Friday, April 30, 2010

Rookie Tips for Growing Tomatoes

This Rookie Gardener has been experimenting with tomatoes for about a year now. I grow every one of my tomato plants from seed (mainly from store-bought tomatoes that I use for cooking). If I eat an interesting tomato, I try to harvest its seeds and grow it. When I first started, I really didn't know what I was doing, but over the last year, I've acquired some tips along the way, and am starting to see the "fruits" of my labor. These pics are from my tomato plants as they are today... as you can see the fruits are just arriving!

I can't say that I'm anywhere near experienced in growing tomatoes, but I think the following are basic tips in successful Rookie tomato plant growing.

1) If you start your tomatoes from seeds, wait until the seedlings are at least 3 inches in height before transplanting them. If you plan to grow your tomatoes in a container, and you see roots peeking out the bottom of the pot, move the plant to a bigger pot to encourage growth!

1-a) To answer TMCPhoto's question: How to harvest seeds... I've done it two Rookie ways: 1) Just take the seeds straight from the tomato and throw it right into the dirt. 2) Put the seeds in a glass of water. Stir twice a day for 2-3 days. By the third day, the seeds will have settled to the bottom of the glass. Sift them out on a paper towel and they are ready for planting! The second method gives you more control over where you plant the seeds, but either way works well, especially with fresh seeds.

2) Pinch off any leaves growing below the lowest flowers on your plant.

3) When you plant starts growing rapidly, use a tomato cage to guide its growth, so it doesn't get unruly.

4) Tomato plants LOVE coffee grounds! Sprinkle some in your soil.

5) Make sure your tomato plant gets LOTS OF SUN, and I mean LOTS!

6) Occasionally give the top leaves of the plant a light shake so that the pollen from the upper flowers make contact with the flowers below. Tomatoes self-pollinate with their flowers.

7) This is one I need to work on: Patience! Plant it, and the tomatoes will come!

If you've got some tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section! I'd love to hear them!! And if you're a total rookie too, I hope these tips were helpful!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In Memory of My Grandmother

My grandma passed away a week ago (4/11/2010), and yesterday I decided to plant an avocado tree in her honor.

I had been eyeing these avocado trees that Costco was selling for $16.99. Anyone who has ever tried to grow an avocado plant from a seed can probably attest to how difficult it is to do this. I’ve certainly tried a couple of times with little success. So when you’re presented with an opportunity to buy a small tree that has been growing for at least a year, for under twenty bucks, you definitely have to think about it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know where in my yard I would plant one, so I had refrained from buying one of these trees.

I finally caved last Thursday, and asked the hubby to make a jaunt to Costco and buy one of these trees. I came home Thursday evening to see the potted tree sitting in the side yard.

Often times, it takes me about a couple of weeks before I get around to finding the motivation to plant a newly acquired plant. However, I had a compelling reason to plant this tree earlier. Yesterday, I was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles at 3pm to participate in the first of several ceremonies that my family was having to commemorate my grandmother. I made the abrupt decision at 11am to plant the avocado tree in her honor. It just seemed like the right thing to do. So I grabbed a pair of gardening shears and just started hacking away at the bushes, and cut them down far enough to make a clearing for the tree.

I think the avocado tree looks pretty happy in its new home.

My grandma wasn’t exactly a fan of avocados. In fact, I don’t think she had ever tried one when she was alive. I’m hoping that this tree will bear fruit, and that in some goofy way, she’ll finally get to try an avocado out, stuffed with crabmeat and mayonnaise. I’m pretty sure she’ll like it. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Plant Progress Report #1

My plan is to have weekly progress reports, to show how much my plants are growing, especially since the weather is really warming up and things are starting to grow like crazy!

My parents gave me this little loquat tree that they grew from a seed! I love loquat fruits, and I really hope this one grows!!


All the tomato plants in my garden were grown from seeds that would have otherwise been discarded after cooking. I have found that tomatoes are some of the easiest plants to grow. I have more tomato seedlings than I know what to do with, so an idea that I came up with was a braided tomato "tree." I took three tomato plants (I have no idea what varieties they are) and braided their stalks together. We'll see how these turn out. I'm hoping that I'll end up with a bush that will produce three types of tomatoes! We'll see!

The behemoth tomato plant below sprouted from some baby heirloom tomatoes that I bought from Trader Joe's. I've had this plan for almost a year now, and it just keeps on growing!! I'm also finally starting to get tomatoes too-- golden ones! These are some of the tastiest tomatoes I've ever had. Any ideas on what this variety is??


I'm starting a little container section on my patio. My mom gave me some tong ho, which is a Chinese lettuce (tastes sort of like watercress, but slightly spicier) and cilantro, which I transplanted to the large container. More tomato plants (again, no idea what kind they are) on the right, and strawberries in the small one. I'm hoping to grow more herbs in this section.


My chayote plant (L) is growing pretty well, and flowers are starting to appear on my bell peppers (R).

My dwarf sugar snap peas:

Cucumbers seedlings are starting to sprout!

Look! Flowers! And a good number of them! Hope that means I'll have fruits this year!!


The bulbs are really starting to grow, but no flowers yet. My poppies and snapdragons are becoming stronger looking. The Alyssum is also starting to bloom. It was looking a little sickly when I first transplanted them, but they're definitely starting to take!

Views from both sides of the garden:


Thursday, April 1, 2010

House Among the Weeds

I have this little house in my garden as a decoration. Most people don't even realize it's there because it's only about 4 inches high! Recently it was even harder to see it with all the weeds that were growing around it (I've plucked them since then):

Kind of messy, if you ask me.

Close up though, it looks like the house is in an enchanted forest.

I love this picture!