallon bucket and fill the bucket with water. Allow the "tea" to steep for a few days. Dilute the tea 1:1 with water and give your plants a drink...They'll love it. If you're near the ocean, you can also use sea kelp for the same effect. Kelp is a good fertilizer for foliar feeding; spraying directly on the leaves, because it contains trace nutrients and hormones which are more easily absorbed through leaf pores, instead of indirectly through the roots.
  • While you should avoid pouring too much coffee or fresh grounds into the soil for acidity, the very caffeine which makes this risky is also poisonous to slugs and other pests, which is why coffee plants evolved it. Even more effective than killing these pests is to simply spray the leaves of the plant with coffee. On the leaves, the caffeine is not concentrated enough to harm the plant, but is still enough to repel some pests.
  • If the stem or roots of the plant are damaged -- for example your toddler sits down on top of your 18 inch plant, snapping it near its base -- you can often save the plant anyway, by burying much of its above-ground stem and lower branches again, as you did to 75% of the plant when you first placed it in the ground. The little hairs on the stem and branches grow into roots. Since the plant is already in the ground, you accomplish this by piling dirt up around the plant, so that it grows out of a mound. Raised-earth growing is good for tomato plants at any time, because they are more vulnerable to certain ailments, especially fungus, when their hanging leaves and branches are in contact with the earth.
  • In order to improve flavor, promote growth, increase harvest, and protect from insects, consider using" rel="nofollow">companion plants with your tomatoes. Planting basil within 18 inches of your tomato plant, for example, improves the flavor of its fruit and repels many insect pests. Carrots increase fruit production, because the tomato plant draws nutrients from the carrots (which may grow smaller as a result). Basil also makes a wonderful addition to tomato-based dishes. Try adding it to your spaghetti sauce or bruschetta.
  • If temperatures routinely get above 95 degrees F (35 degrees C), consider shading the tops of each plant from 11:00 to 15:00 hs to reduce the "burn" caused by the combination of heat and sunlight.
  • If you do decide to sucker (cut back) your indeterminate tomato plants, consider not pinching off the whole sucker, but letting it grow just long enough to produce some leaves, then pinching off its tip. This will keep it from putting much effort into growing a long branch, but lets the first few leaves increase the surface area available to your plant for photosynthesis.
  • Suckers that have been pinched off can also be rooted quite easily in moist soil to produce new tomato plants, but this practice does require a larger sucker, and is somewhat impractical in climates with a short growing season, since these plants will reach maturity later in the season and have less time to yield.
    1. Tomato plants love the heat and will grow rapidly once their roots are established. Tomato roots like the soil to be warm before they will really take off. Prepare your location as you normally would with organic matter. Make a very shallow trench that is not quite as long as your tomato plant is tall (pot included). At one end of the trough dig deep enough so that the pot when laying on its side can be mostly covered. This deeper side is to accommodate the plant ball only. On one side of the plant stem (on one side only) gently scrape from the root ball up 4/5th's of the way up the stem so that the outer skin is scraped off down to the firm part of the stem. Be gentle so that at the upper fifth of the plant is not broken. While you scrape the stem you will want to support it in the palm of your other hand. Then place the plant on its side in the trench. Place the plant scraped side down in the trench with the root ball being placed in the deeper side of the trench. The plant stem should be about 1/2" from the surface. Cover almost the entire plant with dirt leaving the tip 1" exposed. Mound some dirt up like a small pillow for the exposed section so that the tip is facing up - it does not need to be pointing directly at a 45 degree angle. Once again, be gentle especially with the top growing end. Gently press down on the soil to assure the scraped side will be in contact with the dirt Water thoroughly and add additional dirt if needed to assure the root ball is covered.
    • By scraping the stem you are exposing the cell layer that will grow roots, by planting close to the surface the plant gets the heat that it loves. The root system will ultimately grow its way down into the soil. It does not take long before you have a very strong root system that will more than support the green part of the plant. As the roots develop you will see your plant grow very quickly providing an abundant number of vigorous stems and blooms.
  • The reason for the shallow trench planting is that tomato plants love warm soil. When a hole is dug and the root ball is planted deeply, the roots will be slower to grow since the soil deeper down does not warm up as early as the surface soil. It is best to mulch well into the summer when the soil is very warm and you need to retain moisture and discourage weeds.
  • A determinate tomato plant grows to a certain, limited size and then stops or at least slows its growth greatly. An indeterminate plant keeps growing and spreading out.
  • Tomatoes usually split if they are watered irregularly. Once the plants stop recieving an adequate, regular supply of water the tomatoes will begin to ripen and turn red. This makes the skin brittle. If the plant is returned to a normal watering schedule the tomatoes will split instead of enlarging.


  • Tomatoes are prone to a number of diseases, but you can avoid most of them very easily. First by planting disease resistant varieties,listed on the tomato package.
  • To prevent mold or fungal diseases, water plants in the morning, preferably by using drip irrigation or water furrows. If you spray the entire plant(s) from above, you will increase the chances of mold/fungal spores infecting it/them. Exception; There is a method of fertilizing plants called" rel="nofollow">Foliar Feeding, where you spray the plant's leaves with fertilizer containing trace elements, which will be directly absorbed. This is good for the plant, though it should be done in the evening or morning, when its pores are open.
  • Only eat the fruit of a tomato plant, never anything else, as tomato vines are in the highly poisonous Nightshade family.
  • Tomatoes need good weather and soil conditions to produce good fruit.
  • When transplanting, be careful not to disturb the roots. If too many roots are cut or damaged, the plant may die. See "tips" above for how to fix root or stem damage.
  • As your plants flourish and grow, string, or cord tend to cut into the branches. Instead, try using torn strips of cloth for your garden tying needs, and especially when cinching up tomatoes. Cut-up strips of old hose or stockings work great for tomato ties; they are stretchy and gentle enough to tie vines well. One pair of 99-cent pantyhose in 1/2-inch strips will hold up rows of plants.
  • Never sucker (prune the new growths at the base of each fruiting branch) determinate tomato plants. This kind of plant sets its fruit all at once, and all you will accomplish is making your crop much smaller.
  • Seeds of tomato are pretty small and their planting depth should not be too deep. A deep sowing results in less or no emergence and as a result loss of seeds may be attained.It is therefore wise to cautiously follow the planting depth of seeds and this has to be a 0.5-1.5cm.

Things You'll Need

  • Tomato plants (several different varieties)
  • Composted manure. Available in 40-pound bags from nurseries, garden centers, or hardware stores.
  • Trowel or small shovel
  • Twine or cloth for tying
  • Tomato stakes (bamboo, iron rebar, wood) or tomato cages.

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