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5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Homegrown tomatoes are the best!! And it’s not that hard to grow them, but you can do a few things that make a big difference in growing successful tomatoes from the very beginning. To get your tomato seedlings off to the best possible start, you must know these five tips for transplanting tomatoes! It all starts with the transplanting.Must know tips for planting tomato seedlings

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase.*

Welcome back to Tuesdays in the Garden! Today, you’re in for a treat. Not only do we have lots of great gardening tips to help you get your spring planting right, but we also have a few homemade gifts you can quickly put together, just in time for Mother’s Day! Make sure to read to the end of the post and check out all the great ideas from my dear gardening friends.

5 Must Know Tips for Transplanting Tomato Plants

Have you planted your tomatoes yet? It’s generally safe to plant them around your frost free date.  Our official frost free date (May 15) is right around the corner, but I always check the long range weather forecast before deciding when to tansplant my tomato plants. Fro the last three years, we have had a killing frost after May 15, so quite often, transplanting tomato plants has to wait. If you’re looking forward to transplanting tomato plants, too, make sure you read these must know tips!

pinch off bottom leaves
1 .Dig a deep hole and pinch off the tomato plants’ lower leaves.

I like to plant my tomatoes deep for a couple reasons. First, it’s super windy out here in the Iowa Prairie and planting them deeply gives them better support from the wind. It  allows roots to develop all along the tomato stem which helps make the plant stronger. So, dig a hole deep enough that only the top leaves will be showing on the ground. Pinching off the lower leaves also encourages roots to develop too, so carefully pinch off the leaves before you put the seedling in the hole.

Make sure to support the stem as you cover it with dirt. Be careful when you’re covering the plant with dirt so you don’t accidentally harm the little seedling. I like to support the stem with one had and fill the hole with dirt with the other hand. You don’t want to break the stem as you cover it – I’ve done it and it makes me very sad. Make sure you cover the seedling up to the top leaves.

2. Wondering how far apart to plant tomatoes?

Make sure you give your tomatoes enough space to grow.

  1. Dwarf tomato varieties only need to be about 1′ apart, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  2. If you’re staking your tomato plants, they’ll need about 2′ of separation to grow, with 2′ – 3′ between rows.
  3. Using large cages? They’ll need to be about 3′ apart, and probably 4′-5′ between rows.
  4. Want to let your tomatoes grow without support? You’ll need a lot of room! About 3-4′ between plants, and 4′-5′ between rows.

water the tomatoes after planting

3. Water tomato plants generously after planting.

Newly planted seedlings need a nice drink of water immediately after planting so make sure you water right away. I like to make an indent in the dirt around the plant so the water stays near the seedling instead of running away. You’ll want to continue watering for a few days if you don’t get a rain pretty quickly after planting.

mulch tomatoes

4. Mulch right away.

Since you’ve gone through the effort of planting tomatoes, just go ahead and mulch them right away. I’m often tempting to skip this step and get to it later, but I’ve found later sometimes never comes. Mulching right away is a great way to keep down the weeds and it also helps keep them moist. I used old hay we got for free in this picture, but a better mulch is straw because it’s weed free. My hay is very, very old, so I hope nothing will sprout from it. I could be wrong though, and end up seriously regretting the use of this old hay. I’ll let you know if that’s the case!

support tomatoes with homemade tomato cages

5. Add a support trellis or basket immediately.

Another key to tomato success,  is to add support right away. Tomatoes like to be supported and I know from experience that if I don’t support them right after planting, I won’t ever get back to it. Pretty soon I end up with a huge tomato jungle – and while I don’t think that’s a terrible thing, it does make picking the beautiful fruits more difficult and a lot of them end of smashed by my big feet. In years past, I used these homemade tomato baskets last year. They are easy to make and easy to use, but they take up a lot of space so you need a large growing area if you want to use homemade tomato baskets.

tomato trellis from moss mountain farm

This year I am hoping to use these homemade support systems I saw a Moss Mountain Farms. I love that this tomato system takes up less room than my huge cages and I think it’s awfully pretty too! Also, it’s a way to grow more tomatoes in less space since you don’t have to set the tomatoes so far apart. Do you have a favorite tomato trellis you like to use?

And that’s the start to a successful tomato season! Have you planted your tomatoes yet? I’d love to hear your ideas for success too. 

tuesdays in the garden

Tuesdays in the Garden

Want more garden tips from my friends from around the web. Make sure you click over to everyone’s posts and check out what’s going on in different parts of the country! We’ve got a couple homemade gift ideas that might be perfect for Mother’s Day this weekend, as well as growing tips too!

frugal family home

Shelly from Frugal Family Home is sharing a mini green house idea for small spaces!

hearth and vine

Patti from Hearth and Vine is sharing a cute DIY Gazing Ball – what a great gift is this?

an oregon cottageJami at An Oregon Cottage is sharing her homemade Salad Dressing Gift Basket

homemade food junkie

Diane from Homemade Food Junkie is sharing tips for growing strawberries in DIY towers

angie freckled rose

Angie the Freckled Rose is sharing tips for adding visual interest in your garden!

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Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

If you’re trying to eat local, in-season food, make sure to include these top ten plants for early spring harvest. They will yield the first food in the spring so you can have farm fresh produce as soon as possible.

top 10 plants for early spring harvest

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from your purchase.*

One of my long term life dreams is to eat only locally grown and produced food, like Barbara Kingsolver did in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle {one of my most favorite books of all times}. At first thought, it sounds kind of doable, right? I mean, I have a big garden, and I have egg and meat chickens. I’ve also found a source for local pastured pork and organic, local, grassfed beef. But the logistics are really a lot more complicated than my pea-brain can handle. And it would take a REALLY REALLY REALLY big garden to produce enough food to feed my family of six. Maybe some day.

For now, I will be content to do what I can, and that means maximizing every growing season, and this post starts with spring! Enjoy my list of the top 10 plants to consider if you want to get the earliest possible harvest out of your garden.

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

bowl of strawberries and asparagus in the grass

Early Spring Perennials

I love perennials because I can plant them once, and reap the rewards for years! It’s also a bonus that a few garden perennials produce some of the earliest food in the spring, so make sure to include them in your garden.

Rhubarb – it seems a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with rhubarb, but I love it. It’s also ready for picking sooner than most other fruits and is delicious in crisps, scones, and made into syrup too!

Strawberries – strawberries are the first berries to ripen, usually late May or early June in my area. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry right out of the garden! And since conventionally grown strawberries are some of the most pesticide laden fruits grown, we prefer to grow our own.

asparagus on a sheet pan for roasting

Asparagus – asparagus is ready for a full harvest the third year after it’s planted. It’s one of the earliest crops of spring – so delicious!! We look forward to fresh asparagus every year.

Spring Veggies to Plant before the Last Frost

Spring Onions / Potatoes – can be directly sown from seed six weeks before the last frost if the ground is workable. Onions grow quickly and the greens can be cut pretty soon after they start growing. If you leave the bulb in the ground and just cut the greens, they will even grow new greens for you!

Potatoes are generally ready for harvest a little later, but you can carefully collect new potatoes without disturbing the plant ten weeks after the potatoes were planted. We use the no-dig planting method to grow potatoes. Learn more here.

Spinach / Kohlrabi / Kale – can be directly sown from seed five weeks before the last frost date. It’s especially important to plant spinach early as it needs six cool weeks to reach maturity and bolts quickly in hot weather.

Peas / Radish / Carrots – can be directly sown from seed four weeks before last frost date. Peas also don’t do well in hot weather, so make sure to plant them as quickly as possible. Every year I have volunteer radish crops in my garden because I let some go to seed in the summer. They are some of the first fresh veggies we eat!

Forellensuss Lettuce

Lettuce / Swiss Chard – can be directly sown from seed two weeks before last frost date. I also have volunteer lettuce in my garden from time to time and love it! Fresh lettuce is just delicious.

Check your seed packets to see which varieties mature the quickest. Some radishes are ready within 25 days! And lettuce is very quick growing too.

A collage of  pictures including strawberries in a bowl, forelenschuss lettuce, and a basket of eggs and lettuce harvest.

What plants do you look forward to most in spring?

5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to Make Easily at Home

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SKSHarvest #SeasonalSolutions #CollectiveBias

These 5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to make easily at home are a great way to use up the fresh herb bounty you may have growing in your garden. Not only are they delicious and beautiful, but they’re also super easy to make and are great gifts as well! Get a jump start on the gift giving season with this easy DIY!

Look at these beautiful gourmet vinegar flavors you can make easily at home! I have seen them for sale in so many gourmet stores for outrageous price tags, but you don’t need to spend the money! Made with just about any type of vinegar you can buy at the store and fresh herbs from your garden, they’re SO easy to make! They keep for 4- 6 months on your counter top or in your fridge – but they won’t last long because they are delicious!

Be sure to click the image above to shop the jars that I used for my delicious homemade gourmet vinegar!

Jars of Gourmet Vinegars to Make Easily at Home

The flavor varieties for homemade gourmet vinegar are endless. Use whatever herbs and edible flowers you have growing in your garden and a high quality vinegar. Think apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar (although it’s hard to see the herbs in the dark vinegar), and champagne vinegar. Then head out to your garden if you have one, or the store if not, and grab some fresh herbs and spices. I combined everything in SKS Clear Glass Beverage Bottles and closed them up with the included White Metal Plastisol Lined Lug Caps.  ingredients for homemade gourmet vinegar

5 Homemade Gourmet Vinegar Flavors to Make Easily at Home

Homemade gourmet vinegar can be used to liven up so many dishes. Use them in homemade salad dressings, to marinate meat, in fruit salads and other desserts, and in veggie dishes too. The options are endless. Here are the five different vinegar varieties I made to get your creative juices flowing!!

1. Gourmet Greek Garlic Herb Vinegar – 

Fabulous for meat marinades and homemade salad dressings (like this creamy roasted garlic salad dressing) and delicious on roasted veggies too!. Combine two sprigs fresh oregano, one sprig fresh basil and one garlic bulb (separated into cloves and peeled) in two cups red wine vinegar.

Gourmet Apple Cinnamon Vinegar

2. Gourmet Apple Cinnamon Vinegar – 

Great for fruit salad and salad dressings. Combine 1 chopped apple with a handful of cloves and two cinnamon sticks in two cups apple cider vinegar.

3. Gourmet Marigold Vinegar – 

Did you know marigolds are edible flowers? They are! Marigolds have a spicy, citrusy flavor and a marigold vinegar is nice addition to meat marinades and homemade salad dressings. Combine one cup marigold flowers with two cups champagne vinegar.

homemade Gourmet Hot Pepper Vinegar

4. Gourmet Hot Pepper Vinegar – 

Great for dipping sauce, homemade salad dressings, and meat marinades too! Combine one tablespoon peppercorns with five or six jalapeno peppers. Make sure to slit the peppers before adding them to the jar to really release their juices. Combine with two cups white wine vinegar for a delicious combination.

Gourmet Citrus Mint Vinegar

5. Gourmet Citrus Mint Vinegar – 

Another great vinegar for fruit salads or as a meat marinade (especially for lamb). Combine two springs fresh mint with zest of one lemon (spirals if you can! And hats off to you!) plus several lemon slices in two cups apple cider vinegar.
how to make herbed vinegar easily at home

In addition to vinegar and herbs, you’ll also need these supplies for your homemade gourmet vinegar:

I mentioned already that I used SKS Clear Glass Beverage Bottles. SKS Bottle and Packaging was founded in 1986 and sells over 6,000 different types of containers and closures online in fun colors like blue, amber and clear. Most SKS glass jars are made in the USA and are 100% recyclable. You can find the SKS clear glass beverage bottles that I used here. These bottles are great for my gourmet vinegars, homemade sauces, dressings, drinks, and more.

SKS Bottle shopping cart

You’ll also need a funnel to assist in getting the vinegar in the jars. Because of the acidity of the vinegar, you will need to put a layer of wax paper between the vinegar and the lid if you use a  metal lid.

Printable instructions for the gourmet vinegars to make easily at home

Nutrition

Calories

500 cal

Carbs

80 g

Protein

40 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info
5 Gourmet Vinegars to Make Easily at Home

Easy to make herbed gourmet vinegars make great homemade gifts and are a wonderful way to use up your garden bounty of fresh herbs!

10 minPrep Time

10 minTotal Time

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Recipe Image

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vinegar of choice: red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or champagne vinegar
  • Several springs fresh herbs, fruits, edible flowers, garlic, and or spices

Instructions

  1. Sterilize glass containers by boiling for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat vinegar to just below boiling.
  3. Add herbs, fruits, spices, etc to jar.
  4. Pour heated vinegar into the jar. Shake to combine.
  5. Store jars in cool, dark spot for 3-4 weeks, gently shaking the jar every week to help the flavors meld.
  6. After the desired flavor is reached, strain the vinegar to remove add-ins. Discard the herbs, vegetables or fruit. Pour strained vinegar into clean sterilized jars and cap tightly. A few sprigs of fresh herbs, fruit or spices can be added for a decorative touch.
  7. Store in the fridge for 4-6 months.

Notes

NOTE: If flavored vinegar molds or shows signs of fermentation such as bubbling, cloudiness or sliminess, it should be discarded immediately.

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https://simplifylivelove.com/homemade-gourmet-vinegar/

Now that you see how easy it is to make your own gourmet vinegars at home, what varieties will you make?

These 5 homemade gourmet vinegar flavors make the perfect edible gifts. They are beautiful and easy, perfect for marinades, salad dressings, & more!

5 Delicious Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Are you looking for Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities? If so, these five delicious options have you covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! With restaurants located in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Bloomington, you’re sure to find something to excite your taste buds wherever you happen to be in the Minneapolis/St.Paul metro area!

Spoonriver bar and restaurant in downtown Minneapolis

*I received a few free meals in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are mine, though. The food was truly amazing!*

5 Delicious Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities

 

Last month I went on a fantastic trip to the Twin Cities area. Nicky – Little Family Adventure, Lisa – Walking Tourist, Natasha – Houseful of Nicholes and I toured Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington. Afterward, we met up with more bloggers for a FAM trip of Roseville and the Minnesota State Fair. One of the most delicious elements of the trip was eating at all of the fun farm-to-table restaurants in the Twin Cities. I love companies dedicated to sustainability, and these restaurants do amazing things with locally grown food. If you enjoy farm-to-table restaurants too, you won’t want to miss any of the options on this list!

Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities Perfect for Breakfast 

Gardens of Urbana at the Hyatt Regency in Bloomington, MN

Urbana Craeft Kitchen in Bloomington

The Urbana Craeft Kitchen is the hotel restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Bloomington where our group stayed for a couple of nights during our trip to the Twin Cities. We ate the most delicious breakfasts here two days in a row. I wish I had someone to cook like this for me at home!

breakfasts at the Urbana Craeft Kitchen in Bloomington, MN

The Urbana Craeft Kitchen prides itself on sourcing locally grown food. They even grow some of their own in a straw-bale garden located right out the restaurant door. We were really impressed with all of the breakfast food. Three favorite breakfasts were the Minnesota Morning – choice of aebleskiver (Scandinavian ball pancakes) PLUS bacon and eggs, the Avocado & Smoked Salmon plate, and the Potato Crusted Quiche.

Colossal Cafe in St. Paul

Breakfast at the Colossal Cafe in St. Paul, MN

We had a wonderful brunch at the Colossal Cafe on Como Avenue in St. Paul on our last day in the Twin Cities. It was the most delicious send off we could have asked for! The weather was gorgeous, so we ate outside. Of course, the portions were enormous and delicious, the coffee was great, and the atmosphere was a lot of fun. Nicky loved her Apple, Walnut, & Brie Pancakes! Don’t they look divine? And I really enjoyed my omelet with sausage, green onion, tomato, cilantro, and pepper jack cheese. The food was served with thick slices of homemade bread or delicious homemade biscuits. Best of all, the homemade jelly was the icing on the cake.

Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities Perfect for Lunch

Spoonriver Restaurant . One of the most delicious Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the Twin Cities!

Spoonriver in Downtown Minneapolis

Located at 750 South 2nd St (at Chicago Ave S) in the downtown Minneapolis Mill District, this chic restaurant and bar serves excellent food and is committed to sourcing as much fresh and locally grown organic food as it can! We really enjoyed sitting outside on the patio on a gorgeous late summer day. Spoonriver is conveniently located in the same building as the Mill City Museum, right across the street from the Guthrie Theater, and just a couple blocks from the US Bank Stadium – home of the Minnesota Vikings. It’s the perfect place to stop after a morning or afternoon of sight-seeing! We ate lunch here, but it would also be a great spot for dinner.the Spoonriver Cookbook - Farm-to-Table Restaurant Minneapolis MNWe loved sitting outside and talking with owner, award winning chef and cookbook author Brenda Langton, about her work establishing the Mill City Farmers’ Market. I commend Brenda for her efforts to promote organic agriculture! Organic food production is near and dear to my heart. <3quesadilla at spoonriver restaurant in minneaplis

But the food is what you want to know about, right? I had the Nicoise Salad which really hit the spot! Nicky had the Herbed Wisconsin Chevre Salad, and Lisa and Natasha both enjoyed the Shrimp Quesadilla with Coconut Lime Salsa. Natasha’s kids enjoyed delicious quesadillas and hummus with veg from the kids’ menu.
The special desserts Brenda served were also out of this world. We all agree! Spoonriver is a must on any Twin Cites Farm-to-Table Restaurants list!

Red River Kitchen at City House in St. Paul, Minnesota

Red River Kitchen at City House in St. Paul

Located on the Mississippi River in St. Paul, the Red River Kitchen is really a portable kitchen (food truck) so it can drive off in case of flooding! The City House is a restored grain elevator and flour mill that sits right on the Mississippi River. It’s a beautiful location to head with your family. Featuring a patio overlooking the river, games, and picnic tables, the venue is really cool! I know my kids would have a great time playing bags here and looking for barges on the river.

Food at Red River Kitchen at City House, St. Paul Minnesota

The food is also quite delicious. We sampled a little bit of everything, from Cubano sandwiches, All-Beef Elote Hot Dogs, Lentil & Broccoli Salad (with almonds, feta, and citrus vinaigrette), and spicy Chicken Tinga Tacos! I enjoyed the tacos the most. But everything was a hit. Red River Kitchen also serves an assortment of Minnesota beers, homemade lemonade, and wine. So it’s a fun place to relax after work too!

Farm-to-Table Restaurants Perfect for Dinner? Here’s a great one!

Fire Lake Restaurant at Mall of America

FireLake Restaurant at Mall of America

FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar is an upscale restaurant located inside the Mall of America perfect for an evening out. They were kind enough to host Nicky, Lisa, and I for dinner one evening and we had a great time! Of course, we appreciated their fantastic cocktail and wine list. But the food was also a huge hit. You must know that FireLake sources locally grown Minnesota produce, cheeses, and meats! Delicious food at Fire Lake Restaurant at Mall of America

Make sure you try the Dirty Fries if you go! We also really liked the Half & Half Board (housemade charcuterie, local sausages, local cheese), the Bacon Wrapped Buffalo Ribeye (local bison), and the walleye special which came wrapped in parchment paper! I had the dirty fries and a steak. Delicious!

Do you seek out Farm-to-Table restaurants? And if so, what’s your favorite? Have you eaten at any of these Twin City favorites? Please let me know in the comments!

If you're heading to Minnesota, here 5 Delicious Farm-to-Table Restaurants you must try in the Twin Cities. USA