Here is what Peg has to say about her Parks Whopper Tomato:
YIKES! After 3 years of failed gardens thanks to deer, rabbit, squirrels and deer, I decided to plant ONE tomato plant in a 20 gal. pot on my deck with the hopes of getting a few tomato’s a week. Well, as of today my “Whopper” has produced over 70 tomato’s!!! averaging 12 ounces each. The first ones were picked on 7/1/13. The plant is now over 7 feet wide and just won’t quit! Kudos, Parks Bros.
The stick on the ground in front of the plant is a yard stick-to give you a sense of size. Just picked 6 more tomato’s this a.m. What would I have EVER done if I planted a dozen plants! LOL
Have you ever wondered why people plant sunflowers in their garden? Or maybe you have seen vegetables or herbs in a flower bed. These people haven’t lost their minds and they are not eccentric, they are companion planting. What is companion planting you ask? Companion planting is putting plants that may provide nutrients, protection from pests or disease or attract good bugs and birds to other plants. Some people disagree on what plants are best for others so it may be more trial and error and what works for you.
Marigolds are a great companion plant for pretty much all garden plants, blooming or edible. Their roots contain thiopene which is toxic to certain nematodes. Plant marigolds around the outside of your garden to discourage aphids and beetles from stopping by for an all you can eat smorgasbord. Marigolds will also attract beneficial insects that will snack on the insects that are feasting on your plants. Beans, carrots, cabbages and tomatoes are just a few plants that benefit from having marigolds as a companion plant.
Onions, as well as garlic and chives, contain chemicals that help protect roses from black spot and apples from scab. Broccoli and cabbage are a tasty treat for cabbage moths, but you can mask their scent by planting carrots and onions near by. Onions will also help repel carrot flies. They make good companion plants for most any other garden plants but don’t mix well with peas and beans because they are thought to stunt their growth.
Plants that have a strong smell such as rosemary, sage, lavender and oregano help to mask the odor of more tasty-smelling plants. This camouflage can help to keep aphids away.
Cabbage and other plants that are similar, contain oils that can poison spider mites, mosquitos and Mexican bean beetles. This makes cabbage, kale and others good companion plants for beans but may not work will with strawberries or tomatoes.
Squash, as you are very aware if you have picked any, has scratchy foliage similar to okra. This can be beneficial to other plants by deterring pests. It not only works for the six-legged types, but when planted as a barrier around corn, squash plants can help keep four-legged critters such as raccoons away.
Petunias, onions, corn, lettuce and peas do well around squash. It is thought by some, that when planted near cucumbers and melons, they can alter the flavor of each other. Other sources say that it’s an old wives tale so you may want to use your own judgement.
Catnip is a versatile plant. Not only can you drive your cats wild with it, you can also use it as an insect repelling mulch. Some aphids and flea beetles find this plant offensive and will leave your other plants alone. Use or plant catnip around eggplant and lettuce, some greens and potatoes.
Rosemary, as well as onions, can repel carrot flies. It is also very aromatic and helps mask the odors of tastier plants near by that bugs seek to eat.
Parsley isn’t just for garnish. It is a natural repellant for asparagus beetles, parsley attracts beneficial insects such as wasps, lacewings, and syrphid flies which will help keep the harmful bugs in check. Plant parsley with peppers but avoid planting with fennel. Fennel should be kept to the fringes because it can inhibit other plant’s growth.
Geraniums can help repel leafhoppers. Plant them near your cabbage and other plants from that family and even grapes. Geraniums will also keep cabbage worms and Japanese beetles at bay.
Petunias are more that just a pretty face, they can repel leafhoppers like geraniums. This can be beneficial to any garden vegetable that may be bothered by these little pests including eggplant, squash and greens. Petunias can also attract good insects that will feast on harmful insects.
Early in the season you can plant alyssum to attract helpful bugs to your garden. When it gets a bit warmer, marigolds and coreopsis will pick up the slack. Salvia is good at attracting beneficials also.
Dill, chamomile, corriander, fennel and sunflowers are a few plants that attract insects that will feast on caterpillars, aphids, leafhoppers and thrips.
Sunflowers, echinacea (cone flower), cosmos and zinnias will attract larger insects that will eat cucumber beetles, grasshopper eggs, slugs and caterpillars.
Birds are great for pest control also. Zinnias, sunflowers and other plants that produce seeds will bring in bug-eating birds. Hummingbirds do not just like nectar, they too snack on caterpillars and other small insects. Monarda (bee balm), pineapple sage, nicotiana, verbena and salvia are just a few plants that will attract these fast-moving birds.
So now when you see sunflowers in someone’s vegetable garden or parsley in their flower bed, you will know that they serve an important purpose. Experiment in your own gardens to find out what works best for you.
Our Ozark Beauty Strawberries are ready now. They even have small strawberries on them. Ozark Beauty Strawberries are everbearing strawberries which means that they produce strawberries consistently through the spring. They will produce some off and on in the summer and then again some in the fall.
The strawberries are small but sweet. You need a good sized patch of them if you are looking to harvest a large amount.
Charley’s Vegetables Ozark Beauty Strawberries will be available in Garden Centers across the south over the next few weeks as the Garden Centers open up and stock up. You can see the list of Garden Centers here.
If you don’t live near us or one of the Garden Centers, you can buy direct from Becky’s Bloomers at www.buygardenvegetables.com.
Click for more information on How To Grow Strawberries.
After being gone a week, we got out in the garden with Charley and picked us some fresh vegetables. The garden looks good and is doing well. The heat has Charley watering a little more than usual. Our pepper plants are a little short because he planted them later than usual but we are still getting a lot of peppers. The squash have done their thing and will be plowed up so the Charley can replant some squash seed.
I have never picked okra until last night. I am not sure I ever will again.
Had some of the cantaloupe for breakfast and Sweet 100 Cherry Tomatoes at lunch. Both were delicious.
I have been very neglectful in posting here. I had to have a second surgery on my leg which knocked me out of all of last summer. My dad had a garden for us but it as so hot, nothing did well. The key to that last statement is “nothing did well.”
If you were a new gardener and did not have any luck, don’t sweat it. Professional farmers had a hard time keeping crops alive last summer. We are back again this year with another garden. We are a little dry and are already having to water some, but everything looks good so far.
Here are some pictures to get us all started.
It has been a long while since I posted anything here. Last summer’s massive heat wave here made any thing to do with gardening disastrous. Last summer’s stationary high set in on us, and we were dead center of it. Where we live, we in a river valley with the Boston Mountains to our north and the Ouachita Mountains to our south. The high press basically put us in the bottom of a pressure cooker. Out highs would be 5-15 degrees higher than towns 50 miles away from us in any direction. Basically, it was merciless and miserable, and our garden cooked on the plants.
In addition to that, I had to have another surgery on my leg which left me out of commission June and July so all the stuff I planned on doing about gardening and add it here. Now here I am a year later and still on crutches. So I am not sure if any of my gardening will happen again this year. At the very least, I want to build a couple of raised beds. We will see.
As for now, here are some pictures of this year’s Charley’s Vegetables and Herbs from March.
We are already shipping Herbs, Garden Vegetables, Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers and Strawberries to garden centers near you. If you can’t find a garden center near you, we can ship direct to you through Becky’s Bloomers at www.buygardenvegetables.com.
Here are some pictures from the past week or so: