Tag Archives: tomatoes

Where the Heck Did That Month Go?

Yes, it’s been a long time between posts!

We’ve been busy finishing up our first child’s school year, and The Wife has been dealing with some minor health issues. Meanwhile, the garden-with-delusions-of-grandeur has been going through some changes.

Compost is happening!

I am such a farm geek. I am just thrilled to pieces that the compost is developing! I’ve been faithfully piling in the soiled straw (soiled with chicken manure), cut grass, kitchen scraps — watering and turning until my back screams at me. But the results are divine. Wormy, earthy, black compost.

Chickens are transforming into hens! (And maybe some roosters?)

B, I, N, G, and O are now 3 1/2 months old, and getting huge. I give them lots of table scraps — grains, vegetable matter, fruit peelings, chewed up in the food processor — mixed with laying feed. They run at the gate when they see me coming, and love to forage in the backyard when let out of their run.

The chihuahua doesn’t go after them at all, and luckily for them, the rottweiler’s rather obsessive interest in them has died down.

Here’s the problem: I can’t tell if any of them are roosters are not. I’ll take pictures tomorrow and post them. First one to predict accurately means some kind of prize — jam? Eternal gratitude?

Tomato cuttings

In training my tomato vines to grow vertically, I have pinched off quite a few runners at the bottom of the plant. I put them in water and kept them in a sunny spot of my office. Through that process, I have been able to grow three more tomato plants, which I have put in big olive cans snatched from the Monday night garbage cans left out the Boot and Shoe Pizzeria on Lake Shore Ave.

Other Plant News . . .

The potatoes are growing beautifully in their washer-tub containers. My two little containers of beans are also starting to produce.

The arugula has come and gone — the heat wave last week was the last straw for my favorite salad green. The chard from last Fall also took its last gasp, and the tired stalks were thrown mercilessly to the chickens.

Beets and carrots are coming up like crazy. We just ate another round of Detroit Reds last night in our salad.

I realized that all the lettuce and basil seeds I have been planting since March must be too old, as none of them have germinated. So I gave up and got plants. Now I’ve got enough basil to make pesto for the winter as well as the summer. And I just put in an entire bed of different kinds of romaine lettuce seeds, as well as more carrots and beets.

I have seven tomato plants going at once — some vine, some bush. I don’t remember the varieties, to be honest. But since they’re from Kassenhoff growers, they are sure to be great.

The red peppers and ancho chilis are starting to flower. The heat wave that killed the arugula pushed them into a growth spurt.

The strawberries (in beds) are producing big beautiful berries and the raspberries (in a big container so as to contain the rampant growth) are starting to produce also.

The elderberry, which I had just about given up on, has grown about a foot and is now quite satisfactorily bushy. And the elecampagne came back out of nowhere.

The yarrow is threatening to take over under the big apple tree.

And last but not at all least, the fruit trees are full of fruit at various stages of growth. The peach tree seems to have fought off the peach leaf curl quite successfully. I am going to be chin-deep in plums in a few months. Both apple trees are producing and haven’t had their June drop yet. And the pineapple guava is flowering in preparation for the fall harvest.

That’s the update back there in wonderland. Next up, the new path in my farming adventures . . . stay tuned!


Filed under chickens, farming, Fruit trees, Uncategorized

End-of April-Planting (and the bed that kills tomato plants)

I had Big Plans for this spring’s planting schedule. I was going to put in new seeds and/or plants every weekend from the last frost date (end of Feb) on through May. I started planting lettuce, carrots, and beets and waited for nature to take its course.

and then, it rained.

Not just light spring showers. Continuous downpour. It turned my beds into compacted rock in which no seed could germinate.

I started over. Beets, carrots, arugula. Even the tomato plants. Then, a mystery I call “The Deadly Second Box” occurred.

I plant my tomato plants in four adjacent beds. Beds one, three and four are doing fine. Bed two seems to be the tomato killing field though it consists of the exact same soil as the other three. I have now put three separate tomato plants in there and all three have died. What’s in there? Some kind of evil Loch Ness tomato-eating monster? I can’t figure it out.

In the meantime, I fumbled through March, with the successive plantings, and then last weekend, I did my final early-Spring push. The last beds of beets (Chioga, Detroit Red), carrots (Oxhearts) and arugula went in. I put in basil plants and three beds of basil seeds, along with green and white Cos Romaine. I gave Bed Two its last Momotaro tomato plant victim, and put in Ancho and Sweet Bell pepper plants.

I’ve decided this year to put bush-type tomato plants in separate pots, leaving the beds for vine varieties that I can train vertically up the old wire gate we use as a trellis. So I planted one of those, and then two sunflower plants, for the seeds (chicks love ’em).

It’s raining again today, but at least it’s a softer rain, not nature’s version of Doc Martens trampling on the seeds. Or so I hope. In a week or so, I’ll see if I was right about that.


Filed under farming