Current Crop Greenhouse Tomatoes: Oct. 2010

Greenhouse Tomatoes What's happening in the fall greenhouse?

In spite of the normal problems, the fall greenhouse tomatoes are coming along well.  We expect harvest to begin around November 1st. 

So what normal problems are we dealing with?

1- Whiteflies:  After spotting these tiny white insects on the plants I contacted my supplier and ordered Encarsia Formosa, a parasitic wasp that parasitizes the white fly pupae.  Two releases are necessary for good control with a two week interval between releases.

2- Excessive Heat:  Temperatures in the 90's are not favorable to tomato pollination.  As everyone in central NC knows we have endured many days in August and September above 90 degrees F.  As a result fruit-set was slow initially. 

3- Humidity and Disease:   Any experienced NC greenhouse grower knows our late summer hot, humid days create plenty of night-time moisture in the greenhouse.  Our most troublesome tomato disease, powdery mildew, thrives in these moist conditions.  Even though we have been unable to conquer the powdery mildew we have always been able to produce a good crop in spite of it.

4- Cloudy Days:  The arrival of much needed rain brought with it several cloudy days.  In addition to aiding disease growth, cloud cover is also not favorable to tomato pollination.  Again fruit-set has been temporarily hindered.

5- Cool Nights:  Tomatoes need night-time temperatures above 55 degrees F for proper pollination.  With night temperatures expected  to dip into the 40's in a few days it is time to fire up the wood heater.  Exercise, and plenty of it, will be a side benefit of hauling wood and maintaining a fire that will keep our tomatoes cozy.



Food for Thought: Constitution Sacredly Maintained

Bumblebee on wildflower

From George Washington's Farewell Address

George Washington - 1796

 ... I shall carry it with me to my grave as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution which is the work of your hands may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

A Guide to Choosing and Preparing Awesome Food

Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions, is one of my all time favorites.   Sally combines the wisdom of our ancestors and current scientific research to teach us simple methods for preparing delicious, nutrient dense food.  At a time when food based on empty calories is fueling a health care crisis it is time for individuals to wake up.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2000 that obesity-related health care costs alone totaled an estimated $117 billion,  The American Cancer Society reports that many studies have shown links between diet and cancer, and staff at the Mayo Clinic state that diabetes prevention is as basic as losing extra weight and eating more healthfully. Individual responsibility will go a long way toward solving the health care crisis that our nation faces today.  This book can empower you with knowledge to take charge of your health and that of your family.  Remember, your body and your children's bodies are your responsibility.  Please take care of them, they have to last for a lifetime! 

Of the more than 700 delicious recipes contained in Nourishing Traditions these are two of my favorites.

Kimchi (Korean Sauerkraut) made with chinese cabbage, onions, carrots, peppers, ginger, garlic, sea salt and whey from yogurt.  Busy Moms will appreciate the fact that they can just take it out of the refrigerator and serve it on a hot dog or as a side dish, not to mention the fact that it packs a lot of nutrition plus beneficial lactobacilli bacteria.

Chinese Cabbage  Kimchi

Preserved Lemons - a delicious condiment with a nutritional punch.  This simple recipe gives you the advantage of using the whole lemon to create a superb condiment with the added bonus of beneficial lactobacilli bacteria that aid digestion.  I use organic lemons, cinnamon, sea salt and whey

Making Preserved Lemons from yogurt to make this recipe.  Try it on fish or chicken, it is delicious. 

What more could you want?  Both Kimchi and Preserved Lemons are easy to make, nutritious, delicious whole foods and they will keep in the refrigerator for months.

Kimchi, Preserved Lemons, fruits, vegetables, meats, deserts, condiments, and much more - you will find recipes for them  all in Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon.




Eggs: Healthy? You Decide

   Barred Rock Hens My husband and I enjoy eggs from our Barred Rock Hens.  We eat eggs every morning and baked in homemade breads, cakes, pies, cookies and puddings.

   Eggs are a versatile, natural, whole food.  Egg proteins act as binders in your favorite recipes.  They can increase leavening action, especially if they are beaten.  Egg yolks, because they contain fat increase tenderness in baked goods.  They are high in cholesterol, however, they are also high in lecithin, a fat emulsifier that helps break down cholesterol, preventing its build-up in the body.  Eggs contain all known vitamins (except C) and important trace minerals.  They are considered a complete protein because they contain generous amounts of all 8 essential amino acids.  The July Issue of the Harvard Heart Letter explains to us that eggs are a good source of nutrients and that saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels than eggs.

     As you probably know all eggs are not created equal.  As marketers encourage us to buy eggs, cage-free eggs, organic eggs, omega-3 eggs or free range eggs, what are we to choose?  My pick is free range eggs from chickens that spend at least part of their day outside on green areas where they can peck and eat their natural food - insects and green plants. In my opinion the ideal egg would be organic, free range and  raised locally.  Testing done by Mother Earth News  indicates that eggs from chickens that are allowed to free range outside daily are higher in nutrients and lower in cholesterol.  So what do you think? Healthy or not - you decide.

Help solve the Health Care Crisis:   Be informed - Take care of your body, it has to last for a lifetime.





Planting Schedule Review: Sept. - Dec.

Hand shoveled raised bed Applying black plastic to raised bed Chandler Strawberries planted in raised bed

Remember we are in USDA Hardiness Zone 7

I love fresh strawberries from my organic garden in the spring.  September is time to start preparing for these delicious berries.  First I till the area where I want my strawberry bed.  The photo on the left above shows the area and the raised bed I have partially built.  I pull two lines down the length of the area spaced three feet apart to mark the area for my raised bed.  I shovel soil from outside this area onto the bed area to create my raised bed.  When the bed has been built I place two drip water lines on top of the bed about nine inches apart.  In the center photo above black plastic has been pulled across the bed and is being secured by shoveling soil onto the edges.  Chandler Strawberries have been planted in the bed in the photo on the right above.  The first two weeks in October is the ideal time to plant Chandler Strawberries in this area.  They do well when planted in the fall but not so with all strawberries.  The raised bed and black plastic help warm the soil early in the spring which hastens plant growth.

Rye cover crop



Winter cover crops can be planted in October or the first of November.  I usually plant Rye and sometimes Vetch and Austrian Winter Peas.  Cover crops protect the soil and  prevent erosion.  When turned under in the spring they add organic matter to the soil.



Garlic can be planted in November or December.  I have found that this advice concerning garlic works well for me - plant on the shortest day of the year and harvest on the longest day of the year.  Garlic does well in a mulched bed as it does not compete with weeds very well.

Food for Thought: Pardon

Morning Glory

Isaiah 55:6-13 (New International Version)

 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;
       call on him while he is near.

 7 Let the wicked forsake his way
       and the evil man his thoughts.
       Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,
       and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD.

 9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 10 As the rain and the snow
       come down from heaven,
       and do not return to it
       without watering the earth
       and making it bud and flourish,
       so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,

 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
       It will not return to me empty,
       but will accomplish what I desire
       and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

 12 You will go out in joy
       and be led forth in peace;
       the mountains and hills
       will burst into song before you,
       and all the trees of the field
       will clap their hands.

 13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
       and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
       This will be for the LORD's renown,
       for an everlasting sign,

                                                                               which will not be destroyed."

Food for Thought: No Fear - No Worries


Jeremiah 17:7-13 (New International Version)

 7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
       whose confidence is in him.

 8 He will be like a tree planted by the water
       that sends out its roots by the stream.
       It does not fear when heat comes;
       its leaves are always green.
       It has no worries in a year of drought
       and never fails to bear fruit."

Food for Thought: Quaker Edward Burrough

Beautiful Summer Sky
In 1659 Quaker Edward Burrough wrote the following:

We are not for names, nor men, nor titles of Government, nor are we for this party nor against the other...but we are for justice and mercy and truth and peace and true freedom, that these may be exalted in our nation, and that goodness, righteousness, meekness, temperance, peace and unity with God, and with one another, that these things may abound. 

Planting schedule - July & August

Savoy Cabbage    Broccoli    Chinese CabbageCrisp Savoy Cabbage, delicious Broccoli, Chinese cabbage and Collards - It's time to start the fall garden!  


      The first or second week of July I plant broccoli, cabbage, and collard seed in plug trays to grow plants for the home garden.  Also tomato seeds are planted in July to grow plants for the fall crop in the greenhouse.

      My seeds germinate under florescent  lights and once they reach appropriate size I put them in 3 inch pots and take them to the greenhouse.

      Carrot seeds can be planted directly in the garden this month for carrots that will overwinter in the garden.  Garden soil can be amended with peat moss and compost to make a loose bed for carrots to grow in.  I add one pint of lime for each 5 gallons of peat moss to balance the acidity.  Also potatoes can be planted in the garden for fall harvested potatoes.  They may not grow as well as spring planted potatoes but are still good.  I mulch them heavily to keep the soil as cool as possible.


Broccoli  Cabbage, collards and broccoli  Greenhouse tomatoes                            

Remember we are in USDA Planting Zone 7
Fall is a great time to plant those green vegetables.  In our home garden we plant broccoli, collards, savoy cabbage and Chinese cabbage plants in August. Lettuce plants can be planted as well.  It is also a good time to sow seed for mixed greens such as kale, mustard and turnip.  We should be able to harvest these vegetables through mid-winter.

This is also the time we plant tomato plants in the greenhouse for fall tomatoes.  These tomatoes should begin ripening in October and continue through December.  Vine ripened tomatoes for Christmas, what a treat.