How to have the first ripe red tomatoes on the block

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    Mike McGrath reveals the secrets behind super-early tomato success. Plus answers to all your growing questions.


    Question of the Week

    “Last week, Jim “near Chicago” asked about the earliest fruits he could grow. We named strawberries, honeyberries and Serviceberries as the earliest maturing true (as in sweet) fruits, but then thought, ‘what if he means fruiting plants, like tomatoes?’ So we promised a follow up this week—although I teased the answer by saying ‘Start the plants indoors under bright lights two months before you’re going to plant them out, use season extending devices to put them out early in the season, choose varieties labeled ‘early’ or ‘cold hardy’ and you can pick tasty little tomatoes by the fourth of July.'”

    Mike McGrath

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    Highlights from show for January 10, 2015:

    Rehabilitating your hydrangeas

    Terry in Glenside, PA is in desperate need of advice and tips for caring for her hydrangeas after experiencing a brutal winter. Wondering if she could of done something differently, Terry explains how, “I had nice big bushes this year but not one bloom”. Mike replies that nothing could of been done for everyone’s plants took shots this winter. He adds that there are types of hydrangeas that grow exclusively on new wood. While others bloom on the previous year’s wood, which most likely will survive a typical winter not including last year’s winter. However, Mike orders her to leave them alone and wait another year. Also, Mike throws in a tip for next year when Terry begins to notice flowers blooming to prune anything that isn’t a flower after a week of no blooming for that will make it appear that she has more flowers and that the plant looks fuller.


    Growing rosemary

    New gardener, Tom in Roanoke, VA has a Rosemary plant and is curious if he lets it go to seed can he save the seeds and grow new Rosemary plants indoors. Mike gives instructions that Tom must pollenate the flowers: taking pollen from one flower to the other. Then, if he is lucky enough to get seeds, to leave the seed pots on the plant as long as possible. Mike forewarns him about the difficulties of making sure the seeds are mature, and that the pods stay on the plant long enough to reach full maturity. Mike tells Tom that if he doesn’t want to go to the trouble of seed starting Rosemary is easy to root and layer to make plants you can both take cuttings from and root. With those plants that have low hanging branches, all that is needed to do in the summer is to put a rock where the branch meets the ground and pour water on it daily and that will root, also known as tip rooting.


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