Thursday, March 29, 2012

Kitchen gardening - Tips for growing tomatoes

Tomato is the easiest vegetable to grow. When i came to vegetables growing (and i was growing flowers for many years) i was told "If you can not grow tomato, you can not grow any vegetable. Heck! you can not grow anything". I experimented tomato as my first vegetable and i was amazed to see the results. They are easy to grow indeed.

There are types of tomatoes growth and yield wise, the determinate and indeterminate. Determinate varieties stop growth at a certain height and then produce all the fruit at once in one go. Indeterminate varieties keep growing and growing and produce fruits at regular intervals. They are mostly vines or tall plants, need stalking.

Tomatoes in lahore can be grown almost year round except in winter months as tomato is a warm weather vegetable. It needs warmth to form fruits. Almost all tomatoes (except cherry tomatoes) affect from humidity and extreme heat and other adverse conditions. So cherry tomatoes are good for beginners though in cherry tomatoes the fruit size is not as large as in some of the other variates. Beef steak varieties have some of the largest fruits big size giant tomatoes. But they also need more care and effort than cherry ones. Remember, tomatoes can be easily grown in containers!!!!!

Here are some of the tips for successful tomato growing.
1- When transplanting, always bury the whole stem, except first top set of leaves. The stem buried will grow roots as well.
2- Never allow your young plants to go on flowering. If they go to fruiting, the yield will not be good as plant still not has established its root system extensively. I always pinch the buds of my cherry tomatoes, until they get thick stems and many branches. For vine types, side shooting will do the job.
3- High potash in when flowering commences. I feed with NPK 5-15-45 liquid fertilizer. I never damaged any tomato plant with high fertilization. They are always hungry (I grow in pots).
4- Full direct sun in winter and spring. In hot months, i give 5 hours direct morning sun only.
5- There are many beefsteak varieties which yield heavy. Remember cherry ones have more resistance to adverse conditions, pests,heat and humidity.
6- Staking or support is a must for a healthy plant..Tthe distance should be greater than 8-9 inches between every plant in soil bed..
7- You can easily multiply your favorite plant by tip cuttings, they root so easily..
8- Fruits should be checked frequently for any hole and if found, the whole fruit should be plucked immediately as the grubs inside release a pheromone which lure the other pests to lay their eggs on that plant.. 9- In the open pollinated varieties every plant is different so don't expect same yield from every individual plant.. select the better ones and discard others.. multiply the better ones through cuttings..

The most common tomato include Fantastic, Roma VF, T-10, Summer Giant, Bountry, Marglobe, Marmande, Money maker etc but cherry tomatoes are also becoming popular with the passage of time. My favorite varieties include kentucky beef steak, benary cherry tomato, sun gold and gardener's delight etc. There are many varieties of tomatoes suitable for hot and humid climates such as lahore. Tomatoes are also successfully grown in tunnel farming.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lady jane tulip, ranunculus, Dahlia and Petunia flowering

Spring is at full swing and you almost all the annuals are in bloom now. Here are some from my garden.

Tulipa clusiana Lady jane tulip in a container. This is my first warm climate species tulip to bloom for me this spring. I am due to write a post soon on growing tulips in warm climates.
tulip cliusiana lady jane tulip

Ranunculus. Remember those grown from seeds have larger flowers.
Ranunculus asiaticus buttercup

buttercup flower

Ranunculus corm flower

This dahlia is grown from a cutting. Dahlias are easy to grow from cutting as compared to tuber(flowering wise). This is what we call here indian dahlia.
double dahlia

This is Pakistani dahlia, it is grown from seed, mostly single and semi double flowers.
semi double dahlia in container

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Visit to Ahmed Irfan's Garden in Lahore- Pakistan

We will be visiting some beautiful gardeners of Lahore starting this Sunday This is the thread from where this discussion started

Let us start with Ahmed Irfan who resides at Thokar niaz beg.We intend to go this Sunday March 18th, 2012 at around 11am. Those who are interested to go can coordinate with Birg Arif who resides in Gulberg III and has a farm house at thokar niaz beg. His cell number is 0321 4639444.

Every gardener of Lahore is quite welcome. I will post picture soon.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2nd Tulip flower show lahore 2012

Second tulip flower festival was held 16-19 February, 2012 at Royal palm golf club, Lahore, Pakistan. No tickets were required as it was an open event. There were not a lot of people there may be due to lack of publicity of the show but the flowers filled that gap. There were some new varieties of tulips which were not present in the first tulip show last year.Here are those.

This one is Monte. I think most of these are darwin hybirds. My guess is none of the tulips there was species.
tulipa monte

The close up. My favorite picture of the tulip show.
tulipa monte macro

This is monsella is a an early tulip which is also called peony tulip due to its resemblance with peony.
tulipa monsella

tulipa monsella closeup

This is Gerrit Van Der Valk.
tulipa Gerrit Van Der Valk

tulipa yellow hybird

hybird tulip yellow king

tulip darwin hybird

These tulips at the lahore flower show were meant for exhibition and not for naturalizing. Probably early blooming tulips are more suited to naturalizing because late flowering tulips in hot climates like ours never get the time to gather energy for next year survival, this extra time is what makes early blooming tulips more suitable for naturalizing in hot climates. You can check out the coverage of other tulips flower festival on my blog.

I guess the bulbs were pre-chilled as lahore climate requires pre-chilling for tulip flowers. My experiment with species tulips this year is still in progress, will let you know if i am successful in that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kitchen gardening - How to grow Okra (Bhindi)

After tomatoes, Okra (bhindi) is the most easiest vegetable to grow. It loves the heat and humidity. It is delicious and contains many valuable nutrients. Here are some of the tips to grow it successfully.

Okra can grow almost any soil although it does not like heavy soil. Loam(meera) and sandy loam soil is best for yield. Incorporate plenty of organic matter into soil and also place a mulch to retain moisture. Okra likes a PH of over 6.

Okra is mostly grown from seed as it produces crop fairly quickly after sowing the seeds (45 - 55 days). Soak the seeds in water for few hours for better germination. Sow seeds about 2 inches apart and 1 inch deep. Rows should be at least 3 feet apart if you want to walk in between rows. Seedlings will emerge in 1-2 weeks. You can also direct sow the okra seeds.

It is Sown in February for April crop and then again in June/July for September crop. It can also be propagated from cuttings.

Maintain regular watering. Do not let the plant wilt at all. It loves watering specially in summer heat. At the same time, soil must be well drained. Fertilize every 3-4 weeks.

As part of Hibiscus and cotton family, the flowers are large and beautiful. It will be ready to harvest few days after the flowers fall off. Pick it when it is immature and not more than 1/2 inch thick. Length should not be more than 3-4 inches long. Keeping removing the pods (okra) as it will promote good crop.

Best Varieties
The most famous local variety is "Sabz pari". If you want to try imported variety suitable to our local climate then try "Clemson Spineless" and "Emerald". For dwarf try "baby Bubba" and "sweet Lucy".

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kitchen gardening - Hybird, heirloom and OP varieties

A hybrid vegetable is result of cross-pollination between two genetically different parent plants. Plant breeders develop hybrids to increase disease resistance, to improve yield, or to select for special fruit traits such as color, aroma, taste, or shipping quality. Whenever you see F1 or F2 with a seed, this is hybrid.

If you grow a vegetable/fruit grown from a hybrid seed then the seed obtained from the crop can not be re-used, you must buy the seeds again. This is the reason most commercial sellers sell hybrid vegetable seeds so that gardeners come to buy again and again. If you sow the seed from a hybrid crop, the resultant plant will never be as good as the parent.

Heirloom vegetables are cultivated forms of crops that have been perpetuated by gardeners who save seed (or propagate by some other means such as taking cuttings) from year to year. Some heirloom vegetable varieties have been around for more than a century! Gardeners have kept these varieties growing for generations because the crops performed well in a particular area or because they have outstanding flavor, unusual color, or other appealing characteristics.

OP stands for open-pollinated, meaning that wind, bees, or other insects, rather than plant breeders, transferred the pollen to fertilize the flowers. While all heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated, not all OP vegetables are heirlooms, since most seed companies offer modern-day varieties of vegetables that have been pollinated by wind or other means.

Seeds from the crop of Heirloom/OP vegetables are true to their parent. So you do not need to buy the seeds again and again.

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