Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sustainable Gardening ~ Cherry Tomatoes

organic cherry tomatoes caroline gerardo
      My Gardening Theories

     Grow Valuable Fruits and Vegetables—choose your favorites that are expensive. Don't pay high prices for food you can bring in to the dinner table right from the garden

 Heirloom varieties can be traded for free that aren’t available at    garden stores. 
     There are many sites here are a few I use
Local gardening societies are a great place to start. Allow a percentage of your heirlooms to go to seed and trade dried seeds at online seed banks for free. 

 Sustainable gardening is about the big picture without buying lots of equipment. 
Year over year my garden production varies. One season a glut of zucchini pops up. Then you bake zucchini bread and share, find new recipes for the bundle crop, give them away, add to spaghetti sauce and save the seeds that are desirable to someone else.

 Create a long growing season. Build recycled cold frames. 

     Be creative with plastic liter bottles in a sunny window to start your seeds while it is still cold outside. 
     Build tunnels, cloches and other devices to stretch the season and grow food. That goalie net the team is throwing away plus some plastic make a free plant shelter. With a little recycled materials get a head start on spring salads by at least two months.  Note: be careful using wood that is treated or painted prior to 1978 which may have lead or chemicals that will leach into the soil.
     Extend your fall crops by using row covers to protect them from frost and deer. Old windows tossed by a contractor are useful lean-to shelters.
     Grow crops in the temperature and season they prefer. 
     Cold-tolerant greens and root crops for food production can start indoors in late winter and Fall.
     Find some early-bearing fruit and berries—Grow June-bearing strawberries and early raspberries. 
     Don’t be stuck planting only one type or breed. Ask other gardeners in your area questions about the varieties that are successful. Ask for cuttings.
     There is nothing sweeter than fresh berries picked, rinsed and eaten right away. 
     Berries are God's antioxidant. My family eats them so fast I never have any left to freeze or make jam. 
     Freeze in simple ice cube trays to add to drinks or tea. 
     In the fall, there are late-ripening raspberries that fruit.  
     I’m fond of trading or gifting fresh fruits and vegetables. 
     Once you begin, friends and family reciprocate with things that surprise you.
     Grow natives and foods suitable to your climate zone. 
     Some crops will be easy to grow in your area while others can be a challenge. 
     Soil type also determines what will grow where you live. I have two compost piles. They are upright wire cages that I dump all garden waste that doesn't have disease, and any plant material that is not oily or meat kitchen waste. 
     After two years of adding compost I changed my soil to rich earth that doesn't need to be watered as often. 
     I don't add fertilizers. This saves money. My local coffee shop saves grounds to amend my soil.
     Acidic coffee grounds transforms my soil that tends to be alkaline and clay. 
     After two years of digging in compost and rotating, my soil sustains a huge variety of fruits and vegetables with no fertilizer and no chemicals.
     Grow beverages—Mints, sage, raspberry leaf and nettles make delicious and healthy teas.  
     Mint is hardy in my climate I have to be careful not to let it take over. Keep mint in pots.
     In Southern California it is easy to have fresh lemons – I have Meyer, Lisbon, Ferminello St Teresa 
     St. Teresa is my favorite for the smell of the fruit and flowers. 
     Picking a lemon off one of my trees and squeezing into salad dressing, a sauce or drink gives me joy. 
     The fruit is never touched by pesticides. Yes sometimes they get bugs but I wash them off with water or squish. Lemons stay fresh on the tree longer than in the refrigerator.
     I wish I could grow apples and cherries. I planted them at two different homes with meager success. 
     We just don’t get enough cold. Right now I’m experimenting with avocados because we enjoy them so much. 
     Unfortunately it will take my seedlings seven or eight years to bear fruit. Patience is part of the fun.
     Perennials such as asparagus, rhubarb, and bunching onions are easy. These keep paying you back every year.
     Cherry tomatoes in yellow, lemon and red are the easiest fruit producing plants. 
     The seeds of fallen fruit and that which birds nabbed will spread. Cherry tomatoes could save us in a disaster. 
     Culinary herbs maybe started from cuttings or gather seeds from friends. Cut off the bottom leaves and put in
     a mild window (not full sun) in sand and cover with a used plastic milk bottle inverted. Keep moist and in weeks you will have new plants. Transplant gently and don't shock the life out of them - move to a bit more sun.
     Thyme (my favorite) dill, basil, rosemary, sage, parsley and mint grow in most any summer garden.
     I cultivate a couple types of thyme and sage. Bees love them. 
     When brushing past herbs in my garden the perfume is heavenly.
     In the summer months I grow enough for my family to have fresh vegetables daily. 
     My kids try anything. They grew up pulling weeds and napping under peach trees. 
    They have the love of gardening. 
    One of life's special things is the taste of a tomato warmed by the sun, rinsed off in the yard and popped into your mouth.

I wish you every happiness. Eat healthy, enjoy fresh.
grape arbor organic sustainable gardening
 Concord and Albarosso grapes above
below some photographs of my children
daughter under grape arbor

picking organic apple caroline gerardo

daughter holding pumpkin in my garden sunflowers

handsome son in garden corn stalks drying for seed caroline gerardo

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