Terra Tips to help your garden grow:
Heirloom tomatoes are those varieties that have been around for at least 50 years, and they breed true from seed. If you save the seed from a ripe heirloom tomato, you should get a tomato that is just like the parent.
Almost all heirloom tomatoes are indeterminate - they continue to produce fruit for several weeks on long vines. Determinate varieties have shorter vines and will ripen all at once. Unless otherwise indicated, the varieties listed here are indeterminate.
Companions - plant near asparagus, basil, carrots, celery, marigolds, nasturtiums, onions and parsley.
Do not plant near cabbage, fennel, kohlrabi or potatoes.
As containers for growing tomato plants, plastic 1 litre milk bags are terrific. To use, open the top of the bag and cut two drainage holes in the bottom. Roll top edge down by half, fill with potting soil and plant seeds. Place bags in plastic trays. As the seedlings grow, unroll the top and add more potting soil. The plant sends out roots along its stem creating a stronger root ball. Simply cut off the bag before planting.
Companions - plant near brassicas, carrots, cucumbers, potatoes, summer savory and turnips. Do not plant near beets, chives, gladiolae or onions.
Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils may lower cholesterol and may also help prevent colon cancer.
Soybeans, with their high isoflavone content, are thought to protect against breast cancer in premenopausal women and prostate cancer in men.
A tip on shelling soybeans: drop whole pods in boiling water for 2 minutes and then plunge into cold water. Beans should burst out of pods. Re-cook for 7-8 minutes or freeze for later use. Purple beans, such as Royal Burgundy, are supposed to tolerate the cold well and so can be planted a couple of weeks earlier than most beans which should be planted only when the soil is becoming warm.
Pole beans need more regular rainfall.
Peas, beans, sweet peas and other legumes will be more productive if nitrogen inoculant is added to the seeds at planting time, especially if planted in an area where legumes haven't been grown before or where the soil is poor.
Nitrogen inoculant contains a harmless bacteria which forms nodules on the roots of legumes (peas, beans, etc.). These turn nitrogen gas from the air into nitrogen fertilizer available for use by the plants. The increased yields are especially noticeable for soils with low organic matter content, low pH soils and soils which haven't grown legumes before.
One package of inoculant will treat up to 5 lbs. of garden legumes, including peas, beans, soybeans and sweet peas.
Pour a small amount of inoculant directly onto slightly dampened seeds and stir. Plant seeds immediately without letting the inoculant dry out.
Note: Due to the dated nature of inoculants (viable for one year only), they are not available until sometime in March. A note indicating back order status is included with each order shipped prior to availability.
Cucumber / melon / squash (Cucurbits):
Companions - plant near beans, corn, lettuce, peas, sunflowers and radishes (pungency repels striped cucumber beetles).
Do not plant near potatoes. Cucumbers, melons and squashes are all cucurbits.
Companions - plant near beans, carrots, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, radishes and turnips.
Do not plant near chives, horseradish, leeks, onions or potatoes.