Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Very Tiny Ficus Named Dan

I'll give just about anything a try if I can grow it.  This one really surprised me though.  One desperate shot in the dark turned into a pleasant reward.

There is a story behind my new Ficus that started in 1996 when I made a big move.  I left behind my home and migrated to a bigger city.  I was looking for better job opportunities.  I moved my girls into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment that was sufficient for the time being.  I hadn't been able to bring much to furnish our new home with.  My brother dropped by my apartment one day with a pallet of tiny, weather beaten plants.  There were about five of them and they definitely need plenty of TLC.  He had rescued them from a Walmart dumpster.  Imagine someone who will grow anything they can finally getting some new house plants!  I was so elated.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Do Your Tomatoes Need Help

There they are, big and beautiful.  Your mouth waters just looking at them.  You know they are going to be sweet and juicy.  But why aren't those tomatoes getting ripe?  Are you just being impatient, or do you have a situation going on you should be concerned about?  Maybe, but probably not.  The tomato is one of the hardest working crops in your garden.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Potato-Seed to Crop

Chances are you’ve got them lying around your house.  You probably compliment at least one or more meals a week with them.  Bet you even created your own special dish using potatoes.  You can mash them, you can fry them, you can bake them, and you can make salad out of them.  So why not grow your own?  All you need is patience, space and one single potato to get started.
Potatoes’ are probably the easiest produce around to seed.  So easy as a matter of fact you can keep them going year after year from one healthy crop to another.  When you purchase potatoes you probably keep them in a cool dry place with plenty of ventilation.  They will keep fairly fresh that way for several month.  Eventually though little white “eyes” start peeking out of the potato.  Long, spiny little fingers that are actually roots.

One potato can sprout several roots at one time.   You will have the best luck if you plant in early spring and/or early fall.  Without washing the potato divide each eye into a separate section by slicing at least 1 to 1 ½ inches from the sprout.  If you wind up with more than one root in a section don’t worry.  You want to place the roots in the dirt as quickly as possible so be sure the ground is ready for planting a few days in advance.

To cultivate your plot make sure to loosen up the soil until it is very easy to work with.  If you do not have a compost going toss some coffee grinds, along with a handful of raked leaves in with the dirt.  Blend it in very well.  Now you are ready to plant.

Place each potato with the root side down in a hole that is 1 to 2 inches deep.  Place the seedlings 6 to 8 inches apart.  Be sure to water the plants and re check them every day.  Do not let the plants get to dry and keep any weeds or insects under control without chemicals. You will find many chemical free suggestions for insect and weed control on my plot at HomeLifeIdeas In no time you will find tiny healthy plants peeking from underneath the soil.

Potato plants will shoot straight up and grow anywhere to 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall.  When they are ready to harvest in about 45 to 60 day (dependig on your climate) you will notice a very petite pretty white blossom on the tips.  This is a sign that it’s time to check you crops progress.  With a shovel dig a shallow hole starting 8 inches from the plant.  Carefully work in toward the roots so you will not “split” a potato in two.  If the crop is not quite as big as you would prefer simply bury it again and wait another week and check for progress.
Next year you can keep the crop going and start the process all over using your own potato.  Just think of the bundles you can save!  If you have ever had fresh, home grown potatoes you know they have a much richer flavor than typical sore bought.   They make mashed potatoes unbelievable