Stocking Stuffers for Gardeners

by Anne 0 Comments

Best stocking stuffers for gardeners 2017.

Looking for a stocking stuffer for a gardener? Here are some great gift ideas that any gardener will love.

 

Fun Coffee Mug with a Trowel for a Handle

 

Gardening mug

Any gardener will love this mug saying “A little dirt never hurt.” Click image to check it out on Amazon.

The gardener can get a quick pick-me-up before heading out into the garden by filling up one of these fun garden mug. The handle is shaped like a trowel and is sure to put a smile on the gardener’s face when sipping from this mug. Any gardener will love getting this coffee mug as a present!

Click here to learn more about the mug on Amazon.

 

Sloggers Women’s Wide Brim Braided Sun Hat with Wind Lanyard – UPF 50+ Sun Protection

Women's summer hat

This cute summer hat offers great sun protection (50+ UPF). Click image to check it out on Amazon.


This adorable wide brimmed hat is very popular among female gardeners because of its stylish look. With its 50+ UPF sun protection it blocks out the hot rays, so the gardener can play in the dirt for hours on end without worrying about a sunburn. Comes in various colours.

Click here to learn more about the hat on Amazon.

 

Back to the Roots Mushroom Farm, Mushroom Growing Kit, Grow Your Own Organic Mushrooms

Grow mushrooms indoors – just add water. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

Grow gourmet, organic oyster mushrooms right out of the box in just 10 days! Just add water to this mushroom growing kit – no separate mushroom spores or mushroom seeds needed!

Click here to learn more about the mushroom kit on Amazon.

Garden Gloves with Fingertips Claws

 

Garden gloves with claws

These garden gloves are great for digging, clawing and seeding. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

No matter how you can rake up leaves, dig out weeds and dig holes for planting, with just your hands! Great for digging, weeding, seeding and poking.

Click here to learn more about the garden gloves on Amazon.

 

Sloggers Women’s Waterproof Rain and Garden Shoes

 

Garden shoes

These cool waterproof garden shoes are easy to slip on and off. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

Slip-on rain and garden shoe with all-day comfort insole and deep-lug tread for greater traction. The fun pattern puts a smile on the face on the gardener every time they slip them on.

Click here to learn more about the Sloggers garden clogs on Amazon.

 

Hori Hori Garden Knife

This is by far my favorite garden tool. The Hori Hori knife is the one tool the gardener needs that can do anything in the garden – weed, dig, prune, transplant, measure, cut, harvest. I can’t recommend this knife enough.

Hori Hori knife

I love my Hori Hori knife. I use it for planting, weeding and cutting. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

Click here to learn more about the Hori Hori knife on Amazon.

 

Crabtree & Evelyn 60-Second Fix for Hands, Gardeners

Gardeners hand cream

This rejuvenating hand cream will make any gardener’s rough hands nice and soft. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

This hand cream gives the gardener a rejuvenating home spa experience. It’s lasting moisture relief in almost no time at all. Intensive macadamia nut oil and shea butter formula to soothe and restore softness. Quick, visible results.

Click here to learn more about the gardeners hand cream on Amazon.

 

5 Exotic Vegetables Growing Kit

 

Seed kith with unusual vegetables

This is a great gift for the adventurous vegetable gardener – a seed kit with five unusual vegetables. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

This seed kit offers an exciting selection of distinctive & funky edible vegetables: purple carrots, black corns, rainbow swiss chards, yellow cucumbers & romanesco broccoli. Colorful and fun, a favourite gift with any gardener.

Click here to learn more about the seed kit on Amazon.

 

Fun ladies T-shirt

Fun ladies gardening t-shirt

The t-shirt reads “You’re never too old to play in the dirt.” Click image to learn more on Amazon.

The best gardening gift is a funny gardening gift. This t-shirt is a fantastic gift for a gardener to show off their hobby.

Click here to learn more about the t -shirt on Amazon.

 

Gardening Journal

Gardening journal

A gardening journal will help the gardener keep track of successes and failures from year to year. Click here to learn more about it on Amazon.


This gardening journal is a helpful tool for the gardener to keep track of what worked and what didn’t work from year to year. Taking notes every year will create better and better garden results each year.

Click here to learn more about the gardening journal on Amazon.

 

Mason Bee House

Mason bee hotel

This mason bee hotel attracts a lot of pollinators to the garden. Click image to learn more.


Help the gardener attract pollinators to their fruit trees, vegetables and flowers. This bee hotel provides a happy home for peaceful, non-stinging mason bees.

Click here to learn more about the bee house on Amazon.

 

Looking for more gift ideas? Click here for more inspiration for gardening gifts.

 

Gift Ideas for Gardeners

by Anne 0 Comments

Best Gardening Gifts 2017

Looking for a great gift idea for a gardener? Look no further. Here are some of the most popular gardening gifts of 2017. (Santa, could I get the sixth one on the list, please?).

AeroGarden Ultra LED with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit

AeroGarden Ultra LED

Grow greens indoor year round with the AeroGarden Ultra LED. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

Grow salad greens and herbs in the middle of winter with this cool hydroponic gadget. Kits comes with everything needed to start growing some indoor greens. Plants grow in water… not soil, keeping it neat and tidy. The interactive LCD screen control panel lets you know when to add water, reminds you when to add patented nutrients (included), automatically turns lights on and off and provides timely tips and on-screen help functions.
Comes with seven separate seed kits: Genovese Basil, Thai Basil, Thyme, Mint, Curly Parsley, Chives and Dill + 3 oz. enough nutrients for a full season of growth.

Click here to learn more about the AeroGarden on Amazon.

 

 

WORX WG794 28-volt Landroid Robotic Lawn Mower


If you are familiar with the Roomba Vacuum then you’ll know what the Landroid robotic lawn mower is all about. It’s an automated lawn mower that quietly mows the lawn, giving the gardener more time to enjoy the garden tasks he enjoys the most. So far it does not have a built in feature to bring the gardener a cold one, but give it time.

Click here to learn more about the robotic lawn mower on Amazon.

 

Yimby Tumbler Composter

Yimby composter

The Yimby tumbler composter turns kitchen scraps and yard waste into compost in just a few weeks time. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

The Yimby composter saves the back of the gardener. Instead of turning the compost in a big pile with a pitchfork, a few spins with the tumbler every few days is all that is needed. The composter is up on a stand making it impossible for pesky rodents to get near the compost materials.

Click here to learn more about the composter on Amazon.

 

Lifetime Raised Garden Bed Kit, 4 by 4 Feet, Pack of 3

Raised garden bed

These three raised garden beds save the gardener’s back. They can be stacked or used individually. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

The 4′ x 4′ raised garden beds from Lifetime gives the gardener the perfect garden setup in in less than one hour. It looks exactly like wood, but is actually made of uv-protected high-density polyethyene (HDPE). It is low maintenance, weather resistant, and will not rot, crack, or peel. The walls are 9 inches high, but two beds can be stacked together to create 18 inch walls to accommodate deep rooted plants. With its easy do-it-yourself assembly and low maintenance features, gardening has never been this easy.

Click here to learn more about the raised garden beds on Amazon.

 

Orbit 57946 B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor 6-Station WiFi Sprinkler System Controller

Orbit sprinkler system

The Orbit sprinkler system gets live weather feeds and only waters the gardener’s lawn or garden when it is needed. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

The Orbit sprinkler timer connects with the gardener’s wifi and gets its input from him and from the weather report. Connect via Android, iOS device, computer or Amazon’s Alexa – or simply program the system to water at specific times. If rain is in the forecast, the sprinkler system will not kick in, saving the gardener money on his water bill.

Click here to learn more about the sprinkler system on Amazon.

 

Pergola arbor in high quality PVC Vinyl

Pergola arbor

This maintenance-free arbor looks amazing in a garden. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

This pergola arbor is a show stopper in any garden. Gift this arbor to a gardener and you will see it as a backdrop in my family photos for years to come. This white arbor is made in the USA. It is made of high quality PVC vinyl, so it is maintenance-free.

Click here to learn more about the arbor on Amazon.

 

WORX Aerocart Multifunction 2-Wheeled Yard Cart, Dolly, and Wheelbarrow with Flat Free Tires

Wheelbarrow

This wheelbarrow easily converts to a dolly, so it can be used to move soil in the garden and big boxes in the garage. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

This versatile and durable wheelbarrow makes it easy for the gardener to move heavy items. It converts tool-free to work as an extended dolly, flower pot mover, trailer mover, bag holder and cylinder carrier. The flat free tires never need inflating.

Click here to learn more about the wheelbarrow on Amazon.

 

Palram Snap & Grow Greenhouse

This greenhouse is perfect for the gardener that would like to get his seedlings started early in the season. Crystal clear virtually unbreakable polycarbonate roof and walls panels allows the sun to warm up the greenhouse in early spring. Includes adjustable roof vent, rain gutters, lockable door handle and galvanized steel base. Comes in various sizes.

Click here to learn more about the greenhouse on Amazon.

 

Potting bench in solid wood

Potting bench

This potting bench will look stunning in any garden. Click image to learn more on Amazon.

This potting bench is the perfect gift for the gardener that does a lot of potting in the spring. The gardener will be able to stay organized with lots of room for his tools on the shelves and in the drawer. Nice potting bench for the money.

Click here to learn more about the potting bench on Amazon.

Looking for a stocking stuffer for a gardener? Click here for the best stocking stuffers for gardeners.

How to Freeze Blackberries for the Winter

by Anne 0 Comments

First a confession: I never used to care for blackberries. I found them very tart, dry and wanted to spit them out like a French person tastes wine. I would sample a few berries in public spaces such as dogs parks. Lots of people would have been munching before me, so the only blackberries that were left were unripe. The nice-looking ones would be just a little bit out of reach, so I never got to sample those.

Blackberries in salad

Blackberries are delicious in a summer salad.

Blackberries from the supermarked

I bought the little five dollar plastic tubs at the supermarket a few times to make my cakes look pretty. They were soft and juicy, but pretty tasteless, so I guess you can say they were only good for decoration. So between the dog park berries and the supermarket berries, I never knew how sweet and juicy a ripe blackberry actually taste like.

Blackberries in the backyard

This was before we moved to a property where blackberry bushes are growing wild. The brambles are growing all the way along the street and are doing an excellent job at keeping the deer out. Now there is no competition for the blackberries from other dog walkers. We have them all to ourselves. Well, and our neighbours’ kids and our dog. Every morning of August I can go and pick a big bowl of fresh blackberries. We eat a bunch fresh and share them with friends and family. But what to do with the rest? Can’t just let them go to waste. It’s time to freeze those little treats for the winter months.

Picking Blackberries

I prefer to pick blackberries in the early morning before it gets too hot out.

Picking blackberries

I usually pick blackberries early in the morning before it gets too hot outside. I like to wear a long-sleeved shirt for this job to protect my arms from the thorns and it just gets too hot to wear that in the middle of the day. I am getting better and better at picking the more ripe blackberries. My favourite berry is usually the one at the very tip of the cluster, it is always sweeter than the rest. for the rest, I usually pick by feel. I feel how soft the berry is before I pick it. No point picking it if it ain’t ripe, right? Leave it for tomorrow instead. And then I have learned not to pull the berry off the stem but rather break it off (think like you would bend a straw). This way you don’t smush the berry.

Blackberry picking

Picking blackberries can be exhausting.

Preparing the blackberries for the freezer

There is not time to waste. Once picked, bring the blackberries inside. Put them the biggest colander you own and give them a really good rinse under running water. Then  spread them out on a clean, old tea towel that you don’t mind may get stained and let the berries air dry. In the summer heat the blackberries are usually completely dry after an hour. Grab a cookie sheet or two and check that they fit in your freezer. I usually have to move a few things around in the freezer to have a level spot for the cookie sheets. Sometimes, there is a space issue in the freezer and I have to remove some ice cream to make room for the cookie sheets haha.

Freezing blackberries

After a good wash I leave the blackberries to air dry for an hour or two.

Freeze them on a cookie sheet

When the blackberries have air dried on the tea towel I transfer them to the cookie sheet(s) in a single layer and then put them in the freezer. Two hours after I check on the blackberries and if they are rock hard like little marbles, it is time to transfer them into Ziploc bags. I usually put two cups of blackberries into each bag, label them with the contents and the date, seal the bag and pop it in the freezer. Hmm… let’s reverse the order; label the bags and then put the blackberries in (it is very tricky to write on the bag once it is full of blackberries – trust me, I speak from experience).

Frozen blackberries

Don’t forget to label your bags BEFORE adding the blackberries. It is not easy to do afterwards…

A taste of summer in the middle of winter

It is so nice to have these little gems in the freezer over the winter. I use them for baking (my favourite is blackberry cheesecake, but a good crumble is always delicious when it is cold and miserable outside), salad dressings and smoothies. Keeping the blackberries in the Ziploc bags in the freezer makes it easy to only use the amount you need and put the bag back in the freezer.

I hope this has inspired you to go and pick some fresh blackberries in nature or go pick some up at your local farmers market. Come January you will be so happy to have some of these delicious treats in your freezer for a yummy homemade crumble.

 

 

My Best Tips for Growing Chili Peppers From Seed

by Anne 0 Comments

My husband loves super hot chilis. The hotter, the better. So as a gift to him (and a challenge for me) I am growing some of the hottest peppers I could find. Read to the bottom for the list of chilis I am growing this year.

Growing from store bought spices

My husband, Mark goes crazy for dried chilis at the Mexican markets. He usually buys one of each bag no matter how many different varieties they have. So you can imagine we have many different bags of dried chilis in the cupboards. Back in January when I was looking into different types of chilis to grow, the first place I went shopping for seeds was our very own cupboard. I figured that if I could get any of these chilis to germinate I could A) save a bit of cash and B) try some new varieties out that I more than likely was not going to be able to find for sale at our local garden centre.

Guajillo chili pepper

Growing store bought guajillo chili peppers. These hot peppers I will definitely not be able to buy at our local supermarket.

Seed selection

When picking seeds to grow from the dried store bought chili peppers, I selected the ones that looked the least ‘dried’ or ‘toasted’. I figured that the ones that were furthest away from the heat source in the drying process would have the most chance of germinating, so I picked the lightest-coloured chili seeds in the packs.

Paper towel method for germination

I started my chili pepper seeds in early January. It felt great to have a garden-related task in the middle of winter while snow was still on the ground outside. I have not had much luck with getting my chili paper seeds to germinate in little pots before, so this year I decided to try a new method. I sprinkled a few chili pepper seeds on damp paper towels and put them in separate Ziploc bags that I labelled with the chili variety. I put all the Ziploc bags in a large envelope and left them on our heated bathroom floor for a few days. Close to your furnace, on a heat mat or on top of a fridge will probably work fine as well. Any place where there is a bit of heat, just not direct sun.

I prepped some pots with seed starting potting mix and crossed my fingers the chili seeds would sprout. A couple of days later I checked on the seeds inside the bags. A few had sprouted! I carefully put the seeds that had germinated into its own cell in the seedling starter trays, and did my best to put the seed on a angle in the potting mix as opposed to lying it flat. Some people say there is a greater risk of seeds rotting if they lie flat, so with the bigger seeds I always try to put them on an angle.

Some of the paper towels needed a spritz of water before I put them back in the Ziploc bag and back on the heated bathroom floor. I checked on the seeds every few days and kept on transferring the ones that had germinated to the seed starter trays that were ready. Describing this process makes it sound like it was a very cumbersome ordeal, but in January you’ll take anything you can get to satisfy your gardening fix.

LED Grow Lights

Once you have transferred the germinated seeds to the pots, the best thing would probably to put them under a grow light. I do not have mine set up in the new house (yet), so I put mine in a south-facing window. The seedlings did ok, but I am sure they would have thrived under some LED lights. Oh well, next year.

Chili pepper seedlings

At this stage LED grow lights would have been the best option, but my south facing window worked out just fine.

Fertilizing

After a month I figured the seedlings could probably do with some fertilizer. I know that there are lots of goodies for the plants in the seed starter mix, but I decided to give the seedlings a boost with a tiny bit of Miracle-grow tomato fertilizer. The plants sure seemed to like that! They grew like crazy and started to flop over. Every couple of days I would spin the trays 180 degrees so the plants wouldn’t lean too much to one side reaching for the sun, but man, these tall plants sure made it a challenge to move the trays around.

Transplanting my chili plants

By June, the chili plants I had grown from seed were getting really tall and kept on falling over in our windowsill. They were definitely ready to be planted out. Only problem was that our June here was very cold. I wanted to wait with the transplanting until the night temperatures reached at least 50 F (10 degrees C). It wasn’t until the middle of June that I finally planted my 24 chili plants out into the the raised beds and by then some of the chili plants were flowering and starting to set fruit.

My chili seedlings ready to be transplanted.

I put a little epsom salt, miracle-grow tomato fertilizer into each planting hole before I put the seedling in. To tell you the truth, I don’t know if the added epsom salt and fertilizer made any difference, but the plants did grow fast and had lots of flowers. And despite the slow start to the summer, the chili plants are doing really well and are producing lots of chili peppers.

Below is a list of the chili varieties I am growing this year:

2017 Chili Varieties

Yellow and Red Scotch Bonnets

Ghost Pepper

Chocolate Habanero

Guajillo*

Cora*

Kashmiri*

Serrano

Santa Fe

+Some from a pack of mixed seeds a friend gave me, so unfortunately I don’t know the varieties.

*seeds saved from dried store bought chili peppers

Preserving your chili peppers

If you are growing chili peppers as well this year, I hope you have a bountiful harvest. If you want to save some chili peppers for the winter there are many was you can preserve them: Chili peppers can be dried, fermented, pickled or simply just frozen – read about how simple it is to freeze your chili peppers here.

Overwintering my chili plants

This year I will try to overwinter my chili plants. I spent so much time babying these plants that I am not ready to say goodbye to them at the end of the season. I have never overwintered chili plants before, so that will be an experiment for me. They will need to be moved indoors and under grow lights, so that is an incentive for me to get my grow lights set up.

Which chili peppers are you growing this year? Please share in the comment section below.

 

Companion Planting: Carrots and Onions

by Anne 0 Comments

I love to experiment in the veggie garden and am constantly trying out new techniques. This year I will go to great lengths to avoid putting up a floating row cover to protect my carrots from the carrot fly.

I have never had much luck growing carrots. One year the carrot fly got into the carrots, another year it was the rabbits. Last year I didn’t even bother trying to grow them. But this year I will give it another go. And this time I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I hope will keep the pests (pets?) away.

The dreaded carrot fly

I read somewhere online that onions can be used to deter the carrot fly. If you are not familiar with this little bugger, it is a fly that flies very close to the ground. It is very much attracted to the smell of carrots (hence its name). Once it finds a carrot it will lay eggs in the soil right next to it. The larvae will pop out of the eggs and be super hungry. They will turn their attention to the nearby carrot and start munching away. They will burrow little tunnels all over the carrot, eating their way through what you think will be your future snack. The carrot top will look fine, so you will have no idea that there is a problem until harvest time.

Floating row covers

Most intelligent gardeners throw floating row covers (or fleece) on top of their carrots right after sowing them to prevent the carrot fly to lay its eggs. I am not one of those gardeners. I like to try things out for myself… and then later in the season come to the realization that I should probably have done it the way millions of gardeners have done for decades.

The thing is that I really don’t like the look of netting in my garden. It looks like someone trapped the carrots and stuffed them in a cage. I like my carrots the same way I like my chicken and eggs: cage-free. Haha. Seriously, I just don’t care for the look of the netting and am willing to go to great lengths to avoid putting it up in my garden.

Companion planting

So this year I will try something new: companion planting my carrots and onions. From what I have heard, the carrot fly detests the smell of onion. So this year I have spaced out my rows of carrots and placed a row of onion sets in between. And just as an extra precaution I have seeded spring onions in the entire perimeter of the raised bed.

Carrot fly deterrent

New experiment: Companion planting onion and carrot to deter the dreaded carrot fly.

To thin out or not to thin out?

Most gardeners that grow carrots will seed them generously and then thin the seedlings out later on. Thinning them out spreads the scent of carrots in the air and will attract all the carrot flies in the neighbourhood. So what I have done this year is to take a few more minutes sowing my carrot seeds and doing it more thinly, so I do not need to thin the seedlings out later on. I hope that this extra step will help in my quest to keep the little buggers away.

Varieties of onions and carrots

This year I will be growing yellow onions (apparently, they store really well), red onions and shallots. The carrot varieties are Nantes and an heirloom mix from called, Tri Circus. In the perimeter I am growing spring onion.

Trial & Error

It will be interesting to see how this experiment turns out. When it comes time to dig up my carrots I may be in for a nasty surprise and wish I had put that net up after all. Well, you never know until you try. And that is one of my favourite things about gardening. It’s all about trial and error. You learn from your failures and successes… and hopefully, you have lots of fun doing what you love in the process. Wish me luck!

July update

In late July I couldn’t wait any longer, I just had to pull up a few carrots. I was looking forward to see if growing onions and carrots side by side had helped keep the carrot fly away. And so far, the results are great! The few carrots I pulled up were without any holes. So, I guess it is true, companion planting carrots and onions does work to deter carrot fly.

The fact that I didn’t seed the carrots very closely and then didn’t have to thin them out may also have helped in preventing visits from the carrot fly. Nevertheless, carrots and onions are now ‘best friends  forever’ and will be planted side by side from now on, and carrot seeds sown 1/2 inch apart in the spring.

BFF: Carrots and onions will be hanging out together in my garden from now on to deter carrot flies.

Share your carrot fly prevention stories

How do you deal with carrot fly? Do you use row covers or do you have some secret up your sleeve about how to keep them at bay? If so, please share in the comments below.

Storing and Preserving Your Garlic Harvest

by Anne 0 Comments

Garlic is one of my favourite things to grow. This past October I dedicated a whole raised bed (4’x10′) just to grow garlic and planted almost 100 cloves. I grew four varieties: Music, Gabriola, Russian Red and Regular White. Check out my tips for growing garlic.

When the tops of the garlic leaves start to turn yellow I stop watering them in preparation to curing them for storage. About two weeks later when the leaves are 2/3 yellow it is time to dig up the garlic (this year I dug them up a little earlier because a big rain storm was in the forecast and I wanted the garlic heads to be dry for storing them).

Growing four varieties of garlic, almost 100 garlic heads. This photo was taken in the middle of June.

I brush as much of the soil off as possible and leave the roots on for the drying process. I usually tie the garlic heads together in bunches of ten or so and hang them upside down for two weeks.

I usually bunch the garlic up and leave them like that for a couple of weeks.

After a couple of weeks I trim most of the dry roots off and trim the tops off a few inches from the garlic heads. Tip: save the netting that onions come in to store your garlic in. If you don’t have any netting, a paper bag will do just fine as well. Store them in a frost free area such as your garage or shed.

I trim the roots and leaves off and hang the garlic in nets in our dry, frost free garage.

Depending on the variety of garlic you can expect your garden garlic to last up to ten months. Don’t forget to set aside the biggest garlic heads to plant in October.

Preserving your garlic harvest

One way to preserve your garlic harvest is simply to peel the cloves and freeze them. This way they are ready to be used in cooking, no peeling required. If you want to make it even more handy, grate the garlic (or better, use a garlic press – Amazon link) and put it into an ice cube tray 2/3 full. Fill up the the last 1/3 with olive oil, freeze and transfer into Ziploc bags. Easy peasy.

Roasted garlic

I absolutely love roasted garlic. I like to add it to stews, soups, stir fries – anything to keep the vampires away haha. Only problem is that it takes close to an hour to roast garlic in the oven and I don’t want to leave the oven on for an hour “just” to roast garlic. So normally, the only time I get to have roasted garlic is when I roast other vegetables in the oven such as potatoes, beets and carrots.

So I thought to myself, why not prep the roasted garlic in advance and pop it in the freezer, so it is ready to go? I was roasting some veggies for dinner in the oven anyway, so I figured I’d do a big batch of roasted garlic at the same time and freeze it.

How to roast garlic

Cut off the top quarter inch of a head of garlic. Place it in some tinfoil and pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on top of the cut end. Wrap the head of garlic in tinfoil and put it in a 400 F oven for 45 minutes.

Let the roasted garlic cool down before you peel (or push) them out of the papery wrap. Put the roasted garlic in a blender and add olive oil so you have 2/3 garlic and 1/3 olive oil. If you don’t want to bother with a blender the roasted garlic is soft enough to mix up with oil in a bowl with a fork. Mix it up for a minute and add the mixture to ice cube trays. I like to use ice cube trays made out of silicone (Amazon link). The silicone makes it easy to remove the cubes from the tray.

Roasted garlic and olive oil ready to into the freezer for a a couple of hours.

Put the ice cube trays in the freezer for a few hours and then transfer the garlic cubes to Ziploc bags. Make sure to label the bags, so you don’t mistake the garlic for something else. You don’t want anyone in your family to mistake them for caramels or something haha.

The roasted garlic is easily removed from the silicone ice cube tray and goes back in the freezer ready for soups and stews.

There you have it. Some tips to store and preserve your garlic harvest. Garlic is super easy to grow and stores for a very long time, so I hope you will give them a go this coming October.

What are your favourite ways to store and preserve your garlic harvest? Please add them to the comment section below so we can all benefit from your experience.

 

Tips for staking your tomato plants

by Anne 0 Comments

For some reason, it always comes as a surprise to me how incredibly huge tomato plants get. I sow the tiny seeds at the end of March and come July my little seedlings have turned into monster plants. I usually try to place the support for the tomato plant at the same time as I plant the tomato in my garden, otherwise they can get a bit out of control.

Florida weave

My favourite way to stake my tomato plants is commonly known as the Florida weave. Here is how I do it:

Here is what you’ll need:

  • 6+ feet tall wood or metal stakes
  • Garden twine
  • Scissors

I make sure to plant my tomato plants in a row with about two feet between the plants. In between the plants I put six feet tall cedar stakes, so the stakes and tomatoes are in a long, neat row. I grow most of my tomatoes in raised garden beds and I use this to my advantage when securing the cedar stakes. Here’s how: At either end of the 10 foot long bed I drill the square stake into the wooden bed. This way the two stakes at either end of the bed are securely anchored.

Garden jute

This is the type of jute I use for the Florida weave method.

As the tomato plants grow taller I tie some twine to a stake at one end of the row and weave the twine in between the plants, making sure to wrap it around the stakes in the middle of the bed a few times to secure it better. As the plants grow another foot or two I do another weave a level up and so on throughout the season.

Florida weave

I hope you can see it: the twine is on either side of the tomato stem, tied onto a stake on the left.

 

Growing tomatoes along a fence

Another great option is to plant your tomatoes along a fence for support – as long as it isn’t north facing then your tomatoes wouldn’t get a lot of sun. A fence makes it easy to secure your tomato plants and will also give them some protection from the wind.

Growing tomatoes in a greenhouse

Here is what you’ll need:

  • Garden twine

Here is a great way to support your tomato plants in a greenhouse. At the transplanting stage tie a strong garden twine to the top of the greenhouse right above where your plant will go. Cut the twine to a length so that it is about a foot longer than the distance down to the ground.

When you plant your tomato seedling pop the end of the twine into the hole first and tighten the line a bit before you push the seedling down. Now the roots will grow into the twine keeping it in place. As the plant grows, simply twist it around the twine.

Tomato staking for a single plant or two

Here is what you’ll need:

or

  • Solid stake made out of metal or wood and some strips of cloth to tie with

or

  • Three bamboo stakes

Tomato cage

A tomato cage works great for single plants and also works great if you grow your tomato plants in pots. I do find that the regular tomato cages are a bit flimsy when the tomato plant is loaded with big tomatoes. So if you use a regular tomato cage I’d recommend that you put in some bamboo stakes for extra support.

Tomato cages are great, but I find that they are not strong enough once the tomato plant is loaded with heavy fruit. I usually add some extra support with bamboo stakes.

A single stake

A solid stake by each plant will also do the trick. When you tie the plant to the stake use something soft that will not cut into the stem. I like to use strips of cloth or old pantyhose (they are super stretchy). Don’t tie the stem too close to the stake, but give it a bit of room to grow. The best way is to do a loop around the stem and then tie the ends onto the stake.

Be creative

This year I am growing a lot of tomatoes and ran out of both tomato cages and cedar stakes. Here is what I did instead: I put three bamboo stakes around each tomato plant and tied them together in the middle and at the top. I will report back towards the end of the season to let you know how the experiment goes.

Stake ’em early

No matter if you are growing one tomato plant or 50, those babies need some support. The trick is to get the stakes in place as soon as possible. I would recommend that you do it at the transplanting stage because if you are anything like me, there is a lot of stuff going on in the garden and it’s easy to forget tasks. If you wait, you risk that they flop over and get damaged. Also, if you jam a big stake into the ground close to the tomato plant at a later stage when the plant is established, you risk damaging the roots. So stake those plants as soon as possible.