Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Tips for Growing Tomatoes, Bean, Peas and Lettuce

Here are the Tips we came up with during the first 
Seed Library Talk


Tips For Growing Tomatoes
The tomato is native to western South America and Central America. In 1519, Cortez discovered tomatoes growing in Montezuma's gardens and brought seeds back to Europe where they were planted as ornamental curiosities, but not eaten.

Most likely the first variety to reach Europe was yellow in color, since in Spain and Italy they were known as pomi d'oro, meaning yellow apples. Italy was the first to embrace and cultivate the tomato outside South America.
Practice crop rotation when planting all your vegetables. A 4 or 5 year rotation is the best to help prevent disease and insect problems.
Plant your tomatoes deeper than what they came in the pot. Tomatoes will form roots all along the stems and more roots make a stronger plant.
Grow several varieties – some will work better than others or may be less susceptible to disease or you may like the taste of some better than others.
Grow where they have at least 4 hours of sunlight, more is better.
Support plants with stakes or cages.
Don’t mulch until the soil warms – tomatoes need heat. They won’t really grow until the soil and air temperatures are warm. You can speed things up by covering the planting area with black or red plastic mulch a couple weeks before planting.  You can lift the plastic before planting but there is some research that says the red plastic increases yields.
Never water the plant, only the soil. The leaves and stems don’t like getting wet and it may encourage disease. Water deeply while the fruits are developing. When the fruit is ripening you can ease up on the watering. Less water will concentrate the sugars for better flavor, but don’t let the plants wilt or they will drop their blossoms.
Keep tomatoes evenly moist and not too much to avoid split fruit. Rule of thumb is one inch a week, but if hot dry weather or if grown in pots they will need more.
Every week or so when flowering start giving plants a seaweed or fish emulsion feed, or a weak all-purpose fertilizer. Less nitrogen is better.
Pinch out any shoots that develop between the stem and main branches – they take up energy from the plant developing fruit.
Once your plants are about 3 feet tall, remove the leaves from the bottom foot of stem. These are the oldest leaves and usually the first to get fungus problems. The bottom leaves get the least light and air flow and soil borne pathogens can easily splash up onto them.
Cut off the top of the plant when six trusses of fruit set. This helps to focus the plant’s energy.
Pick off the leaves around the tomatoes when they’ve reached full size, but haven’t changed color yet. This gets sun to the fruit to increase air flow and minimize disease.
Good Companion plants with tomatoes
NOTE: There are a lot of things that can impact the effectiveness of plant companions, so don't expect magic. Companion planting is part experience, part folklore, and part wishful thinking. Most companion planting teachings are passed down by gardeners who experimented with pairing plants and had some success.
  • Basil repels insects and disease, improves growth and flavor. Repels mosquitoes and flies (even fruit flies).
  • Borage improves growth and flavor and repels tomato worms.
  • Bee balm, chives, dill, mint and parsley improve health and flavor. Use dill early since mature dill starts to inhibit tomato growth.
  • Carrots planted near tomatoes may not get as large as they should, but they'll still taste good.
  • Garlic repels red spider mites. Garlic sprays help control late blight.
  • Stinging nettle nearby improves taste.
  • Sow thistle aids growth.
Bad companion plants with tomatoes
·         Cabbage (Brassica) family - stunt the growth of tomato plants, (including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga,  and turnip).
·         Corn - - The corn earworm is the same as the tomato fruit worm. (Also known as the cotton bollworm.)
·         Dill -- Mature dill plants, as mentioned above, will start to inhibit tomato plant growth. Plant the dill you want to go to seed away from your tomatoes.
·         Eggplant, peppers and potatoes - These plants are in the same family as tomatoes and are all susceptible to early and late blight, which will build up in the soil and get worse each year. Avoid planting them near each other or in place of each other for at least 3 years. Also planting tomatoes near potatoes can make the potatoes more susceptible to potato blight.
·         Fennel - Inhibits tomato plant growth.
·         Walnuts - Don't plant tomatoes under walnut or butternut trees, which produce an chemical called juglone that inhibits the growth of tomatoes (and all the members of the nightshade).



How to Grow Peas and Beans
The pea is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Although its origin is obscured in history, peas were found in excavations in Switzerland dating to the Bronze Age and in an Egyptian tomb at Thebes. Peas were popular with the ancient Greeks and Romans. In fact, the word 'peas' is a derivation of the Latin 'pisum.' The Anglo-Saxon word for peas was 'pise' or 'pease' as in the nursery rhyme, 'pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold.'
Peas thrive in cool weather and young plants will tolerate light frosts. Once germinated, peas adapt well to the cold, damp climate of early spring. Peas must be planted as early as possible in the spring to get a full harvest before hot summer temperatures arrive and put an end to production.
Unlike peas, beans cannot tolerate any frost. Plant after all danger of frost has passed. Beans like hot weather and full sun, but if too hot will slow production.
Peas don’t need much fertilizer. Too much nitrogen will only produce leaves not pods.
Water deeply once a week or more if hot and dry. Peas and beans need moisture to produce.
Like other members of the legume family, peas and beans have a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobia bacteria that colonize the roots of the plants and help them 'fix' nitrogen in the soil. After soaking the seeds overnight in lukewarm water, drain them and sprinkle an inoculant over them just before planting. This will boost the pea plants and produce higher yields.
Pick beans frequently to encourage a larger harvest.
Beans have shallow roots and can’t compete with weeds, so weed regularly. Mulch helps.
Practice crop rotation to prevent insects and disease.
Companion Plants for beans and peas
Marigolds repel insects
Celery repels butterflies
Other companion plant interactions – planting beans next to potatoes improves potatoes as beans fix nitrogen in the soil


How to Grow Lettuce
Keep soil evenly moist at all times, watering every other day if necessary. If lettuce doesn’t get enough water it tastes bitter.
Lettuce like nitrogen so feed with an organic fertilizer at least once during the growing season.
Lettuce likes pulverized soil, similar to carrots.
Harvest in the morning before the heat of the day stresses the plants.
Plan your garden so lettuce will be shaded by taller plants during the heat of the day.
Practice crop rotation to prevent insects and diseases.
Lettuce is a cool weather crop. Plant as soon as soil can be worked in the spring and plant again 6 weeks before first frost in the fall.
Sow cold tolerant buttehead or romaine lettuce 4 weeks before first frost.
Leaf lettuce can be grown in pots, just keep moist at all times.
 




Wednesday, May 23, 2018

NEW! Community Seed Network

Just want to let you in on a new source of seed libraries and seed savers--the Community Seed Network.

The Community Seed Network connects and supports community seed initiatives by providing resources, information, and a platform for networking.

FACEBOOK-INSTAGRAM-hands-CSN-EN

I have added the White Bear Lake Seed Library to their list of sources and you can find us on their map. You can also get to the map by clicking on CONNECT and the BROWSE the DIRECTORY. It's a great resource and I hope you check it out. 

It also has a Facebook page where members can share information. At this time I do not have a Facebook account, but if one of you does have a Facebook account and would like to share info about our seed library, please contact me. (Maybe I'll have to get a Facebook account?)

BUT the best part is the LEARN resource, which has tons of info on saving seeds and growing plants.
I can tell a lot of hours have been put into this resource. I hope you find it interesting and useful.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Spring Activities and Events

Contrary to the blizzard and 12+" of snow, Spring and all its activities will eventually come, though sometimes that seems like wishful thinking. Check out the many activities coming up:
Wild Ones Meetings - Open to the public, great speakers on various topic concerning native plants.
    April 17 - Rare Plants of Northern Washington County, presented by Jason Husveth, FamilyMeans building, Stillwater, 7-8:45 pm, socialize 6:30pm,  stcroixoaksavanna.wildones.org

    April 26 - Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants presented by Anne Sawyer, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Autumn Grove Park, Roseville, bigriverbigwoods.wildones.org
    May 15  - An Invitation to Landscape with Native Plants: Getting Started, presented by Kathy Widin, FamilyMeans building, Stillwater, 7-8:45pm, Socialize 6:30pm, stcroixoaksavanna.wildones.org

    May 24 - Tips for Discovery Biodiversity in your Backyard, presented by Larissa and Erik Mottl, 6:30-8:30 pm, Autumn Grove Park, Roseville, bigriverbigwoods.wildones.org

Apr 21 - Earth day Cleanup at Tamarack Nature Center - Help us celebrate Earth Day with a morning at Tamarack! We'll remove invasive plants from trails and nature center grounds and work in the garden to get it ready for planting.  9-noon, ages 8+,  Tamarack Nature Center 5287 Otter Lake Road White Bear Township, MN 55110

Apr 21 - Gardening with Native Pollinators with Heather Holm and Pollinator Friendly Alliance,
Warner Nature Center   15375 Norell Avenue, Marine on St. Croix. 10:00-11:15 am.  Call Warner to register 651-433-2427.

April 22 - EARTH DAY!! Do Something Nice for the Earth! Plant a tree or plant, cleanup a park or educate someone about why we need to protect our earth.

May 5 - May Mosaic - The latest dirt on soil, composting, seed saving, and more. Bring your garden questions for Ramsey County Master Gardeners to answer as well as garden stories to share with your neighbors. Find out about pollinators and their importance in your garden and yard.
11am-2pm, Historic Como Streetcar Station, 1224 N. Lexington Pkwy 55117

May 6 - New Pollinator Garden Planting near Mississippi River, May 6
POLLINATOR GARDEN TO BE PLANTED IN HIGHLAND PARK NEAR RIVER! On Sunday, May 6th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. an extensive pollinator garden, featuring native ornamental grasses will be planted on the east side of the Temple of Aaron parking lot in an abandoned city alley right of way. The area previously was filled with invasive shrubs and weeds. This garden will measure 300 ft long by 10 ft. wide and extends south from Hartford Avenue. Ramsey County Master Gardeners will be on hand to assist volunteers with planting the “plug” grasses and wildflowers. We ask that you bring your family members out for this one time installation of a garden that will not only attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, but will also serve as a snack bar for our resident Bald Eagles who have been nesting nearby since 2015. Bring a pair of garden gloves and a hand trowel or shovel. Refreshments will be available. You will want to be able to say that you were involved in the planting of the River of Grass Pollinator Garden. Why? Once established, this garden will be the longest native ornamental grass border in Minnesota and possibly the Upper Midwest, according to Dr. Mary Meyer, University of Minnesota Ornamental Grass researcher and educator. Come help us install this fabulous garden that will start waving its grasses and showing its blooms later this summer. Where to arrive: Meet in parking lot behind 616 South Mississippi River Boulevard in St. Paul Since the River Boulevard is often closed on weekends for walks and races, we encourage you to reach the site this way: From I:94- Exit Cretin Avenue, drive south to Hartford Avenue From Cretin Avenue, turn west on Hartford Avenue. Drive 2.5 blocks- just past Mount Curve Avenue- to entrance to parking lot.
May 11-13 - Friends School Plant sale - selling over 2,450 plant varieties of all neonic-free plants: vegetables, flowers, rare, trees, shrubs, bulbs, herbs, etc. Amazing amount of plants! friendsschoolplantsale.com

May 12 - Welcome to the Garden - Open House for the community gardens at the White Bear Lake YMCA from 9-12 with events and education. The Seed Library will be there.
May 21 - Flowers for Pollinators - Learn how to identify the pollinators in your neighborhood and develop an understanding of the threats they face in our communities with this presentation from U of M Extension Master Gardeners. You will leave this presentation empowered and inspired to create pollinator-friendly habitats in your community - to help pollinators thrive in your community. Shoreview Library, 6:30-7:30pm, https://www.rclreads.org/
Landscape Revival. Selling pollinator safe, neonic-free native plants at 2 locations this year! Landscape Revival
June 2 - Landscape Revival, Shepherd of the Hills Church, 3920 Victoria St N, Shoreview, Minnesota (MN) 55126, 9-1:30
June 9 - Landscape Revival, Richard Walton Memorial Park, 5th Street N and Hadley Avenue N, Oakdale, Minnesota (MN) 55128, 9-2
Jun 4 - Flowers for Pollinators - Learn how to identify the pollinators in your neighborhood and develop an understanding of the threats they face in our communities with this presentation from U of M Extension Master Gardeners. You will leave this presentation empowered and inspired to create pollinator-friendly habitats in your community - to help pollinators thrive in your community. White Bear Lake Library, 6:30-7:30pm, https://www.rclreads.org/

June 24 - Mahtomedi Garden Club Tour. mahtomedigardenclub.org

Friday, April 6, 2018

Seed Library Update and Events

Hello Gardeners!
Hope you are planning your gardens. Though it doesn't seem like it now (below zero wind chills this morning), we will eventually get spring weather!
I want to welcome all the new gardeners that recently became members of the Seed Library. Maybe you came to one of my classes or heard about the Seed Library from some other source, but you all have at least one thing in common--you like plants! Welcome to what I'd like to think is the greatest seed library in the metro area supported by a wonderful community of gardeners. Periodically I send out an email letting you know about upcoming events, new seeds in the library or some how to's or other bits of interesting info. I also maintain a Seed Library blog site at WBL Seed LIbrary Blogspot which has past blog entries of interest.
This last month over 380 packets of seeds left the seed library to their new homes! Wow! I'm thinking there are lots of little trays of seeds growing in people's houses right now. If you are starting tomato or pepper seeds indoors, you're going to need some supplemental light source even if you have a south facing window. Seedlings need at least 14 hours of good light per day and we just don't have that here up in the tundra. Other types of seedlings benefit from man-made light as well or they grow spindly and weak. The shorter and stockier you can grow your seedlings the better. Keep the light source close to the top of the seedlings so they don't have to stretch.
Those of you who placed native plant seeds in your fridge for stratification, you should check them for possible sprouting or mold. Probably many of them are ready to seed in trays about now too. (If moldy, replace damp paper toweling if not finished with stratification, otherwise plant immediately in trays. Maybe you can save them.)
With all these seeds starting their lives, don't forget to start some extra plants to harvest the seeds. Without your donations there will not be seeds for next season. Which brings me to the topic of garden space. Many people don't have much full sun garden space. There is an solution! You can rent garden space are various sites around our area. Check out gardener and local food advocate Michelle Bruhn's blog site, Forks in the Dirt for the March 24th entry for a list and description of various community gardens. Michelle's website has lots of other great info too.
Remember any questions, problems or concerns please email me at: wblseedlibrary@gmail.com. Also, if you know of an event that may be of general interest to this group of community gardeners let me know.

Onto the upcoming events. There are lots--testiment Spring will come. 
Wild Ones Meetings - Open to the public, great speakers on various topic concerning native plants.
April 17 - Rare Plants of Northern Washington County, presented by Jason Husveth, FamilyMeans building, Stillwater, 7-8:45 pm, socialize 6:30pm,  stcroixoaksavanna.wildones.org

April 26 - Healthy Soil, Healthy Plants presented by Anne Sawyer, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Autumn Grove Park, Roseville, bigriverbigwoods.wildones.org
May 15  -An Invitation to Landscape with Native Plants: Getting Started, presented by Kathy Widin, FamilyMeans building, Stillwater, 7-8:45pm, Socialize 6:30pm, stcroixoaksavanna.wildones.org

May 24 - Tips for Discovery Biodiversity in your Backyard, presented by Larissa and Erik Mottl, 6:30-8:30 pm, Autumn Grove Park, Roseville, bigriverbigwoods.wildones.org

May 5 - May Mosaic - The latest dirt on soil, composting, seed saving, and more. Bring your garden questions for Ramsey County Master Gardeners to answer as well as garden stories to share with your neighbors. Find out about pollinators and their importance in your garden and yard.
11am-2pm, Historic Como Streetcar Station, 1224 N. Lexington Pkwy 55117
May 11-13 - Friends School Plant sale - selling over 2,450 plant varieties of all neonic-free plants: vegetables, flowers, rare, trees, shrubs, bulbs, herbs, etc. Amazing amount of plants! friendsschoolplantsale.com
Landscape Revival. Selling pollinator safe, neonic-free native plants at 2 locations this year! Landscape Revival
June 2 - Landscape Revival, Shepherd of the Hills Church, 3920 Victoria St N, Shoreview, Minnesota (MN) 55126, 9-1:30
June 9 - Landscape Revival, Richard Walton Memorial Park, 5th Street N and Hadley Avenue N, Oakdale, Minnesota (MN) 55128, 9-2
June 24 - Mahtomedi Garden Club Tour. mahtomedigardenclub.org
I'll leave you with this words:
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."
    - Robert Louis Stevenson
Pam

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Upcoming Events at the Seed Library!

Hello Gardeners!
There are 2 events coming up.
A Free How to Start Seeds Class taught by me on Saturday March 3:
It will cover starting vegetable, flower and native plant seeds as well as how the seed library works.

Saturday, March 3, 2018 10:30-11:30 Seed starting class at the Maplewood library
3025 Southlawn Drive, Maplewood, MN 55109
 
Saturday, March 3, 2018 1-2pm Seed starting class at the White Bear Lake library
2150 2nd St, White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Then on Monday, March 12 from 4:30-8pm will be packaging seeds at the White Bear Lake library. Come help package seeds for the seed library and talk with other gardeners about your gardening plans. Those of you interested in native plants seeds--we have 10 new seed varieties to package. Chocolate is provided! This is a drop in event, so come when you can.

Both events are for new and experienced gardeners. Invite your friends and family!
Pam