Friday, September 30, 2011

Growning Things

Friends gave us some cherry tomato seedlings last year that did very well in our garden. We're starting up again this year but we didn't get any seedlings. I'm trying to start some on my own and so far, so good, although I did start a few weeks later than I should have. (Hopefully that won't matter too much.) I started a bunch of seeds in a 50 block starter kit, and not just tomatoes. I planted a variety of veggies and I mapped it all out so I know what's what. (We had issues with that last year when we planted seeds directly into the garden. We didn't use markers at first, then we used markers for later plantings but they faded. Don't use sharpie markers on plastic tabs that will sit in the sun.)

So here's what I planted on September 16th:
(I put several seeds in each pot so I'm listing the contents per pot, not per seed)

In the first tray I planted:
3 Brandywine tomatoes
3 Jelly Bean tomatoes
4 Red Cherry tomatoes (we have better luck with the smaller tomatoes; we never seem to be able to get the big ones to maturity without splitting)

In the second tray I planted:
4 Roma tomatoes
3 broccoli
3 yellow squash

In the third tray I planted:
5 Paris Island Romaine
5 Bibb lettuce

In the fourth tray I planted:
4 Kale
3 Spinach (which didn't sprout; wrong time of year but I was trying anyway)
3 Swiss Chard

In the fifth tray I planted:
10 Tendergreen Improved Beans (bush)
These did well for us last year when The Wild Child planted them, but we never had more than a few beans at a time. With more plants, maybe we'll be able to harvest enough for a side dish at some point!

Now that almost everything has sprouted I'm transplanting. I put the lettuce in a large round decorative clay pot with legs. I put the tomatoes from tray 1 in 5" peat pots until they get bigger. I don't think they're ready to go in the ground yet, but they definitely need more room to grow. I haven't gotten to the other tomatoes or seedlings yet. I'll put the rest of the tomatoes in the 5" pots within the next few days. I want to get the beans and squash in the ground since they are BIG. That leaves the broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard; I haven't decided what to do with those yet. If I want spinach I'll have to watch the calendar a little more closely; it's not going to sprout now.

I have a lot of prep work to do in the actual garden. The Wild Child and I planted watermelon at the end of the last season, a little late in the year for them to be any good. Those 2 or 3 plants took over, however! They produced for us, just nothing that tasted decent, darn it. They provided a complete and total ground cover that I'll have to dig up over the weekend. I'm also expanding from 6x8 to roughly 12x6. (Due to the shape of the yard it won't be a perfect rectangle.) I have to buy more edgers and dirt to fill it in. It's a raised bed, sort of. It's only a few inches higher than the yard but it worked last year. I'm planting the tomatoes in the new section since I've heard that you shouldn't plant the same kind of plant in the same spot two years in a row.

All in all, I'm pleased that almost every seed came up. Now if I can only get it all going and producing veggies! I'm kind of worried about the squirrel who's taken up residence in one of the palm trees in our back yard, but he didn't seem to bother the garden last year so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. The dogs chase him off but they're only outside for a limited amount of time every day. (And keeping the dogs out of the garden is another issue; hopefully the border fencing I bought will work.)

We really enjoyed the tomatoes last year. We ate tomato/basil/cheese sandwiches on baguettes at least once a week, sometimes more. We haven't eaten them since the tomato plants stopped producing good fruit; grocery store tomatoes don't cut it. Nothing else grew successfully for us. We got a few yummy beans and a few yucky watermelons, and that's about it. I didn't pay attention to planting times and I threw the seeds right into the ground, which could have been the problem. Ahem. I'm paying more attention this year so I'm hoping for more variety than just the tomatoes. (And basil, but I don't really count that since I bought it at a good size and didn't grow it from seed, and I didn't get it to grow much at all after I bought it anyway.)

We'll see what happens this year!

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