How to Grow Carrots at Home

“Don’t give up in doubt what you planted in faith.”- Elisabeth Elliot

I read this statement while I was browsing through some photos online. It reminded me so much of my experience with planting and harvesting carrots at home. It was my first time to plant a type of vegetable that grows underneath the soil, which made harvesting more faith-stretching for me. As usual, I bought the carrot seeds from “Seeds of Hope” which can be found at any SM Supermarket. They also sell the seeds at Ace hardware or at the gardening stores at the entrance of SM Megamall (building A).

carrots
carrots

After months of waiting, by God’s grace, I finally had the privilege of harvesting my own carrots at home. Woohoo! Even though they didn’t reach their maximum size, they were still a sweet surprise (literally too). Hopefully, I can grow a second batch early next year. Personally, I think that growing carrots is easier than growing TOMATOES and CORN at home. I can’t wait to grow more soon! As always, gardening at home helps me appreciate the crops and our Creator more. It really is an amazing experience to see fruits and vegetables grow from tiny seeds. Tasting our homegrown crops still is quite mind-blowing. I really am grateful for the experience, which is why I want to encourage you to try it too! If you’re already growing carrots or other fruits/vegetables, let me know! Leave a comment below and share your gardening experience!

carrots
carrots

 

Tips on Growing Carrots at Home:

1.Use loose potting soil. It will help produce straight carrots since they won’t have to struggle growing through thick, hard, and rocky soil.

carrots
carrots

2. Plant the carrot seeds directly on the permanent container pot/bed. They don’t like growing in small plastic cups or nursery beds. They also don’t like being transplanted.

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3. Plant them in rows. The stems of the carrot plants are very fragile. So, planting several seeds beside each other will help in giving support to the batch of plants. This will also help you differentiate the carrot plants from weeds growing in the same pot/bed.

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4. Spray water lightly on the soil until water comes out of the pot’s holes or until the whole soil area is moist.

carrots
carrots

5. Use fertilizer every two to three weeks. I use Jobe’s organic fertilizer spikes for my vegetables.

carrots
carrots

6. When the seedlings grow 2-3 inches tall, start trimming the weaker plants in the rows. Unfortunately, we need to let go of some of the plants because we don’t want to overcrowd the soil with too many roots. Overcrowding will lead to producing smaller and intertwined carrots. (Although having intertwined carrots or carrots with legs can be cool, sometimes.)

carrots
carrots

7. You can help the stems and leaves grow upright by carefully and lightly tying them together. You can use plastic straws (strings).

carrots
carrots

8. When you see carrot tops peeking out of the soil, cover them with more loose potting soil. When the carrots are exposed to too much sunlight, their tops may turn to green.

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9. It usually takes three months before the carrots can be harvested. A good indication is when the stems are already 12 inches high.

carrots
carrots

10. Harvest the carrots when you’re ready to eat or cook them. Crops harvested lose their natural sweetness as the days go by.

carrots
carrots
carrots
carrots

 

I hope you can join me in growing something green! ‘Til my next carrot experience. :)

How to Grow Cherry Tomatoes at Home

A few weeks ago, I started to grow a new batch of cherry tomato plants and I ended up planting a lot of seeds. I didn’t expect all of them to grow, but by God’s grace, they did! So, for quite some time now, I’ve had more than 15+ seedlings happily growing in their own cups at home. However, because we didn’t have space for these 15 cherry tomato plants anymore, I decided to give the seedlings away. I posted a photo of them on my Facebook page with a caption: “Giving away 10-15 cherry tomato seedlings. Let me know if you want one!” Surprisingly, a lot of friends left comments on the photo and accepted the challenge of growing their own cherry tomatoes at home. YOU ARE AMAZING. Thank you!!!

cherry tomato seedlings
cherry tomato seedlings

To my new gardener friends, I hope and pray that you will enjoy your gardening adventure with your new seedlings as you see them grow and bear fruit in the coming months. To show my support, I listed down some of the helpful tips I’ve learned over the past years in growing cherry tomatoes at home. Enjoy! :)

HOW TO GROW CHERRY TOMATOES AT HOME

Materials you’ll need:

  • Tomato seeds
  • A Hard Plastic Pot with holes at the bottom — at least 12”x12” in height and diameter.
  • 1 bag of loose potting soil — enough to fill the pot.
  • Fertilizer for tomatoes/vegetables
  • Long bamboo sticks or similar ones (about at least a meter tall) that can help hold the plant upright.
  • Plastic straw – for tying/securing the plant on the sticks
  • Mulch or dried leaves/straw/twigs
cherry tomatoes
cherry tomatoes

 

GROWING SEEDLINGS

Add loose potting soil to a cup (4/5 full) and lightly bury a seed or two in the soil. You can plant two seeds in one cup just in case one of them doesn’t germinate or grow. However, if both seeds successfully grow in one cup, make sure to carefully separate the two seedlings (without damaging the stem or roots) while they’re still small or about an inch tall. When the seedlings grow a few more inches (2-3”), you may now move them to a bigger container with holes at the bottom and with a good drainage system. By doing so, they will develop more roots and help the plant become more sturdy. I usually fill half of the pot/container with soil and then sprinkle some of the fertilizer before filling it up with potting soil again. Once its ready, I dig a hole in the middle of the container, remove the seedling growing in the cup of soil, and gently place it inside the hole. I also top the soil with mulch or dried twigs and leaves to help retain the moisture in the soil.

cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling

 

WATERING THE TOMATO PLANTS

As the seedlings grow in their new pot, it’s very important to regularly water them. When I was younger, I thought that watering just the leaves of the plants was the best way to provide for their H2O needs. However, after experimenting with different fruit-bearing plants over the past years, I learned that in order to keep the plant happy and healthy, we must focus on watering the soil — where the roots are. Even if we don’t water the leaves, the plant will still grow as long as we regularly water the soil and roots.

cherry tomato seedling
cherry tomato seedling

How often should we water the plants?

Once a day is enough. However, if you live in a tropical country (like me!), the plant will most likely want to be watered twice a day – once in the morning and once in the evening.

How do you know when the water is enough or too much for the plant?

When we water plants in containers, a good way to know if we’ve added enough water is if we start to see the water come out of the drainage holes of the pot. When this happens, you may already stop watering since we know that most, if not all, parts of the soil in the pot already received water.

 

PROTECTING THE ROOTS

In the first two parts of this post, I’ve mentioned how important it is to take care of the plant’s roots. Even though we don’t usually see the roots, they play a very important part in helping the plant grow and bear fruit. Not only do they serve as a support for the whole plant, but they also absorb all the water and nutrients found in the soil! So, how can we protect the roots? It’s pretty simple. Keep them covered with soil! We don’t want the roots to be exposed under the scorching hot sun or the extremely cold weather at night. We want them to be wrapped with a blanket of soil ALWAYS. If ever you see the plant’s roots peeking or coming out every now and then, you can lightly throw more potting soil on it, until you can’t see the roots anymore.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

 

SUPPORTING THE PLANT

When I first planted tomato seeds at home, I didn’t know anything about growing them. It was only until the plant had reached its “teenage years” that I realized the importance of providing a sturdy support system for it. Supporting the plant may be done by letting it grow inside a store-bought tomato cage or by tying the plant on strong and long sticks secured on the soil.

Since I planted my tomatoes in containers (large pots and beds), I didn’t have enough space to use tomato cages. So, I made use of thick, ordinary sticks and thin bamboo sticks to secure and support the plants. I tied them on the sticks with a plastic straw (the one used in tying huge cardboard boxes). And as the plants grew, I just adjusted and added the plastic straws attached to them. Be extra careful in tying the plants. Make sure not to damage the stems or use straws/strings with sharp edges that may harm and scrape the stems.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

Although it might require a bit more effort, staking and supporting the plants early on will be very helpful, especially when the plant develops flowers and fruits.  The cherry tomatoes will eventually weigh the plant down, so it’s important to keep the main stem and branches upright and secure. We wouldn’t want them to snap off and break.

cherry tomato plant
cherry tomato plant

 

FERTILIZING THE PLANTS

Tomato plants love to be fed with nutrients. So, as the plants grow, they need to be surrounded with fertilizer every now and then. I add fertilizer to the potting soil in four different stages:

  1. On the day of planting the tomato seedling
  2. When the plant is about two feet tall
  3. When the plant starts to produce flowers
  4. After it starts growing cherry tomatoes

The best thing about growing your own vegetables and fruits at home is you can control the materials added to the soil. For the past years, I’ve used organic and natural fertilizers in my soil. But, if you prefer to use chemicals, then it can still help the plant grow and bear fruit. For the natural fertilizers, you may use the ff. in your soil: compost, washed and crushed egg shells, banana peels, coffee grounds, washed shrimp shells, raw fish heads, Epsom salt, etc. You may also try organic tomato fertilizer spikes sold in the hardware or gardening stores.

cherry tomato flowers
cherry tomato flowers

Note: When fertilizing tomato plants, it’s important to provide a healthy amount of nitrogen to the plant during its early stages. After the plant grows more vines and branches, you may lessen the nitrogen in-take and add more phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer-soil mixture.

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

 

HARVESTING CHERRY TOMATOES

After around 2-3 months of growing your tomato plants, cherry tomato flowers will start to appear. Yay! When this happens, the plant will then concentrate all of its energy to produce the fruits. While waiting for the flowers to turn into cherry tomatoes, you’ll need to prune the plant every now and then to make sure that the energy of the plant is directed to the fruits and not to unnecessary stems and branches. Let me introduce to you, the “suckers” of the tomato plants. These suckers or small branches grow at a 45 degree angle in between two main branches. You’ll need to carefully pluck these off especially when your plant already has flowers because if you don’t, they will suck the energy produced by the plant and less energy will go to the flowers and fruits.

"Sucker" in tomato plants.
“Sucker” in tomato plants.

It usually takes 3-4 months before a cherry tomato plant bears fruit, depending on your location and weather. As soon as you see the yellow flowers, you’ll know that it’ll only take a few more weeks before you can harvest your homegrown, juicy, and sweet tomatoes. The tomatoes can still ripen after you’ve harvested them from the plant, but I like to keep mine in the vine just until they become red (not overripe) so that they can reach its maximum sweetness. To harvest the tomatoes, you can gently twist and turn each fruit until they come off or you may cut the individual stems of the tomatoes.

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

So, there you have it! :) I really hope that you can explore growing cherry tomatoes at home! It is definitely a fulfilling and fun thing to do. Gardening at home has helped me so much in learning more about nature, befriending earthworms, appreciating food, developing my character, learning from my mistakes, and being reminded of how amazing God is. It really is a privilege to witness seeds grow and produce fresh fruits and vegetables at home.

Happy gardening, everyone! Feel free to share your tomato gardening experiences with me too.

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes

 “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” –1 Corinthians 3:7

Harvesting Broccoli

I miss the cold weather in Manila. I miss it terribly. Although we were already warned by many reports, it was still heartbreaking for me to experience the heat so soon, because I wanted the cold weather to last for a few more months. I was just getting used to wearing hoodies, not experiencing sweat that much and constantly feeling the cool breeze whenever I would take a quick walk outside. However, when I stay inside or go outside of our house nowadays, I’m not able to feel and appreciate the cold, fresh air anymore.

My first Broccoli. :)
My first Broccoli. :)

Just last week, I got so affected by the sudden change in the weather because I noticed how both my Broccoli and Cherry Tomato plants were having a difficult time surviving each day. Before, watering the plants twice a day (morning and evening) was already sufficient. But because of the extreme heat recently, the plants and soil dried up immediately after they were watered.

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Also, I noticed how weird my Broccoli eventually looked like. In my former posts, I showed photos of how the Broccoli plant was able to produce its first Broccoli, but when I had a closer look at it a few days ago, I saw little flower buds growing on it. The Broccoli certainly didn’t look like the ones being sold at the supermarket. It had puffy buds.

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After doing more research online, I found out that the heat and lack of water caused the Broccoli to grow prematurely, thus, allowing the flower buds to grow. And when we allow the yellow Broccoli flowers to grow on its head more, it would eventually develop a bitter taste. So, I inspected the head and saw that some of the flower buds already started to open up a bit. At first, I didn’t want to remove it from its stem since it was still a small head. But then, I also knew that I needed to harvest it soon because if I didn’t, it would end up as a ball of yellow, inedible Broccoli flowers. I prayed about it and decided to harvest the head the next day.

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Steamed Broccoli with Salt & Pepper. They were quite sweet! :)

When I was tempted to complain and grumble last week, God encouraged me to thank Him instead because He gave me the privilege of growing even just a small head of Broccoli. It reminded me of the verse in the Bible where it says:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord…”

[Habakkuk 3:17-18]

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Two days ago, I went online and browsed through one of my favorite gardening blogs, White On Rice Couple (http://whiteonricecouple.com/). To my surprise, the couple behind the blog shared about how they lost their 10-year old Blood Orange tree due to overwatering. Somehow, I sympathized with them because I felt like I lost my 9-month old Broccoli plant when it grew a head prematurely because of the heat and lack of water. But in their blog, they shared about how they decided to plant a new tree to replace the old one. And that simple act reminded me of hope. Hope not in ourselves or in the situations around us, but Hope that is found in God who causes things to grow.

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When I first planted the Broccoli seed, I remember placing a sign in the pot to encourage me. It said “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” [1 Corinthians 3:7]

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Thank You, Lord, for the past nine months of growing a Broccoli seed and learning more about You from it. Thank you for allowing it to grow. I look forward to growing more plants and trees with You in the near future. ‘Til our next harvest!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)