I HAVE ALWAYS CAGED my tomatoes, but many experts agree that staking–and regularly pruning and tying the staked plants as they grow–is the most space-efficient and also most hygienic tactic of all, helping manage the potential for disease while yielding plenty of fruit. With tomato-transplant time just ahead here, I’ve been studying up with experts like Tom Stearns (that’s his High Mowing Organic Seeds tomato trial field, above) on how to stake and prune tomatoes, and other tips for producing a healthy, bountiful crop. [read more…]
Gardening and landscaping how-to for beginning gardeners. I have selected some of my stories on a range of topics, aiming to introduce new gardeners to some of the basics, such as composting, mulching, starting seeds and how to grow tomatoes. A great place to start on this site if you're new-ish to gardening: Browse the stories below and see what sounds right for you.
IPLANNED TO WRITE about how to save on expensive potting soil in big pots, and other container-garden tricks, but I guess the local skunks wanted to be written about instead—those naughty tricksters! No sooner had I potted up spring pansies and violas, than the creatures of the night unpotted them (upturning the empty plastic nursery pots I’d used as a “false bottom” to conserve soil). The score, after two nights of mischief: Skunks 2, Margaret 0. Other key spring tasks here involve recycling at its best, too: I’m making new beds and smothering weeds with cardboard and newspaper, and of course there’s the biggest garden recycle operation of all, how to make compost, and lots of it. (More photos of the 2013 edition of the Pansy War and my temporary solution on the jump.) [read more…]
NO GREENHOUSE, a tiny house, and various other obstacles notwithstanding, I’m madly coaxing along one crop after another of seedlings over here. Want a little tour of how to start seed indoors (well, at least Margaret’s improvised method, that includes some outdoor steps, too)? [read more…]
DEAR GAYLA: Well, this is just perfect. You are publicly blaming me for the fact that you are about to be overrun by giant Nicotiana in your smaller garden, and I am in turn holding you to task for the fact that I am suddenly obsessed with growing dwarf tomatoes in pots in my bigger one. (At least we’re keeping all our finger-pointing in one botanical family: the seductive Solanaceae.) Seriously, though: Thanks for the unusual tomato seeds you sent, and the advice on how to grow them. Thanks to you, I’m starting tomato seed today. [read more…]
I OPENED THE DOOR to the barn yesterday and could almost hear them calling out to me: “Rusty; I’m getting rusty in here, Margaret.” And: “I’m not feeling too sharp right now.” Oh, dear. I called a tool-savvy friend for a refresher course on tool-care—just five easy tips I think I can commit to this year. [read more…]