Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sprouting Indoors with Soil

Well, with 5 inches + of snow on the ground, today may be the best time to concentrate on indoor gardening.

I recently attended Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach Florida where I learned a bit more about sprouting. Brian Hetrich, the head gardener at HHI, had a wonderful lecture on the procedure for sprouting sunflower, buckwheat, wheat grass and peas.

I have been sprouting in an Easy Sprouter and jars, but not with these seeds. These seeds need to be planted in soil for the best yield. It is much easier then I thought it might be.

You really only need  2 growing containers, soil, water, seeds and indirect lighting. I recommend organic potting soil mix for the best results. I am using growing trays and garden lights just because I have them.

If you soak and sprout your seeds 24 hours before planting, you will have a higher success rate for germination. I soak mine for 12 hours then drain and rinse and let sprout, out of  light,  for another 12 - 24 hours. Rinse your seeds 2 to 3 times a day while sprouting them.

I purchased my growing trays at the local Agway for a few dollars and the organic soil in the garden center at Lowes. I am using organic seeds that I purchased online just to make sure they aren't GMO's.

Make sure you have good drainage holes in the bottom of your containers. If they aren't there you can punch a few in yourself with a sharp object. I use an old ice pick.

Spread 1/2 inch of your potting mix in the bottom of your container. Pick out any large pieces of bark or twigs if you have them. Place the second container inside the first and press down firmly to compress the soil and then remove it. Spray with water.

After your seeds have soaked and sprouted, spread them in a single layer across the soil and water. Make sure when watering that you don't flush the seeds out of position. Use a watering can with a sprinkler head or pour the water through a colander.

Place the second container back onto the seeds and let it sit in the dark for 48 hours or until the sprouts push the top container up an inch or two. Water the seeds once a day.

When the sprouts start to push the second container up, about 1-2 inches, you can remove it.  Place the sprouts in a spot where they get indirect lighting and this will help them grow tall and green.  I use this procedure for all of these seeds.

Harvest sunflower sprouts when the third leaf appears, buckwheat, when the majority of the shells have fallen off, and wheat grass when the second blade of grass starts to appear.  Approximately 10 days from planting.




Wheat Grass

I harvest my sprouts with a pair of kitchen scissors. Make sure you harvest dry sprouts, they will last longer in the refrigerator, usually 5-8 days. P.S. Wheat Grass should be juiced!

Happy Indoor Gardening!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Turning Suckers Into Plants

 Each sucker is a new plant and takes energy to grow and produce fruit. When you take the suckers off your tomato plants you are giving the mother plant a boost in energy and at the same time creating a new tomato plant.

Make sure the sucker is about 5 to 6 inches tall before you remove it. This size seems to take hold quicker when planted.  You can pinch or cut it off.  It will look like a tomato plant without roots.

Bury it in the soil up to the top leaves and water. After the first few hours it will wilt. Don't be tempted to pull it out!! After several days it will "perk up" and as the root system takes hold it will become stronger and begin to grow.


I have done this for several years and the tomatoes on the sucker plant have been just as tasty as the mother plant tomatoes. This is a great way to have several similar tomato plants without the cost and they will mature later so your tomatoes just keep coming!  


Happy Gardening!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Single Stemming Tomato Plants


I have been growing tomatoes for many years and this is the first year that I have been seriously single stemming my tomato plants.  I have to tell you that it truly is working for me. I have been harvesting tomatoes since the first week of July. They are much bigger and ripen quicker. My plants are very strong and growing taller then 6 feet so far. I have had as many as two dozen tomatoes on the vine since the beginning of the season and they just keep coming!!

Here's how I went about it. First I buried my tomato plant at least 1/3 of the way deep. I made sure to pinch off any branches that will be below the soil level. Second, as the plants grow, I pinch off any suckers that start to emerge from the main stem.

For those of you who do not know what a sucker is, look at your plant. Where the main stem meets a branch of leaves you will see an elbow or for those who are technical, a perpendicular angle. From this area a sucker (another plant) will start to grow. Before it gets too large I pinch it off.

Be sure not to pinch off the branch with the blossoms.  Repeat this procedure until the end of the season. In the meantime you should see more blossoms and bigger tomatoes. The stem of the plant will be thicker and stronger too.

The concept is that the energy it takes to grow the sucker will be going back toward the main plant and tomatoes of the main stem. Makes sense to me!

I know the season is well under way but hopefully this information will help you have a bumper crop of tomatoes next year.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cabbage Moths and Larva

The cabbage moths are small white moths that look like butterflies. I used to think they were so nice to watch flying around the garden until I learned that they lay their eggs on leafy greens.

If the moths are present so are their eggs and larvae. Once the eggs hatch the larvae start eating their way through your garden.

I don't spray so to keep these moths from laying eggs on my leafy greens I invested in a material called a row cover. You just lay it over the garden and the moths can't reach the plants to lay their eggs. I decided to use my coldframe for the material and it is working just fine. You can pick it up at your local garden center or order it from your favorite online nursery.

Happy Gardening!

Tomato Hornworm..not pretty

I have noticed that some of my tomato plants have leaves eaten down to the branches. I am also seeing black fecal matter or "dirt" on the leaves.

Investigating further, I found one of these guys hanging upside down eating his way through my tomato patch. It is very hard to find these hornworms because of their color. Look in the center of this next picture and see if you can find the hornworm.

Googled the hornworm and found that he is very destructive to tomato plants and will eat pepper plants as well. I am an organic gardener and will not spray my plants so I have been hornworm hunting everyday since I found these guys...and yes I do dispose of them when found!

Be sure to keep an eye out for these guys. They can take out a plant in just a few days. Remember, if your plants look like something is eating the leaves down to the branches and you see "dirt" piles on the leaves, you probably should keep looking for the hornworm.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Backyard Green Drink by Grace Lefever

I recently took a weed walk with Grace Lefever from Sonnewalds and learned of a new way to get leafy greens into my diet and all from my very own backyard. This is my rendition of her Green Drink.

Today I started with my garden greens of collards, red jagged kale, swiss chard, mint, basil, oregano, parsley, nasturtiums, anise hyssop, dill, and burnet.

After collecting from my garden I head to the edge of the woods for some wild edibles. Plantain, dandelion leaves and flower, lambs quarters, mulva leaves and flower, viola, red clover leaves and flower, white clover leaves and flower, and yellow clover leaves and flower.

Depending on the time of the season I would have more or less choices. Any leafy greens and edible flowers from the garden can be added along with seeds. When picking is slim I add  my sprouts and store bought organic greens.

I add to that a half of a peeled lemon, whole apple and about one and a half cup of water. I put all in my blender and run for a minute or until smooth then pour over a glass of ice. Makes about a quart depending on how much water you add.

Really tastes light and refreshing and makes me feel that I am starting my day on a healthy note.

Here's to happy, healthy gardening,