Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tomatoes, Compost and Bees

I attended Master Gardener Spring Garden Series on Saturday. The informative and interesting topics made the morning speed by. I’ll share just a few details.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes are passed down from generation to generation mostly because they taste good. Other qualities such as meaty texture in ‘Opalaka’ for a paste tomato or the large sized ‘Kellogg’s Breakfast’ (1 lb or more )caused growers to save seeds year after year.

Descriptions are listed in heirloom seed catalogs. Heirloom plants can be found at local garden centers but it’s best to do some research first to know what you’re looking for. (Google “Heirloom Tomato”.)

The stories behind some of varieties are entertaining. Folklore says the heirloom ‘Mortgage Lifter’ was named for a man who sold his crop to pay off his mortgage.


Making compost can be as easy or labor intensive as you want to make it. If you get everything perfect you will make compost in about 3 months. If you don’t get everything perfect, it may take a little longer but you are still most likely to get good compost.

Add –
Browns (fallen leaves preferably shredded, torn newspaper);
Greens (weeds preferably without seeds, kitchen vegetable scraps, coffee grounds):
Air (turn ever week or so);
Water (should remain as wet as a damp sponge).

The benefits of adding compost to the garden? Less waste to the landfill, improved soil and healthy plants.


According to the Natural Research Defense Council, “Honey bees are disappearing across the country, putting $15 billion worth of fruits, nuts and vegetables at risk.”

Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria ssp.) supplement honey bees in pollinating fruit trees and other spring crops. It is slightly smaller than a honey bee, lives in the ground, is non-aggressive and solitary.

Man-made Mason Bee houses are used to attract the pollinators to the garden. A series of tubes (made of bamboo in the picture below) or holes drilled in a wood block is all they need. Mason bee houses can be purchased or made at home and hung in a tree. Think cherries and apples, blueberries and strawberries.

See February 9, 2011 post for future dates and topics in the series. Join the spring excitement.


donna said...

If I had a mortgage, I'll surely order some Mortgage Lifter seeds.

Marie, you are my treasure chest of useful information. I try to soak up every word you write.'ve seen cardinals looking for love? That made me smile.

Thanks for the Super Bowl congrats. My 87 year old dad was thrilled about the win.


Marie said...

Thank you so much for your kind words.

Packers/Steelers was an exciting game. Even though I'm a Steelers fan, I couldn't help but feel good for the Green Bay team and fans.