Kevin from @Epic Gardening is walking us through how he plans to maintain those tomatoes he recently planted with the help of Espoma. Follow along to hear his top tips!
Harvest is upon us! Those big juicy tomatoes are taunting you on the vine, waiting for you to enjoy!
Garden tomatoes are jam packed with flavor compared to grocery store tomatoes. Make sure to pick them when they are just right to enjoy with your favorite tomato recipes. These harvesting tips will ensure you get a flavorful tomato every time.
Harvesting tomatoes isn’t complicated; it’s just all about timing!
Leave your tomatoes on the vine as long as possible. Wait until your tomatoes have completely changed color. If it is red (or yellow) on one side and green on the other, your tomato isn’t ready yet. It needs to have an even color all around it. If your tomatoes have started changing color and are starting to crack, bring them inside and place them in a paper bag to finish ripening.
Trust your gut. If you think the tomato is ready for harvest, pick it! You can also do the squeeze test. Gently squeeze your tomatoes, tomatoes ready for harvest will be firm, but not too hard.
After you’ve harvested your tomatoes, try one of our favorite recipes!
There’s no better way to enjoy your garden than by encouraging it to grow bigger and better. Before your summer veggies and flowers peak, take your garden to the next-level by refueling it.
Knock-out these 5 essential tasks and your garden will thank you. You’ll extend your summer season and ensure that your lawn and garden are in tip-top shape.
5 Ways to Give Your Summer Garden a Boost
1. Hydrate. When it’s hot, dry and muggy, the best thing is a nice cold drink. Your plants need some H2O, too. The trick to keeping your garden hydrated during the hottest days is not to water more. It’s to water smarter. Water plants deeply in the morning so they have the entire day to soak it up.
2. Keep plants fed. Your summer veggies and flowers are hungry. Feed hanging baskets, container gardens and annuals with liquid Bloom! plant food every 2 to 4 weeks. Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders. Continue to feed every 2 weeks with organic fertilizers Tomato-tone or Garden-tone.
3. Prune and deadhead. Extend the life of perennials by deadheading flowers as soon as they are spent. This will encourage plants to keep blooming as long as weather permits. Your roses will thank you. Prune tomato suckers and shrubs now, for fuller plants later.
4. Mow lawns strategically. When mowing, keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots. Cut grass in the evening to give it time to recover and keep yourself cool.
5. Plant more! There are many quickly maturing plants that will thrive in summer gardens and be ready for harvest in the fall. Try planting radishes, cucumbers, beans and more.
Sit back and relax! Take a good look at your hard work and dream about the rewards and bountiful harvests you’ll enjoy in the months to come.
If you’re looking to get a better tomato harvest this summer, be sure to check out our complete tomato guide!
A good tomato is hard to forget. You know you’ve hit the jackpot in that first, juicy bite.
Every tomato has the potential to be great and some extra attention now will pay off big time come harvest. Set the stage for a stellar performance by this year’s crops with these tips.
How to Get The Best Tomatoes:
Pick tomatoes when you’re ready for them, avoid letting them get soft and mushy. Tomatoes picked at the breaker stage, when they first show signs of changing color, are considered vine-ripened. These tomatoes will continue to ripen off the vine and on your kitchen counter. Plus, tomatoes picked at the breaking stage can still have the same flavor as one that has fully ripened on the vine.
Whatever you do, just don’t put tomatoes in the fridge to ripen.
Want to know more? Check out our tomato growing guide for all the details on getting your best tomato harvest yet!
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Have you wondered why heirloom tomatoes taste so much better than those conventional ones from the store?
Conventional tomatoes have been bred for long shelf life, disease resistance, high yield and even for their looks! Some say all the flavor and taste has been bred out of them, too.
So whether you say to-may-to or to-mah-to, we’re here to help you choose the perfect heirloom tomato variety for you.
What is an Heirloom Tomato?
Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been handed down from farmer to farmer for generations for their special characteristics and varieties must be 50 years old at least. Because of this, heirloom tomatoes have minimal disease resistance.
Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated–meaning that the seeds you collect will produce plants almost identical plants year after year. That’s key to their survival.
Many heirlooms have been passed down generation to generation. Seeds, once considered valuable property, traveled country to country in pockets or through letters. Varieties come from Central America, Russia, Italy, Japan, France, Germany and Kentucky. Here are a few of our favorites.
Best Heirloom Tomatoes to Grow
Pink Brandywine– This is hands-down the yummiest and most popular heirloom. Dating back to 1885, these tomatoes ripen late in the season, but delight with huge tomatoes with even bigger flavor. Plus, Pink Brandywine tomatoes grow well in containers.
Black Cherry – This black, heirloom cherry tomato is somewhat disease resistant and easy to grow – even in containers. The truly striking color makes these cherry tomatoes an instant conversation (or kabob!) starter.
Cherokee Purple – Cherokee purple tomatoes may look eccentric, but boy, do they taste good! Believed to be passed down from Cherokee Indians, this variety produces significantly more tomatoes than other heirlooms.
Striped German/Old German – This sizzling red and orange tomato looks like a work of art. Slice it open, and you’ll be delighted by its intricate texture and pattern. Also called “Old German,” this sunny tomato produces huge beefsteak tomatoes. It does need constant, proper care to thrive.
Wapsipinicon Peach – Bright in color and flavor, these tiny, fuzzy yellow tomatoes make the perfect snack. Named for the Wapsipinicon River in Northeast Iowa around 1890, Wapsipinicon Peach tomatoes are resistant to rot and field blight. Plus, they are quite prolific!
Why Should I Grow Heirlooms?
We believe the flavor of heirlooms is so superior that no garden would be complete without them. Try a variety this year, and we’re sure you will agree. You will be tasting a little bit of history all summer long.
When you’re organic gardening, be sure to feed tomatoes lots of Tomato-tone during the growing season.
Convincing kids to eat healthy may seem like a constant battle, but it doesn’t have to be. What easier way to get kids excited about fruits and veggies than by having them plant their own?
Growing food with kids is a great interactive learning experience. Not only will they get to spend time outdoors getting their hands dirty — what kid doesn’t love that? — they also have the chance to learn more about eating healthy and the science of growing.
For best results, choose a food that you already know your child enjoys, but isn’t too difficult to grow.
6 Plants Perfect for Kids
Trick kids into eating healthy with nature’s candy! Strawberries are a deliciously sweet snack and are also extremely high in vitamin C. Plant strawberries in your garden or start inside and then transfer outdoors.
Another sweet snack kids are sure to love, blueberries are nutritional powerhouses. These little berries are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins C and K. They can be grown in containers or freely in the garden. Blueberry bushes can grow very tall, maybe even taller than your little ones!
This cold weather crop can withstand lower temps, so start planting in early spring. Sweet peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas are easy to grow and kids will love watching them grow tall on a trellis or vine. Simply snap off and pop in your mouth for a healthy snack on the go.
With all the different varieties of tomatoes, there is bound to be at least one your child likes. Try planting bite size tomatoes, such as cherry or grape varieties, making it easier for kids to pick and enjoy. Smaller tomatoes like these are often sweeter, too, making for a better healthy snack. Don’t forget to feed with Espoma’s Tomato-tone, it is formulated specifically for boosting tomato growth. The best part is, it’s completely organic, making veggies safe to eat for you and your family.
Growing carrots can teach kids another lesson in the garden – patience. Allowing your little ones to dig up these underground veggies will be well worth the wait. It’s almost like hunting for hidden treasure! Try growing in a variety of colors to create a rainbow of veggies.
Cucumbers grow long and fast, making it exciting for kids to watch their progress. Have each child choose a cucumber and start a contest to see whose grows fastest. When ready to be picked, cucumbers are the perfect refreshing snack on a nice warm day.
No yard? No problem! Watch this video to learn how to grow edibles in containers.
Which fruits and veggies will you plant with your little ones? Let us know in the comments below!
September marks the turn of a new leaf. The hot summer weather is fizzling out in favor of cool, crisp fall breezes, prompting bonfires, football games and pumpkin everything.
For gardeners, fall can be one of the busiest seasons. Often, gardeners juggle wrapping up their summer harvests with the responsibilities of preparing for the coming seasons.
With this to-do list from Homestead Gardens, you’ll be ready to fall in love with fall; and with some extra preparation, you’ll be better prepared for winter and spring, too!
7 Things To Do in the Garden This Fall
1. Deadhead to get Ahead. Freshen up flowerbeds by deadheading and removing plants that have stopped blooming. Do maintenance in the morning before the weather gets too hot.
2. Don’t stop Planting. After you’ve harvested your remaining summer veggies, you can plant fall crops and begin transplants!
3. Serve… or Preserve. Have more vegetables and herbs than you know how to handle? Preserve your harvest. Experiment with making jams or pickles, and try freezing raw fruit, veggies or herbs. Make sauce out of your tomatoes, or slow-roast them.
4. Flower Power. Keep your annual flowers blooming as long as possible! The key to success? Use Espoma new Bloom! liquid fertilizer.
5. Watch out for Winter! Start winterizing your garden’s watering system. Keep an eye out for the first few frosts of the season, and cover plants when necessary. Gradually transition your summer houseplants back indoors.
6. Divide and Conquer. Divide and split your perennials, dig and store tender bulbs like dahlias and caladiums, and start planting spring flowering bulbs.
7. Red, Dead Ahead! Are your tomato plants lacking fruit? Producing dull leaves? Sprinkle some Tomato-tone to give them a final boost.
With these tips, your fall landscape will be looking better than ever. Have a picture of your fall garden that you want to share? Drop by our Facebook page!