how to pinch tomatoes

Weeding Can be Fun!

Beats reading, writing and arithmetic, right?  Nah, I wouldn’t go THAT far, but the kids do seem to enjoy their garden time and work quite well together over the beds as they weed. 

These kids know that if they leave these weeds be, they’ll rob their veggie plants of nutrients and that’s just plain unacceptable.  I mean, these boys and girls know exactly where they planted their seeds and watch over them like hawks!  (Now if only they’d eat grasshoppers like good flying predators do, we’d be all set.) 

Just kidding, kids! 🙂  Plucking them from the leaves will do just fine.  And look at the work they’ve accomplished.  Why this bed was covered with tiny green weeds only moments ago.  But these guys and gals are quick and learned a new method of weeding. 

Basically you put your fingers into the soil and twist.  I call it the roto-rooter method (though I’m not sure exactly why) and it does wonders for unearthing the tiny weeds that prove problematic for tools.  Okay kids, twist and turn, twist and turn, twist and turn–1-2-3!

They do enjoy rhythm in the garden.  They also like helping teach one another the finer points in gardening.  Just look at this young man teaching his fellow students how to pinch tomato plants.  An expert himself now, he has their FULL attention.

And it’s working.  These tomatoes are growing into some real beauties.

But speaking of beauty, these black bean blossoms will give those tomatoes a run for their title as “Most Glorious in the Garden.”  Mother Nature has her gems!

Garden Upkeep

Growing vegetables is exciting indeed.  Planting, harvesting–even weeding can be fun (if you’re creative!).  But one thing that isn’t fun is fungus.  Yep.  You heard me right.  Fungus is no fun and it can kill a plant in no time.  It’s also a common problem for Florida gardeners because our climate is HUMID.  And we have afternoon thunderstorms without warning–another bad deal for our plants, since they already received their daily dose of water.

We can work in harmony with Mother Nature and adjust our watering schedule, but sometimes this isn’t enough.  And one day you walk out to find your pumpkin patch is succumbing to the conditions.  As organic gardeners, there’s not a whole lot we can do except try our best to prevent such catastrophe.  Or react to it as we did this week.  The middle school students removed as much of the dead leaves as possible to prevent spreading and allow more sunlight onto to the otherwise healthy leaves.  Hopefully, our plants will survive and thrive, but at this point, it’s anyone’s guess.

On a brighter note, our black beans are loving life and I’m loving these photos.  Isn’t it amazing?  Almost like you can see them actually growing and developing. Way cool.

Our bean fort is beginning to fill in, too.  This contraption happens to be big fun, despite its drooping “roof.” 

Of course the middle school boys had all sorts of ideas for fixing this drooping issue, but perhaps it’s best to hold off until we have the proper tools and materials (and not borrowing the project materials from fellow students!). 🙂

Another area in need of attention was our sunflowers.  Growing wild and wonderful, these babies need support!  Enter elementary and the fix is in–we used soft green tape and tied them to the fence for support.

As well as bamboo stakes for those off the fence.  Either way will work and help give these gorgeous gals the support they need to grow tall and strong.

Last but not least, our tomatoes needed pinching. 

Pinching?

Pinching.  In order to increase their vigor you want to pinch these little “suckers” (named as such because they suck needless energy/nutrients from the plants main stems) throughout the life of your tomato plant.  Simply spot them and pinch them.  Easy!

Our kindergartners finished out the week by planting stevia.  Stevia is a natural sweetener and is easy to grow, simple to harvest and a snap to use.  In fact, this past spring I used a few leaves from my home herb garden to sweeten the cucumber soup we prepared at school!  Yum.