Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Harvest

Get a load of these.  They're Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and they're ripening (almost) faster than we can eat them.  Once you try one of these, you'll never go back to those insipid looking tomatoes at the supermarket that taste like cardboard.  The Sweet 100s are like a taste explosion--you won't even want to take the time that's required to make a salad.  You'll just pop them in your mouth one after another like I do.  And I only share with people who are really (and I mean really) nice to me.

I bought these as tiny little plants online at White Flower Farm; however, I also saw them at the local nursery.  I ordered them because my mom gave me a White Flower Farm gift certificate for Christmas--this has been a gift that keeps on giving.  I have three plants in total--two red and one yellow (though more like gold). They're in rather large pots with tomato cages.  They grow FAST and need lots of support.  We even had to lash the cages to the deck railing when a couple of windstorms came through.  Mine are now 5 feet tall and the fruit is about 1-inch around.  They require full sun and are disease resistant.  Some of the leaves are turning a bit yellow though I don't see signs of pests or fungus.  They also get plenty of water.  I think that because they are in pots, the nutrients in the soil get washed away with practically every watering.  So even though I don't usually use much fertilizer, these plants demand it.  So I use Espoma Tomato-tone.  

Put Sweet 100s on your list for next year--and put people on notice that they better be nice.

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bug Repellent Imposter

Bug repeller or nice smelling plant?
I think I've been duped.  I bought this plant thinking it was the real deal mosquito repelling citronella plant.  What made me think that?  Only the tag that said "Citronella Plant" with a picture of a mosquito that had a big ol' red "x" through it.  However, I've come to find out that its botanical name is "Pelargonium 'Citrosa,'" which clearly puts it in the geranium family.  Say what?  The real plant that produces the citronella oil commonly thought to repel mosquitoes looks more like a lemongrass shrub.  Well you can see that's not what this looks like.  Repellent or not, I like how it looks and I like how it smells even better.  It's actually a lemon scent that is further enhanced when you brush by it or crush the leaves.  

This plant needs at least six hours of sunlight and will grow 24-36" tall.  It is a tender perennial so that means it won't survive winter in Virginia.  But if you're in zone 9-11, you're in luck.  

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rootbound Rosemary

Rootbound Rosemary
If you're just getting around to buying some plants--and you wouldn't be the only one judging from the shoppers at Home Depot yesterday--you might want to look out for plants that are rootbound.  It happens when plants have been on the shelves for a while; they start outgrowing their little nursery pots and the roots start twisting all around and getting matted up.  One way to avoid this is to buy your plants earlier in the season, but sometimes that's not possible.  Another thing you can do is while you're at the nursery or local big box store, just dump the plant into your hand and examine the roots.  If it's rootbound, go on to the next one.  However, if you really want that one plant and all the ones like it are in the same condition, don't worry.  It's been my experience that it will end up doing just fine.  

Recovered Rosemary
Take this rosemary for example.  I actually bought it about six weeks ago so there's no excuse for it having been so rootbound.  And, as sometimes happens, I didn't take my own advice--I didn't dump it out to check the roots.  So I got all the way home and was ready to plant only to discover this tangled mess.  Most gardening books will tell you to "shake out the excess soil and tease the roots apart."  These roots were in knots so "teasing" was not an option.  But I didn't just want to stick it in the pot as it was because there's no chance for the roots to spread into the surrounding soil.  So, I just cut into it vertically from the base with gardening scissors and ripped it apart so I could spread out the root base and plant it in the soil.  It was an aggressive approach, but take a look.  My rosemary has not only recovered, it's thriving.  

Bookshelf:  Container Gardening Books