"Plants To Grow Old With" or "The Constant Battle"Written by S. Johnson
Following are a few paragraphs about on going battle I had with some of my plants! Way back when I was just starting to garden I excitedly gathered starts from here and there, and several times, when I asked people for a particular start, they, with raised eyebrow, would ask me if I was sure I wanted that plant as it could be invasive. Naively, and just so thrilled to get a new start (I had garden fever bad Ha!), I said that wasn't a problem. Wow! Was I ever clueless! I had a lot to learn as to just how INVASIVE some plants could be and how hard some were to kill out. Following are a few short tales of battles I waged with those wonderful starts I collected years ago.
Horseradish will be first I'll mention, as it was one of first starts I acquired. I found it to be a very worthy opponent. In some book about companion planting I read that horseradish was good to raise by potatoes, so I rushed out and found a start of it! Well, I’ve long since quit raising potatoes, but I still have a thriving supply of horseradish. Slow spreading, but, as far as I'm concerned, impossible to get rid of. When you dig it up any tiny pieces of root that remain will start new plants. I tried covering it with black plastic for two years and it just sent out shoots to come up in other places. I guess we will grow old together. Wild Blackberry is next opponent. I love blackberries, so I asked a friend who lives in country for a start of hers. With raised eyebrow she asked me "Are you sure you want this?” I assured her, "Oh yes, I'm going to train it to a trellis.” she just said ok with more raised eyebrows. (Are you laughing yet?) Train wild blackberry to a trellis, no such thing for me. For two years I had delicious berries but thorns (from Hades) ripped me to shreds, and underground runners were sending up new shoots in my tomato patch, my carrot patch, and in my neighbors yard, to their delight and mine. NOT! The more I cut them down more they ran. It finally took cutting them to ground (with ripped up body parts to accomplish this) and covering them with black plastic for four years to finally kill them out.This is one battle I won!! Mint, of which I have three varieties, is sure to be another plant that I'll grow old with. I got Apple mint and Lemon mint from same friend that gave me start of blackberry, with an even stronger reaction. She warned me how aggressive and invasive mint could be. I purchased Peppermint from a retailer. I was sure I could contain mint with some mulch and some of those four-inch barriers. I planted it by walkways in my flower and herb gardens, as I thought fragrance that would be released, as people brushed against it would be
Secrets of Growing Killer TomatoesWritten by K.D. Wiseman
Tomatoes have always been my favorite garden vegetable to grow and to eat. I have had success with other standard garden vegetables, such as cucumbers, bell peppers, cauliflower etc. but tomatoes became my specialty over years.
I start my seeds indoors approximately 5-6 weeks before last expected frost date. I use a commercially available starting flat that will hold 72 seedlings. I prefer plant Tomato Park's Whopper™ Cr Improved, VFFNT Hybrid which can be ordered from Park Seed Co. . This is a large, luscious, disease resistant tomato that I have seen grow to excess of 3lbs.+. It makes for an awesome BLT since a slice of one of these beauties will hang off toast at least one inch or more all way around!!!!!
For potting mixture, I use equal parts of a good quality potting soil and vermiculite that makes soil light enough so that seeds will not have difficulty sprouting and growing. I know your probably saying to yourself right now, WOW, 72 tomato plants, I don’t need that many, well look at it like this…out of 72 that you start, some will not develop for whatever reason, and once they are planted, some will die, birds will get some, animals will get some and yes, bugs will get some regardless of how hard your try to keep them out. So out of that 72 plants, you could wind up with just right number in end for your garden. Of course it is possible to wind up with 72 very healthy, untouched by animals, disease or bugs, tomato plants, as happened to me one season, then you will have more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, can, sell or give away!!!! But that is a whole 'nother story!!!
I have grown tomatoes in all types of soil, from rocky, hard packed clay to rich dark loam so loose you could push your arm elbow deep into soil with no effort. It has been my experience that almost any soil will work with most only requiring minor amendments.
If you need to add amendments to your soil to loosen it, I recommend a mixture of aged sawdust and sand in equal parts. The sand can be obtained in bulk from your local concrete company for a small fee or you can buy it in bags from your local hardware store. One note about sawdust, DO NOT use fresh sawdust, as this is much to hot due to nitrogen being released during breakdown process. Plants placed in this sawdust; even with mix of sand and soil are much to tender to withstand high concentration of nitrogen.
If fresh sawdust is all that you can obtain, pile it in one corner of your garden and let it age for new season.
Your local sawmill, if you have one close by, should have a good supply of old sawdust on hand that they will let you load up and haul away for free. If you do not have a sawmill or any type of manufacturing facility close by, such as Ames Co., that makes wooden handles etc. you can check with your local county extension agent and he or she can tell you where you may acquire sawdust. Speaking of county extension agent, when you go to consult with agent, take along some soil samples from different places in your garden and ask that they be tested for proper nutrients. This is a free service provided by some counties while others may charge a nominal fee, regardless, you can have results back in just a few days.
Once you have sawdust and sand, spread equal parts over your garden until it reaches a depth of about one inch or more depending on type of soil. Too much and soil will be too loose and water will drain away to quickly, not enough and sun will bake it to a hardpan during dog days of summer.
Work this mixture into your soil as deep as possible using your rotary tiller or old fashioned way, by using a spading fork or shovel Once this mixture is worked in properly then it is time to consider what type of fertilizer is needed.
Armed with your soil test results, you will have a good indication of what kind of fertilizer is best for your particular garden. In most cases, a good all purpose fertilizer known as Triple 10 or 10-10-10 will do job very well. Your soil test results will give specifics of any additional nutrients that you may need and should also include coverage rates.