|Posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:35 PM|
This blog and website will reach its five year anniversary this month. It is pretty amazing when I think about it. Until 2013, I managed to do a blog entry several times a week (virtually every week); kept detailed planting calendars; posted pictures regularly; and frequently did “how to” pages on various topics. I am sure you have noticed, however, that my passion and energy for the blog and site has been waning. The garden is going great, in fact it is one of my best garden seasons ever, but I just cannot seem to get excited this year about coming in from the garden long enough to download pictures and draft blog posts – let alone post photo album pictures and general info pages. I think it is just a function of having done it for too many years now and it feels repetitive and uninspired. I know that there are always new readers arriving who find the information fresh and useful, but truly the pleasure of blogging resides with the writer – not the readers. It’s an outlet for creativity and a personal space in the cyber world where others are invited in to share. Done well it creates a place that draws people to it and brings satisfaction to the blogger.
I have decided it is time to put The Modern Victory Garden site and blog to sleep. I may very well take up another blog in the future (with a completely different focus) as I really do love to write, and maybe that too will be so fortunate as to have such a long life as this one has had. For now though, I wish to merely focus on my own garden and the multitude of other projects and interests I have piled up in my life at the moment. I am no longer filled with energy and passion for the site and anything worth doing … is worth doing well.
It’s been wonderful.
|Posted on July 21, 2013 at 9:20 PM|
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. I am linking this post in to share my harvest recap for the two weeks spanning July 8th through 21st. I skipped doing a blog update last week, so I am catching up. My daughter is here from Pennsylvania for a visit and I am not doing much more in the garden than is absolutely necessary. I have been neglecting the blog too as a result. Things are getting watered and harvested, but I am not doing anything more than that so that I can enjoy my time with her while she is here. Despite the lack of attention, the garden is doing great and growing like it is on steroids. We have been harvesting artichokes; basil; broccoli; carrots; lettuce; onions; peas (shelling and snap); peppers (bell and jalapeno); potatoes; raspberries; tomatoes; and zucchini. The celery, dill, and cilantro are also ready for harvesting, but I just have not gotten to them yet. I actually harvested a lot more tomatoes than are pictured, as I just could not resist the temptation to eat them immediately while standing in the garden - so they did not get photographed. On Saturday the 13th, we did the big annual shelling pea patch harvest. I use my horizontal pea trellis and it produces an amazing amount of peas in a relatively small amount of garden bed. This year was a good harvest but not my best. I picked 12 pounds of peas which produced approximately 5 and ½ pounds of shelled peas in the end. These were all blanched and then frozen for our winter supply. Here’s the pictures of produce for this week (or at least what I managed to get in front of the camera!).
|Posted on July 7, 2013 at 7:40 PM|
I had a couple of things on my “to do” list for this week. One was to whack the weeds in the garden walkways and tidy up the garden. I got that done the morning of the Fourth of July . It was a bit overcast and cooler and I was home for the day due to the holiday, so I took advantage of it and just got it done. The garden looks very neat and tidy once again. The other main item I wanted to get done this week was to get seeds started for some of the fall/winter crops. Yes, it really is time to be doing that! I am actually running about a week behind my usual schedule to get that done but am still well within the window of opportunity. I started several large flats of seedlings, some for my own garden and a whole bunch for the Kingston Farm and Garden Co-op Giving Garden. I planted up broccoli, kale, and swiss chard. Later this month, I will direct seed some kale and spinach as well. The flats of seedlings are in the greenhouse to germinate and grow, which is quite warm this time of year (even with all the vents and doors open). My challenge this week will be to remember to check on them daily and keep them moist. We have a stretch of warm sunny weather ahead of us, so watering will be my other main task this week. I love this weather though and so do the tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash plants. Things are just taking off in the garden at the moment.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. I am linking this post in to share my harvest recap for the week of July 1st through 7th. The biggest harvest this week was the big garlic patch “pull”. I yanked them all out Tuesday evening and then tied them into large bundles and hung them from the rafters in the shop to dry and cure. The shop smells heavenly and I am finding all sorts of excuses to go in there, just to stand and smell that gorgeous aroma! They will hang for a few weeks to ensure they are totally dried down before I will trim them and bag them up in a mesh bag for storage. I also harvested some broccoli, romaine lettuce, another large artichoke, and the first of the summer raspberries (yum!). I need to do the big pea patch harvest this coming week, and I have the first zucchinis coming along and jalapeno peppers that also need harvesting. The celery needs to have me start harvesting soon too. Pulling out the larger plants and then chopping them and freezing them, not only puts the food by for winter use, but opens up the planted area to make more room for the remaining celery plants to fill out.
Enjoy your gardens and have a great week!
|Posted on June 30, 2013 at 5:10 PM|
The summer season is finally upon us. Our weather is drying out and warming up and the garden is responding by growing with abandon. Of course, the weeds are too but that is the tradeoff I guess. I have been trying to tackle one or two chores a day for the past many days, in order to keep on top of things without having to spend an inordinate amount of time in the garden. I find that pacing the work keeps it manageable and ensures I actually do get to things. In the past week or so I have done the following in the garden by way of late June garden chores:
The last item of pruning tomatoes was done on Saturday after I got home from putting in some volunteer work hours at the Kingston Farm and Garden Co-op Giving Garden. I had pruned tomatoes there and just came home and kept up the same work in my own garden. I do not do a super heavy pruning but I find it greatly increases the health of the plants to remove the vegetation from the bottom most part of the plant, thin out some of the center portions of the plant (if growing very densely) by removing sucker growth and vegetation that is looking poorly. I do sucker pruning on the indeterminate varieties, but do far less of it on the bush (determinate) varieties. The end result I am after is a clear open area at the bottom of the plant, good ventilation within the plant, and for indeterminate plants I am also trying to keep them from growing too wildly and pulling over supports etc. I don’t do a severe pruning though as I am of the opinion that the plants really do need most of the leaves for photosynthesis that provides the sugars for the developing fruits and to provide sun protection for the fruit as well.
Here is the tomato patch before I started.
And here it is after I pruned all the plants. Not a huge difference but you can see that the lower portion of the plants are cleared and the plants are less dense overall.
Here is an Amish Paste plant before I pruned it.
And here is that same plant afterwards and a closer look at the bottom portion of the plant.
I always do tomato pruning on a warm and very dry day and I use pruners that have been thoroughly cleaned beforehand and wiped down again periodically with a clean cloth as I work through the entire bed. The dry conditions and clean tools are all part of the effort to keep from inadvertently spreading disease or fungus problems from plant to plant. So far this year, my tomatoes are growing splendidly and there are quite a few well developed fruits on the Stupice, Cherokee Purples, and Siletz plants. The legends have very small fruit forming and the paste tomatoes (Amish Paste and Paisano) have yet to form any fruit but the Paisano is flowering well at the moment. The Amish Paste has good foliage development but has yet to even flower. It is the first time I have tried to grow this variety and it may be that it is just not suited to our cooler growing region. Luckily, I only have a few plants of it so it is not taking up too much valuable garden real estate.
The garden chores I have yet to get to but which are on my “to do” list for the coming week include:
Of course, there is the harvesting to keep up with as well.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. I am linking this post in to share my harvest recap for the week of June 24th through 30th. I am still getting spring crops to harvest but they are winding down and the summer season items are poised to take center stage very soon. I picked lettuces, strawberries, spinach, broccoli, and more strawberries. Although the strawberries are now starting to wrap up their June production, this works out well as the raspberry patch has just begun to produce a few ripe fruit and we will be into the first raspberry harvest season shortly.
The Fourth of July holiday is coming up this week. I am hoping to use the morning of that day to knock a few things off my “to do” list, before shifting gears to just enjoying the day as a celebration of high summer.
|Posted on June 23, 2013 at 8:15 PM|
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. I was out of town June 14th through 17th and did not participate (or do any blog updates for that matter) in Harvest Monday last week as a result. So I will do a little catching up on this Harvest Monday post – covering June 11th through 23rd. I promise I will do another post later this week talking about other things going on in the garden. For now though, the harvest is more than enough topic to cover.
The harvests are getting a lot more varied and interesting now. The artichokes are starting to produce; my spinach that was eaten by rabbits valiantly made a comeback and gave me at least one small harvest; the strawberries are pouring it on (and we are enjoying swimming in them at the moment!); and the cool weather crops of broccoli, kohlrabi, lettuce, and pac choi are still producing nicely.
Here are the harvests made over the past two weeks.
Just to show you how big some of these strawberries are, I decided to hold this one in my hand.
Here is that same picking without my hand in the way!
|Posted on June 9, 2013 at 10:00 PM|
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of June 3rd through 9th.
I have a rabbit (or two) that has been getting into the garden and doing damage this past week. The pea patch is getting so tall now, that about a week ago I took off the protective cover of bird netting so that the plants did not grow up and through the mesh. Unfortunately, a rabbit has discovered that the peas are now unprotected and ate a chunk out of the back portion of the bed. I am going to monitor the situation for the next day or two and if it continues, I will have to put the netting back on despite the problems of the vines growing into it. In spite of the rabbit damage, the pea patch is looking beautiful and is breaking out in blooms.
The potato patch is looking similarly lush at the moment. No rabbits bothering the spuds but the slugs will likely move in soon.
The only work I did in the garden this week was to water everything and do some harvesting. Other than that, I spent most of the weekend doing other things - like catching up on some housework; playing my violin; working at the Giving Garden; cooking some delicious meals; and attending the annual EcoFest event at the Stillwaters Environmental Center in Kingston. We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon at EcoFest, looking at all the exhibits, talking to a lot of people, and enjoying some very yummy ice cream (made locally).
In my garden, the older strawberry patch (Ozark Beauty) is starting to produce ripe fruit now. I have another patch of Fort Laramie strawberries that is not very far behind the Ozark Beauties and should start producing soon too. The strawberries are getting eaten as fast as I pick them and they are so sweet and delicious that I am going to have a hard time holding out any to make jam with or freeze. I also harvested rhubarb on Sunday and put some in the fridge for our own use later this week, and plan to take the rest into work to give away to co-workers as we can only eat so much of it. The other harvest items this week include garlic scapes, a large kohlrabi, and lots of lettuces – both romaine and leaf varieties. Here’s this weeks harvest in pictures:
|Posted on June 2, 2013 at 10:50 PM|
March, April, and May are busy months in a working kitchen garden because there is a steady stream of seed starting, hardening off, and transplanting that occurs in order to get the crops ready and planted at each of their optimal times. However, in my growing region by the end of May the great push to plant up the summer garden is usually completed. At which point there is a brief respite from the hectic garden schedule. The garden is planted; there are no seeds to start indoors until July for the fall crops; most of the routine garden maintenance is light yet; and harvesting while picking up is still nowhere near the late summer peak that will begin mid-July. It is the blissful month of June - when the garden is verdant and full of promise and there is actually time to just slow down and enjoy it.
I always love walking the garden in the early morning or evening hours, but it is particularly enjoyable during the month of June as so much is growing and coming ready to harvest. Right now there is something to see in every bed in my garden. Bees are working the flowering raspberry canes and blueberry bushes; my young ultra-dwarf apple trees have some fruit formed; the rhubarb is red and lush; and the strawberry patches are lush and full of unripe berries.
The artichokes are forming buds and the potatoes are getting a lush cover of vegetation over the deep straw mulch I layered on to them. All of the seeds I recently direct seeded are emerging and showing a good start including the long line of pole beans.
All the transplanted crops are settling in and showing good initial growth. Notably, the squash and tomato patches are both doing remarkably well considering how cool and wet it has been the past week or so. Luckily, the weather forecast is calling for a lovely warm up this coming week and they should all appreciate the shot of sunshine adrenaline. I have to say that the tomatoes seem to be particularly happy this spring. The Cherokee Purples and the Siletz in fact are being very precocious and have quite a lot of early fruit set already.
I wish you could join me for a cup of coffee (or tea or whatever your preference is for) and a leisurely stroll through the June garden. So much to look at and talk about and there is actually some time right now to do just that. I will savor it while I can.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of May 27th through June 2nd.
The harvests are starting to increase both in amount and variety, although the deluge of lettuces is threatening to get ahead of us. I harvested more lettuces and some rhubarb this past week that did not make it into a picture, but just imagine about 2 more big colanders full of lettuces like the one I did get a photo of. Without further ado, here’s the weeks’ harvest in pictures (at least the harvests I got photos of).
Happy harvesting and enjoy the blissful month of June while we can!
|Posted on May 26, 2013 at 11:00 PM|
It is almost the end of May and I was determined to get the squash family plants put in the ground this weekend, despite the rather cool and wet weather we have been having. The task was not a big one because I did virtually all the bed preparation the prior week. However, Saturday was totally tied up - first with the Giving Garden until early afternoon and then I spent several hours late Saturday afternoon weeding and tending to our front landscaped area flower beds. Sunday was the day I had set aside to get the vegetable garden work taken care of. However, before I was able to turn my attention to planting out the squash and cucumbers, I really had to do the monthly clearing of the weeds in the garden walkways. Our recent mild and wet weather has made everything grow with abandon – including the grass in the walkways. It took me an hour a half to get the entire garden done but as usual when it was completed, the garden looked so much more tidy and inviting. I took a few overview pictures of the garden after I finished clearing the walkways before I tackled planting the squashes. Here is the back portion of the garden as viewed from our back deck.
The bed in the front that looks partially empty actually has some very small carrots growing in it. Next to them are some Ruby Ball cabbages, onions, brussel sprouts, and out of the picture but next to the sprouts are some kohlrabi, more onions, and broccoli. The middle bed has the potatoes that are growing well through the thick straw and next to the potato patch is the cucumber supports that are in place waiting for me to plant the cukes. The lowest long bed has corn planted in it (not emerged yet) and the pepper plants (bell and jalapeno). The beds in the back have the artichokes and the narrow vertical grow support bed has lots of lettuces, sugar snap peas (being eaten by rabbits and birds this year unfortunately) and spinach (also being eaten). There is another bed that you can see in this picture which is just below the greenhouse (the greenhouse is not in the picture) that has Fort Laramie strawberries and my two ultra-dwarf fruit trees growing in it. This is the third year for the fruit trees and I think I may be getting some fruit from them if they were pollinated. The strawberries have been flowering and setting fruit.
Here’s the side area of the garden as viewed from our side area deck.
The first bed (closest to the deck) has the tomatoes in it. They were recently planted out and are looking good. They would appreciate the cool wet weather going away but have settled in well and have lots of flowers and even some fruit set already happening despite the damp and overcast conditions of late. The middle long bed is the one I cleared out last weekend that was later planted up in the squash patch. Next to that bed is a series of three beds, two have blueberry bushes with cranberries growing below them, and the last of the three has strawberries (Ozark Beauty) which are flowering and fruiting right now. To the right and out of the range of the camera lens is another small bed of cranberries and a bed that has my tree kales growing in it with some herbs planted at their feet. Not easy to see the bed, but there is a long narrow vertical grow support bed running at the back of this area that has pole beans planted (Fortex) that are not emerged yet and in front there are celery, more carrots, and parsnips planted. The back corner of the garden has the shelling pea patch with my horizontal grow support structure over it; next to it is a bed with the garlic, leeks, and a few onions; and the bed next to it has onions, cilantro, and dill planted. At the back most portion of the garden but not visible because it is on a slope - is another bed with the rhubarb and the asparagus patch growing in it. In between the corner portion and the back section of the garden is my little greenhouse that did not make it into either picture. In the greenhouse, I have pac choi, napa cabbages, lettuces, basil, and ginger growing in large containers.
The shelling pea patch is protected from birds and bunnies by bird netting and is growing beautifully. The pea plants have already climbed through the first and are into the second horizontal trellis support already.
Next to the peas is the bed with the garlic, leeks, and some onions. The garlic and leeks are both looking really good this year, but the garlic plants are impressively tall at the moment. The garlic is at the front in this picture, and you can see the leeks in the back portion of the bed.
PLANTING SQUASHES AND CUCUMBERS
Planting up the squash patch Sunday was very simple since the bed was already prepped. The plants are young, but have been outside for almost all of the past week hardening off. I planted up 3 acorn squash, 3 butternuts, 2 small pie pumpkins and 2 zucchini.
I then planted the cucumbers, 5 slicers and 5 picklers, in the back garden section next to their slanted grow support structure. There is grass debris everywhere in the following picture, as I had just cleared the walkways and it always throws chopped up grass everywhere in the process.
There are a lot of squash and cucumber plants remaining that will go to the Giving Garden in about two weeks. We planted out the rest of the tomato and pepper starts I started for the Giving Garden on Saturday and are hoping to do the pole beans and maybe the cucumbers this coming Saturday. The squash will be two weeks out as a result which is pushing their growing season but realistically we cannot work faster than that given it is all volunteer labor and there are only so many of us on a given Saturday morning. Hopefully they will take off and catch up for us.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of May 20th through 26th.
I harvested lettuces, basil (from my greenhouse), and a few more broccoli florets from a couple of the plants that wanted to bolt a bit this year. About half of the broccoli is behaving itself and developing really nice central heads and the other half wants to bolt. I need to look at my identification markers and determine which of the two varieties I have planted is behaving and which is not.
|Posted on May 19, 2013 at 10:20 PM|
May is a crazy month in the garden, there is so much planting up to be done and regular garden maintenance needs to be kept up with as well. I am running a little later with planting out a few items this year, but all-in-all I am managing to get things done and am closing in on the finish line of the spring planted crops. I had a road trip to Spokane over the prior weekend to see my family and did not get back until Sunday night. I took the following Monday (13th) off from work as well as the actual days I was traveling, so that I could have a day to decompress and catch up in the garden before returning to work. It was a productive and truly relaxing day. I started it off by getting the trellis netting hung on the vertical support structures for the snap peas. This was on my “to do” list and it was good to get it done.
As you can see from this picture, our many rhododendron trees around the property are in full bloom right now and are simply gorgeous to look at. The snap peas are growing in this bed under the support structures, but the snap peas and the spinach (also in this bed) appear to be being eaten by birds this spring. The peas behind the lettuce in this bed are growing without pest problems and are twice the size of the rest of the planting – apparently the lettuce is keeping the birds from finding them. The rest of the peas are not so lucky. The big shelling pea patch is growing really beautifully in another location and without any bird damage because the entire bed is covered with bird netting. I just hope enough of the snap peas survive to provide us with sufficient peas for our regular fresh eating needs. I am writing off the spring planting of spinach though because they are so stunted from the bird nibbling and it is so late in the season that they have no chance of rebounding and growing before they would bolt to seed anyways. I need to come up with something else to plant in that bed area so the space does not go to waste.
In addition to getting the netting hung, I also planted the peppers out on Monday. These are all plants I started earlier this year and have been hardening off. They are rather large and really needed to get in the ground. In fact, most all of them already have peppers on them. I planted Lady Bell and Early Jalapeno.
Right next to the peppers, I planted up the corn (Bodacious) patch. Usually I start corn from seed as it gives a good jump start on my “less than warm” summer season, but this year I just opted to direct seed the patch because I was running late with the seed starting and the weather has been mild and comfortably warm this spring.
You can see my artichokes growing in the back right portion of that picture. The center plant (the biggest) has an artichoke bud forming.
I spent this past Saturday working at the Giving Garden until early afternoon and then had other commitments to attend to for the rest of the day (it was our 28th wedding anniversary!) so I did not get into my own garden until Sunday. I made good use of Sunday afternoon though. Despite some overcast and drizzling weather this past week, there actually has been no real measurable rain and everything was quite dry. The first priority was to get things watered throughout the garden and in the greenhouse. I did some light weeding in the onion, leek, and garlic patch before I watered them. It took quite a while to work through the various garden areas to get the watering done where there is not currently a soaker hose in place. Once that was done though, I started up one of the soaker hoses in the tomato patch and then set to work to grub out the adjacent bed, which was last year’s potato patch and full of volunteer potatoes. This bed is destined to be the 2013 squash patch and I needed to get these volunteer potatoes out of there. Here’s the bed before I started work.
Obviously (as usual) I missed a few potatoes when I harvested last fall! I worked my way down the bed removing the plants (using a garden fork) and salvaging the good potatoes as I went. I got quite a nice surprise harvest of potatoes for my clean-up work.
This bed is now cleaned up and ready for me to amend and plant it up with the squash plants when they are ready – which should be in about a week or so. The squash and cucumber starts are currently growing under the grow lights in the house, but starting on Monday they will start being moved outside during the day (in the greenhouse to begin with) to start their hardening off process. In the above picture, you can see my pea patch behind this bed (next to the greenhouse). The peas are getting tall and are growing well this spring. Next to the pea patch (to the right) you can see my garlic patch. They are HUGE this year. Not sure why they are so happy but they are growing with real enthusiasm. The tomatoes I planted last week are growing in the bed to the left and next to the bed I just cleared. They are settling in after transplanting very well. There is already some tomatoes forming on one of the Cherokee Purples and one of the Siletz plants.
The last thing I did on Sunday afternoon was to direct seed the pole beans (Fortex) and some parsnips (Cobham Improved Marrow) and a second round of carrots (Mokum). The carrots and parsnips were planted in the front section of the narrow vertical grow bed that I put the pole beans into.
Each Monday Daphne’s Dandelions hosts the “Harvest Monday” blog hop. Everyone participating submits links to their posts summarizing the week’s harvests. It’s always interesting and very inspiring to see what other gardeners are producing from so many different growing regions. Here’s my contribution for the week of May 13th through 19th.
I had a nice "bonus" harvest of potatoes from my work to clean up the prior year potato patch bed.
I also harvested a nice bunch of fresh lettuce on Sunday.
It was made into a large green salad to keep in the fridge for later use. Part of it was used right away on Sunday night for the evening meal, along with some of those potatoes (roasted) to accompany baked salmon seasoned with dill. I also harvested some broccoli side shoots but they did not make it into a photograph for some reason.
The garden planting up is progressing along. Pretty much all that is left now is the cucumbers and the squash patch and I will be done with the spring planted crops. The walkways need me to get to them with the weed whacker soon too. Once the May planting up is done, the next month will be a lot less frantic, with the focus being on light harvesting and general maintenance of the garden. I hope your gardens are coming together well for you this spring too.
|Posted on May 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM|
Despite the lack of blog updates, it really has been quite busy around here in my garden. Too busy when combined with work and travel commitments, which is why the blog has been rather quiet of late. I have managed to carve out time here and there to keep the garden tasks on track, but there has not been much time left over. We have been having some excellent spring weather this year and it has kick started the garden into high gear, at least to the extent that I have things planted up. The big pea patch is looking gorgeous and the snap peas that were planted later are up and growing well too. The broccoli, kohlrabi, cabbages, and brussel sprouts are all thriving and growing well. In fact, the kohlrabi is starting to fatten up it’s swollen stems and the broccoli is forming heads.
The potatoes I planted a few weeks ago started emerging over the past several days, so I hurried to get a deep layer of straw put on top of them today to encourage them to keep growing up through this next layer before really leafing out. I put a soaker hose down on the surface of the bed before I put the straw mulch on.
The lettuces have been really taking off this past week – both in the greenhouse and also in the outdoor bed. You can see the snap pea shoots growing behind the lettuces in this pic.
We are starting to enjoy regular fresh salads again. I have really missed lettuce salads. Their return to the menu is much appreciated.
I finally got around to getting the tomatoes planted. I took quite a few of the extra starts into work on Tuesday and did my annual tomato plant giveaway to my employees. I held out the best of each variety for my own garden – 20 plants in all. The remaining plants (there is 43 more of them still) will be going to the Giving Garden a week from this coming Saturday. I moved the tomato patch to the side garden area this year. I prepped the bed as per my usual routine (aerate it with a broad fork, add a layer of compost, lightly work in the compost and rake the bed smooth), but skipped putting down red plastic mulch this year because I was unable to find it and did not want to wait to plant the bed up. I know I have some in the shop but darned if I could find it when I needed it! I then marked out 2-foot by 2-foot grid squares in the bed using a 4-foot stick and placed the tomato starts where I planned to plant them. I alternate my placement of the plants so that they have better ventilation when they are mature and much bigger. I trimmed the lower branches and leaves off of the plants to ensure that after I plant them deeply they would not be touching soil with their leaves.
I dig a hole for each transplant and add to the bottom of the hole 2 tablespoons of all-purpose organic fertilizer, 1 tablespoon Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate), and 1 tablespoon of crushed oyster shell (calcium). I mix the additions into the soil at the bottom of the hole and then plant the tomato start – placing it deep in the hole so it will develop more roots along the lower portion of its current stem. Once they were all in the ground, I laid out the soaker hoses and put the tomato ladders and cages in place. For the taller growing indeterminate varieties, I like to double up on the supports by using both a tomato ladder and a cage. The smaller determinate plants do just fine with a cage only. The last step was to turn on the soaker hose for the first time this year and give them all a deep drink.
Here’s a closer look at one of the Stupice (pronounced “stew peach ka”) plants. This potato leaf variety produces an abundance of small sized fruit (approx. 2 inchs) and is quite tolerant of our region’s cool growing season. They are a lanky grower but so reliable for my region that I make sure at least a few of them are in the lineup each year.
I planted the following varieties:
The pepper plants are huge and almost hardened off now. They are starting to go in and out of the greenhouse to toughen up. Here is a picture of them enjoying a sunny afternoon next to the remaining tomato starts. If you look closely you will see quite a few peppers already formed on these plants. They really need to get into the ground soon!
Next up on the garden to do list:
Last week I started the cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and winter squashes - indoors under my grow lights. They should be ready to transplant out at the end of the month. Once the squash family plants are in, things will slow down for a while in the garden and the work will shift largely to just maintenance and light harvesting.
I hope things are growing well in your garden too!