Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Planting day

Whether planting seeds or seedlings in the beds, I think of starting vegetables as work in progress.  Something is always going in or going out.  Spent plants are pulled up and replaced.  In these parts most people with a garden plant everything sometime before Memorial Day (fair weather gardeners).  I've been planting sets of cabbage family seedlings every 12 days since sometime in March.  But it turns out there is one day each May when more plants get started in the beds than any other day.  That day was today.

Why today?  On Monday morning the area had it's last predicted brush with a frost.  Actually it wasn't even close.  Now it's warm, in fact 82 degrees F as I write this.  It was time for the warm weather plants to go into the ground.  I have been setting the tomatoes and peppers outdoors each day for several days to get them ready.

This year I'm planting three tomato plants instead of two - Supersonic, which I plant every year, Cherokee Purple, and San Marzano, a sauce tomato.  I plan to can some salsa.  This is my caging method.  First I set three cages on the ground to mark their location.  I found that pushing the cages into a somewhat oval shape allowed them all to fit into a triangle in the bed.  I drove 7 foot fence posts at the outside mark of the back cages then hung the cages on the hooks in the post (it so happens that the post hooks are the same distance apart as the mesh in the rebar cages).  The cages are held on the posts with the bottom of the cage about 20 inches above the soil level.
I suspend the cages this way in order to get the maximum height possible.  Six feet is nothing for a healthy tomato plant.  I made sure the horizontal wires of the cages matched exactly since they will be wired together later.  The bottom hooks of the post face down and the bottom wire of the cage was pulled down and over that hook, which takes either very strong hands or a good pair of pliers.  Once hooked this way the cage is attached quite securely to the post.

Then I marked the outside of the front cage and set in two more posts.  The front cage was suspended on those posts in the same fashion.  Once all the cages were in place I wired them together.  With only four posts for three cages the finished structure is actually very solid.  It was time to set in the tomatoes.
The tomato plants were more than ready to be set out.  The nurseries and greenhouses around here always start their plants too early.  I bought them two weeks ago and repotted them to larger pots.  The same with the peppers.  The suspended cages leave plenty of room to set in the tomato plants.  The two red cups mark the location for the eggplants which are not big enough to go out yet.  The peppers are:  Ancho, Holy Mole, Jalapeno, Lipstick (similar to Carmen), Cabernet (a  Burpee's purple sweet pepper which is a cross between Marconi and something else), and Corro di Torro Rossa, which is a bullhorn type sweet pepper.  I was planning to put two okra plants in the unused space at the end but will put something else there.  The plant at the front is a small Greek basil.
Millionaire okra was planted in the two self-watering containers that I built early this spring.  Guess I'll find out if the design worked or not.  The Earthbox grew several pounds of great lettuce.  It's all out now and replaced with celery seedlings.  Maybe this is the year I actually get some celery out of the garden.

Two eight foot lengths of rebar trellis were set up behind the terraced bed on the slope toward the pond.  There's a lot of compost in this bed.  I got lucky and found someone with a supply of well composted horse manure and straw which went into the remaining unplanted beds.  I planted half of this bed in Metro Butternut, a Johnny's variety that has always worked well here, and the other half in Teksukabotu, an Asian hybrid that is part C. moschata so it should be resistant to the borer.

As for the rest of the garden, the cole crops are coming along well.  I expect to pick some kohlrabi any day now.

And the greens bed has been steadily producing spinach.  The lettuce is almost ready but I've got several pounds in the refrigerator.  There's also some cole crops in the greens bed that were the first plants set out, but they got a shiver in the late cold and are miniatures.

I left space on the north side of this bed for cucumber plants, two Diva plants and two Picolino plants.  They also went in today.  I still have to set up the trellis but could not find the ambition to do that today.   The open space at the front was planted with Provider beans.

Last but not least the trapezoidal bed was seeded with a yellow zucchini and Honey Bear acorn squash.  One corner was planted with two Silver Queen okra seedlings.   Well not quite last as I almost forgot.  Two of the more decomposed modules from the compost bin were set on the slope toward the pond and filled with soil and compost.  The sweet potato slips will go here.


GrafixMuse said...

Wow! Busy, busy day! Getting the heat loving crops in the ground is a sure sign that the growing season is here. What a contrast between frost on Monday to a 80s on Tuesday. Frost threatened us here over the past few nights as well, but thankfully I see no signs of it.

Anonymous said...

The tomato cage on the post is interesting. Our season is shorter, so our plants might not get as big, but they do usually grow over the top. I might have to try that is I can find some posts in inventory.

I hope to get more things planted this weekend now that work is slowing down to merely busy. I'm glad I didn't get much planted last week as it has been cold and rainy here, but I missed a carrot opportunity! Ah well. Things look great at your place with all those great projects!

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