Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Growing Stevia

Today I planted Stevia in a self watering pot
Growing Stevia Plants
It is a short lived perennial.
A South American perennial shrub (Stevia rebaudiana)

The 1990s the U.S.placed a trade embargo on stevia in because its safety was not proven,The  FDA (in 2008) found that stevia doesn't present any long-term dangers. In South America, stevia has been used for many centuries without any known side effects.

In northeastern Paraguay, stevia populations have been found in the watershed of the Ypane River
elevation of about 650 feet. Plants occur naturally on the edges of marshes or in grassland communities, that have soil with shallow water tables sites are continuously moist but not soggy. It is found near water growing in sandy mucky well drained infernal soil. It does bot do well competing with weeds. And cultivation has decreased its abundance in the area.

Growing Stevia

The majority of stevia plants are sold are produced by cuttings. Seed have a poor germination rate.
you can try to start from seed indoors in late winter, but it's best to grow it from rooted cuttings.

Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil. It like full sun, but cool temperatures. It is said to not do well in high heat. Where summers are extremely hot, stevia benefits from slight afternoon shade
3-5 plants may be enough for a years supply depending on how much you use it.

Wait a couple weeks after your last frost date to plant out doors, In loose, loamy,sandy well-drained soil Stevia doesn't like soggy soil!  Raised beds would be best for drainage. Stevia occurs naturally on soils of pH 4 to 5, but thrives with soil pH as high as 7.5. However,It grows best when soil pH ranges from 6.7 to 7.2.Stevia does not tolerate saline soils (high levels of salt)
It can grow 1 to 3 feet in height, And 18 to 24 around, depending on the length of your growing season

Srevia has fine roots that spread out on the surface of the soil, while a thicker part of the root grows deep into the soil.The root system is superficial with few lateral roots developed and it cannot be tolerated either in the lack of water or under the power of strong winds.

It grows best in Us Zone 9 and above. But will do well if covered over in Zone 8.
NOTE: You can dig it up and pot indoors for the winter.It is considered a perennial (4-6 years) second year plants are not as productive as first year. But it is better to take cutting and start new plants for next spring.

Stevia doesn't have any known diseases or pests.

you must trim back the plants several times to induce branching, or it will grow lanky

Harvest and Storage
You can cut the plant in half mid summer. Dry the leaves for use. And make new plants from cutting.
Leaves are sweetest in the cool temperatures of autumn. They also taste best prior to the plant blooming. in early to mid-Autumn.

Stevia grows well in containers. Like oregano and basil

At the end of September or beginning of October, harvest the entire plant once flower buds have appeared but before they've opened. Ideally, harvest in the morning when the plant is at its highest sugar content.

If you wait till  (4-5 buds) have open, or If most of the flowers have blossomed, they will leave behind a bitter aftertaste throughout the entire plant.

It is best to dehydrate the leaves. But you can place them in an oven at 150 degree till the leaves are crisp. It is best to grind them when you are ready to use them. In a coffee grinder or food processor. Store the dried leaves in an airtight container, placed in a cool dark area.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Garden in a bag

I did this the first time, back in 2008.
This way of gardening was so easy. No digging or weeds to worry about. I bought cheap topsoil bags, and added composted manure & peat to them. This time I paid 50c more per a bag for better topsoil. And just added a small amount of manure in the hole for the tomatoes and watermelon. They like a bit more fertility than this bag had already.You need to remember to water in the bag and not on the plant. Tomato leaves to not like allot of water on them. It can cause blight. Watermelons like moist rich soil.

Please subscribe to my Utube channel to see videos that may not be posted here. Thank you.
First break up the soil in the bag a bit. The cut an x on the back. flip over to make contact with the soil. You can lay news paper down first. I had some straw on the ground. Cut or poke holes in the bags and plant seed or plants. Space according to there needs. Like no more than 2 tomatoes to a bag. 1 watermelon with a companion that does not take allot of wide root space.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What to know aboutTomatoes

Did you ever wonder why, your tomatoes were not producing any more fruit?

You may have "determinate" tomatoes"
Or too much nitrogen. If you have amazing green growth, but no flowers after 65 or 70 days.

 What's the difference between "indeterminate" and "determinate" tomatoes?
Determinate tomatoes, are "bush" like tomatoes, that grow to a compact height (maybe 3 - 4 feet tall). determinate tomatoes bear their crop all at once, (usually over period of 1- 2 weeks) they are best for container growing. You should never prune a 'determinate' type tomato. As you will loose some of your crop.

Indeterminate tomatoes, are more vine like. They can grow 6-12 feet. They require staking or cage/trellis  support. After about  65 days in the ground,they produce fruit until killed by frost. So this is the one to choose if you want lots of tomatoes, from one plant. This plant you can remove suckers, and should remove most of the suckers at the bottom 10"to allow air flow. This may also prevent disease and insect damage. Pruning sometimes, helps to increase tomato size.

Regular Leaf, is the most typical leaf type with leaf edges that are serrated. There are more of these than potato leaf varieties available.
Potato Leaf, is thicker. Can produce more fruits and can be more tolerant of the common foliage diseases. But this is not a fact. Weather and environment, determine what can happen to any plant.

Heirloom verses Hybrid
Heirloom's are original plants. that you can collect seed from and they produce the same fruit or veggie. Unless the cross pollinate, with another plant.

Hybrids. Are the result of cross breading 2 or more plants to create another one. Some will produce viable seed. But may not create the same hybrid plant again. It could revert to the parent plants.  So seed saving on them is not a good choice if you want that same plant again.  

How temperature affects flowering:
Pollen does not develop if night temperatures are below 55°F.
Blossoms drop if daytime temperatures rise above 95°F before 10 a.m.
 Tomatoes grown in cool climates will have softer fruit with bland flavors.

Nitrogen is the nutrient most responsible for growing lush, vibrant leaves and stems. Indeterminate vines need it most when they are young. If after 65 day in the ground no bloom happens, too much nitrogen will keep the plants content and may not produce fruit. So stop using nitrogen.
Epsom salt
Spray them directly with a diluted mixture of Epsom salt and water; about 1 teaspoon to 1 quart of water. This will increase there Magnesium level. Epsoms salts help too if you are getting too much water, and the leaves are going yellow.
Egg shells: Wash them, then crush. Some people dry them out. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime.
Coffee grounds mixed into the soil help with nitrogen and acidity.
Blood meal fertilizer can turn yellow leaves green again. This will also make your soil more acidic, because it  lowers the pH in the soil. It will last for 6 to 8 weeks.
 This is effective in repelling deer, rabbits and other pests away from garden  However, it also attracts dogs and raccoons. maybe even opossum.  You must use the correct amount, or it may damage your plants. Read the package for directions.

This post will be continued. When this statement is removed it will be finished.  I am recording all I need to rember on this blog. So I can refer back to is as needed.