Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’ve been nurturing tomato seedlings for months. I ordered special tomato types from Tomato Growers, I’ve been growing them inside and tried to make sure I transitioned them properly so they wouldn’t croak their first day in the sun.
The good news is that the sun didn’t kill them. Of course, that could be because the sun has been MIA for the last several weeks rather than due to my skill as a gardener.
The bad news is that some critter has been chomping on my tender little tomato seedlings once they’re in the ground.
I’m not sure what’s getting them. We don’t have deer in the neighborhood and I’ve never seen rabbits, either. I did smell a skunk the other morning and we have our share of creepy-crawlies that probably appreciate the salad bar I’ve been arranging every Saturday.
I’m trying not to get too upset, after all, I started eight different types of tomatoes. I’ve still got five Sungold cherry hybrid patio tomatoes in pots that the mysterious chomper hasn’t discovered and six Roma-type tomatoes along a trellis that are doing fine. So I’m pretty sure that even if I only ended up with one each of the Jetsetter, Sioux, Aunt Ginny’s, Kellogg’s Breakfast, Virginia Sweet and Royal Hillbilly, I’d still have plenty of tomatoes.
However, I’m not letting them go without a fight. My mom told me that her cousin told her that spreading cornmeal around a tomato plant will protect them from ants. Since I have seen plenty of ants around my tender little darlings, I decided corn meal couldn’t hurt. So now my remaining tomato seedlings are surrounded by corn meal.
Since I had leftover seeds of a few varieties, I decided to go ahead and sow the seeds directly in the ground and see how long it takes the direct-sow seeds to produce. If I discover that they produce as many tomatoes as the ones I’ve been fussing with for months, I think I’ll give up my living room greenhouse.
I’m also trying to keep track of the tomato types so I’ll know whether or not I like certain varieties. I’ve learned that permanent marker isn’t so permanent with constant irrigation and sunshine, so I’m tying different colored bits of yarn to the tomato cages.
This tomato cage tells the whole saga: Originally, the maroon and white yarn signaled a Virginia Sweet tomato. But the seedling disappeared one night, so I planted some Royal Hillbilly seeds, as evidenced by the blue yarn. Now, I have to hope I don’t lose the scrap of paper where I wrote which yarn color corresponds to every tomato type.
By Carol Clark
Friday, May 20, 2011
I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden
- Ruth Stout
When we moved into our new home eighteen years ago, the best house-warming gift I received was from our friend Mark Gibbons. He is a landscape architect and he gave us an hour of his time to plan a flower garden in our front yard.
Having little extra money at the time, I would have never even thought of hiring him to make a plan for us. It has turned out to be a gift that I enjoy all year, every year.
He chose native, perennial plants that bloom every year. It was an investment to buy the plants at the beginning but we haven't had to put much money or time into since. His plan looked more like a blue print that told us exactly where to plant each perennial.
In addition to choosing plants that he knew would flourish in our area, he choose plants whose colors compliment each other. Best of all there is always something blooming in my flower garden from spring till fall.
If you need to buy a gift for a new homeowner or if you want to give yourself the gift of a garden bed that continually blooms with little work year after year, call Mark at Bookcliff Gardens. A housewarming gift that gives for years to come.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I’m a farmer-wannabe. Because I enjoy having a steady paycheck and a couple days off on a regular basis, I’ll probably never make the leap to becoming a real farmer.
Plus there’s the teeny-tiny problems of not actually owning farm land and no real knowledge of what I’m doing that might get in the way of my agrarian ambitions.
However, I’m pleased to announce the formation of Penny’s LSA farm. Unlike a CSA (community supported agriculture) farm, which relies on an entire community to support the farm, mine just relies on Lynn.
Back in the winter when we were all drooling over seed catalogs, Lynn asked me if I’d be willing to grow plants if she bought the seeds. Because I knew I’d be expanding my garden (again!), I said sure.
So Lynn bought seeds sugar peas (which are looking pretty good right now), garden cress, eggplant and parsnips.
The tiny little eggplant seedlings aren’t happy at all since I transplanted them into the garden. Don’t know if they’ll survive or not. I haven’t planted the parsnips yet; I was waiting ‘til July, since they’re supposed to remain in the ground until at least one freeze.
I think Lynn spent about $8 on seeds. So far, she’s gotten tons of parsley as a customer appreciation bonus. I’ve spent tons of hours laboring in my garden, but I haven’t bothered keeping track of which hours were spent on my garden and which were on Lynn’s investment.
The cress is tiny, but it's supposed to be harvestable after two weeks, which means by next week, my Lynn Supported Agriculture farm will actually be producing the desired results.
I'm thinking of adding a beer or two to my labor charge.
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 13, 2011
Last weekend seemed to be the weekend to plant. Carol’s seedlings weren’t the only ones huddled and yearning to be free. I was busy on Saturday, so I planted some of my seedlings on Sunday afternoon. In the gale force hurricane winds that Carol blogged about...
Some of my tomato plants were a whopping four or five inches tall, but I’ve heard that you’re supposed to bury them up to the first leaves. After burying them that deep, they look pretty tiny and inconsequential. Not to mention unhappy about being buried alive in such an inhospitable place.
The peppers were pretty tiny and inconsequential to begin with, so they’re truly unimpressive now that they’re in the ground. In fact, it’s easy to lose them if the wind blows a leaf on top of them.
However, they’ve survived four and a half days on their own now, so I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that they'll survive.
If not, I still have plenty of seedlings left to transplant.
I am, however, running out of room, even with the addition of the new garden box in a grassy section of my front lawn.
If you look really hard, you might be able to see the poblano peppers, big Jims and Virginia Sweet and Kellogg Breakfast tomato plants in the box. They're not dead yet, which considering my level of gardening expertise, is probably a good sign!
By Carol Clark
Thursday, May 12, 2011
After months of raising my babies from tiny seeds I thought it was time. Time for them to go out into the big bad world and make lives for themselves.
Sadly, it has been a struggle for many tiny tomato and pepper plants. Seedlings were first set out on the cool, sunny morning of Saturday, May 7. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, the seedlings were screaming out for me to save them from the scorching sun. We ran to find something to cover them: old sheets, disregarded real estate signs, weed barrier. With nails and duct tape we quickly did all in our power to help them get a little shade.
Sunday started in the same cool innocent way of Saturday, but quickly turned ugly with high winds. My babies were so small and helpless in the hurricaine force gales. Leaves were being ripped to shreds.
Then came Monday morning with it's cold temps. The night before, we put disposable cups over each of the helpless seedlings who were already half dead from the desprate days before. Yes, cool rains watered the dry ground in the day, but evening brought cold temperatures they had never felt before in their short lives.
It's now Thursday. There are a few survivors, but they are weak. Only time will tell if they will survive the cold, hard world. You can help these victims of climate change by sending your generous, non-tax deductible gift to Carol Clark at The Daily Sentinel. All donations will go toward nursery bedding plants.