Carnivorous Plants and Black BearsWritten by Jacob Farin
Carnivorous plants native to United States are accustomed to cold temperatures, frost and snow. That is what really makes these plants very unique. They may look tropical, but really they are as hardy as a black bear in Rockies.
But, like black bear, there is something that frost-tolerant plants do not like – dry freezing Arctic wind. This type of wind will pull moisture right out of your plant and cause your plant to wither away.
There are couple ways to protect your plants from wind, while making sure they stay in hibernation.
Wind protection is only necessary if you live in zones 5 or below and temperatures routinely go below 20°F for more than a week at a time.
Like black bear, you can place your plants in a cave. If you do not have a cave in your backyard, place your plants in an unheated garage, tool shed or cold frame, which is essentially an unheated greenhouse.
Because plants are dormant and has stopped growing for winter, light is not much of an issue. Just make sure soil is always moist. You can maintain its moisture by keeping plant in no more than 1/4-inch of water.
Before placing your plants in your cave, so to speak, follow these important steps:
Growing Great TomatoesWritten by Karen Gross
For many people, growing big juicy tomatoes is part of what makes vegetable gardening so enjoyable. Whether purchasing plants from your local nursery or starting tomatoes from seed, there are a few basic steps to follow to ensure that you harvest an abundant crop at end of growing season. There are many different varieties of tomatoes to choose from, depending on whether you will be cooking, canning, slicing, or eating miniature or grape-like varieties right off vine. Sweet 100’s are very abundant, and are good for salads as well as eating fresh from garden. Roma tomatoes are good for making salsa, because peels are not as tough as others so you don’t need to peel skins off. Romas are also known as classic paste and sauce tomato. There are Early Girls, Early Boys, Big Boys, Big Mamas, Sweet Baby Girls, Beefsteaks, French Rose hybrids, Big Rainbow, specialty tomatoes and many more. So start by choosing kind of tomato you would like to grow.
Planting Tomatoes from Seeds
Tomatoes grown from seed will require six to eight weeks before they can be planted in garden. Purchase individual containers or flats, starter soil or mixture, and seeds of your choice. Fill each container with soil, pressing it tightly to remove air and to avoid settling problems after watering. Typically, seed companies print instructions for planting right on tomato seed package. Each variety is a little different so follow instructions carefully. Prepare a label identifying type of tomato and date started. You can make your own from Popsicle sticks or purchase them at store or garden center.
Insert your label in pot and mist with water. Place containers in a sunny window and keep seeds moist by placing a plastic bag over them. Small greenhouse containers are also available at your local nursery. Watch for seeds to germinate and remove plastic when plants emerge. Wean out weaker looking seedlings to give strong ones more room to grow. Keep moist by misting or watering tomatoes when needed. When plants have a second pair of leaves it is time to transplant these seedlings to your garden or a large pot in which they are to grow.
It is a good idea to harden off or acclimatize a plant to outdoor conditions before planting by setting it out in direct sun during day and bringing it in at night. After a few days, tomato plant will have adapted to new surroundings and can be transplanted in desired location. Place plants directly outdoors after threat of frost in a shady location, out of wind and protected from heavy rains.
Purchasing Started Plants
If you prefer to purchase plants from your garden center or greenhouse, select dark green plants that are stocky in size and that do not have any fruit. The fruit will stunt plant growth and total yield will be reduced. Tomatoes are one of few plants that will tolerate being planted deeper than they sit in pot. So a taller plant can be placed a little deeper if preferred. As mentioned, harden off plant before moving it to a final location.
Preparing Garden Soil For Tomato Plants The soil should be deep, loamy, and well-drained for best harvest. Tomatoes prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. The term pH balance refers to acidity or alkalinity of your soil from a numerical scale of 1.0 to 14.0. The neutral point on pH scale is 7.0. Higher than 6.5 indicates alkaline soil, lower than that indicates acidic soil.