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Edition 15.08 H&H Gardening Newsletter February 20, 2015

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Control garden weeds--they are easiest to control when young. Use an appropriate herbicide, hoe or pull by hand. (Be sure to take care when applying herbicides to prevent spray drift from damaging desirable plants.)

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Kellogg Garden Products

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featured quote

"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."
~William Wordsworth

2015 Rose Catalog
2015 Fruit tree list
beneficial bugs are here
Master Nursery Rose Planting Mix
Gardner & Bloome Eden Valley Potting Soil

Salad in a Box

Eating great-tasting fresh greens out of the garden is one of the special pleasures one gets from growing one's own vegetables. But you don't need an acre plot of land to do it in--even a small area will work just fine. With just a little planning and ingenuity, you can grow salad greens just about anywhere.

All you need is a large planter box, or several smaller ones, if you plan on moving plants in and out. Put in some of our great potting soil and you're in business. If you don't like to bend over, add legs to the sides of the box, or place it on a table--and you can have a raised planter at just the right height. You can grow from seed or transplant seedlings, whichever you prefer.

Salad greens perform their very best during the cooler seasons. You can even make your planter look colorful by combining different varieties of lettuce, spinach and field greens in the same box. Make sure to feed your greens some organic plant food on a monthly basis to help bring out the best flavor.

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Choosing Tomato Plants
Tomato Types

Looking around at the choices available in tomato plants, it's easy to get confused. What do they mean by determinate and indeterminate — not to mention semi-determinate? Should one buy an heirloom or a hybrid? Everyone knows what a cherry tomato is--but what is the difference between a beefsteak and a salad tomato?

Determinate, Indeterminate, and Semi-determinate
Determinate varieties are also known as bush tomatoes. They stop growing when fruit sets on the top bud, ripen most of their fruit in a short period, usually about 2 weeks, and then die. They generally require no staking or caging and are usually early-maturing. Pruning is not recommended. The plants and their fruit are generally smaller than indeterminate sorts. Most varieties that do well in pots are determinate.

Indeterminate varieties are also called "vining" tomatoes. They grow, bloom, and produce fruit until the end of the growing season (generally first frost). These almost always require staking or caging for support, and pruning may be required.

Semi-indeterminate varieties are basically indeterminate in nature, but have some determinate qualities, such as earlier yield and less need for staking.

Non-hybrid, Heirloom and Hybrid
Tomatoes are usually self-fertilizing. A non-hybrid tomato is one that has been allowed to self-fertilize to produce non-hybrid seed. Growers can save seed of non-hybrid tomatoes to plant the next season's crop. Non-hybrid tomatoes will grow true from seed. Old, non-hybrid, cultivated varieties are often known as heirloom varieties.

Hybrid tomatoes have two genetically different parents that are crossed each year to produce the hybrid tomato seed. Although hybrid tomatoes do produce seed, the seeds will not have the characteristics of the hybrid — though it can be fun to plant them just to see what you get!

General Types

Beefsteak Tomatoes
Beefsteak tomatoes are known for large size and thick, meaty flesh. The pulp cavity of this type is small and may resemble a "marbled" steak--hence the name. This meatiness makes them hold together well when sliced, and the large size makes them great for sandwiches. One slice does the trick!

Salad Tomatoes
Also referred to as globe or slicing tomatoes, this variety is medium-sized, meaty enough to hold together well, and juicy. The smaller size makes them popular for salad wedges (bite-sized), or sliced to accompany a meal.

Cherry Tomatoes
Measuring less than an inch in diameter, these tomatoes make excellent bite-sized nibbles or tasty additions to salads. Cherry tomatoes are also great for grilling on skewers. Sub-types include grape and currant tomatoes, which are smaller in size but slightly sweeter than regular cherry tomatoes.

Plum Tomatoes
Also known as Roma, these are egg-shaped tomatoes that have thick skin and flesh. They are less juicy than most other varieties, which makes them good candidates for baking, canning, and broiling. They also do well for sauces and paste.

Paste Tomatoes
These are dryer than other varieties; many plum tomatoes are also "paste tomatoes." They are good for making tomato paste and dried tomatoes.


Combatting Aphids

Aphids are slow-moving, soft-bodied insects that suck juices from plants, and excrete a clear sugary liquid that we call "honeydew." They can be winged or non-winged and generally take on the color of the plant they are feeding on. If enough aphids attack a plant it can seriously deform and stunt the growth, making plants unattractive and more vulnerable to other insects and disease.

The honeydew attracts a black, sooty deposit to grow on the foliage called sooty mold. Honeydew is also sweet and very attractive to ants which will roam your plant and feed on the sweet substance. Unfortunately they will do nothing to control the aphids. In fact ants sometimes will move predator insects to fresh parts of the plant to help them create fresh honeydew.

Aphids have many natural enemies, including ladybugs and lacewings. Many times aphids can be removed simply by using a strong stream of water to knock them off the plant. For more severe infestations, there are a number of effective products including aerosol sprays to concentrates. Just ask one of our garden experts which product is best for your needs.

Check Your Sprinkler System

Our lawns and gardens are put under a good deal of stress this time of year. Any weakness in water coverage, soil nutrition or weed control shows up immediately in the heat of summer.

Now is an excellent time to double-check your sprinkler system. Plugged or broken heads need to be fixed or replaced.

Brown-patterned circles in your lawn around a sprinkler head indicate it has been plugged by dirt or has become a victim of the dreaded lawn mower attack.

The irrigation system in flower beds should also be carefully checked. Many times we plant in front of a sprinkler. This isn't a problem when the plant is a 6-inch tall seedling, but can result in disaster for others in the bed as that tiny plant grows to a couple of feet in height--and blocks the water to other plants. Make the necessary adjustments--and watch your plants flourish!

Featured Recipe: Mashed Potatoes with Cream Cheese

One of the easiest and most economical dishes you can make is mashed potatoes, but many people are afraid of having lumps in them or that they may not come out perfect! Here is a foolproof way to make super- smooth, creamy and delicious mashed potatoes and have them come out perfect every single time!

What You'll Need:

  • 4 large potatoes sliced lengthwise, then sliced lengthwise again (do not peel potatoes - the vitamins are in the skin!) Chop each slice with a rough dice (large chunks).
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 stick of butter or margarine at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Step by Step:

  • Place rough-diced potatoes into a large pot, cover with cold water, place on a stove and bring to a boil uncovered. (If you cover, the starch in the water will make the water boil over.)
  • After the potatoes have boiled for 15 minutes, remove from heat and cover for 15 more minutes.
  • Drain potatoes and either place in a food processor or a mixing bowl (or if you are like myself, place in a regular bowl and use a hand mixer).
  • Add the cream cheese and butter. Mix on low at first, then gradually increase the speed to high.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste at the end of the mixing process, and mix again for approximately 2 minutes on high.

You will have the most incredible velvety smooth mashed potatoes ever. Make enough - seconds are always wanted!

Serves 4

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