Spring Ahead

Spring is here! It may not be time to actually plant the garden yet but it’s not too early to start preparing. Last year we tried something in our home garden that you may find useful to try for yourself.

Growing organically means that our hands and our garden hoe act as our weed killer. And when springtime comes and we’re busy growing plants for other people’s gardens, it’s tough to find time to pull weeds. If you find yourself a little too pressed for time as well, perhaps this is something that you’ll find helpful.

I’m talking about weed fabric. If you are big on gardening ambition but slight on weeding ambition, try this product and thank us later. It’s not difficult to use, it doesn’t take that much time to install and your weeding will be cut down by 90%!

It’s best to prepare the soil before laying the fabric. If you can’t prep the soil, you’ll have another chance to amend it upon planting. To apply the fabric, lay it down tight until you can hammer in the fabric staples. It doesn’t take much wind to make the fabric ripple so it’s important to have something around to weigh down the corners. Once the fabric is stapled down tight you are ready for planting. When that time comes, cut about a 2′ circle in the fabric for each plant. We prefer to keep the planting hole slightly more shallow than the ground. This enables for water to collect much like watering a large flower pot. And your amendments won’t run off as much when watering.

We recommend amending the soil with any single component or combination of compost, humus and earthworm castings. Other highly recommended additions are azomite and mycorrhizae. These will really get the biology activated in your soil! Biology breeds other biology and once your soil is alive your plants will thrive. Do you know what else loves healthy soil? Weeds. So it’s worth consideration to not give weeds the chance to multiply. Gardening is a labor of love, and it’s about enjoying the fruits of that labor, not weeding every other week.

-OH team

Tomato Musings

Tomato Musings:

By far the most popular vegetable (fruit?) that we sell is the tomato. There are so many different styles and flavors. It’s actually pretty amazing how many different varieties there are…There are only 2 leaf-types on the tomato plant so a majority of the plants all look the same when they are younger. But wow, do they look different right before harvest. It’s fun to see how the different varieties first start to put out fruit and to watch the fruit change color and grow juicier as it matures.

Tomatoes grow fast and there are a few things that you can do upon planting to ensure that your plants produce prolifically. Remember, these plants need to grow big and push out an abundance of fruit all in a few months time! So lets give them a hand!

When you are preparing the hole for the tomato plant, it’s a good idea to plant your plant deep, much deeper than you would plant other plants. Normally you want the hole to be slightly bigger than the plant you are planting. And, you certainly wouldn’t bury most of the plant underground like you can with a tomato. But placing the tomato plant nice and deep allows for the plant to be more sturdy as it grows. You really only need a 1/2 to 1/3 of the stalk of the plant to stick out above ground. The base of the plant that gets buried will push out roots which will aid the foundation of the plant.

Give the tomato plant plenty of space in the garden to do its thing, about 3’ for indeterminate varieties. If you are replanting into a larger pot, make sure that the new pot is no less than 5 gallons in size. For some nice function and style, I’d recommend these 5 gallon grow bags with handles for easy adjustments. Larger 15-25 gallon pots are necessary if it is not considered a “patio” variety. Patio tomatoes are determinate, thereby making them compact in nature and do not require as much space or staking as a larger, indeterminate variety.

Determinate tomatoes, also known as bush tomatoes, are varieties that stay small, about 3-4’ in height. All the fruit ripens at approximately the same time. Indeterminate tomatoes, also known as climbing or vining tomatoes, will bloom, set, and ripen fruit continually throughout the season until they are killed off by the frost. They will grow tall (6-12’) and have a large spread. Without significant staking indeterminate tomato plants will be all over the place and the fruit will weigh down the plants.

Organic Harvest grows and sells some of the best varieties for patio growing. Among them are CelebrityIron LadyMarglobeMountain Princess, and Roma. And there are even a few indeterminate varieties that will do well in a patio container including Glacier (semi-bush), Indigo Rose, and Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye. And for staking, tomato cages are a big help. If you prefer tomato stakes I’d recommend these stakes and these clips. A very tidy setup.

When transplanting the tomato plant into the ground, soil amendments are highly recommended. You really want to get the biological activity rampant in the soil. Once you get the microbial life into the soil they will compound and multiply to make for a healthy soil, thereby a healthy plant. Mix a handful of quality compost into the hole you dug for your new plant. Top dress (a handful around the base of the newly planted plant) with earthworm castings for a nice blast of nitrogen to aid in keeping the plants healthy, happy and green. Feel free to add more compost and earthworm castings as a top dress every few weeks.

This formula will ensure lively, healthy plants which in turn makes for a bang up harvest. Growing tomato plants is easy and a lot of fun. The best part is reaping the benefits of the care you’ve provided and being rewarded with delicious, fresh, organic homegrown tomatoes. Enjoy!

-Team OH

Much anticipated Ranch dressing!

Here it is Organic Harvesters… the much anticipated Ranch dressing we have been using to pair with ALL of the varieties OH has to offer :) It is from Nom Nom, Enjoy:

Nom Nom’s Paleo Ranch Dressing

Makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

½ cup Paleo Mayonnaise (or you can buy Primal Kitchen Mayo)
⅓ cup cup full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried dill, or 1 teaspoon fresh dill
1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
½ small garlic clove, minced (seriously, you don’t want to use a whole clove)
Method:

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. If desired, cover and refrigerate to thicken slightly before serving. This ranch dressing will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Sushi Buyer Beware

We are big fans of good sushi- we really enjoy it.  However, we’ve run into an alarming trend lately that is rather deceptive.  It seems like time after time, when we ask about the salmon being wild caught or farm raised we get a bumbling, sad-faced answer that it is the latter.  Salmon is some of our favorite sushi, but farm raised salmon is fed genetically modified corn and soy and we don’t approve of that; that’s not natural, fish aren’t supposed to eat corn!

Beyond that, farm raised salmon are artificially colored to attain the pink flesh.  And that’s not all, according to this article on http://www.purezing.com/living/food_articles/living_articles_7salmon.htm about farm raised salmon, there is a litany of turn off’s including depleted nutrient levels and high antibiotic distribution.

Farm raised salmon is considerably cheaper than wild salmon so there is financial incentive of participating sushi restaurants to pull a fast one.  What’s lame is that I’ve yet to come across the salmon labeled as farm raised.  So you may think you’re eating wild salmon like you have so many times previously (before farm raised salmon became so ubiquitous), but it’s likely that you’re not.

I’ve even asked the sushi chef at a popular health food store that sells prepared sushi if the salmon was farm raised or wild.  I assumed it would be wild because of the setting I was in: I was wrong. That set off some alarm bells.  How frustrating, now when we eat sushi, more often than not we are only ordering off of half of the menu because of a simple question and a heinous answer.

-Chris