Friday, July 26, 2013

Tomato and Cucumber Update

One day's harvest!
My favorite salad ingredients are the tomatoes and cucumbers.  So when I saw my plants growing like weeds this summer, I got excited.  And now, earlier than ever in my garden, the tomatoes are ripening.  They're ripening really fast! 

Just this morning I gave away almost 10 tomatoes just from yesterday.  So I was suprised when I went out and needed my son's help to carry in the "load".  Just today, we picked 22 tomatoes and 4 cucumbers.  There's still plenty of tomatoes that will be ready tomorrow!  It's so satisfying to grow enough in the garden to share with others.  So if you're local, come help us eat these!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jack-be-Littles in Little Spaces

Morning in my tiny pumpkin patch next to the dahlias
When the free packet of seeds arrives in the mail, and they always do, I have a hard time throwing them out.  Where these seeds come from is far and wide.  They might arrive from a garden society, or come free with a mail flyer.  The best arrival was after I carefully picked my heirloom seeds from a catalog, they sent a "complimentary" packet of melon seeds that I did not plan to put in my garden.  It wasn't a small veggie they sent but melons!   

My huband says to just throw them away.  They were free.  He says I'm not obligated to use them.  But I must.  The drive to plant is stronger than the urge to purge.  And so I look for spaces to plant these seeds (if I can't find them another home).  This was the case with those adorable tiny pumpkins you see in the fall.  They're called Jack-be-Littles.  They're really more a gourd than a pumpkin but who cares.  They're cute pumpkins to the kids.  And so the seed packet sat on my counter.  I couldn't throw it out but I didn't want to use precious garden space for a plant with vines.  So I thought vertical.  And then I thought of the trellis where the dahlias didn't grow last year.  So I took a chance. 

Going Vertical
Except for the morning, this spot gets 8+ hours of sun a day!  It's perfect.  And unless it wants to grow beyond the small space I've given it, I think these seeds found a great piece of real estate.  So I hope the Great Pumpkin will be pleased this autumn.  It might not be the largest pumpkin patch, but it will most likely be the most creative one.  At least in my neighborhood.
This is what I hope I'll find later in the season!

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to Support the Monster Tomatoes

Huge tomatoes and it's only  July 7th!
My tomato plants are gigantic!  I mean huge.  Bigger than I've ever grown.  Maybe some of you out there grow them this big every year and my photo is nothing new.  However, in my neck of the woods, I'd be lucky to have them this tall by the end of the season, NOT beginning of July.  How tall are they?  Well, look at the picture again.  That's my husband peeking out from behind them.  (He is 5'10".)  This is after I already trimmed the plants back!  That's tall for tomatoes in my book!

How this luck descended upon my garden I'm not sure, however, there were three new variables thrown in the mix this year.  First, I bought heirloom seeds.  The tomatoes in this garden are all heirloom varieties (Cherry, Thessaloniki, and Moneymaker).  Second, it's a new garden bed which means all new soil.  Third, I pruned the tomatoes early on this year.  Apparently, this is basic knowlege, for growing tomatoes, but I had never pruned before.  So add all of those new varaibles together and we have a trifecta for giant tomatoes!  And then the rains came bringing the damaging winds.
A collection of anything that can support these tomatoes!  (cages, plastic, and steel)
This is when I realized that my tomato cages and tomato stakes were not enough.  So I was off to Home Depot for Steel rods.  Then, it hit me, my plants were becoming like Medusa with branches getting so heavy that they needed more support.  And this gardener was done forking out money.  So we improvised.  We had just completed a "cleaning out project" that included purging from the basement, when my husband reminded me that the shelf brackets would be great.  So I bent them, hammered them in the ground, and voila!
Recycling old shelving pieces!
Just to make sure they worked, a new storm blew in last night with plenty of wind.  Every single branch was fine.  No more snapping off like in previous storms.  Now if they would just hurry up and ripen because I can't wait to try them!