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Garden Tips For Growing The Juiciest and Tastiest Tomatoes!

You always remember a good juicy tomato bursting with flavor!

Each tomato has the potential to be juicy and full of flavor a extra attention now will pay off big when it is time to harvest. Here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal:

 

  1. Healthy soil, healthy plants. Enrich soil with a good fertilizer amendment and compost every other week to keep plants supplied with their necessary nutrients.
  2. Remove damaged plants. Remove any fruit that shows dark patches on their bottom. These leathery patches, known as blossom end rot, cannot be reversed.
  3. Water well.  In hot weather, tomato plants need deep waterings. Tomatoes are also less vulnerable to cracking when the soil is kept moist.
  4. Cover the soil. Mulch will help block weeds  Mulch will save water and protects your fruit. Spread a 2-3” layer of mulch around plants, leaving 2” of room around the stem so water can reach the roots.
  5. Protect plants from heat. Hot sun has the potential to cause sun-scald, leaving tomatoes with pale, leathery patches on the fruits that pucker when they should be ripening. Bushy plants with lots of leaves naturally shade fruit from sun, however, plants with less leaves are more vulnerable. Cover plants with lightweight cloth covers through the first few heat waves.
  6. Remove tomato suckers. These small shoots sprout out from where the stem and the branch of a tomato plant meet. Though harmless, tomato suckers drain energy away from the main stems.

You pick tomatoes when you are 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.  Tomatoes picked at the breaking stage can still have the same flavor as one that has fully ripened on the vine. Never place tomatoes in the refrigerator to ripen.

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Cool Weather Vegetables

Here on Long Island, there really aren’t any vegetables that you can’t grow. However, there are some options that can extend your production season, allowing you to enjoy your fresh harvests almost all year long. Here are some ideas on what you can grow in your Long Island garden for extended enjoyment.

Cabbages are fantastic vegetables that are not only easy to grow, but they’re versatile in the kitchen and you can grow them most any time of the year. They’re an excellent early spring crop and fall crop, and will continue to do well right up until things frost over.  Lettuces and other leafy greens like mustard and collard greens are more wonderful cold season crops that can be started before frost or early in September for a late fall harvest.

Root veggies are excellent, well bearing crops suited perfectly for growing in a Long Island garden. These include carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips. These vegetables are also naturally disease resistant, making them enjoyable for even the most novice of gardeners.

Here at The Dees’ Nursery we have over 10 types of Lettuce, Cabbage, Kale, Beans, Broccoli, Beets; amid a beautiful selection of your favorite Herbs!

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Geum Totally Tangerine Perennial

The Benefits of the Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ Bloom

Geum Totally Tangerine

If you haven’t heard of, or used, this perennial in your garden then back up the truck. For amazing performance, the Geum ‘Totally Tangerine’ is for you. It produces bright orange tangerine blossoms that make an outstanding impact in the garden. The Geum Totally Tangerine is turning out to be the “best of class” in this variety of plants.

Beneficial characteristics of the Totally Tangerine are its long bloom time and ability to attract butterflies. It is also deer and rabbit resistant. It is a fast grower with very little problems from insects or diseases. Once established, the Geum Totally Tangerine is also drought tolerant.

Planting Geum Totally Tangerine
Totally Tangerine will perform best in moist well drained soil preferably in a full sun area of the garden, but can also go in an area of partial sun. Although there are many varieties, Totally Tangerine is in a class of its own. With dark green fuzzy foliage similar to the foliage on a strawberry plant, it forms a nice compact mounded plant which gets about 14 inches high.

When it is in full bloom, the flowers bring this beauty up to 30 inches. Mature width is 18 inches. Once established it is very low maintenance and stays nice and tidy in your flower beds. The blooms will start in spring and continue in abundance thru the fall due to the fact the flowers are sterile, meaning they don’t produce seeds. Continuous dead heading of spent blooms will also keep flowers coming.

Prepping Soil for Geum Totally Tangerine
When first planting Geum Totally Tangerine, incorporate rich compost into the soil such as Bumper Crop* along with some peat moss. This will provide a perfect soil foundation for new plants that can retain water and nutrients. To help in drought conditions use Espoma Bio-tone* soil conditioner with beneficial mycorrhizae. This will help establish a large healthy root system. Make sure you keep them watered well. Follow up with a monthly feeding of Espoma Flower-tone and don’t be shy to liquid feed them with Miracle-Gro*.

When you plant the Geum Totally Tangerine, be prepared for a show stopper as this is going to please everyone who enters your garden. Geum Totally Tangerine is totally tops in our book.

*All products mentioned in this article are available at The Dees’ Nursery & Florist in Oceanside, NY.

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Preventing Blossom End Rot

What is Blossom End Rot?

Now that we are in the dog days of summer, all the little hiccups that can affect your flowers and veggies have shown up. One of the most common things we see this time of year on tomatoes is blossom end rot. Don’t worry; you don’t have a disease that is going to destroy your crop. This is nothing more than a nutrient deficiency.

Calcium is used in very large amounts by tomatoes and veggies as they develop fruit. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in your soil. It always happens during periods of high heat and frequent watering or lack of water. Although it is most commonly seen in tomatoes, blossom end rot can also develop on peppers, squash, and eggplant as well. It usually starts out as small water soaked areas at the bottom of the fruit eventually covering the entire bottom with a large blackish lesion.

Curing and Preventing Blossom End Rot

Correcting calcium deficiency is simple. Spray the plants with Bonide Rot Stop. This is a liquid form of calcium that will get into the plants via the leaves. It will not cure the tomatoes that already have the problem. I would suggest you cut those tomatoes off and discard them. We also suggest you add to the soil Jonathan Green Magical. This is a granular form of calcium that you will add to the soil which will help build the calcium levels back to normal.

Continue to follow your normal watering and fertilizing schedule for the remainder of the summer. Next spring when you plant your tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants please make sure you add the J-Green Magical when you are doing your initial soil prep. Then add a small amount mid-season and this should prevent this problem from even happening.

Now that you are seeing your first tomatoes of the season, the last thing you need is a rotten end. Inspect your plants every few days for a sign of this problem. If none exists, follow some of the steps mentioned above as preventive maintenance. You have nurtured your crop along this far, don’t quit now. Keep up the good work.

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A Slice of Advice: The Best Tomatoes for your Garden

There are more than 700 kinds of tomatoes to choose from, so let’s just review the basic types. Take a look at this short list of just a few to see how many you know and love (and are in your garden)

Globe: Big, round and oh, so red. These are the all-purpose tomatoes that most people think of for slicing. Tasty varieties like Beefsteak, Rutgers, Celebrity, Manalucie and Brandywine range from typical palm-size up to two pounds.

Plum Tomatoes: The name describes shape and size. These “saucy” beauties offer a tangy taste, fewer seeds, and meatier texture. Try good old Roma or Viva Italia, the classic sauce and paste tomatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

Cherry (or Pear): Roughly cherry size, sweet and juicy, these tomatoes are aptly named and produce clusters of delicious fruit that’s almost like candy. Try the Sweet 100 variety or Juliet Grape variety!

Heirloom or Hybrid? It’s not too complicated. Heirloom tomatoes are old varieties that produce viable seeds you can grow more of the same tomatoes from. Some say they have the absolute best flavor when picked at the right time. Hybrid varieties have been specially developed for desirable characteristics. Either way, you can’t go wrong. Try the Green Zebra or Mortgage Lifter to name a few.

Vine or Bush? It’s a matter of space—vines ramble. What suits your garden?

Early or Late-Season Varieties? Heartier plants that can go into the ground sooner like Siberian, let you harvest earlier. Choose both kinds and harvest well into Autumn!

After you select the types of tomatoes you like best, follow these easy tips to get the best from them:

Know the line-up? Start the rotation. Like baseball, except this part: don’t plant tomatoes over and over in the same spot. It tends to promote plant diseases.

Bright is right. Don’t skimp on the sun—you won’t have it made in the shade. Tomatoes need sun all day.

Start with a healthy appreciation. Buy plants that are healthy. Not ones that are slightly yellow, partially withered, overgrown or stunted. Things typically get worse, not better. Try the Uncle Mikes brand of tomatoes for great healthy plants.

Plant in succession. Unless you like getting buried with ripe tomatoes all at once. Plant at three week intervals in the Spring. You’ll get a longer, more controlled harvest.

Pinch off those little suckers. Get rid of useless little shoots at the base of the plant that won’t flower or produce. They just sap the plant.

Feed ’em right. Some chemical fertilizers blast your tomatoes with super doses of nitrogen. This will produce overgrown, spindly plants with fewer fruit. Use a safe, slow-release, organic plant food with the right blend of essential nutrients to promote growth and resistance, such as Espoma Tomato-tone®.

Be O.K. with an occasional drink. Directly and fully soak the soil when you water—not the foliage. And not at night, which can foster disease. Don’t water every day if the soil is staying too wet or mushy. Use your best judgement.

Raise the stakes. Support is good. It keeps stems and vines from kinking or collapsing, lets air circulate and provides better access to fruit. Put stakes or cages in early when it’s easier and safer for the plant.

Pick when it’s just ripe. Not too green and not beyond fully red. That’s the key to real flavor.

Thanks for reading our “best tomato” tips. It’s time to choose yours and hard to go wrong. No matter how you slice it, nothing tastes as great as tomatoes from your own garden.

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Berry Good Advice for Gardeners

Berry Good Advice for Gardeners

Let’s run through a berry quick overview to help you decide which berry to grow.

Strawberries

Strawberries are perennials (they come up every year). With so many varieties, there’s sure to be a strawberry that thrives in your garden. Plant in early spring. You can also grow them in a container.

Space plants about 18″ apart. Bury the roots, but not the center crown – it needs lots of light and fresh air and add mulch to retain moisture and discourage weeds. Expect ripe berries about 30 days after the blossoms are pollinated by bees. Strawberries multiply by sending out “runners” or long vine-like shoots.

 

Raspberries and Blackberries

Again, plant in early spring, spaced about 3 feet apart. Because raspberries send long canes upward as they grow, they will need support. Plant them next to a fence or create a simple support alongside the row with some stakes and wire.

Feed raspberries and blackberries in the spring and fall with a high-quality, organic plant food like Holly-tone. Water at a rate of about an inch per week and spread organic mulch three to four inches deep around plants. Raspberries ripen summer through fall and once they get going, raspberries can produce fruit for years – maybe even indefinitely.

Blueberries

Besides being delicious, blueberries are just what the doctor ordered – they’re loaded with healthy antioxidants. Blueberries require soil that is very acidic. You can easily increase the acidity of your soil with safe, non-toxic Espoma Holly-Tone. Blueberry plants come in high bush, low bush or rabbit eye varieties. Space them 6, 2 and 15 feet apart respectively. Plant in early spring. Set each plant slightly deeper than it was in its pot. Incorporate into the soil Bumper Crop Compost. Right after planting, spread a three-inch layer of organic mulch over the ground. Apply two inches of water weekly. Blueberries ripen mid to late summer.

Berry Care Tips

No matter which berry is your favorite, all of them like rich, well-drained, acidic soil (very acidic for blueberries), full sun, organic mulch and about 2″ of water per week. Even if you haven’t decided which berry to grow yet, getting started is as easy as one-two-three. Four and five, too.

Select a growing area with full sun.

  1.  Work the soil 8 to 10 inches deep and add peat moss. If planting in containers use Espoma Organic Potting Soil.
  2.  Mix in lots of rich organic Bumper Crop compost – especially if you have sandy or clay soil.
  3.  Feed with a high-quality organic plant food in the area around the root zone, such as Espoma Holly-tone®.
  4.  Pick when ripe and bursting with flavor and enjoy.

That covers the basics, but there is one more thing. Remember, you’re not the only one who likes berries. You can keep birds away by hanging shiny objects like foil strips or use Bird-X netting around your plants. When it comes to neighbors and family, you’re on your own.