Commentary

SAVING TOMATO SEEDS

suggested by Susan Thornbury

from the blog of Mr Brown Thumb

Saving tomato seeds? Isolate Tomato Flowers for True Seeds

If you're growing a particularly great heirloom tomato in your garden, chances are you will want to grow that tomato again, or maybe even share your tomato seeds with gardening friends and family. Saving tomato seeds is easy, but there is one step that you, as a new seed saver, may not know you should take. Make sure you isolate tomato flowers for true seeds.  

Tomato flower isolation for seed saving

Gardeners with large yards are at an advantage when saving tomato seeds because they can isolate tomato plants by placing them far enough apart from each other that they won't accidentally cross-pollinate and create seeds for a hybrid tomato. There is absolutely nothing wrong with hybrid tomatoes, but if you're growing an heirloom tomato, chances are you're doing so because of some unique characteristic to that particular tomato plant. Maybe it's the color, shape, taste or history behind the plant that calls you to grow it. Whatever your reasons, you are now a steward of the history of a tomato and you want to continue the line.

Small-space, and urban gardeners, like myself, don't have the luxury of being able to grow several tomato varieties and plant them far apart to keep the seeds true. Our cramped gardens may require us to either grow one heirloom tomato variety a year, or get creative and find a way to keep the blooms from being accidentally cross-pollinated by bees and other garden pollinators.

Isolating tomato blossom for seed savinng

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SUMMER POINSETTIA

IMG_3923

By Jacki Brewer 8/1/2013


I received this plant from Susan Thornbury last summer.  This summer it has graced me with many seedlings growing here and there.  I especially love it coming up with cosmos as you see here.

In researching I found that there are other plants also called Summer Poinsettia in the Amaranthacea family such as Joseph's Coat and the like.  This Summer Poinsettia is in the Acanthaceae family.

In some places it is considered a weed but for my north Texas garden it thrives and looks wonderful in our intense heat and sun and that is a plus for me.  It can look a little wilty if it is too dry but it recovers well.

See this link for more info:  Wildflowers

Euphorbia cyathophora Murr.

Wild Poinsettia, Summer Poinsettia, Fire on the Mountain

Euphorbiaceae (Spurge Family)

Synonyms: Euphorbia barbellata, Euphorbia graminifolia, Euphorbia havanensis, Euphorbia heterophylla var. barbellata, Euphorbia heterophylla var. cyathophora, Euphorbia heterophylla

USDA Symbol: EUCY

USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

The dwarf poinsettia has green stems and alternate lobed leaves, the uppermost with irregular red blotches near the base. The terminal flowers are yellowish with 1-2 small glands or nectaries.

Fire-on-the-mountain is a member of the spurge family (family Euphorbiaceae). Spurges are commonly herbs, with milky sap; in the tropics also includes shrubs or trees. There are about 290 genera and 7,500 species, mostly of warm or hot regions. Among the valuable products of the family are rubber, castor and tung oils, and tapioca. Most members of the family are poisonous, and their milky sap will irritate the membranes of the eyes and mouth.

SUMMER PROOF THE GARDEN

The following article is from a blog called Deb's Garden written by Deborah Elliot.  You can subscribe to her blog by going to this link:  http://debsgarden.squarespace.com/

The doldrums have arrived. Gardening is at a minimum. I prefer to be inside, reading my newest garden magazine. Outside, plants may be loosing their vigor with bright green leaves fading to pale blueish gray, leaf edges crinkled, leaves dropping — all signs of heat stress. Meanwhile, bugs select the weakened plants for midsummer's wildest party, sucking and munching and having an orgy with all their friends and relatives. What's a gardener to do?heat stressed leaves

Don't let the doldrums get you down! Here are ten things one can do to summer proof the garden:

1. Choose the right plants. Many ornamental plants now have heat zone recommendations as well as hardiness zones listed on their tags. Developed by the American Horticultural Society in the late 1990s, the heat zone map identifies 12 heat zones in the US. These heat zones are based upon how many days a year the temperature rises above 86 degrees, the temperature when plant cells begin to deteriorate. I am in heat zone 8, which means there are 91-120 days when temperatures rise above 86. Look to see if a tag has two ratings for a given plant, such as 3-7/4-6. The first set of numbers indicates the plant is winter hardy in hardiness zones 3-7, and the second set of numbers indicates the plant will survive summers in heat zones 4 through 6. Remember the hardiness and heat zone maps are two different maps, so one needs to know both zones for one's location. I am on the edge of hardiness zones 7b/8a, but I am firmly in the middle of heat zone 8. There are plenty of plants that can take my winters but not my summers! Replace plants that die with others that are more likely to survive. Native plants are usually reliable, because they are well adapted to both winter and summer conditions.

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