Lavender is one of my favorite fragrances. It’s always a go-to when choosing floral-scented body sprays, soaps, and scented oils. I find the smell of lavender soothing and earthy – and in the garden, its vibrant purple flowers are unforgettable. But as much as I love lavender, I’ve never grown it. That’s why I’m super excited to add the fragrant Lavender Phenomenal to Mocha Gardens this year – yet another fantastic swag gift from one of the Garden Blogger’s Fling sponsors!
One day my tomatoes seem perfect. When I look again a few days later, I see that their skins are cracking. Some tomatoes appear to be more prone to cracking than others, particularly my large heirloom varieties. I don’t always have this problem when growing tomatoes. Am I doing something wrong?
I’m doing something pretty exciting in my garden right now. I am conducting my very first ‘official’ plant test in Mocha Gardens! Earlier this month I received three samples of the Red Racer Cocktail Tomato – which just happens to be the 2018 All American Selection (AAS) Edible Vegetable Winner. Harris Seeds (a sponsor of the Garden Bloggers Fling 2017) provided the sample plants for me to grow and evaluate this summer. Let’s take a closer look at the Red Racer.
“How did you hear about the fling?” is a question I was asked several times during the 2017 DC Area Garden Bloggers Fling. My name was printed in red on my name tag to indicate to all that I was a first time flinger. After giving the question a few seconds of thought, I realized that I learned about the fling in one of my social media circles, either Instagram or Facebook. Someone I follow mentioned an annual event where plant passionate people gather over a weekend to mingle and tour some of the most beautiful gardens in the local area. There would be lots of giveaways and an opportunity to hear from some of gardener’s favorite brands. This year’s fling just happened to be planned in the Capital Region (DC, Maryland and Virginia) which is within driving distance of my home. I saw this as a sign that this year was the perfect chance for me to check out the fling without too much of an investment. But I still asked LOTS of questions and researched past flings before I “pulled the trigger” and completed my registration. After having flung with so many great bloggers, I’m really glad I did.
I currently have a tomato jungle growing in my raised bed garden. Many of the plants are taller than me and have stems full of thick leaves, which makes it nearly impossible to see all the fruit that’s growing. If you know me, then you know I like an organized garden so these unwieldy plants are not fitting into my design plan! But more importantly, densely grown tomato plants are more susceptible to disease and pests. So a bit of careful pruning is definitely needed to make things look more tidy and to keep the plants healthy by increasing light and air flow to all parts of the plant. So where to do I begin? First, let’s discuss why some tomatoes grow out of control while others stay compact and bush-like.
I didn’t expect to see a big fat worm eating its way through one of my tomatoes when I peeked in between the overgrown branches to see if any new fruit had ripened. I’d been away for a few days at the Garden Bloggers Fling 2017, so as you can imagine, I was happy to be back in the garden and excited to see how much things had grown after a weekend of daily rain showers. I know when you grow tomatoes you can expect to find worms, but this one caught me by surprise. This little monster is a Yellow Striped Armyworm and is a common garden pest, especially in Southern gardens.