Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Growing bigger tomatoes

A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and fl...A scanned red tomato, along with leaves and flowers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you would like huge tomato plants you may be missing out on this handy little tip. Those living in the South know that having a large root base and plenty of warm sun and water produce big healthy tomato plants. Here's a great tip if you buy your tomatoes already started.

  • If you purchase tomato plants that are already about 8 to 12 inches tall, strip all the leaves except for a few off of the top. Every leaf you remove will form a root which will create a huge root system on a young plant. The bigger the root system, the bigger the plant, the more tomatoes you'll yield.
  • On a raised bed dig a hole big enough to accommodate your tomato plant. Remove your plant from its container and if the plant is root bound loosen by hand the roots at the base. 
  • If you want to ensure better root production, you can apply rooting hormone to your plant prior to placing into the ground. 
  •  Lay your tomato plant down sideways, yes, side ways and cover with a few inches of soil and compost leaving an inch or two below the cluster of top foliage. Do not bury too deep the warmth from the sun and quick absorption of water will help promote root production faster.
  • At the neck of the plant just below the cluster of leaves at the top, wrap a 3-4 inch piece of newspaper around the plant. This will protect the plant from pests since it is the only part exposed.This will help prevent tomato cut worms from feasting on your newly planted tomato bush. 
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Monday, June 18, 2012

How to attract more butterflies to your garden

Orange Butterfly
© Dawn Gagnon Photography 2013

Butterflies are lovely little garden visitors that help pollinate your flowers and vegetables. Attracting them to your garden is easy if you plant plenty of flowers they love and follow a few simple tips. South Carolina is home to many varieties of wild flowers and butterflies. See this list below to attract them to your garden.
  1. Avoid using too much pesticides. Even though we love butterflies they are an insect and as such are vulnerable to the same pesticides all insects are. Use natural and organic means of pest control when possible and be mindful of those that kill caterpillars.

  2. Plant flowering shrubs, trees and vegetables in groups to help bees and butterflies pollinate easily. This also creates a grand impact visually as well.

  3. Allow for some naturally blooming wild areas in your garden. While you may not think it an attractive area of the garden, you can always add to a wild section of a yard by adding additional wild flowers to it. Butterflies in particular need an undisturbed area to make nests for a butterfly friendly environment to flourish. If needed, add butterfly houses to your garden area.

  4. Flowers that produce great quantities of nectar are more likely to have your garden teaming with butterflies. Flowers such as Peacock Butterfly Bush, Coreopsis, Asters, Phlox and many others are especially attractive to butterflies.

  5. Have a decorative dish with damp, water logged soil in the garden. Be sure to keep it damp with water as butterflies will drink from this. They do not drink from standing water.

  6. Lovely rocks and garden sculptures in the garden make ideal places for butterflies to rest. An added bonus to attracting butterflies is that in most cases the same things attract hummingbirds as well.
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