Monday, May 7, 2012

Garden Update

Way back in, oh, September I think it was, I planted some little tiny seeds. I planted a bunch of seeds for all different kinds of things. Some of them didn't grow at all, some of them grew a little, some of them grew, then stopped growing, then GREW!!! Here are the pictures, taken today, of my garden. I am doing well with cherry tomatoes, planted from seed, and collard greens, purchased as seedlings at Home Depot. The other veggies, not so much. The lettuce was always too bitter so I let it go to seed. (I haven't ripped it up since it's pretty and I don't have anything to go in that spot at the moment.) I also planted broccoli, swiss chard, and several other veggies but those never made it into the ground. I think I'm figuring out the tomatoes, though. My "lessons learned" are as follows:

1. I do well with the smaller tomatoes; I have some larger ones planted but they never ripen properly. They always split and crack before they are ready to eat. I think it's the climate- hot, then rainy, then dry, then really rainy again. The inconsistent watering and the heat are not helpful. I'll try planting the larger varieties earlier for the next season so they are fruiting during cooler weather.

2. Tomato hornworms and fruit worms like my tomato plants too, but they are easily picked off the plants and thrown into the lake for the fish. (When I can find them; they camouflage well.) I only had trouble with them for a little while though, then Mr. Toad moved in and I haven't seen one since. (I did NOT like it when Mr. Toad ate my monarch caterpillars, but he can have all the hornworms he likes.)

3. I don't know if the spiders are helping or not, but they don't seem to be doing the plants or fruit any harm so I leave them alone.

4. Over zealous watering is not a good thing. My seedlings got to a height of about 4 or 5 inches and stopped growing so I tried all sorts of things. I fertilized, I went ahead and put them in the ground, I mulched, and still nothing. I stopped watering daily and cut back to every other day and voila! They went berzerkazoid and grew like crazy, so that they are now big, huge, full, tomato producing, taller than my 11 year old plants! I get handfuls of tomatoes from them almost every day.

5. The "jelly bean" tomatoes, or grape tomatoes, are yummy and I need to plant more of those next season! They don't seem to produce as prolifically as the cherry tomatoes.

It's fun to know I planted those seeds and they are now producing food for my family. (Well, except for The Eldest, who doesn't like tomatoes.) I am raising them with absolutely no pesticides whatsoever so they are healthy and delicious. I can't wait to start seeds for the fall and expand the garden a little more. I've read that you shouldn't plant tomatoes in the same spot more than once every 3 years so I've put a large board over the area where they will go next year. That's already killed the grass without using any nasty chemicals, so now it's only a matter of putting out the border and filling it in with some good dirt. I'm hoping I'll figure out the lettuce for the next season!

The Garden, wide shot:

"Jelly bean" (grape) tomatoes and the tip of some collard green leaves:

One of the large tomatoes that, sadly, will never ripen properly:

Some green cherry tomatoes and some almost ready to pick:

The herb garden, such as it is:

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