Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Growing Winter Tomatoes

Here's a look at our heirloom tomatoes we're hoping to keep through most of the winter. These are the ones on the outside at the south of the house.  A couple are still on the porch, with me.

Frost cloth at the ready...

Heirloom Tomatoes Wintering In Florida

Remember, these are the tomato plants produced from seeds we saved from last year's tomatoes.  Despite a couple of frosty nights, our Johnson German transplants are doing just fine, thank you very much.  Just got through pruning off the some big fat suckers and re-potted them for next spring.

A big fat sucker, there on the back.

Above is one sucker we missed.  It will make a nice tomato transplant to keep on the sun porch.  I know, "move over, Digger".  The porch is getting a little crowded, already.  What with the new bamboo starts and other not-cold-hardy plants ol' Bill's been moving in.  There's hardly room enough for my toy collection.

By planting a few suckers along the way, the tomato becomes "perennial" and, in theory, you'll never have to buy tomato seedlings again. We'll see.... Wouldn't that be nice?

Here is one monster bloom that's opening up on one of the tomato plants outside.

Is that a sunflower or a tomato blossom?

By trimming off the suckers, providing constant water via a drip, and laying on the organic worm castings with  a weekly dose of VermaPlex® liquid, the plant is getting maximum nutrition for fruit production.  The bloom stems or "fingers" are particularly stout and thick.  Shouldn't be any blossom drop.

When  the suckers are left on, the plant is putting all it's efforts into growing the offshoots and not into the one stalk with it's blooms.  I know, I know, it's difficult to trim, especially when the suckers are thick and healthy.  But it's absolutely necessary.  Besides, they make excellent new plants.

One thing we learned is to put the trimmed off sucker straight into moist potting soil, rather than a container of water to form roots before planting.  The fine hairs on the stem grow into roots right away and the tomato plant performs better.

Here are some of the tomato suckers we planted in this way last week.  They're doing fine, no wilt at all.  One was knocked over (I had nothing to do with it, I swear) and you could see the roots already starting on the stem. Just have to keep the potting soil very moist.

Recycled containers make great transplanting pots. Ugly but cheap.

We kept two tomato plants for the porch, just in case the outside ones take a hit.  Never know how cold it might get.  One year, we had three days of 12-15 degrees overnight.  It could happen again (please, Lord, no.)

Not as big and stout as the outside ones, but still growing and putting out blossoms.  And they're safe!

Our plan is to let one sucker on each plant go until it's big enough to transplant.  At least until we have enough transplants for the winter and spring.  That way, the mother plants won't be too stressed and overworked.  We'll see how that goes.

For now, that sun ray landing on my cushion is getting m-i-g-h-t-y tempting.

Organic Fertilizers For Tomatoes

Certified Organic Worm Castings For Fertilizing Tomato Transplants
What's the best fertilizer for tomatoes?  Use slow release, certified organic worm castings and VermaPlex® for the best tasting, most nutritious tomatoes possible.

Pure Black Castings Slow release, never burns.

VermaPlex®:  Provides continuous feeding for maximum growth and fruit production.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's The Best Way To Pick Citrus?

If you're lucky enough to live in Florida this time of year, you'll know it's time to pick some citrus.  Yeah!

Best way to harvest grapefruit, organic, and all citrus

Digger's Tip Of The Day

As the lovely picture above suggests, the way to pick grapefruit, oranges, etc is:

  • Bend the fruit up
  • Invert
  • Then Twist and Shout Pull!
We're enjoying some freshly bend-ed, inverted, twisted and pulled grapefruit even as we speak.  All grown organically and without pesticides, of course.  Yummy....

Organic Fertilizers For Citrus

Citrus takes best with organic fertilizers
Citrus tastes better when fertilized organically.

Increase yields and improve flavor with Pure Black Castings and VermaPlex , certified organic, OMRI listed fertilizers for lawns, gardens, and orchards.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Why Beneficial Microorganism ARE

Add beneficial microorganisms to your soil for plant health

Hello from the farm!

Did you every wonder.....

What puts the beneficial in "beneficial microorganisms"?

"Good" microorganisms are important in our gardens, lawns and farms for at least two reasons:

  • Plant growth stimulation
  • Plant disease suppression

Plant Growth Stimulation

Beneficial microorganisms promote plant growth in two ways:

  1. Nutrient Conversion
  2. Stimulation

1.  Nutrient Conversion

When organic materials such as compost, vermi-compost, manures, or worm castings are present in the soil, microbe activity converts the nutrients contained in the material into a plant available form.  The plant absorbs more nutrition and - surprise, surprise - the plant grows better and faster.

It follows, then, that the higher the number and the higher the quality of microbes, the more nutrition is available for the plant and the better the plant grows.

2.  Stimulation

Another "Mode of Action", or MOA, of microorganisms  is stimulating growth of the plant and root.  There are certain "rock stars" of the Microbe Universe (fungi included) that produce growth stimulating "metabolites".

Other mysterious physical interactions of some strains of microbes and fungi stimulate growth through specific mechanisms that are little understood. It's enough to know it happens.

Plant Disease Suppression

Beneficial microbes control plant disease through the following mechanisms:

  • Soil Remediation:
    They feed on pathogens, eliminating them from the soil.
  • Competitive Exclusion:
    They inhibit pathogen growth by taking up space and nutrients.
  • Microbiostasis:
    They kill pathogens or limit their growth.
  • Rhizosphere Competency:
    They prevent pathogens from accessing into the plant's roots.
  • Systemic Resistance Inducement:
    They strengthen and stimulate the plant's own natural defenses against disease.

"Since disease prevention is infinitely easier than disease curing, having the growing medium enhanced with beneficial microbes from the get-go is important for success."

Enhancing Soil Microorganisms

It's easy to see why maintaining the beneficial microorganism population in our soils is so important. Protect the microbes you have by avoiding chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Build up the soil by applying organic materials that are alive with microbes, like worm castings and vermi-compost.

Improve and expand beneficial microorganisms in your growing medium with these liquid soil inoculants made from worm castings:

  • VermaPlex®, teeming with these growth enhancing, disease preventing microbes,  is important in the beginning or when plants are struggling.  Apply VermaPlex® at seed planting and transplanting time or when plants are showing signs of disease or stress.
  • VermaMax LE® contains extra nutrition for more growth and green.  A must for high nitrogen using plants.  Once plants are established, is doesn't matter which liquid is used.
    VermaMax LE® is available in select areas for now. 

A good regime is alternating liquids throughout the growing season.  In our studies, micro-dosing with a very small amount at each watering brought the best results.

Happy Growin',

Best Way To Add Beneficial Microbes

A potent combo for enhanced growth and plant health.  VermaMax LE®  is available in select areas for now.

Certified Organic Fertilizers