Monday, May 16, 2016

Finally the tomatoes are in the ground

The vegetable garden got off to a slow start this year.   The kitchen remodel took priority over everything else until it was back on line.  I never planted any snap peas and started about half the cole crops I normally do.  No radishes either.  I'm still working on the finish carpentry in the kitchen and trying to catch up on the outdoor work.   In April it looked like we would have a very early spring, but it has been cool and wet for several weeks and I've held off setting out the hot weather crops. 

I have been looking for a spot for container lettuce.  It should get sun in the morning and go into shade in the afternoon.  It looked like there was no such spot except in the middle of the yard.  Yesterday I added another course of pavers to the terrace near the apple trees.  Then I realized that this was the spot.  The apple trees will shade one end in mid-afternoon - it was 2 PM when I took this photo.  It's really perfect for containers.  I set the SWC with anise fennel at one end and put some temporary supports under one side - I still have to bring in some soil to level this. 

So today I planned to seed the winter squash.  First some patches needed to be cleared in the cover crop.  The string trimmer worked great at clearing little circles, removing the oats and peas right down to the ground.  Then I took a shovel and turned over each cleared patch.  The soil broke to the spade very easily - a good sign.  Then I read the seed packet from Johnny's:  "seeds may rot in wet cold soil."  This soil is definitely wet and cold.  With more rain expected tonight and tomorrow expected to be very cool, I thought it best to wait a few more days.  But it's ready.

Yes it looks a little untamed.  This was before the planting patches were turned over.  I must be drifting into some form of permaculture, or just adopting a no-till strategy.  What I'm certain of is, it's a lot less work.

On to the tomato/pepper/eggplant bed.   Peppers and eggplant can wait, but the tomatoes are getting leggy, and they can handle the cool.  This bed has a lot of field peas that overwintered and I did not want to remove any more than necessary.  First the cages were set up.  I wanted to try smaller cages this year but that will have to wait another year.  I set up the cages in pairs.  I've found that any more than two adjacent cages and the tomatoes don't get enough ventilation, meaning fungal problems.

A 7 foot fence post was driven into the ground and the first cage hung on the post hooks so the bottom is about a foot off the ground.   The second cage was set on the ground to locate the second post.  Once driven in the second cage was hung on that post, then the two cages were bound together with wire.  A  5 foot post was added for more stability.  It takes about 15 minutes to set up a pair of cages.

The field peas and dill that was in the way of the tomatoes was removed.  The hard part is digging a hole for the seedlings once the cages are up, but it's not too bad.   My tomato choices are very mundane:  One cage of Big Beef for slicing and three cages of Super San Marzano for sauces.   I planted two seedlings per cage.

The rest of the bed will get two eggplants and eight or nine pepper plants.  Here's to Solanacae!

In addition to the tomatoes the pole beans were seeded - Fortex and Kentucky Blue.   Nearly all of the structure is in place now.  Later this week I will plant the okra, peppers, eggplant, and cucumber seedlings.  It's all starting to shape up.  I'm always worried about having enough dill, but every year literally hundreds of dill seedlings appear at different times.   As long as I'm careful to leave some standing between the plants there is enough to make the pickles.   Happy gardening.


Stacy@Mutiny in the Garden said...

I love the idea of planting the squash right in the center of the cover crop. Brilliant!
Good luck on the kitchen project. Having been there and done that I can quite confidently say NEVER again.

Mark Willis said...

I often think my garden needs more direct sunlight - but then I think that it's good to have some shade! Most of my plot gets about 6 hours of direct sunlight each day (a couple of places get more) and this seems to be enough for most crops. After a late start you are now going to be very busy for the next month or so.

Margaret said...

Looks like you are well on your way! The weather has been a bit of a tease all spring hasn't it? I won't be getting my tomatoes into the ground for at least another week or so. I'm behind, but the main reason is that I don't have a whole lot of confidence that the current weather pattern will hold.

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