Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes... What’d life be without home grown tomatoes. Only 2 things that money can’t buy ... That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.
Well ... God bless John Denver. He wrote that song because he knew just how important “Home Grown Tomatoes” were.
I’m in my 60s now and have been prepping for a while. Like all preppers, my mind wanders to “what ifs” just about every day. Beans and rice - protein and carbs and what about vitamin C? What about food fatigue? Couldn’t tomatoes be a part of the solution? I suspect so. Home grown tomatoes aren’t just great tasting, they’re full of vitamin C which can be hard to come by in a grid down situation.
When I was just 14 ... I was assigned the task of caring for the garden which consisted of about 18 tomato plants. Late July was hot. As I said, I was 14 so I couldn’t drive so the neighborhood girls were starting to look hot, too. I immediately turned my attention to the tomato patch.
After I turned over the soil and planted, I watered. I figured that would be just about all there was to it. But, I started seeing things. Bad things. Yellowing leaves, bugs, and tomatoes with blacked ends. I had questions and no answers.
Food ... plant food I mean. In the 60s if you wanted fertilizer, you might have used something like Rapid-gro or one of the other high nitrogen products being made available to a growing population of hobbyist gardeners. When I used these products the plants turned green ... real green and .... they quit flowering. No flowers, no tomatoes. We grew one tomato plant against the west wall of the house that got to be about 12 feet tall and had not even one tomato on it. One hot summer night the neighbors snuck into the tomato patch and tied balls all over that plant.
On the softballs it said, “Hi I’m a Bigboy” and on the baseballs ... “Hi, I’m a Betterboy”; and on the golf balls ... “Hi ... I’m a cocktail tomato.”
More food ... for thought - plant food I mean ... All fertilizers have three numbers that tell you what is in it and that tells you what you can use it for. The first number is the nitrogen content. The second number is the phosphate content and the third is the potash. Balanced fertilizers like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 are fine for green things like grass, or food plants like lettuce or root crop but, not the best for plants that you want to flower … like flowers or a plant upon which the food comes from the flower like squash or egg- plant and yes... tomatoes. A high nitrogen fertilizer (and there are a bunch of ‘em), will, as I tried to tell you before, stop the plant from flowering. Don’t Do That. That’s right ... no flowers no tomatoes. The fertilizer you should be using is a “bloom booster.” It has a very high middle number and that makes great roots and also makes the plant flower. Lots of flowers means lots of tomatoes ... You might consider storing bloom boosters for bad times. If not... then just stick to compost. I learned my lesson.
Water ... God’s and yours combined I mean. At 14 I figured that if I watered the plants a lot I’d get tomatoes a lot. Don’t Do That. The rule of thumb is about an inch per week. That includes God’s water. I want to mention two things here. Rain is always better that city water. City water has chlorine and the plants don’t appreciate that much; and rain has more nitrogen. I am told it is due to lightening. The other thing I want to say is this. You’ve seen tomatoes split from too much water too fast because skin can’t stretch fast enough right? Well, what do you think all that extra water is doing to the flavor of your tomato? That’s right... it dilutes the sugars and acids and makes it taste just like a winter tomato. A winter tomato is one thing money will buy. If you have a bunch of tomatoes you’re planning to harvest, withhold water for a day or two and taste the difference. I learned my lesson.
Diseases ... fungus and wilt I mean. These diseases plague everyone who grows tomatoes. Heirloom plants are far more susceptible to these maladies than the resistant hybrids. If you plant an heirloom tomato seed and raise a tomato and save the seeds from that tomato and plant those seeds, you will get the same tomato plant (mostly). That’s a big reason why preppers want to save heirloom seeds. I get it. I tried it. After about four seasons of heirloom tomato plant failures my wife finally said to me “You can’t even grow a tomato.” I said “But Honey! I’m prepping?” I’m not certain what is causing fungal overgrowths and wilt at these accelerated paces. It seems worse now than it used to be. I’ve heard some say that the constant metal chemtrail spraying is blocking enough sunlight that it’s allowing these common tomato diseases to run rampant. Whatever it is, it’s a serious problem that requires an equally “serious” solution.
Diseases cont. … the ones that you caused with water I mean. Tomato crop failures occur mostly because of leaf destruction due to wilt and/or fungus. Just like in your socks, it’s all about moisture and lack of air-flow. If you get greedy and want lots of tomatoes and plant your plants so close together that they’re touching, you stop the air low and that keeps the leaves damp. Fungus is going to take hold. Don’t Do That. If you water your tomato plants with a sprinkler you’ll wet the leaves and help fungus grow on them. Don’t Do That. Plant your plants far enough apart that they have air all around them. Water the tomatoes at the soil level and not with a sprinkler that wets the entire plant. Cut off the leaves at the bottom of the plant up about a foot so they don’t lie upon the damp soil and pick up leaf diseases. One more thing now. I have a friend to whom I gave about six Supersonic plants last year. He likes to plant all sorts of tomatoes. The fungus and wilt from the other tomato species attached themselves to the Supersonics and they were all wiped out. OMG Don’t Do That. If you feel that you just have to plant heirloom tomatoes fine. Keep them away from the Supersonics as insurance so you will still have an acceptable yield.
Pests ... bugs I mean. Healthy tomato plants aren’t as prone to insect destruction as are some other crops, but there are some real causes for concern. Cutworms will walk along the soil and cut the plant off right at the soil level. Putting some aluminum foil around the stem at the base and up an inch or two and that will stop that. The other pest to watch for is the Tomato Hornworm. The “mother” of this thing is the Sphinx Moth and offspring (larvae) child looks like a 4” green snake. These guys are bigger than a man’s thumb and can eat about 1/4 of a plant in one night. They are nocturnal mostly, hiding at the lower sections of the plant during the day. Hand picking them is the most effective way to get rid of them. You can find them by looking for their black droppings (on the leaves or on the ground) and then look above that. “Water seeks it’s own level” … and Hornworm poop falls straight down. Their pupae drop off the plant and burrow into the soil to grow until the next generation. Roto-tilling after the tomato harvest can kill up to 90% of them. . If after picking these green vandals off your plants, you can’t stand the thought of stepping on something that size ... throw them against a hard surface. Or, if you like the idea of recycling ... go put them on the edge of the birdbath and run. They won’t last long there and the birds will “tweet” about you later. “# Dinner and a show”. You’ll be trending. Where tomatoes are concerned I don’t really mind using “tomato dust” or “Sevin dust”. Tomatoes have a very washable skin.
Seeds ... “Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds” (Deuteronomy) I mean. I am going to suggest one “serious” solution that will draw (some) ire from some preppers, but I am doing this with your best interests in mind. Three years ago I planted Supersonic tomato seeds. I had spectacular results. I had six plants only and had all the fresh tomatoes that a family of six needed, some to give away and enough at the end of the season to make a great marinara sauce to freeze and store for winter use “and it was good.” Supersonic F1 hybrid seeds (plants) are fungus and wilt resistant. They worked where the heirloom plants failed. And yes ... now my wife says that I grow great heaps of good tomatoes.
Taste ... you want to do things in good taste I mean. Supersonic F1 tomato plants are heavy producers of medium sized fruit that have high sugar and acid content; not pulpy like Beefsteak varieties and the like. This makes them my first choice for sandwiches, salads, a great sauce tomato, and when picked green ... makes the best fried-green tomatoes you’ll ever have. Now because Supersonic seeds are an F1 hybrid, they won’t run true if you save the seeds from the tomatoes you grow. I’ve tried it. They revert into the two parent plants. You get a nice tasting medium sized tomato and a nice tasting cocktail (or perhaps wild) tomato. And really, what’s wrong with that in an emergency?
Seed saving ... Tomato preparedness I mean. As I said above, you can’t plant the seeds from a Supersonic tomato and get a Supersonic tomato. So ... If you want a reliable way to grow good tomatoes when things get tough, you’ll just have to store some Supersonic seeds. Supersonic tomatoes were bred by the Harris Seed Company. I am saying that they have hit a home-run here. In my opinion they have saved the prepping community from a tomato-free future. I store Supersonic seeds in a quart jar with oxygen absorbers to extend the viability. Right now ... 500 seeds cost $13.20. 1000 seeds cost $21.65 and 5000 seeds are $93.00 and so on. Seeds won’t last forever so you might handle these like canned goods. Buy some every year or two and rotate them out of your inventory. To that end, I talked with Richard Chamberlin the owner of Harris Seed Company and he told me that (for a limited time) if you purchase some bulk seeds and if you reference a Rural Survival.info code* 5PRP071, Harris Seeds will give you free shipping. I feel strongly enough about this to encourage you to take him up on his kind offer.
Experts ... I’m not one I mean. There is more to growing tomatoes than I’ve mentioned here and this is not the definitive work on growing tomatoes. This is intended to be a quick-start guide for folks that want to grow tomatoes in today’s diverse climates, or under grid-down circumstances, or just want cheap good-tasting chemical-free food.
Homegrown tomatoes ... love I mean.
C’mon all you enemies of the state; click the link and sing it with me.
There ain`t nothin` in the world that I like better
Than bacon `n lettuce `n homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin`, out in the garden
Get you a ripe one, don`t pick a hard `un
Best of Luck and Thanks,
Rik in far west St. Charles County.
* Important: this offer expires on June 30th, 2015
1744 Pyatt Rd.
Hartville, MO 65667
Toll Free: (866) 424-3185
From the very beginning, there was a garden. Those who came before us learned – just as we must learn – that to efficiently live off the land and provide for our families we must grow our own food. It is not a new concept, by any means, but to some it still remains a foreign one. Fortunately, if necessity can teach us, it can teach them as well.
While every gardener dreams of a bountiful harvest, not every garden always grows according to plan. The reason for this is sometimes difficult to pinpoint since every garden faces its own unique circumstances and struggles. However, any garden may be improved with an added dose of knowledge and patience.
Long before you sow the first seed or try a fresh recipe, you should start with a plan. A properly designed garden is oftentimes overlooked, but it is an essential ingredient to a healthy harvest. It's very important to know which plants will grow well in your area, what their characteristics and requirements are, and what their benefits will be for your family. If you want your kids to eat more vegetables, a proper garden layout will promote healthier plants and children. Those who ignore this valuable step pay a price. Overly-crowded crops, stunted plants, and disappointing yields are the guaranteed results of this unfortunate oversight. Not to mention the lost opportunities for saving seed. There's no reason to garden like this. As I've come to learn – prepare first, then plant!
Creating some garden blueprints just takes a little attention to detail. Figure out your preferences early on. For example, if you're hoping to preserve and save seed for future seasons, you must be familiar with the correct harvesting and saving techniques. You must also know what types of seed will be sown and what space is allowed in your garden. There really is quite the checklist.
Selecting the right seed is essential. The altered genetics of Hybrid seed make it an incapable producer of continual true-to-type varieties, while Open-Pollinated Heirlooms are praised for doing just that. Once a farmer brings an heirloom to his table, he won't want to grow anything else. Each one – with its great quality, taste, and reliability – is a treasure.
As for spacing, the question of where to plant requires organization in and out of the garden. If you're planning on saving seed, you must learn to watch, as well as prevent, unwanted cross-pollination. When two plants of the same botanical family cross, their seed will not produce the exact same traits the following season. To preserve a particular strain, each botanical family will need their space. You must reserve each veggie their sufficient amount of room or else next year's seed will not grow reliably. An organized layout will keep all such factors in harmony.
While making your plans, think of possible problems in order to prevent them before they happen. Let's say the garden space becomes exhausted. If trellises are penciled in on the layout, they will fix that headache before it even arises. I love training my plants to climb up, instead of out, saving both the garden and my back from stress. Such vegetables including pole beans, small gourds, melons, and cucumbers will all flourish when grown this way. Trellises can be easily made from anything sturdy enough to offer support. Fence posts, cattle panels, bamboo, re-mesh wire, or even discarded volleyball nets will work for certain varieties.
Every garden design will undoubtedly have its share of variables, though. Location, for example, is certainly an issue for my family here in the Missouri Ozarks, where the soil contains mostly rock and red clay. Container gardening and raised beds are a great substitute and/or addition for such problems. When constructed first in the blueprints, they'll also quickly improve the surroundings with unique style and color.
One other variable to consider when strategizing is the matter of companion planting. It is our job as the gardener to know each plant's requirements and grow them as efficiently as possible. Companion planting is an essential step to sustainable living. For instance, tomatoes – a front runner in almost every garden – will thrive beside carrots and basil. We plant these three together to improve growth and flavor as well as for protection from harmful insects. We've also learned that growing corn or broccoli near tomatoes only introduces disease and crop failure.
Another reason to remember companion planting when putting ideas to paper is for your garden's visitors – namely butterflies and other helpful insects – which are drawn to flowers and veggies. All sorts of creatures can benefit from our work.
There is no question that a well-designed garden speaks for itself. Living successfully off the land is so much more than simply carrying prolific crops to the house with warm reception. It's about the work and heart behind the glorious results. You have to have one to have the other.
That is why my family started our heirloom seed company. Knowing just what hopes are sown in the soil, we created a designing gardens program in order to help gardeners in this early, overwhelming stage. Of the pertinent information we include, there are planting instructions, seed saving guidelines, suggested companion plants, and a full customized garden layout – all for free.
There are many steps to success – each significant in their own way. Through my family's business – White Harvest Seed Company – we hope to help folks grow more sufficiently. Sowing with unanswered questions will not get a gardener anywhere, but sowing with a plan does.
Lancer T Blair, BS(ag)
PlantingIf you are new to the garden scene, you may not know exactly what to plant. Or how to go about planting what you want. you may not have the tools to plant or know when to plant. Let us answer a few of these questions, in the hope that a productive garden is the result. Also keep in mind that what might work for your neighbor may not work for you and that what is expressed here is by no means an absolute. You will need to do your homework to see which method suits you the best.
Under the topic of planting we will discuss, what you will need, types of seeds, growing conditions, when to plant, How to plant and What to plant (primarily companion planting)
What do you need?What do you need, is a simple enough statement. At the very basic implication it refers to seeds, plants, cuttings. And then your tools: Shovel, Hoe, Rake, and a knife or scissors.
Let us start with seeds:What ever you do, in these trying times, Do Not, I repeat, do not buy hybrid seed. As a matter of fact stay as far away from hybrid seeds, plants and cuttings as possible. Even if your interest is not seed production. The sequence of genes in a hybrid plant are being copy written and huge seed companies are now starting to sue farmers where the genes happen to pop up in the field. So to play it safe, for health and finance stay away from hybrids and GMO (Genetically modified organisms)
You will want to plant seeds that are preferable of last year’s production. If not last years then the year before that. However take note that the older the seed, the less likely they are to germinate. For the simple fact is that within every seed there is a spark of life, and as time goes by it will eventually die out. But most seeds are good for 3 to 5 years after production.
PlantsThere maybe the possibility of buying open pollinated or heirloom plants at your local nursery, hardware, or feed store. If this is possible you may be able to skip the germination process. Which could save time and energy. But make sure you pick plants that are Not flowering. Plants that are flowering usually have wasted a lot of energy to do so, and they generally don’t transplant as well as some of their less showy sisters and brothers. Check for diseases, viruses and fungus. Never bring these home. Plants need to be of a good rich color and not tall or lanky. Sturdy stalks, no flowers, no curled leaves, no off coloring and no bugs. But of course this may not be an option if no stores are open for business.
CuttingsAgain cuttings can save time and energy. However they may not be available at the beginning of the season. Again use the same discretion in choosing your cuttings as in choosing your plants. But you may have a harder time seeing if the packing soil they are in has bad bugs, viruses, bacteria or fungus in it.
Shovel, rake and hoeThese three implements are arguable some of the oldest tools known to man. A larger then average garden may be put in with only these tools. The shovel can be used to turn the soil, dig holes, dig up plants, cut roots below the surface, and incorporate humus, and other soil amenities.The rake is used to gather or spread materials on the ground. The Hoe is used to disturb the soil and break the fine roots of weeds. Plus all three may be used as a weapon of self-defense.
Types of seedsSeeds come in many different sizes, shapes and colors. The coconut, corn, peas, beans, sesame, flax and pecans are all seeds. They all have one purpose, to reproduce plants of their kind. Above all, when planting a garden that you wish to save seed from year after year, buy only heirloom or open pollinated varieties. Do not buy hybrids, most seeds at a feed store or from a seed catalog are hybrids. Hybrid seeds will germinate and produce a fine healthy plant, for one growing cycle. Many of these plants have been bred to be exceptional in one area or another. That area could be disease resistant or very productive, enhanced color or aroma. However they were also bred so that the traits they expressed would not breed through and be seen in the next generation. When you save seed from a hybrid and plant it you are running a high risk of getting plants look nothing like their parents, they probably will not be as productive, or as colorful, they may even be stunted in their growth. Buy seeds that can be planted and saved year after year after year.Growing conditions
For many plants in your garden, frost is a death sentence. But thankfully this is not true foe many members in the lettuce, cabbage and broccoli family. These plants may take a slight frost. This fact extends our growing season. And can be planted as early as February and March, depending on where you are. The rest of most garden vegetables will be planted late April through early June. Again this depends on the vegetable and where you live. You should always follow the directions on the seed packages. If you plan on having a huge garden you may want to consider a small green house or several cold frames. These would allow you to start many plants earlier then usual and can be used to harden off seedlings. There are many good ideas and designs for green houses and cold frames in garden books and magazines. You might be able to get second hand glass (with chips and cracks in it) from your local glass shop. You can usually find a way to use these. Remember adequate moisture, sunlight and food is the requirements of every plant.
When to plant
I prefer to plant using the signs of the moon. If you don’t fine. I have proven this method to my self and I am quite happy with it. You may purchase a calendar with signs on it or get and almanac.How to plant
Basically planting boils down to seeds coming into contact with the necessary light “or lack of”, water and warmth. Some seeds prefer to have their seed coat stratified (scratched, Broken, bruised) to allow the inside of the seed to emerge. Many gardeners prefer to place their seeds either in a bucket of water over night or on a damp paper towel (if the seed is small enough). Some seeds may need longer then over night (24-48 hrs). This process speeds up germination. After the seeds have soaked up some water they may be planted in seedling trays or directly into the garden. Make sure that you read the directions on the seed packages. Some plants do not like to be transplanted and need to be planted directly in the garden
What to plant
This question can be answered with 2 questions. What do you like to eat? And what do you think you will need?
I, myself believe that a good balanced will kick most diseases to the curb. I also like a lot of flavor in my food. So in my garden there are a lot of herbs. Not only do they add flavor to foods, but also they can be used to keep a person healthy. You may want to look at plants that you can use for trade. Such as tobacco or stevia. Whichever routes you take you need to do your homework.
Companion planting has been used for centuries to aid one or all the plants growing together. Such combinations are: Soybeans and corn in neighboring rows. Tomatoes and cabbages or tomatoes and asparagus. These aid each other, the beans fix nitrogen for the corn. The tomatoes drive of flies from the cabbages and asparagus.
If you wish to plant a little closer try planting radishes and onions with lettuce or tomatoes. Cabbage and garlic or spinach and cucumbers work as well.
This is by no means a complete list, feel free to experiment with combinations. But remember you don’t want any thing that will directly complete with each other. It might be possible to harvest one before its companion really starts to grow.
Another aspect of companion planting is the idea of using plants to attract pollinators for their companions. Most plants used here are flowers. A few are Dill, Mustard, Buckwheat and most wild flowers.
You may use plants to not only attract pollinators but also to drive away or kill harmful insects. What is so good about this, is that herbs fill the bill.
Several flowers will work as well. Tansy, penny royal, hyssop, catnip, African and French marigolds all work to repel insects. In fact the pyrethrum flower works so well that it was made into a commercial spray years ago.
Please be careful! Research has shown that some of these plants have been known to actually attract the cabbageworm moth. However, a vegetable garden with flowers and herbs scattered through out is always a lovely sight and should be a healthy garden that will produce healthy and nutritious food for the gardener.