Wednesday, June 27, 2012
This post is part of an ongoing series about the amateur gardening efforts of Second Snack. With no prior knowledge of how to do any of this, hilarity and fails will most definitely be happening. Follow along and see how this experiment turns out.
For twelve years the soil my garden is growing in lay dormant. It supported a bunch of weeds but other than that, there was no effort to make the soil work and produce anything substantial. After a decade of rest, I put my plants in and with almost no effort, my plants have taken off. There are tomato plants out there that are almost as tall as I am. I say "almost no effort" because there have been some little tricks I've used out in the yard to help the plants along and keep them healthy and productive. One of those tricks I learned was how to prune tomato plants.
Left to their own devices, tomato plants will grow like crazy and most likely collapse on themselves due to excessive weight. Tomato plants are weird because they'll grow and grow and grow without any regard to energy efficiency. One example of their inefficient way of growing is their tendency to sprout "sucker stems." Check out the picture above (blurry sorry) and look for a young stem sprouting in the "crotch" of two existing stems. A couple of times a week, every week, I'll examine my tomato plants and pinch these off. Why would I purposely remove growth from my tomato plant?
Well, tomatoes are like factories that package energy into their fruit (the parts we eat). Leaves bring in sunlight and help with the production of energy for plants so they're good to have on a plant. But, if you have a lot of them, the plant also has to use energy to maintain the stems they're connected to. Sucker stems may eventually bear fruit, but if they don't, they're basically a diversion of energy that could have been going to fruit production on the main stem. By removing sucker stems, you help guide energy towards the main parts of the plant and ultimately, to the fruit which you want to harvest.
It felt weird the first time I started snapping stems off my plants but I've seen the positive results of doing so. My San Francisco Fog variety is loaded with tomatoes growing steadily. The main stem and branches have more than enough leaves to help bring in the sun's energy, but the plant is trim and efficient because of my selective pruning of sucker stems.
Another benefit of removing sucker stems is that you help keep the plant open to air and wind moving through its leaves. This helps reduce the chance of disease and pests and dries the leaves if water happens to fall directly on them.
Pruning sucker stems is not necessary at all. A tomato plant can produce just fine on it's own with just a cage to keep it propped up along with some watering. But, to help it along and get better fruit out of your plant, keeping it pruned and efficient will yield great results.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
The LEGO Project series is a look through the Second Snack collection of LEGO sets from Thomas’ childhood as well as some modern sets. For years these LEGO bricks and pieces have been laying dormant in plastic bins but with the pooled resources of the Internet, reassembling sets is now a reality.
Hey another fun small set from LEGO! This one is extra special because Sarah gave it to me for my birthday. There are very few pieces but one of the biggest pieces I've seen in a LEGO set is included. As you can see in the picture, its the Death Star piece on the right in the picture above. Along with the Death Star is a miniature model of a TIE Fighter along with a pilot mini-fig. These two sit on a custom stand with a plaque explaining what the model is. Quite a neat little set and from the looks of it, its one of three that LEGO has put out that is similar to the other two in the series.