Blog posts from May 2014

Gardening Myth: It’s just too much work!

May 7, 2014

As a certified, and certifyable, plant geek and obsessed gardener, it's often difficult for me to understand why other people choose not to garden at all. The most common explaination for the lack of a garden? "Gardening is just too much work."

Too much work...too much work? What? Yes, I work in the horticulture industry. But I've never felt my own gardening activities were "work". Gardening is my refuge, my therapy and my sanity. When I need to destress I head out to my garden. Watering my plant babies is the most soothing of "tasks". Pulling weeds is strangely gratifying. Feeling my toes and fingers in the soil brings me back to a much needed earthly connection. AND I don't have to talk to anyone. ANYONE. Sure, after a day spent turning soil, planting, weeding and pruning, my muscles might be a bit sore. But does that make it work? No way! I actually feel sorry for folks that have never really gardened because they assume it's just too much work.

So I thought I'd ask some of my fellow professionals in the business to tell me why they don't feel like gardening is work to them.

First up? Helen Yoast of "Gardening with Confidence". Helen says " I garden one day a week, on Sundays. It is my time to connect with the plants, wildlife, and nature. I grow a dense half acre habitat that is the anticipation of my week. My kids and husband know exactly where to find me."

Helen Yoast's Garden

1/2 an acre sounds like a lot of garden to maintain, eh? Doesn't sound like Helen considers it work, but rather a refuge. This is the big secret those of us hortiholics are here to reveal: Gardening isn't work. Gardening is discovery, inspiration, connection, beauty, rewarding and good for you. You don't even need to have 1/2 an acre to garden. You can garden in a few planters on a balcony or patio. Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting more quotes from hort-heads about what gardening means to them.

So, why is gardening not too much work for you?

Tomatoes setting fruit? Time to fertilize!

May 3, 2014

So, it's going to be 90 °F all weekend in Dallas y'all. Summer is right on schedule! If you planted your tomatoes on time and haven't been over-fertilizing through spring, you should be seeing baby fruits on the plants now. That means it's time to start a regular feeding regimen.

Tomato fruit halleck

When you continually fertilize tomato plants through spring, before they've set fruit, you can often end up with a whole lotta plant, but no tomatoes. Too much Nitrogen prior to flowering and fruit set will encourge plants to keep putting their energy into more green leafy growth, instead of into flowers and fruit production. That might be all fine and well in a more mild climate, but here in Texas you have to get plants flowering and setting fruit before the summer heat sets in. If you plant too late or over-fertilize in spring, plants can go into heat-delay and you get little to no harvest.

Best practice is to amend your soil with organic compost and composted manure at the beginning of the season and work in a dry organic fertilizer at time of planting. Then wait to feed again until plants start to set fruit.

Once baby fruit is about 1/4 it's mature size, start feeding your tomato plants with an organic tomato or vegetable fertilizer about every other week. That's a side-dressing of dry fertilizer. If you're using liquid feed, such as Hasta Gro, apply it to the roots and foliage weekly.  Apply and mix per the application rates on the package.

Cherry tomatoes will start to hit harvest time in mid- to late-May with slicers typically ready to pick in mid-June. Want to start your fall tomato transplants from seed? Do it now! Plant into the garden in late-June through early July.

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