Summer Is Here…..At Last……Yippee :) Time to plant up those Strawberries!

P1010306
Hi Guys

Well Summer has finally arrived here in Southern Ireland…..not sure how long for but we will enjoy it while it last. Very very busy day yesterday in the tunnels and the garden……..soooo much to do at this time of year and so nice to do the gardening in the sunshine. Well, I planted up my strawberry plants into larger pots.  They were in 3 inch pots and were more than ready to put into their final planting position as they are in flower and lots of strawberries are started to appear. Strawberries are easy enough to grow…..Honest.  They can be grown outside but they do like lots of heat  and sunshine so this year I have planted them in pots in one of my tunnels.  They can be planted straight into the ground, hanging baskets,containers or in growbags………..all of which are fine as long as they are kept well watered. I planted mine into containers this year as we are still working on the tunnel that they are in so they need to be moved around as we work. To plant up your strawberry plants is very simple if you follow these simple steps: Image

First thing you will need to pot on your strawberry plants is your container, basket or growbag.  If your planting into the ground the rules are the same. Strawberries need good, rich, moist compost…….an organic grow bag or your own compost if you have a compost heap!  Fill your pot, container or hanging basket up to about a 3rd from the top allowing room for the strawberry plant and roots which will make up quite a bit if it’s in a reasonable sized pot to start with. Carefully take your plant out of it pot by gently squeezing the bottom of it if necessary.  Arrange your strawberry plants on top of the compost in your container.Image

Strawberries can be planted quite close together so you can put 2 or 3 in your container.  Once the plants are in position you need to fill the pot up with more compost.  It is really really important NOT to cover the top (crown) of the strawberry plant, as this is where the plant grows their new shoots….so fill the pot only to the same level as the plant was in its original pot.

Strawberries will need feeding when they start to flower.  Feed your strawberry plants with a good quality fertilizer such as the tomato food…….I know the label says it for tomatoes but its perfect for all flowering veg and some fruit!!

P1010311

This is the perfect time to go and buy your strawberry plants.  Im going to buy some more today so that I hopefully will have strawberries all summer……thats the plan anyway!!

Health Benefits of Strawberries

Did you know that strawberries  are one of the superfoods, they are packed full of vitamins, fibre and high levels of antioxidants.    Strawberries also help to protect your heart, increase the GOOD cholesterol (HDL) and lower your blood pressure.  They  are sodium free, fat-free and low in calories!  They are classed in the top 20 fruits in the antioxidant category and just one serving….about 8 strawberries will give you more Vitamin C than an orange.

So get planting those juicy, healthy little fruits!!

Also managed to get some more seeds planted:

Beans, Peas, Swede, Cabbage, Corn,Cauliflower and more to do today….busy busy busy!!!

I know some of you will be thinking it’s too late to plant some of these seeds but I will be growing a lot in my tunnel over the winter.

Hope you all have a great day and that the sun shines for you toooooo 🙂

 

 

How To Feed Your Tomato Plants

P1040670Hi Guys

Now that your tomatoes are hopefully in the ground, container or hanging basket and have a few flowers starting to appear, we need to remember to water, FEED and give them a bit of TLC.

Tomatoes are very hungry plants and  need a lot of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate,potash/potassium, calcium, magnesium,  and a few other trace minerals in order to help the plant grow strong and produce healthy juicy toms!!

There are a number of ways to give your tomato plants those all important nutrients but the easiest way is to buy a good quality tomato fertilizer (food) which you will find in any good garden centre or most large supermarkets.  Fertilizers are a mixture of 3 important nutrients which are fed to plants;  Nitrogen, which encourages leafy green growth;  Phosphorus, which is really good for encouraging flowers and so giving you your fruits; and Potassium, which is needed when the plants are in  flower to help to produce the fruit. These 3 important nutrients are often referred to as the N P K ratio.  If you were in the commercial growing world you would look at the label and these nutrients would be listed as numbers; ie. 10-15-5 which would mean that the fertilizer would contain 10% nitrogen, 15% Phosphorus and 5% Potassium (in that order).

When choosing a fertilizer for your tomato plants you need to make sure it’s not too high in nitrogen (1st number) as this would encourage lots of green leafy growth but not fruit.  If you buy a good quality tomato fertilizer then you will have the right combination of these nutrients…..which makes life much easier for us all.

There are many other methods of feeding your tomato plants but I think the tomato fertilizer is great, especially if you are new to growing tomatoes……..and you don’t have to worry about making sure you have the right NPK!!!

I also do a weekly foliage feed of  liquid seaweed fertilizer which  not only feeds your tomato plants with extra minerals but also acts as a bug deterrent and I find that those nasty little pests stay off my plants.  A good spraying of  liquid seaweed fertilizer also encourages healthy growth and is excellent when sprayed on new transplants. Try to buy organic if possible.

Whether you are watering your plants or feeding them using liquid fertilizer as a foliage spray, try to do it either early morning or early evening when it’s cooler, which will  prevent the leaves from burning (sun-scald)……That’s if the sun is shining 🙂

Read the instructions carefully on the back of the bottle and it will tell you how much liquid fertilizer and seaweed fertilizer (food)  you need to add to your watering can or sprayer.  Always give the bottle a shake before pouring.

I feed my tomatoes once a week and foliage spray with liquid seaweed every couple of weeks.  As I live so close to the sea…..only 1 mile down the road to the atlantic, I actually collect the seaweed and make my own fertilizer but there are many organic seaweed fertilizers available to buy.

Tomatoes grow over a long season so be patient. Feed, water and hope the sun shines!!!!

Happy Growing 🙂

mixed 2012 gardening and dogs 359

Not much gardening done today as I had to go to the dentist :(. Have had pain for a few weeks now and had to have a filling removed and refilled…..it was an old filling so hoping that has solved the problem 🙂

Juicy Cherry Tomatoes Are So Easy To Grow – Honest!

Do you enjoy eating those little cherry tomatoes……I do and eat them like sweets (much healthier)!!

These juicy cherry tomatoes are so easy to grow if you follow these simple instructions:

First thing we need is a hanging basket….any old hanging basket will do.  I use old rusty hanging baskets that I used to have flowers in but are now too tatty to have on display in my garden for the whole world to see!!

The liner can be made from the plastic bag that the compost came in, although you can buy a hanging basket liner but they can be expensive and that defeats the object of growing your own to save money as well as eating healthily.

Place the hanging basket upside down on the plastic bag and cut a circle about 50% larger than the diameter of the basket using a sharp knife. If you are going to plant more than 1 tomato then just place a few plastic bags on top of each other so that you only need to cut once!!

Image

Once you have your circle of plastic, pop it into the hanging basket with the black part on the outside.  I think this looks better to look at than the side with writing etc on.

Fill the basket with compost (grow bag) almost to the top.  Make a large well (hole) in the centre of the compost and add a sprinkling of crushed egg shells (calcium) and a small teaspoon of Epsom Salts (magnesium).  This is not essential but something that I do.

Image

Carefully take the cherry tomato plant out of its pot and remove any discoloured leaves from the bottom.  As most cherry tomato plants are determinate, there is no need to remove too many leaves as they plant will grow out into a bush rather than up.

Place the tomato plant into the planting hole and firm the compost around the plant.  Don’t forget your label so you know what type of tomato you are growing.Image

REMEMBER TO WATER WELL, DONT FORGET YOUR LABEL AND VOILA!

I will give you more information about the ‘dos and donts’ of growing tomatoes and what can go wrong….which sometimes happens to the best of us…..including ME!!  (thats why I have the photos!!)

Cherry Tomatoes in Hanging Baskets And Containers

Cant wait for my sweets to be ready to eat!!!

Eve

Such A Busy Time

imageHi Guys, Well its been another very busy day in the tunnels.  I have managed to get lots of lettuce into their final planting position in the new tunnel along with some spring onions.  Also planted some more rocket, mustard, oriental salad and some herbs as its been a few weeks since the last lot of seeds were sown. Also more lettuce seeds so that we have a succession of salad  throughout the summer and hopefully into the winter as we did last year. Its such a busy time of year in the garden and I always wish I had more hours to do all the jobs that need doing…and love doing as I find gardening sooooo therapeutic!!.  Its a tough job here sometimes and wish i had two of me!!….as there is a lot of land which needs a lot of maintenance. I will hopefully get some heather into the rockery tomorrow and maybe do a few hanging baskets…..including those cherry tomatoes!

Heading out to my sons graduation now….can’t believe he has finished school…..oh except for those dreaded exams still to come next week……..I’d much rather do ALL the gardening!!

Eve

SPRING HARVEST TIME……Well everyday is harvest day!!

Well its been another fun day in the tunnel with lots of weeding….not easy when you have lots of onions to weed around.  Left it a little bit too long so it was quite a task.  I also tried to loosen the soil around the bulbs of the onions as they are all in the new tunnel and the soil I used to fill the planter was a bit too heavy (clay).  Along with that I over watered them in the past so there were a few bulbs that actually had rotted.  The green stems are very healthy looking but the bulbs are quite small….we will have to wait and see if today’s job worked….nothing to loose really!!

Also I picked some really lovely yummy veg including mega big cauliflowers…1 weighing 6lb and the other 5!  Also picked some bright colours chard,  some lovely tender purple broccoli spears, some cabbage and a mix of salad leaves including the fresh watercress which i am growing in my mountain stream!

Image

Look what I found in the tunnel!!

Image

What a Whopper…..this cauliflower weighed in at 6lb!

Tomorrow will be another busy day as we have alot of potting on to do, including leeks and onions, so tune in and I hopefully will have some photos and info on how to do that job!

How to Grow Tomatoes – Part 1 and 2

Hi Guys,
Well, I have been working away on my video tutorials for the last couple of days. My first video tutorial is all about how to grow tomatoes from seed.
In the video I talk briefly about all of the different types of tomatoes you can grow and I show you the best type of compost to use. I also explain where you can keep the tomatoes for the first few weeks during germination.

tommies

Please bear with me as I learn how to use my blog.
Stay tuned and hopefully I will have more pictures and videos to upload over the next few weeks.
Please click on the link below to watch the video.

In Part 2 I show you how to ‘pot on’ your tomato seedlings and explain a little about determinate (bush) and indeterminate  (Cordon or vine).  In part 3 I will explain a little bit more about tomatoes and how to look after them after planting into the ground.  I will also explain how to preserve and cook your lovely ripe tomatoes!

Please feel free to ask any questions which I hope to be able to answer for you.