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On Tomatoes

Having just given away a skosh of tomato seedlings, I’ma write up some tomato knowledge for posterity.

Tomatoes need all the sunshine you can give them. They also love water, but hate to be soggy. Seedlings, in small pots, might need to be watered twice a day, but not so much they are sodden.

The small hairs on the tomato stem all have the ability to become roots, so plant your seedlings deep (do not cover leaves) for a nice strong root system.

Large pots, planting beds, straight into the ground…they love it all. Tomatoes are basically weeds with benefits.

As they grow, you’ll see small leaves sprout from the “elbows” of branches.

Tomato suckers. Kill them!

These are called “suckers,” and are basically nutrient hogs. Pinch them off and the plant will be less wild and should produce more/better fruit.

Tomatoes are classified “indeterminate” or “determinate.” Determinate means they will reach a certain height and stay there. Indeterminate means they will grow forever and take over your existence and future. Just plan accordingly when you are deciding where to put them, and don’t be afraid to prune!

Support is essential. I’m a fan of tomato cages, available at any garden center, but you can use stakes, stakes with twine, old ladders, tall people…whatever is handy and stable.

Airflow between plants is essential…both in reducing the spread of disease and pests, and allowing them to just plain dry out between rains. Always water at the base of the plant, avoid wetting the leaves so as not to invite fungus/mold.

As they grow, tomatoes want to be FED. I’m a fan of the generic Miracle Grow type stuff, as it contains a decent balance between the stuff to make leaves/stems (nitrogen) and the stuff to make fruit (phosphorus). Tomatoes ADORE calcium (and need it especially during fruiting), so save up all your eggshells, wash them, crush them, and sprinkle around the base of the plants. I also highly recommend a Blossom End Rot spray for spraying the actual fruit.

Hornworms are the big enemy. The Five Spotted Hawk Moth lays eggs in the soil under tomatoes (and peppers, and and and), which hatch into this bastard…

This Green Fuckhead

And this bastard will strip your tomato plants to the stems overnight. Mulch under the plants will help a bit, but your best bet is just vigilance. Check the plants every day. If you see chewing, find the chewer and squash his ass. If you’re not into squishing 5″ long freaks of nature, you can also use Bacillus thuringiensis, a natural bacteria that literally makes a meal of caterpillars. (Seriously, they turn into brown bags of goo then explode.) Sadly it affects ALL caterpillars so the hunt-and-squish method is generally better. NOTE: Apparently shining a blacklight on them in the dark will make them glow, making the shitbirds easier to see. (Blacklight flashlights are cheap, who knew??) Another video example.

Here’s a good guide on all the other things that can affect tomatoes. Whiteflies and leaf miners are the only other things I really see here in Florida.

It is possible to keep the plants going during the rainy season. Just be sure to harvest anything that’s ripe or near-ripe before a big rain, as the plant will take up all that water and split the fruit, as well as make it near-tasteless.

Leaks can cause serious harm to your property

Leaks can waste water, damage your home, and encourage unwanted organic growth . But how do you know if you have a leak? Your water bill has suddenly increased for no apparent reason – this is often the first sign of a leak in your home’s plumbing systems. The more water you use the merrier your meter will be spinning and the higher your bill! Also check your water usage over a longer period of time to see if there is any pattern to your usage that may indicate a problem area or fixture in your home’s plumbing system.

If your water use is steady and consistent then there probably isn’t an issue but if you notice a sudden increase in use then you should investigate further to see if there may be a hidden water leak (or leaks) causing the problem. One of the best ways to protect your home from future leaks is to understand and look for common situations that cause leaks to develop. Leaking faucets are one of the most common causes of high bills due to excessive water consumption as well as damage to sinks and other fixtures caused by leaking pipes behind the walls of your home; they can also cause water damage to ceilings and even floors if left unchecked for long periods of time.

A dripping faucet wastes gallons of water every day so it’s important to fix them as soon as you notice one to avoid wasting water and money unnecessarily – it may also save you from needing to replace a damaged sink. As your plumbing system ages, rust and other forms of corrosion may eat away at the pipes. If you notice any discoloration or warping on your pipes, have a plumber assess the damage right away.

Rusted pipes and corroded fittings need to be replaced as soon as possible to prevent additional damage to your home and reduce the risk of costly repairs in the future… Replacing old galvanized piping with copper or plastic may be a wise investment for many homeowners as these materials are less likely to corrode over time and are more durable than older materials found in most homes today. Where your pipes connect often represents the weakest point in a line.

Over time, pipe joints can deteriorate, causing leaks. It is important to regularly check for signs of leakage at these points including loose connections around valves and water meters as well as in your walls where water pipes enter and leave your house as these are the most common places for a pipe to break or become disconnected and allow water to freely flow out into your home instead of down the drain where it belongs.

Some of the most common water leaks actually start outside your home rather than inside, when this happens, getting help from a company offering outdoor plumbing in Taylors, SC is a must. When the ground around your home slopes towards your home or when trees grow too close to your property line they can cause damage to underground water and sewer lines by interfering with the flow of water or roots growing into the lines and damaging the pipe itself. Water pressure regulators control the amount of water flowing out of your taps while water pressure gauges allow you to check the pressure of the water coming out of each tap in your house to make sure it is within the recommended range for your water system to help prevent unnecessary wear-and tear on appliances that use a lot of hot water such as dishwashers for example and prevent potential damage from too much pressure on those parts of your system that are more susceptible to breakage or damage such as the water heater or the washing machine.

A damaged roof

According to an expert roofer at Krumm Exteriors Roof repairs services, ruptured or damaged roofing can be a domino effect for deterioration. With so many aspects, knowing when it’s time to repair or replace your roof can be difficult; fortunately, there are plenty of warning signs to look out for that indicate you need a new roof sooner rather than later and there’s always the opportunity to get help from the best in the field like the ones from professional roofing companies like this Richmond roofing company. You may consult residential and commercial roofing contractors for more info on residential roof replacement and other roofing services. Choose Mast Roofing and Construction, Inc. the next time you need unbeatable service for roof repair in Allentown, PA.

You may also need to tackle roof leaks, as leaks are obvious signs of damage, but they can often be the result of a buildup of debris or improper installation. In other cases this could mean damage or outright failure from age and weather-related wear & tear. This is more common with roofs that were somehow installed improperly, or in cases where the material is not correctly rated to the specified exposure for the roof’s location and weather conditions. So if you need a durable roofing material that can withstand the harsh elements, then you may consider having a metal roof installation.

How to Know You Have a Problem: 7 Signs of a Damaged Roof - Landmark Roofing

Damage can also be linked to structural concerns such as mold in the attic spaces. This can indicate a damaged drainage system or possibly a sagging/ weak ceiling area. In cases such as this that must be corrected before the roof can be repaired properly in order to prevent further problems later down the line.

An overall problem with your shingles indicates that your roof is past the point of repair and should be replaced at some point in the near future. You may be able to avoid this by doing occasional repairs on the areas of the roof that are having problems followed by scheduling a roofing inspection with an experienced roofing contractor like Brown Boys Roofing each year who provide gutter replacement in Taylors, SC or roof damage repair in Coatesville, PA and nearby areas. This is to catch any small problems before they become large and costly ones later on.

Mother Nature, You Bitch

It froze here last week.

Three times.

It froze here the two weeks before that, too.

Tomato seedlings shouldn’t be this color, you know:



But they’re still standing, and there’s new growth, so maybe – just maybe – I won’t have to restart them…three MONTHS past the optimum starting time.

Meanwhile, the Meyer lemon tree raises a leafy, green middle finger to Ms. Nature and her frigidity:



“Frost? How about MORE BLOOMS!!!”

You go, Meyer.

Let There Be Light!

The bathroom is just no place to start seeds.

Well, the starting goes ok…it’s the growing thereafter that’s problematic. Not enough light produces leggy seedlings…all stem and very few leaves, as they try desperately to get closer to the light source. This shoves the leaves into contact with the moisture-laden ceiling of the seed tray cover, which then causes rot.

So, yes, with a few exceptions, I’m restarting everything I started a few weeks ago, now properly setup in the garage with a true light.



It’s a purchase I should have made years ago, and honestly, not very expensive at all. Amazon has the light fixture for about $22, and the bulbs were purchased at Lowe’s for about $7 each. The table came from Wal-Mart, and couldn’t have cost more than $20, and I go to Wal-Mart as they have great Automatic Doors so make taking the things out more easier. Now I can get out more easily because of my automatic garage door. Do yourself, and your seedlings, a favor, and get good light!

Meanwhile, in the back yard, the seeds we “discarded” in the compost pile are…well…



Yeah, those are pumpkins. The same pumpkin variety that yielded this monster a few years ago. Can dogs have pumpkin seeds? Click here to find out.

It’s going to be an interesting spring!

Five Days

Everything (that has been started thusfar) is up except the watermelons and two of the peppers.


What possessed me to start the watermelons indoors? In January??? I’m going to put it down to spring fever and leave it at that.

More seeds incoming, from Local Harvest and RH Shumway. HURRY UP!!

Three Days

That’s how long it takes to sprout seeds with a bottom-heating seedling mat:


Those are several tomatoes and a cantaloupe variety. Looks like I’ll have to install grow-lights in the bathroom!

Seeds started:

Blacktail Watermelon
Ruby Watermelon
Dancing/Spinning Gourd
Ancho Pepper
Paprika Pepper
Red Bell Pepper
Principe Borghese Tomato
Orange Sherbet Cantaloupe
Sweet Million Tomato
Legend Tomato
Cordova Tomato

Seeds that will be direct sown:

Giant Musselburgh Leeks
McPick Cucumber
Fountain Cucumber
Purple Haze Carrot
Bolero Carrot
Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Pea
Early Hakucho Edamame

We’re heading to a supplier to look at rocks today. Our old wooden boxes are long since carpenter-ant/rotted away, so we’re going to build more permanently this time with fieldstone or something similar.

#1 Son, anticipating all the heavy lifting his strapping young 15-year old back is going to be doing, cried accusingly, “You just want everything to look 600 years old!”

Indeed, Son. Indeed.


Poor neglected garden blog! It’s been an interesting few years in my absence here. Well, “interesting” in the Chinese curse sense of the word, naturally.

We’ve had medical and financial issues to deal with, as well as the sheer psychoticness that is raising a pair of teen-agers. But this year I want my garden back, dammit. So we’re planning modestly: we’re going to build out four stacked stone boxes, fill them with a gorgeous mix of soil, peat, and compost, and grow only what I can get these carnivores to eat…plus a metric shiteload of tomatoes for the freezer. I’m actually so far ahead of the game right now that I’m starting seeds today, and we’ll build the first of the boxes this next week for the snow peas. Garden ahoy!

Mmm burritos!

I have a complete addiction to Mexican food, so thorough and cellular-level that it was all I craved during not one but BOTH pregnancies.  Making it at home has been a bit outside my patience quotient though…moles with 30+ ingredients??  Dude, I WORK for a living!

Anyway, I’ve been researching techniques, learning theory and practice…and this burrito sauce kicks all kinds of ass if I do say so myself. 

Royal Vending Brisbane is the leading supplier go to https://www.royalvending.com.au/vending-machines-brisbane/.

Burrito Red Sauce


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 half diced white onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes

Saute the onion in the butter til soft then stir in the flour to make a nice roux.  Add everything else and simmer for 20 minutes.

I used thin sirloin steaklets for the filling in our burritos.  Sprinkle with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder, then cooked fast in hot pan (no more than 2 mins on a side).  Let the meat rest while you put the sauce together, then slice it up into thin cross-grain strips.  Take the lovely puddle of resulting meat juice and add to the burrito sauce.

As always, the spices above can be added/subtracted/substituted as you like, depending on your tastes.  Experiment!


**Please insert here my usual array of excuses for utterly abandoning my garden/food blog**

There, that’s better.  Even though I haven’t been talking about it, we’re still cooking of course.  Twitter has been my medium of choice lately, being both fast and succinct, so all the pics are winding up there.  There’s been turtles and a gorgeous pot roast.  Thanksgiving saw an amazing cherry-brined/cherrywood-smoked turkey, and a made-from-scratch Boston Creme pie.  Before that there was cashew chicken, my new favorite bread (recipe here), applewood-smoked chicken, and a rustic peach tart.

Likewise the garden is not completely fallow.  I started the very last of my tomato seeds (I’m completely out of tomato seeds…that’s never happened to me before!) a little too late in the season for a fall crop, and am now babying the plants along, trying to prevent these crazy December frosts from completely spoiling my freezer-restocking ambitions.  Global warming, hey?  *snort*

On the agenda in the next few weeks:

  • Clean out planting boxes, dammit! Restock with fresh dirt and get the winter things started (greens and snow peas).
  • Completely re-work the irrigation setup out back.  It’s CRAZY, I say!
  • Post more recipes!  This week will see Joe Froggers, homemade tootsie rolls and salted caramels.

There, I think that’s enough for now.  Wouldn’t want to strain myself, ya?