Archive

Category Archives for "Fruits"

How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes and Other Handy Hints

Tomatoes are one of the most nutritious edible plants by far.

There’s a great deal of controversy over how tomatoes should be categorized. Are they fruits or vegetables?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tomatoes are vegetables rather than fruits. This was based on the ordinary meaning rather than the botanical meaning. But, if you ask scientists, particularly botanists, they will say that tomatoes are fruits. This is because it is the product of a tree that bears seeds and can readily be eaten raw as food. Similar examples are bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and pea pods to name a few.

how far apart to plant tomatoes

Have you ever wondered how far apart to plant tomatoes? We will clear that up for you in this article.

First thing’s first, though. We’ll look at some basic facts about tomatoes before looking at planting…

A Few Facts about Tomatoes

Tomatoes originated from South America but were first cultivated in Mexico. The name was derived from the Aztec word tomati which means swelling fruit.

Tomatoes can even be categorized as a berry by some scientists because they are formed from a single ovary. The very first tomatoes were believed to be roughly the size of cherry tomatoes but yellow in color.

Tomatoes also yield more produce than any other plants. You can harvest at least 5kgs from a single plant. They are also very rich in vitamins A, C and E as well as Beta carotene. Due to these reasons, many gardeners grow their own tomatoes.

Just like other edible plants, tomatoes also need proper care and the correct guidelines should be followed when planting them. Correct spacing should be implemented when planting them.

Whether you think of them as fruit or vegetable, tomatoes have many health benefits. They are very rich in phytonutrients and lycopene. These are said to combat cancer, particularly breast, prostate, lung and pancreatic cancers. They can also help fight against cardiovascular disease. These antioxidants are also very beneficial for bone health and can help lower bad cholesterols.

How Far Apart To Plant Tomatoes and Other Handy Hints

how far apart to plant tomatoes

Growing tomatoes in your own garden is not just exciting but also beneficial for your health and extremely rewarding. You won’t just grow a plant but something that will help your health in myriad ways. Growing tomatoes is like having your own medicine blooming around you.

Spacing plays an important role in the optimum growth and health of the plants. It provides great air circulation and proper sun exposure. Here are some ways to properly grow and create spaces for planting tomatoes…

  • First of all, tomatoes love the sunlight. They need a complete 8 hours so it is best to position them where the sun’s rays shine the most. Water your plants before the soil gets dry. Tomatoes embrace plenty of watering. Much of it should be done during the summer
  • In winter, tomatoes are in dire need of more sunlight due to the shorter daylight hours. That won’t be much of a problem if you are using a greenhouse since growing lights can compensate for the much-needed sunlight
  • Seeds to be planted in pots should be given their own containers once they start to sprout their tiny stems. The size of the pots should be roughly 4 to 5 inches wide. This allows more room for growth. Depth should be about 7 to 10 inches
  • In the case of tomatoes planted on the ground, they should be accurately grouped according to their types. Determinates are tomatoes that stop growing at a certain height and ripen all at the same time. This makes for a bountiful harvest. These are the kind that much prefer to be planted in a container. The indeterminates are tomatoes that continue to grow and take time to produce flowers but with bigger, juicier fruits. Keep them apart
  • If you are planting tomatoes in a row, place the determinate stems at least 2 feet apart from each other. Keep them side by side and 3 feet away by rows. Indeterminate tomatoes should be planted 2 feet apart at the sides and with 5 feet for row spaces. These indeterminates they tend to grow up to 10 feet high to allow more room for sunlight
  • Staked tomato plants (indeterminate tomatoes with stems tied to stakes to support their growth) can be planted at least 3 feet apart from each other
  • Caged tomatoes, on the other hand (indeterminates planted in a rectangular cage made of wires), need about 4 feet of space in each row. They should be 2 feet away from each other. The cage must be at least 3 feet wide and 8 feet tall. It has openings of about 6 inches for the gardener to reach each plant
  • Sprawling tomatoes (determinate tomatoes that are allowed to sprawl freely on the ground) should be given 4 feet of space in between each growth and 5 feet for the rows

Important Note: Proper spacing when planting tomatoes isn’t critical in the sense they can grow rapidly however they are positioned. Good spacing ensures optimum growth, though. It also helps to prevent diseases from crippling the plants. Correct spacing can simplify harvesting. Tiny growths must be tied to each other to make their stems grow stronger and accommodate the weight of the forthcoming blossoms.

Wrap Up

Here’s hoping we have supplied you with ample information on how far apart to plant tomatoes and other handy hints so you can properly space your plants for best results.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please feel free to contact us. We are always delighted to help.

Now enjoy those tomatoes and space them just right!

Purple Tomatillo

When it comes to growing fresh fruit and vegetables in your garden, you really are spoiled for choice.

There are so many different options at your disposal and you can sometimes get paralyzed by choice and stuck for ideas.

If you have got the basics covered and want to branch out with something slightly less commonplace, it could be time to look at growing some purple tomatillos. If you enjoy Mexican food, this will be a great addition to your garden.

What Is a Purple Tomatillo?

purple tomatillo

Source: Milking Almonds

The tomatillo is native to Mexico. It’s one of the oldest fruit-bearing plants used as far back as 800BC by the Aztecs.

Physalis philadelphica has sweet purple fruits the size of marbles.

Physalis ixocarpa, frequently sold in markets, boasts large green fruits that ripen to a pale yellow. These have a very tart taste.

Fragile husks cover the tomatillo. Towards the end of summer, fruits dangle copiously from the branches.

Tomatillos are members of the nightshade family and they are a core If Mexican food. It’s the citrusy yet sweet flavor of tomatillos that give a kick to green salsa.

The purple tomatillo grows throughout the Americas apart from in the extreme north. It’s most prevalent in Mexico.

Uses for Purple Tomatillo

purple tomatillos

Source: A Growing Tradition

Tomatillos are a staple ingredient of the green sauces common to Mexican and Central American cooking.

With a tart flavor and vibrant green coloring, tomatillos are very widely used.

Purple tomatillo has a sweeter taste. They are great in jams and preserves.

You can keep ripe tomatillos in the fridge for a couple of weeks and they’ll still be good to eat. If you remove the husks and keep them in sealed Ziploc bags, they’ll last even longer. If you want some to last you through the colder seasons, pop them in the freezer.

Where To Grow Purple Tomatillo

Choosing the right growing site is key with any plant.

You’ll want to find somewhere with full exposure to the sun. Make sure that the soil is fairly rich and well-drained. Although the tomatillo is a wild plant, it is pretty intolerant of saturated soil.

Before you plant your seeds, it pays to mix in a few inches of compost. If you fork this over nicely, it will help with drainage if this is an issue.

If you’ve got heavy clay soil in your garden, raised beds are a great way to grow purple tomatillos.

Planting Purple Tomatillos

A couple of months before the last frost of the year, start your tomatillo seeds indoors.

Before transplanting them outdoors when the time is right, make sure to harden the plants first.

When then the soil is nicely warm and any realistic chance of frost is history, set them outside at the same time as you start your tomatoes.

Plant tomatillos deeply. The roots of the plant will sprout along the stem so it’s worth accommodating them properly for best results.

The purple tomatillo will grow up to 3 or 4 feet tall. You’ll get the same 3 or 4 feet in width. Make sure you keep your plants 3 feet apart. Space the rows 3 to 4 feet.

You can make use of tomato cages or trellis to give your tomatillos some added support.

If you are looking to cater for your own family cooking only, just 2 to 4 plants will be more than enough.

Growing Purple Tomatillos

If you are just starting out gardening or perhaps you just want something that will grow without too much interference, purple tomatillos make a smart choice.

They are prolific and will keep on producing until they are taken out of commission by the onset of frosts.

Put down about 2 or 3 inches of grass clippings or other organic mulch. This will keep the soil nice and moist while staving off intruding weeds.

Give them an inch or so of water once a week. They are fairly tolerant to drought but they prefer a little moisture.

You don’t need any fertilizer with purple tomatillos.

They really are a breeze to grow and incredibly rewarding.

Harvesting Purple Tomatillos

Once you have transplanted your seeds, you’ll be anywhere from 75 to 100 days from harvest.

When the husks are filled out and look on the verge of splitting, it’s time for harvest.

You can store them in their husks at room temperature for up to a week. If you put them in the fridge, they’ll be fine for as long as 3 weeks.

Make sure you harvest all your tomatillos. Chuck any that are rotten or overripe onto your compost. The last thing you want is self-sown seedlings so do a thorough job at harvesting time.

Maintaining Purple Tomatillos

As you’ve seen, tomatillos are extremely easy to grow.

They very seldom suffer from any insect pest problems or disease.

If you cage the tomatillo plants off the ground, this will keep them out of the reach of slugs and snails, protect them from early blight and allow air to circulate effectively.

Since they are not as heavy as tomatoes, the small wire cages you use for your tomatoes will be perfectly strong enough for your tomatillos as well.

Preparing Your Tomatillos

As with all aspects of the tomatillo, preparation is super-simple.

Just tear off the husks and give the fruits a wash. There is no need to core or seed them.

You can eat them raw or cook them so if you are stuck for inspiration, we’ll point you in the right direction of some mouth-watering recipes before we finish up.

Purple Tomatillo Recipes

tomatillo

Source: Andrea Myers

This site has some tasty purple tomatillo recipes along with great background information on this delicious nightshade.

Wrap-Up

We hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of the purple tomatillo.

One of the real pleasures of gardening is the ability to eat fresh, organic fruit and vegetables lovingly grown with your own hands. Do something different this year and try some tomatillos!

Please feel free to share any of our articles on your social media. If you have any comments or feedback, just get in touch.

Happy growing!

When To Pick Banana Peppers

One of the real advantages of growing a selection of fruit and vegetables in your garden is the chance to eat real organic food without the associated price tag.

Peppers are always a popular choice.

When it comes to hot peppers, this excellent guide breaks down some of the huge number of different types of peppers. They are rated in Scoville units according to how hot they are.

Banana Peppers

banana peppers

Source: Leaf TV

Banana peppers are long and thin fruits. Their skin is waxy and they don’t have too many seeds.

Like with peppers in general, when it comes to banana peppers there are many different varieties. The most common type grown at home, though, are the sweet banana peppers.

As a rule of thumb, you’d be able to harvest your banana peppers perhaps 70 days from transplant.

If you opt for the hot version, you will need a little longer so be patient!

Think about how you will use your peppers in the kitchen and choose the degree of kick accordingly.

Growing Banana Peppers

If you want to grow your peppers outside, start the seeds going indoors 40 days before your intended planting.

To sow, dust some peat pots lightly with soil and pop the seeds under a light.

When it’s about time to transplant your nascent seedlings, make absolutely certain all threats of frost have gone for the year. Banana peppers are intolerant to frosty conditions.

Wait until the soil is around 16 degrees and conditions are perfect.

Choose a spot with nicely-drained soil and a solid 8 hours a day of sunlight and you should have some succulent peppers a couple of months later.

Care and Maintenance of Banana Peppers

If you are looking for a fuss-free crop for your fruit and vegetable garden, banana peppers are definitely pretty low maintenance.

There are, though, a few simple pointers to bear in mind so you can maximize your yield and also the quality of your peppers.

One of the many positives of growing your own produce is the ability to experiment and to get things exactly to your liking.

When the fruit has set, use some garden fertilizer. Peppers grow without too much difficulty but it always pays to give nature a helping hand with a great 12-12-12 mix.

Keep your soil reasonably damp.

Pull out any weeds you notice on an ongoing basis. Standard stuff.

Banana peppers can be menaced by a few commonplace insects:

  • Cutworms
  • Aphids
  • Thrips
  • Flea Beatles
  • Whitefly

A garden soap spray is your best plan of attack against flying pests.

Fitting new plants with a cardboard collar is one tactic you can employ to stave off cutworms and dissuade them from feasting on your peppers before you can!

If you prepare your soil properly before planting, keep overhead watering to a minimum and buy seeds certified disease-free then you should eliminate most of these problems before they occur.

Storing Banana Peppers

There’s no doubt that fresh fruit and veg are tastier and more nutritious so, as far as possible, eat your peppers as close to the time of harvest as possible.

If you want to pop them in the fridge, they should last for a couple of weeks and still deliver a nice punch.

Freezing in Ziploc bags will keep your peppers for six months or so if you want to make sure you’ve got some laid in for emergencies.

Another popular approach is to pickle your peppers. This is particularly effective with the hotter type.

When To Pick Banana Peppers

Usually, it’s time to pick your banana peppers about 70 or 75 days from germination.

Use this as a general guide for the stage at which your peppers should be mature. Soil and climate can both play a part in affecting the rate of maturity.

There are differences when it comes to the best time to pick sweet and hot peppers so we’ll look now at some specifics about each type in turn…

When To Pick Sweet Banana Peppers

sweet banana peppers

Source: The Salad Spot

You can use size as a loose indicator of maturity with sweet banana peppers. When they hit 4 to 6 inches, they are normally good to go. Growing medium and other conditions can influence this but it’s a useful guideline.

When they are in this size range and a nice, deep yellow in color, you make the choice…

Pick them and pop them in a salad or a sandwich. Enjoy them now.

Or…

Leave them to mature a little longer. As they continue to ripen, they will start turning red while becoming ever sweeter. Banana peppers are very flexible.

When you are ready to pick them, make sure that the morning dew is long gone.

You don’t need to go crazy with the garden tools. Some scissors or shears will be perfectly fine. Just snip away and leave roughly 1/4 inch of the stem attached to the pepper fruit.

When To Pick Hot Banana Peppers

banana peppers

Source: Pinterest

Hot banana peppers tend to be slightly more substantial. Their average size for hitting maturity is 6 inches.

Like with the sweeter variety, yellow skin points to the fruit being ripe for picking. If you want to leave them beyond this point, that’s fine.

For hot peppers on the milder end of the scale, pick them when the skin turns yellow.

If you want some banana peppers with a real bite, wait for them to become red.

Use a combination of these timescales and sizes along with your own taste preference. There are no hard and fast rules.

With the hot banana pepper, you can just use your hands and pull them from the plants. Make sure you support the plant sufficiently while you prise away the fruit.

How To Use Banana Peppers

These peppers can be used in a wide range of ways in the kitchen to enhance many meals.

Here are some ideas if you’re stuck…

  • Sauces
  • Chutney
  • Relish
  • Salads
  • Sandwiches
  • Pickles

You can give yourself a taste sensation alongside a nice shot of vitamins A and C.

With banana peppers, you can brighten up your recipes, tease your tastebuds and stay healthy into the bargain.

Wrap-Up

We hope you have found this look at when to pick banana peppers informative.

If you look here, we have plenty of general recipe ideas so you can put to good use the delicious fruit and veg you are growing in your garden.

As always, please drop us a line if you have any queries or feedback. We’re always delighted to hear from our readers.

Please, too, feel free to share any of our articles on your preferred social media channel.

Now be careful those peppers are not too hot!

14

A Complete Guide: How To Grow Strawberries and 10 Best Strawberry Recipes

When you think of warm summer days and eating out in your garden, strawberries are perhaps one of the first fruits that spring to mind.

If you have always wanted to grow this juicy, succulent fruit, you’ve come to the right place.

With this complete guide on how to grow strawberries, you can arm yourself with enough knowledge to have a bountiful supply of bright red berries throughout the growing season.

For anyone already growing strawberries, there’s still plenty of valuable information about all aspects of this superfruit from planting through to harvest and storage.

We’ll also present 10 best strawberry recipes for you so that you can put all your hard work to good use in the kitchen!

Here’s a quick snapshot of what we’ll cover in this guide:

1) How Are Strawberries Good For Health?

Strawberries are well known as a super fruit dripping with health benefits.

We will look here at some of the many ways in which these tasty berries can help your body in more ways than simply tasting delicious.

In no particular order, strawberries can…

  • Work to combat various cardiovascular diseases
  • Enhance brain function
  • Boost the immune system
  • Relieve high blood pressure
  • Naturally fight against some forms of cancer occurring
  • Benefit diabetics

We’ll take a quick glance now at their general nutritional value in a little more detail.

1.1 Nutritional Value

Source: Organic Facts

One of the key selling points of strawberries in terms of health is how rich they are in antioxidants. In a study of American foods, strawberries ranked 27 out of 50 foods in terms of antioxidant properties. When this was reduced to fruits only, strawberries came in at number 4.

The antioxidants mean that this fruit, if consumed frequently, will give your immune system a helping hand, take the sting out of signs of aging and can also help to stave off the onset of some types of cancer.

Strawberries are also stuffed with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients crucial for overall health. What, exactly do they contain?

  • Vitamin C
  • Manganese
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber

1.2 Health Benefits of Strawberries

1.2.1 Strawberries For The Heart

Strawberries For The Heart

Source: Paperstock

Strawberries are packed with fiber and folate while containing no fats. With elevated levels of antioxidants and vitamin C, they help to very efficiently reduce cholesterol in your vessels and arteries.

There’s also some vitamin B present and this will invigorate your cardiac muscles promoting better heart function.

If you want a heart-pack second to none, don’t stint on the strawberries!

1.2.2 Brain Function and Strawberries

Memory and motor control progressively worsen as you age. This aging, whether natural or premature, is caused largely by free radicals. The activity of these free radicals causes the brain to degenerate and the nerves to weaken.

Brain Function and Strawberries

Source: Miracle Water

The vitamin C in strawberries helps to neutralize the effect of these dangerous agents. The iodine and potassium they contain also improves cognitive function and blood flow to the brain. Concentration and recall can benefit, too.

Strawberries are thought of as brain food for good reason!

1.2.3 Immune System

Once again, it’s vitamin C which goes some way to strengthening your body’s immune system.

This precious vitamin also stimulates the way white blood cells work. These cells protect you against toxins or foreign bodies.

Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant. The body produces free radicals which can be a factor in many serious health issues from heart disease through to some types of cancer. With over 150% of your vitamin C RDA in a single serving, give your immune system a treat as well as your taste buds.

1.2.4 Blood Pressure and How Strawberries Help

Sodium and other elements can cause high blood pressure. The potassium and magnesium content of strawberries mean they work brilliantly to lower your BP.

Say goodbye to hypertension and ease blood flow with a healthy portion of strawberries on a regular basis.

1.2.5 Strawberries and Cancer

Strawberries are bursting with flavonoids. These flavonoids include vitamin C, kaempferol, quercetin, folate and anthocyanins.

These have significant anticarcinogenic properties and team up to stave off certain cancers and tumors.

Take some strawberries on board each day and slash the chance of lethal cancer cells from metastasizing.

1.2.6 Diabetes

If you suffer from diabetes, you’ll want to eat a low glycemic diet. Strawberries score below 40 on the glycemic index (GI) meaning that, unlike many fruits, you’re safe eating these.

Low in carbs and assisting with keeping your blood sugar levels in check, this super fruit also has fructose which needs no insulin in order to be metabolized.

Strawberries also soothe the stomach, help with both arthritis and gout, ward off aging and protect your eyes.

Amazing Health Benefit of Strawberries cannot be stressed highly enough. Do yourself a favor and make strawberries a core part of your fruit intake.

2) Types and Recommended Varieties of Strawberries

When it comes to choosing the best strawberries to add to your garden, it can seem a bewildering state of affairs.

Varieties of Strawberries

Source: Japanese Info

You have a vast range of different varieties at your disposal but first it pays to double down on the 3 main types of strawberry.

  • Day Neutral Plants
  • Everbearing Plants
  • June Bearing Plants

We will look at these cultivars or types and draw your attention to the best varieties in each category.

After that, we’ll explore some other notable varieties and some key points to consider when choosing the best strawberries for your needs.

Types of Strawberries with Suggested Varieties

2.1 Day Neutral Strawberries

Day Neutral Strawberries

In the world of strawberries, day neutral are a fairly new entry first developed in the 1960s.

When it comes to setting flower buds, this type of strawberry is not dependent on the length of the day. By contrast, everbearing strawberries demand long days to kickstart buds while June bearing need short days.

Day neutrals will yield fruit throughout the full growing season weather conditions permitting. This equates to temperatures below 90F.

There are 3 peak periods of fruiting with day neutrals. These normally fall in June, the middle of July and then late August meaning your crop can be spread out perfectly.

Best Varieties

  • Albion: With large and symmetrical berries, Albions have a deep, intense red coloring both inside and out. The fruit yielded is firm and great for both fresh use and canning
  • Seascape: If you’re looking for reliable and consistently large crops of fruit, give Seascape a shot. The large berries are sweet and juicy. While they are great eaten fresh, they are particularly suitable for preserves or jellies
  • Tribute: Tribute strawberries deliver medium berries that are sweet with a deep flavor. They are very vigorous and highly resistant to disease

2.2 Everbearing Strawberries

The name of this type of strawberry is misleading. You will certainly not get a substantial crop for the duration of the growing season with everbearing fruit.

More realistically, you’ll get 2 or 3 harvests in spring/early summer then towards the end of summer/beginning of fall.

If the conditions are in your favor, you might also manage a small dribble of fruit in between these times.

Best Varieties

  • Fort Laramie: While neither vigorous nor overly productive, Fort Laramie compensates with extremely sweet berries. Hardy, disease-resistant and able to cope with cold winters, this type of strawberry is versatile and rewarding to grow
  • Ozark Beauty: This brisk grower will give you bright red, medium-sized fruit. It will be slightly soft and pretty sweet. It’s a cold hardy variety and a banker as a first year-fruiter
  • Quinault: Among the most popular everbearing varieties, Quinault strawberries are medium-sized and incredibly sweet. The soft fruit is not ideal for freezing. You’ll enjoy 3 primary harvests in spring, summer and fall

2.3 June Bearing Strawberries

With this cultivar, you will only get one harvest each year but it should be a bumper one!

June Bearing Strawberries

Source: Foodies Channel

Again, the name can be deceptive. The plants might produce at different times depending on where in the world you are.

These types of strawberries are sometimes known as short day strawberries. They need shorter days so that the flower buds will start developing in time for cropping the following spring.

Best Varieties

  • Chandler: The berries will come large and early. If you let them ripen fully, the flavor really is first-rate. Chandler strawberries are very popular with commercial growers
  • Earliglow: Earliglow strawberries are great at warding off diseases. Although the berries come out a little on the small side, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding flavor and a highly productive plant
  • Hood: If you want to eat fresh strawberries, Hood makes a smart choice. They are not so great for freezing so bear this in mind. This type produces early and they are incredibly resistant to disease

2.4 Some Other Recommended Varieties

Here are some other superb varieties that you might want to think about.

Those plants marked AGM have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit. This great article explains this in more detail.

Some Other Recommended Varieties

Source: YouTube

  • Alice AGM: Midsummer cultivar. Sweet and juicy, highly disease-resistant
  • Aromel AGM: A very tasty perpetual variety
  • Cambridge Favorite AGM: Traditional mid-season favorite with juicy texture and delicious taste. Can run into snags with diseases
  • Elsanta: The most commonly grown commercial cultivar. The flavor of this bright red fruit is divine. Like Cambridge Favorite, though, you might suffer some issues with diseases
  • Florence: This late summer strawberry is not prone to disease and tastes sublime
  • Pegasus AGM: A very reliable mid-season cropper, this cultivar resists most diseases including verticillium wilt and mildew

2.5 What To Think About When Choosing Strawberries

There are a few essential factors to think about if you want to get the best strawberries for your personal requirements…

Fruit: Size

The Big Strawberry

Source: The Big Strawberry

If you are looking for big berries then June bearing plants are probably your best bet.

Opt for day neutral or everbearing if size is not your overriding concern.

Fruit: Flavor

When it comes to flavor, you are advised to think about the variety rather than type.

Growing Space Needed

June bearing strawberries are generally the most vigorous. They kick out lots of runners which can take root as new plants if not removed.

If you have limited space, give these a swerve.

Climate

Day neutral and everbearing varieties are only likely to offer extended production in temperatures less than 90F.

Unless you have mild summers, reduce your expectations with these varieties.

Yield

The most productive strawberries are June bearing plants.

So…

Think about the above points and make sure you get the type and variety of strawberry that suits your own personal taste.

And remember…

You don’t need to choose just one!

3) Planting Strawberries

Once you have decided upon the best type and variety of strawberries, it’s time to get to work in the garden and plant them.

You don’t need much by the way of expensive garden tools but you do need to know what you’re doing so take the time to inform yourself and read on…

Before we outline what to do, a couple of quick videos that we highly recommend you check out.

For those of you who prefer to learn by watching rather than reading, finding the best videos can be an overwhelming task.

This video is a very short and sweet guide to planting.

It’s always good to have a couple of takes on a subject so this video approaches the same subject of planting strawberries and is also only a couple of minutes long.

3.1 When To Grow Strawberries

Determining the best time to plant strawberries is pretty straightforward.

If you plant them any time from late spring to the beginning of summer, they will bear fruit about two months after planting.

Don’t be concerned at the appearance of the runners. They resemble small roots with very few leaves. This is normal.

3.2 How To Plant Strawberries

First, a step-by-step summary of  general strawberry planting

1. Look for somewhere that’s warm with plenty of sun. Strawberries thrive on direct sunlight and they don’t need shade. A little wind is fine but they should always be sheltered from the prevailing wind

How To Plant Strawberries

Source: Dr Max Lingo

​2. Make sure you turn the soil over thoroughly. Eliminate all weeds. Add plenty of compost

turn the soil

Source: Sustainable NoVA

3. Take the plant out of the container. After soaking the root ball for a couple of hours, you’re good to go

Take the plant out of the container

Source: Pinterest

4. Dig a hole in your soil and pop the strawberry plant in. Keep the crown of the plant up above the soil line

Dig a hole in your soil

Source: Strawberry Plants

5. Press the soil all around the base of your plant

Press the soil all around

Source: Tui Garden

6. Repeat as necessary

Planting can take so many forms that you are best to watch plenty of videos, think about how you want to go about it, be that soil or containers, and take it from there.

There are a huge number of systems used across the world for raising strawberries commercially. The two most popular are:

  • Matted Row System
  • Hill System

Each of these systems needs different cultivation techniques and garden tools as well as different planting densities.

Matted Row System

Matted Row System

Source: Strawberry Plants

With matted row production, the mother and daughter are allowed to grow side by side.

Plants are then trained so that they grow in narrow rows.

Set your plants between 15 and 25 inches apart. The rows should be 36 to 42 inches apart. Runners will fill in the space between plants until a 14 to 18 inch row is created.

The production cycle is two years. Spacing is not so dense as with the hill system. With the matted row system, you should have around 40,000 plants per hectare.

This method is not as intensive and produces lower yields than the hill system but it’s also cheaper and very widely used, especially in cooler climates.

Hill System

Hill System

Source: Strawberry Plants

With the hill system – also known as plasticulture – the crowns are used to produce fruit. Runners are removed so that the plant will focus purely on production.

Plants are transplanted and placed in raised beds then covered with plastic. Raised bed production improves soil drainage.

Using this system, the plants are 10 to 18 inches apart. A runner is allowed to start a new plant between the two mothers. This will keep the plants 8 inches apart.

They are planted quite densely – anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 plants per hectare – which leads to predictably high yields.

4) Taking Care of Strawberries

Having got your strawberries up and running, taking care of them well is essential.

4.1 Fertilizer

Fertilizing your strawberries correctly can mean the difference between a mediocre harvest and a really bountiful one.

Before Planting

It’s a smart move to ascertain that the soil where you will plant your strawberries will get adequate sun and that it will drain nicely.

Fertilize this year before planting.

Fertilize

Source: My Little Garden In Japan

Use 1 pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for every 100 square feet of space. This should contain equal parts potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen. Work it 5 to 8 inches into your soil.

If you provide a rich and fertile environment for your strawberry plants right from the get-go, they’ll have all the nutrients they could hope for from the moment they touch the soil.

Year 1

Any time during the first year your strawberries look green or show signs of weakening, pop 1.5 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer for every 100 square feet alongside the plants.

In late August, add the same amount of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Again, set this against the plants.

You should use a hose to spray your fertilizer. By concentrating on the soil, the roots will absorb it effectively.

Years 2 and 3

You will generally get three years growing strawberries in the same spot. After this, leaf diseases tend to occur.

In the lead-up to the second and third growing seasons, take off the foliage and use this as a natural fertilizer by mixing it into the soil.

A pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer for each 100 square feet should follow.

When you move to a new location, repeat the above cycle.

Extra Fertilizing

Commercial fertilizers work well with strawberry plants.

You can also use organic alternatives.

Bonemeal is an excellent slow-release phosphorous fertilizer tailor-made for strawberries. Steam it first for best results.

Commercial fertilizers

Source: Patio of Pots

Dried blood will deliver an immediate jolt of nitrogen.

Crushed eggshells can be introduced as a way of deterring slugs and snails while also releasing valuable calcium.

4.2 Watering

Watering

Source: Love To Know

Water your strawberries regularly but with a light touch. You can increase the frequency when the weather gets particularly hot and dry.

When you water, focus on the base of your plants rather than the leaves and fruits. This will help to prevent disease. Drip lines, direct-point watering or drip tape all safeguard against splashing the leaves and fruits.

The best time to water is in the morning so all the surface water will be gone by the evening.

4.3 Weeding

Strawberries have quite shallow root systems meaning they do not flourish if there are weeds around. Take action and get rid of these as soon as possible.

  • Pull out weeds by hand whenever you see them. Monitor your strawberry patch daily as weeds often spring up overnight
  • Use a trowel to dig up any weeds that are deep-rooted
  • Use herbicides with great care and only if you are convinced they won’t touch the plant or the soil near the plant’s roots. Check that it is appropriate for use on foods
  • Add some mulch to your strawberry patch. Make this 2 inches thick. Organic mulch like wood chippings is great as it will break down and add nutrients to the soil. Wheat and oat are also good options. Don’t use rock mulch as this can cause the leaves to burn when heat is reflected
Weeding

Source: YouTube

For more information on How to kill chickweed in your garden, please check my friend's article here.

4.4 pH

pH measurements indicate acidity and alkalinity. 7 is neutral while smaller numbers indicate acidity.

Strawberries need soil of between 5.5 and 6.5 pH.

Weeding

Source: Ultimate Finish

You can easily check your soil using cheap soil testing kits.

If you find that your soil is too alkaline, this can be easily acidified by adding sulfur, ammonium sulfate or ferrous sulfate six months before the planting season.

5) Top Mistakes To Avoid With Strawberries

Gardening is not an exact science but there are always common mistakes that can be quite easily avoided.

We will investigate now some of the most frequent slip-ups with strawberries that can be easily prevented.

5.1 Watch Out For Contamination

When you are considering where to plant your strawberries, make sure to avoid soil where certain other crops have previously been planted.

Enemies of strawberries include:

The above crops can actually foster soil pathogens. These can adversely affect the new crop so tread with caution.

5.2 Get It Right When Planting

It pays to get things right straight off the bat and, having sidestepped choosing the wrong location, it’s key that you take sensible steps when planting.

If you study the base of the plant, you’ll see a swollen area with the roots and leaves. This is called the crown.

crown

Source: Whole Lifestyle Nutrition

When you plant, the center of the crown should be at the level of the soil. This will mean that half of the crown is up above the soil and the other half below. The roots should be nicely spread out, the upper roots under the surface of the soil.

Once you have done this, be sure to recheck when you have watered and the soil has settled.

Plant too deep and the crown is liable to rot. Make it too shallow and the roots will dry up, wither and die.

5.3 Go Easy On The Water

It can be tempting to go over the top when watering but with strawberries this will be counterproductive, even damaging.

If you are heavy-handed with the water then the crown and root are likely to rot. This is made even worse if the crown is too deep – see the warning above – or you suffer from poor drainage in your garden.

Less is more. Aim for reasonably moist rather than wet soil.

5.4 Watch For Viruses

When it comes to strawberries, don’t cut corners and try using starts from old plants. There’s every chance that they could have become infected with viruses.

The bad news is that you can’t detect this by eye. You’ll only find out when the fruit production fails to deliver.

Buy new plants and make absolutely sure that they are certified as virus free. It would be a shame to waste all your time and effort just to save a few cents.

6) Pests and Diseases: Keep Your Strawberries Safe

Once you are up and running, it pays to remain very vigilant with your strawberries.

Sadly, these plants are prone to being threatened by a diverse range of pests and diseases.

We will summarize some of the main bugbears.

6.1 Pests

Birds

From eating bugs, leaves and seedlings through to the fruit and vegetables, birds can be a menace for strawberry plants.

Pigeons are a particular nuisance.

crown

Source: Wikipedia

You can use fleece or netting to stave off intruding birds to some extent.

Regular measures such as scarecrows and other devices designed to scare birds can sometimes work for a while but they become less effective quite quickly.

Horticultural-grade fleece or mesh is by far your best option.

Nematodes

Nematodes

Source: Garden Web

Strawberry plants are at risk from several nematodes…

  • Root-Knot Nematodes
  • Foliar Nematodes
  • Stem Nematodes
  • Free-Living Root Nematodes
  • Root Cystenematodes

Caterpillars

Subterranean caterpillars can attack your strawberry plants.

Nematodes

Source: Backyard Nature

Year round pests varying in size, they attack young plants under the surface feasting on their roots.

At night, they will prey on the parts of the plant above the ground.

You should be able to easily see them and remove them. Be vigilant.

Mites

Mites

Source: Wikipedia

The strawberry mite can suck the leaves of strawberry plants.

You’d need a magnifying glass to see them and they resemble tiny drops of water.

These mites cause the leaves to shrink and the growing point becomes a dull blue.

The short and stubby stems produced will not properly develop.

The two-spotted spider mite is the usual culprit when the leaves of your plant have yellow patches on the top.

6.2 Diseases

Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew

Source: Ontario Ministry of Agriculture

If you spot a whitish deposit a little like talcum powder on the surface of your leaves, this is probably powdery mildew.

An attack of this will cause the leaves to stop growing properly then shrivel away.

  • Solution: Make sure you keep the soil moist (but not too wet). Stick to cool places for growing. You can use either sulphur-based sprays or fish and plant oils

Grey Mold

If you have sown your strawberries densely and notice some of the seedlings collapsing, it could be grey mold that’s to blame.

Damaged plants are normally affected but it can sometimes also afflict healthy strawberries.

Look out for a grey mold on the buds or leaves, fruit or flowers.

If you don’t take action, your plants might die.

  • Solution: When you sow, do so thinly. Don’t plant where it’s too cool. Remove any plants with grey mold and dispose of them. Avoid overcrowding. Most fungicides will be ineffective

Vine Weevil

The adult weevil will eat away at the edges of leaves while the larvae feast on the roots.

An attack of weevils can kill a plant outright.

  • Solution: Use Scotts or Provado Vine weed killer. Apply this directly to the compost

Fungal Leaf Spot

If you notice brown and purple spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of fungal leaf spot.

Check for accompanying yellow rings.

Monitor for any spreading of discoloration.

  • Solution: Remove any leaves affected. Ventilate well

Leathery Rot

If your plants become wounded, they are at risk of being penetrated by this fungus.

The root neck will go a red-brown color.

Within a very short period, this can spread and kill the strawberry plant.

  • Solution: Use good, healthy planting material to help prevent leathery rot

Wilt Disease

Wilt disease is also known as verticillium albo-atrum.

This is a vascular disease.

Fungi enter through the roots or the stolons.

Discolored leaves will go a dull kind of greenish-yellow.

Stunted growth can lead to small, dry fruits.

So…

We will now move on towards the best way to harvest strawberries and also how to store them for best results.

7) Harvesting and Storing Strawberries

7.1 How To Harvest Strawberries

When all the hard work has been done and it’s time for harvest, there’s some good news…

Harvesting your crop of strawberries couldn’t be easier!

Harvesting

Source: How To Grow Foods

  • Don’t squeeze ripe berries. Instead, use your thumbnail to pinch the stem
  • Pick any ripe berries every 2 or 3 days. If any berries have green tips, leave them as they are not yet ready. Wait a day or two and the taste will be worth holding on for
  • Make sure you clear all remnants of berries from the plants. Leaving them there will encourage rot
  • Harvesting each variety will take at least a couple of weeks. If you have too many berries, you might need to think about storing them…

7.2 How To Store Strawberries

Strawberries are super-soft and delicate so you need to take care when storing them.

Don’t wash them in advance of using them. Strawberries absorb moisture and they will spoil more quickly if washed.

Leaving the stems intact will help to prolong the shelf life of your strawberries.

They say that one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. The same is true with strawberries. Remove any perished fruit immediately or it might damage the others.

If you plan to eat your bounty on the same day, simply keep them on the counter at room temperature.

For strawberries you want to eat over the following days, try the crisper drawer of your fridge. This will regulate humidity and keep your berries from drying out. Stash them in a half-closed plastic container. Paper towels are a great way to mop up surplus moisture. With this method of storage, they’ll last up to a week.

Freezing strawberries is also possible so you can enjoy a supply year-round. Take off the stems then freeze on some baking parchment until solid. Use a Ziploc bag or airtight container for best results.

Here’s a handy video to give you some pointers on storing your strawberries.

storing your strawberries

Source: PBS Org

8) Renovating Strawberries

Now…

Once you have your strawberries in full flow, you’ll want to renovate them by renewing or simply maintaining the beds.

  • Day Neutral Beds: Replace after 3 years
  • Everbearing and June Bearing Beds: Renew

Maintenance kicks in directly after the final strawberry harvest.

8.1 When Is Strawberry Harvest?

When Is Strawberry Harvest

Source: LinkedIn

  • Day Neutral and June Bearing Plants: These produce over a period of 2 or 3 weeks. Harvest falls anywhere from March to June depending on climate
  • Everbearing Plants: Everbearing strawberries keep on producing throughout the summer. Crops can be distinct or continuous

8.2 Test Your Soil

Test Your Soil

Source: Soil Test

Check your soil when harvest is over following the guidelines set out above.

8.3 Thinning and Cutting

Once harvest is over, cut back all your plants to 2 inches in height.

Make sure you get rid of any weeds before renovation.

How To Thin Strawberries: Matted Row System

  • For matted rows on the ground, just use a lawnmower to cut back your plants
  • For matted rows in raised beds, cut by hand
  • Narrow the rows by hoeing
  • After this, yank out the least healthy plants. Aim for 5 strong plants per square foot

How To Thin Strawberries: Hill System

  • Use garden scissors or shears to cut back the plants to 2 inches above their crowns

For both methods, rake away all leaves and compost them if the strawberries are free from disease.

8.4 Fertilizer

Fertilizer

Source: Gardening Know How

Pick your fertilizer according to the soil test you conducted.

After applying the fertilizer, check all the leaves and brush off any excess on the surface.

Water in nicely.

8.5 Cultivation

Have you been using organic matter as mulch? If so, turn it back into the soil or pop it on your compost pile. Take care not to damage any shallow roots.

8.6 Rotation

Rotating your crops regularly is good gardening practice.

As outlined above, strawberries are particularly susceptible to Wilt’s Disease. Frequent rotation is one way to guard against this.

  • Rotate your strawberries to a new location every 3 years
  • Avoid planting them where cross-contamination could occur. This is where the solanaceous plants mentioned above have been previously planted

Follow these simple pointers and maintaining your strawberries need not cause you a headache.

9) The 10 Best Strawberry Recipes

Now that you have done all the hard work, it’s time to reap the rewards.

We present for you here 10 imaginative recipes with strawberries.

1. Strawberry Pavlova

Strawberry Pavlova

Source: BBC Good Food

Pavlova is a classic, light dessert ideal for hot summer’s afternoons.

If you’re fairly confident in the kitchen, whip up a delicious meringue and top it with strawberries and perhaps some redcurrants for a sumptuous and decadent pudding.

The strawberries work very well with the tart redcurrants although you can substitute these for a fruit of your choice to mix things up.

2) Summer Pudding

Summer Pudding

Source: Jamie Oliver

The young British chef Jamie Oliver consistently comes up with tasty, simple recipes that even those who aren’t so confident in the kitchen can master.

This classic Summer Pudding is heaped with berries and not just mouth-wateringly good but also extremely low in fat and has just 200 calories per serving.

Take the trouble to whip up this feast of flavors and nobody will have to go without dessert because of their waistline.

3) Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry Ice Cream

Source: Nigella Lawson

On a scorching day, there’s no substitute for ice cream. Making it at home is not as difficult as you might think.

Nigella Lawson shows you how to whip up some natural strawberry ice cream without needing any equipment beyond a standard food processor.

Although you can get some truly delectable ice cream from the store these days, little compares with the homemade version.

4) Caramelised Strawberry Dipping Kebabs

Caramelised Strawberry Dipping Kebabs

Source: Jamie Oliver

Another scrumptious recipe from Jamie Oliver next, this time caramelised strawberry dipping kebabs perfect for a summer BBQ.

Jamie likens these kebabs to toffee apples and the way in which the mascarpone, caster sugar and limoncello caramelise will certainly remind you of those sticky treats.

The good news is that they are very low in fat and carbs so you can treat yourself without feeling guilty.

Use these as a perfect complement to a savory BBQ.

5) Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Source: Betty Crocker (Recipe) and All Recipes (Image)

Smoothies are becoming more and more popular and strawberry with banana is a legendary combination.

This couldn’t be much simpler to blitz and blend. Just add some skim milk and natural yoghurt to your fruit and you’re good to go.

Whatever time of the day, a nutritious smoothie always goes down well.

6) Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam

Source: All Recipes (Recipe) and Cook Diary (Image)

No selection of the best strawberry recipes would be complete without a jam.

With just 10 minutes of preparation and 5 minutes cooking, you can put this preserve together however busy you are.

With this version, you can sidestep the fiddly task of bathing the jars in hot water. Simply pop your jam in the freezer for 24 hours then you’ll be all set to use it on toast, in sandwiches or any other way that takes your fancy.

7) Pimm’s Strawberry

Pimm’s Strawberry

Source: The Bar

After a tough week at work, unwinding in the garden with a tall glass of Pimm’s is a wonderful way to relax.

The sweetness of the strawberries marries well with the tang of the mint. Throw in the Pimm’s and some lemonade and you can edge towards your weekend with a taste of Britain in your glass.

8) Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse

Source: Snapguide

Much like jam, strawberry mousse is one of the first recipes you associate when you think of cooking with strawberries.

If you are on the lookout for a light but rich dessert, simply put together the simple ingredients and leave to chill for between 4 and 6 hours in the fridge.

If you have guests for the weekend, this mousse will easily keep for a couple of days so pull one out of the refrigerator whenever you’re feeling puckish!

9) Mini Victoria Sponges with Strawberries and Clotted Cream

Mini Victoria Sponges with Strawberries and Clotted Cream

Source: Hungry Hinny

This magnificent recipe from Hungry Hinny is a twist on the classic Victoria Sponge which swaps out whipped cream for clotted cream.

With a light and delicate sponge and a filling of fresh strawberries as well as a good smearing of strawberry jam, you can nibble away on these mini sponges for a real burst of creamy, fruity flavor.

10) Strawberry and Lemonade Lollipops

Strawberry and Lemonade Lollipops

Source: Confectious Candy

To round out our best 10 strawberry recipes, something for the children. Perhaps some of the adults too!

There are few things to rival an intense lollipop on a scorching day and making these at home will save you a trip to the store.

With only three ingredients, you can even teach your kids how to make these fantastic treats just be sure to supervise them carefully.

Then relax and cool down with a top-notch lollipop bursting with flavor.

10) DIY Strawberries

We will round out our best guide to strawberries with a look at 4 different ways to do it yourself with this awesome summer fruit.

DIY Strawberry Patch

DIY Strawberry Patch

Source: DIY Network

At DIY Network, you can follow simple instructions to get straight down to business with a strawberry patch in your garden.

From purchasing plants through to harvest, this bite-sized guide is ideal if you already know a reasonable amount about strawberries.

DIY Strawberry Tower

DIY Strawberry Tower

Source: Country Living

Country Living offer a novel way to grow strawberries at home.

The recyclable water tower with a water reservoir is an attractive and effective way to bring on strawberries in a limited space to striking effect.

DIY Grow Bags and Planters

DIY Grow Bags and Planters

Source: B&Q

At this DIY site, you can get plenty of handy information about using grow bags and planters to grow strawberry plants.

DIY Vertical Strawberry Garden

DIY Vertical Strawberry Garden

Source: Porch

This incredible vertical strawberry garden will raise your strawberries nicely keeping them safe from pests and excess water.

You can also check out 6 other innovative ways to grow a stack of strawberries and create a powerful decorative piece for your garden at the same time.                                                                                                          

If you grow strawberries in a tower, why not try using coconut coir as your growing medium?

Unlike soil, coir contains no pathogens. Coir has helpful fungi rather than potentially harmful ones.

Rich in trichoderma and lignin, coir helps you get the right balance of bacteria.

Coir retains water well and has a superb draining capacity. You’ll need to water your strawberries less often.

Why not give some coconut coir a shot?

Wrap-Up

Well, we hope you have enjoyed this walkthrough guide to the best strawberries.

Please bookmark this page for future reference. Our aim is to give you all you need to know about strawberries in one handy guide.

Whether you want to grow strawberries using a grow tent and digital ballast​ or out in your garden, you should have everything you need to know right here. Bookmark this page and come back to it for future reference.

Get in touch if you have any feedback and please feel free to share this article on your social media.

Keep coming back for more in-depth guides, handy hints and great product reviews for the gardening tools that make your life easier.

Now go and get yourself some strawberry ice cream and relax!

Read more article for growing houseplants

1

Male and Female Peppers: Fact or Urban Myth?

Today, we have access to so much information online. Never before, though, has it been so important to check multiple sources and separate fact from fiction, to weed out the wheat from the chaff.

Have you ever heard someone claim that peppers come in male and female forms? Google it and the second result on page 1 states quite clearly that this is the case…

But it isn’t!

What Is The Myth About Male and Female Bell Peppers?

male and female peppers

If you grow your own fruit and vegetables, chances are you’ll have some peppers somewhere in your organic crop.

One of the first mistakes people make with peppers is to believe that they are vegetables when they are actually fruits. Much like a tomato, we do not naturally associate them with the more commonplace fruits but that’s exactly what they are.

A further theory often put forward is that peppers can be separated by gender. Like many theories, just because it is often repeated does not mean it’s true.

The story goes that the number of lobes on the pepper determines the sex. The theorists claim that 3 lobes signals a male pepper while peppers with 4 are female.

To take it further, the suggestion is that male peppers are better to cook with while the females, sweeter and filled with more seeds, are preferable eaten raw.

Sounds pretty plausible, right?

Wrong!

What Does The Number of Lobes Actually Mean?

are peppers male and female

 

There is certainly no relationship between the number of lobes and the gender of peppers. Bell peppers can have anywhere from 2 to 5 lobes whereas the urban myth says that they can have only 3 or 4.

Rather than pointing to gender, the number of lobes actually indicates the type of bell pepper. The US is obviously a huge market and the peppers with 4 lobes are for various reasons the most popular in America. For this reason, many more of these have been bred.

Peppers are members of the nightshade family. All members of this family have both stamens and carpels. This means that their reproductive systems are both male and female. The flowers they create are therefore unisex or hermaphroditic.

So…

Peppers are genderless rather than identifiable as male or female. This is not true of many plants which have both male and female flowers, whether they grow on the same plant or separately.

Are “Female” Peppers Sweeter Or Is This Another Myth?

The sweetness or sourness of a pepper has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of lobes.

4 key factors influence this and it’s not due to the quantity of lobes or gender…

  1. How long you decided to leave your peppers on the vine
  2. The particular type of pepper
  3. The variety of soil in which they’re grown
  4. Weather conditions

Properly aged bell peppers are always going to be sweeter regardless of the lobe count.

Are There More Seeds In Bell Peppers With 4 Lobes?

This part of the story holds some water.

Seeds need plenty of space in which to grow. Peppers with more lobes have more cavity space and therefore often – but not always – this variety of pepper has more bountiful seeds.

The white tissue and seeds can be contained within one chamber or several different chambers. Again, the number of chambers does not always guarantee more seeds but there is certainly more chance of an increased number with this 4-lobe pepper.

Wrap-Up

They say the best lies have more than a grain of truth in them.

The same is the case with urban legends. When you examine the evidence, it’s easy to see why people are tricked into believing this myth.

Experts have weighed in and poured scorn on this Pinterest and Facebook-fuelled rumour…

David Karp (UC Riverside) is a renowned pomologist – someone who studies fruits – and he gave his opinion on this issue back in 2013. You can read here his assertion that peppers are without gender.

The lesson to be learned is to always check your sources and not to believe everything you read, especially when it’s information found online.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions. Also, if you have any other topics you’d like us to investigate, feel free to send us your ideas as we are here to give you exactly what you want.

The Beefmaster Tomato Unveiled

When it comes to tomatoes, it could be argued that the beefmaster tomato is king of the garden.

Think about the enormous juicy specimens that win prizes at fruit and veg contests… chances are that the succulent red behemoth

Chances are that the succulent red behemoth claiming first spot is a beefmaster.

While these impressive tomatoes can easily grow to weights of 1 – 1.5 pounds, it’s not just in terms of size that they stand out. They also very heavy-bearing. This means maximum yields over the course of a long growing season on indeterminate vines.

How To Grow Beefmaster Tomatoes

beefmaster tomato

Choose Your Variety

You’ll want to pick the best type of beefmaster for the climate in your area.

If you have a shorter growing season like in the northern states, opt for early harvest tomatoes. This will guarantee you the optimum harvest. These early season beefmasters will ripen very rapidly. They should be in great shape for picking just 4 months after sowing the seeds.

In zones with hot, sticky climates like the southern states, look for strains that are very tolerant to heat. It’s also a smart move to stick to varieties which can resist blossom-drop.

Regardless of the weather, you’ll need to provide your tomatoes with a good 6 hours of sunlight each day for best results.

Determinate or Indeterminate?

beefmaster tomato indeterminate vine

What you need to think about is whether you will harvest the whole crop in one go or piecemeal over the course of the growing season.

  • Determinate: These plants grow into bushes around 1m high. All the fruit will be set in a matter of a few weeks. Determinates are the best choice if you want to can your fruit.
  • Indeterminate: This type of beefmaster tomato will grow as a vine. It will need some staking and keeps on growing throughout the season.
  • Semi-determinate: Some people want the best of both worlds and this is where semi-determinates come to the fore. This variety remain small enough to grow in containers but they will keep bearing as the season progresses. Orange Paruche and Sweet ‘n Neat Scarlet Improved are excellent semi-determinates

Starting Your Tomatoes

A couple of months before the final frost is due, start your tomatoes indoors.

You can get plenty of seed starter kits to help you.

Aim for a temperature of around 75 degrees. If your room is cooler, use a heat mat to counteract this. 14 hours of light a day will promote accelerated growth. Fluorescent lights are best but a window with natural light will suffice.

Planting

beefmaster tomato

2 Weeks Before Transplanting

  • Work over your soil thoroughly
  • Chuck in plenty of compost and a dose of fertilizer
  • Cover soil with plastic to stave off any weeds

10 Days Before Transplanting

  • Get your plants used to the outside world by taking them out for a couple of hours each day. Place them in the shade
  • Gradually increase the length of time they are outside until they remain outdoors in their pot overnight
  • Bring them inside if there’s any real cold snap

At The Time of Planting

  • Bury your stem when planting almost to the lowest batch of leaves. Allow just a few leaves to stay above ground
  • Strip off all the underground leaves. Cover the stem but be gentle to avoid breaking it
  • Once your tomatoes are in, mulch liberally to see off any weeds. This will also keep the soil nice and moist
  • If you have grown tomatoes, eggplants or peppers the previous year, steer clear of this area when growing. Their presence can deplete the soil while leaving diseases behind so start afresh somewhere else in the garden
  • Do not use too much fertilizer
  • Be sure to protect your beefmasters from any rogue frost

Some Handy Growing Tips For Beefmaster Tomatoes

  1. Prepare your soil early. Use some non-biodegradable mulch. This will provide valuable nutrients. In the spring, all you’ll need to do is turn over the soil lightly. Cover this with plastic for best results
  2. Tarps work well for protecting your beefmasters against frost
  3. As the fruit sets, water your plants regularly until almost ripe. Stick to the same rate of watering throughout the growing season. Taper off right at the end to enhance the flavor and reduce wateriness
  4. Wait until your tomatoes are red and full before picking them

Pests to Watch Out For

beefmaster tomato pests cutworm

Pests and disease will lead to holes and spots blighting your leaves.

For nematodes, use chemicals to drive them away.

Cutworm shields work wonders at keeping cutworms at bay.

Hornworms are perhaps the most common threat to tomatoes. The good news is that you can simply pick them off by hand.

Wrap-Up

If you are looking for a wonderful variety of beefsteak tomato that will result in truly striking specimens, why not roll out some beefeater tomatoes this year?

If you have any questions at all, just give us a shout and we’ll be delighted to help.

Enjoy your enormous bounty of beefmasters and happy planting!

Guamuchiles: The Manila Tamarind Fruit

The guamuchile (Phithecellobium Dulce) fruit comes from the guamuchil tree of the Bean Family.

The tree originated from Mexico. It is also native to Central and South America.

Guamuchiles grow from 16 feet to 49 feet (4.87m to 14.92m) tall.

There is actually much controversy regarding the real name of this unusual tree.

guamachiles manila tamarind

Source: Fruitipedia

Early Spanish traders brought guamuchile fruit to the Philippines where the locals came to call it the Camachile.

This introduced species was first thought to have Indian heritage. This is because at the beginning of the 18th century, some European explorers incorrectly recorded it as a product from Madras, India. Here the guamuchile was named the Madras Thorn so the confusion is understandable.

Later, though, evidence was uncovered to suggest that the Spanish invaders brought the fruit to the Americas in 1650 and introduced it there as the Manila Tamarind giving recognition to the Philippines’ capital where they exported the fruit from. The guamuchile bears a striking similarity to tamarind fruits.

Thus, that is how the fruit has become more commonly known now as the Manila Tamarind and not by its original guamuchile name.

Guamuchiles grow extremely abundantly in the Philippines. It is only in the Philippines that the guamuchile is grown for its fruit. Fruit bearing time falls between February and May.

From the Philippines, guamuchiles were then exported to Africa, the Middle East and neighboring Southeast Asian countries. It is known throughout as the Manila Tamarind except in China where it is renamed Niu ti Dou. In Thailand it is called referred to as Foreigner Tamarind.

Texture

Compared to the usual tamarind fruit which are sour in taste, the guamuchile/Manila Tamarind is sweet. Its color varies from green to pink bean pods whereas the tamarind fruit is often brown in color. Its seed cannot be eaten.

The guamuchile is considered ripe when the skin turns pink and pops open on its own.

Inside it contains a white, pulpy, soft stuff called aril which is the main fruit itself. The fruit becomes even sweeter as it matures. It can also be converted into a delicious beverage.

Health Benefits

Studies show that guamuchile contains a lot of properties beneficial to people’s health.

Here are some of the health benefits this tree offers…

Flowers

The flowers of the guamuchile tree are said to possess anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and antibacterial properties effective for curing fever, general pain, burns, swelling and infections.

Leaves

Extract from its leaves contains anti-oxidants that help cleanse the body from all toxins ingested from food. This ingredient is also used as anti-ulcer agents due to its free radical activities. It has antimicrobial properties due to the alcoholic content that can be extracted from it. Leaf extracts are also said to have anti-diabetic effects. There are studies that attribute the alcohol and hexane extracts to the cure of tuberculosis.

The leaves’ juices are also a very effective astringent. These are also used as abortifacient (abortion drug). The ethanol extracted from the leaves has antidepressant, skeletal and muscle relaxant properties.

Bark

Extracts from the guamuchile bark are a very good cure for constipation, eye inflammation and dysentery. It is also used as an astringent and anti-hemorrhagic agent (stops any bleeding).

Fruits

Guamuchile fruits contain both anti-diabetic and anti-ulcer properties.

Other Facts

In general, guamuchile is something of a miracle tree. There are newer studies linking this tree to the inhibition of cancer cells, particularly prostate and colon cancers.

It is very beneficial in regulating oxygen flow to the brain and reduces the chance of brain strokes.

There are also reports of treating venereal diseases by using this as a cure.

The fruit is rich in vitamin B complex which aids in combating stress and increases appetite. It also has plenty of vitamin C which help strengthens the immune system.

Guamuchile can grow in any tropical places because it is resistance to drought. It spreads rapidly and mainly through the help of the birds that feed on it by dropping the seeds while chewing on its fruits.

Because it survives in dry lands, most of it can be grown just along the roadside. It does not need daily watering or maintenance to flourish.

Conclusion

As with other natural medicinal cures, it is best to consult your doctors first before using guamuchile as an intended cure for anything.

It does not possess any harmful effects but it is better avoided by pregnant women as it contains an abortifacient which can cause miscarriage.

It does not possess any allergens so it is therefore a relatively safe fruit.