Words, Pictures and Videos About a Variety of Gardening Topics

Cloning Without Suckers

In an earlier post, I talked about cloning my tomatoes by propagating the suckers. But I’ve since learned that using suckers is totally unnecessary. Let me tell you how to do it.

Do you drink bottled water? Do you buy your water in those little plastic bottles? If so, save a few of the empties to help you clone your tomatoes. Simply cut off the top of the bottle just below the part where the cap screws on; then cut off the bottom of the bottle. Using sturdy scissors or tin snips, (since the top of the bottle is thicker and harder than the body of the bottle), split the bottle up the side, top to bottom.

Pick the tomato that you want to clone and locate a healthy branch. The branch can be a sucker or not. Frankly, a sturdy branch located midway up the plant with a stem about the same thickness as your pinkie is ideal. On this branch, remove the leaves near the main stalk for a distance equal to the height of the bottle you will use. Opening the split of the bottle with your thumbs, carefully wrap the plastic bottle–neck down–around the branch. Push two or three cotton balls into the neck of the bottle being careful not to break the branch. (These will hold the potting soil that you will shortly add to the bottle.) Now close the split and secure temporarily with a clothespin, bulldog clip or stapler. Place a length of duct tape along the split to hold the bottle together.

Use a couple of lengths of string tied around the bottle and secured to the tomato cage or tomato stake to hold the bottle upright. Now fill the bottle with potting soil and gently tamp the soil around the branch using a pencil, pipe tamp, dowel or something similar. Add about a half teaspoon of soluble fertilizer, water the soil until it drips out the bottom through the cotton balls. Keep the soil moist by watering every evening. Within a week or two you will see LOTS of roots through the clear plastic bottle.

During this period (while the branch is putting out roots), it is being nourished by the primary plant. This means that the process of putting out roots does not take energy away from the branch…it keeps growing. After two weeks or so, cut the branch from the main stalk (below the bottle with the rooted branch), carefully remove the plastic bottle and plant the rooted branch in the ground as you would plant any other young tomato.

You now have the second generation of your favorite tomato, genetically identical to the parent, whether heirloom or hybrid. Check out my YouTube channel (nov51947) to watch a video of this procedure.

  • Have a small garden space?
  • No garden space at all?
  • Have a deck but no garden space?
  • Tired of tilling and weeding your garden?
  • Want vegetables that are clean and easy to pick…not laying on the ground rotting?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need “All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew”.

All New Square Foot Gardening Cover

Mel’s first book, simply called “Square Foot Gardening“, appeared in 1981, sold over a million copies, and launched many a frustrated gardener into a method of gardening that requires no tilling, virtually no weeding, can be placed anywhere, even indoors, is water efficient and can be used year round.

Interested? Then be sure to buy “All New Square Foot Gardening“. Unlike most new book versions, this completely revised and updated book actually contains a bounty of new information. It even lists ten new improvements to the original Square Foot Garden (SFG) manual. These improvements are the result of reader comments, new experiments, new technology and products, and new ingenuity.

The SFG method has all these benefits:

  • can be located virtually anywhere
  •  requires no tilling and very little weeding
  • no fertilizer required
  • easily constructed using readily available materials and tools
  •  can be sized to meet your specific needs
  •  doesn’t waste seeds
  •  can be used with seeds, cuttings or store-bought plants
  •  great for kids, seniors and those with disabilities
  •  puts the FUN back into gardening

This book contains detailed instructions, lists of materials, tips and techniques, and has hundreds of pictures, illustrations and tables that make SFG foolproof. Imagine being able to plant 16 different crops in a 4′ by 4′ bed! You can even plant root crops and climbing crops in the same bed.

But wait…there’s more!

The Appendix contains nearly 88 pages of detailed information about vegetable plants, herbs and flowers. The information includes plant spacing (sometimes more than one plant can be grown in a suare foot), size at maturity, weeks from planting to harvest, and much more. There are recipes, suggestions on storing your harvest, what plants work best together and what plants NOT to plant in the same bed. The information in the appendix alone was enough to justify the book for me.

Whether you’re a novice gardener or have years of experience with row crops, I urge you to buy this book and try the techniques it proposes. It will change your outlook about gardening.

Please use the link below to visit Amazon and look inside this book. I think you will find it as useful as I have and you can purchase directly by using the link.


At my You Tube channel, nov51947, I did a video called “Save The Suckers!”

It was kind of an afterthought after my earlier video about whether tomato suckers were good or bad and whether you should remove them. Since then I’ve learned some new techniques for saving and propagating tomato suckers besides the “stick ’em a glass of water and hope they don’t rot!” technique.

But it got me to thinking…

If I propagate a sucker from a parent plant that I really like, then a few weeks later propagate a sucker from that child plant, then later progagate a sucker from the grandchild, etc., etc. (obviously keeping them inside or in a greenhouse over winter), can I theoretically make that plant immortal?

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, that IS the plot of many a Sci-Fi story! But my interest is purely scientific. (Isn’t that always the case?) Would the plant really be the same after several generations of cloning? Would it still bear fruit? Would the fruit be as prolific…or as tasty? Would it be more susceptible to disease or to physiological problems?

Being a scientist by training, I am going to begin a two year experiment. I will try to stick closely to the scientific method, keep a lab notebook (logbook), take photos and record observations. I’m going to spend some time designing the experiment and I’ll try to begin later this summer.

If I can propagate a new clone every eight weeks, then in two years I will have gone through twelve generations. I’d like to hear your ideas. Let me know how you would like me to conduct the experiment…what to look at, what variables to change, indoors or greenhouse (I might be limited there!), how to do a ‘control’, hybrid or heirloom, how to record my observations: in this blog or in a series of short videos on my YT channel?

If a little water is good, then a lot of water is great. Right?

It doesn’t necessarily apply to rivers…and it certainly doesn’t apply to plants!

So how do you know if your plants are parched or drowning? Let’s see…grandma poked her finger into the pot to test the moisture. Sometimes it worked…sometimes it didn’t. Even if her finger was truly sensitive to moisture level, it only penetrated about 1 1/2 inches into the soil. Plant roots (and therefore moisture requirements) can go up to a foot or more into the pot or the ground.

What you need is a Moisture Meter. And in the era of high tech gadgetry, you need a Digital Moisture Meter.

There are a lot of moisture meters on the market, ranging from $4.95 or so up to more than $200!

You probably don’t need anything more than a $20-$25 dollar investment to be sure that your plants are getting the right  amount of water. Check out my video review of the Ferry-Morse digital moisture meter that sells for under $20. Click the picture below to buy from Amazon.

Ferry Morse Meter

Ferry Morse Moisture Meter

Now you can know that your plants are getting just the right amount of water!

OK, OK!  I’ll focus!

Some folks that I know (…or love…or respect…or just find cute) have said that my last post was hogwash. I REALLY should focus on a single subject (maybe two) that I find totally fascinating.

So this blog will henceforth be focussed on GARDENING!. But I still reserve the right to occasionally wander off and do something off-the-wall.

But I’ll cover a wide variety of topics in GARDENING!

So stick around and I’ll try to teach you about plants, horticulture, pests, gadgets, tools, resources, the Farmer’s Almanac, and a wide variety of other gardening (and occasionally non-gardening) topics.

A Renaissance Man


That’s what everyone says to do if you want to be successful (i.e., get rich) blogging. Find a single topic that interests you and devote your energy to it exclusively.

Sorry, folks, I can’t do it.

Several years ago, a newspaper columnist wrote a piece about me that he titled A Renaissance Man. He did this because during an interview about a more serious topic, he learned about my wide variety of interests and was intrigued. He called me a “renaissance man”. I had to go look it up (via Google, of course). It means a person with many talents or interests. That’s me, alright…my wife calls me faddish…I’m often into some new fad. (Translation: a new interest that I am crazy about)

Right now my favorite fads are: gardening, electronics, puzzles, poker, videos, YouTube, photography, woodworking, and writing. But those will probably change in the next few weeks.

Oh…I forgot Blogging.

So here we are. This is the first of many shorts on a wide variety of topics. Try to keep up…go with the flow…and I’ll try to keep them interesting. I promise that each post will be focused on whatever the topic of that post is…unless I enthusiastically wander off into some new fad.

Hello world!

Welcome to my new blog.

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