Saturday, May 19, 2012

Warm Weather Crops Getting Planted

My tomato transplants were ready to be planted. Their roots had made it to the bottom of their newspaper pots. They had been hardened off for a week. They were about 6"-7" tall. It takes about four weeks for me to get tomatoes to transplant size. Most people like bigger plants at about 8 weeks old - twice the age of mine. But I've had good luck with these and to be honest I'm pretty lazy. I like to put out transplants young. I have to pot up less. I have to take care of them for a shorter time. So most transplants get about three weeks before planting out. The tomatoes get spoiled and at three weeks are potted up to 4" tall newspaper pots. But that is as much as they get.

I had three transplants. One is for a friend. One is a back up. This solitary one was planted in my garden. I probably won't be able to eat any of them. I still can't eat the solanums, but you never know. And my townhouse mates will be happy to eat them. If I find taking care of it makes me sick, I'll have my townhouse mates take care of it. But it would just be so sad not to have it. I gave it all the loving care I always do when planting. Fertilizer, bone meal, and lots of crushed eggshells mixed about a foot to two feet down in the soil. Then I removed the bottom leaves and planted it deeper. Not quite as deep as the fertilizer I put in but the roots will grow down there and find it. Tomato roots get very deep and convincing them to go down will help keep blossom end rot away since they will have a steady moisture supply deep down.

The tomato plant is in the mustard bed. The mustard plants are getting bigger, but I swear some of them are thinking of bolting already. They are a spring crop and we did have some really bad hot weather way too early in the season. I really hope my experiment to get mustard seed works. If not I'll collect whatever I get and save seed to plant next year.

Then I wanted to plant the cukes and zukes. First I had to pull all the 3' high cilantro out of the bed. It covered the whole bed. I made my compost pile a foot deeper.

I took two days to pull it all out and prepare the bed as usual. Then I invited Kronos, my daughters dog into the garden with me. I wanted to see how easily he would be trained to the garden. I had my other dogs garden trained. They learned to walk on the paths and leave the beds alone. But Kronos likes laying on plants over laying on the mulch. And as all dogs, they don't stick to the paths normally, so the prepared bed had doggie tracks all over it and a few onion plants may never recover. I'm thinking the effort of training and the squashed plants aren't worth getting him partially trained by the time he leaves. Too bad. It is nice having a dog with you when you garden. And dogs would always rather be out in the garden with you than inside.

But I finally got the cucumbers planted. I thought about building a bamboo trellis like normal. But the tomato cages are not being used. So I figured they were good enough and so much easier. And they can grow as the plants grow. I'm hoping to have twelve plants of each Calypso and Cross Country. If they don't germinate I have more seed that I can start indoors. In front I planted four zucchinis. Two Black Raven and two Costata Romanesca. The Romanesca aren't really bush plants they travel which makes them a bit of a pain in a bed. But I'll try to train them to loop around the bed if I can.

I want to try to keep them contained here since I want to try something new this year. The vine borers always take the plants down. They come out at about 1000 degree days, which is just a measure about how hot it has been. As I write this we are at 345 which is not at all normal for this time of year. Since we have had so much hot weather in the spring, the borers will be out a lot earlier than normal. Usually I get a decent harvest before the plants are taken down in mid to late August. This year that won't be the case. The borers will come early, probably three weeks early, but I couldn't plant the zukes any earlier than normal because we have had some cold weather later too. So I'm going to try to cover them with a row cover just before we hit that magic number. I'll have to hand pollinate every day if I want more than baby zucchini. But for several weeks they will be covered. Maybe I'll actually get zucchini this year then. Maybe.

Don't you just love the little mint corner. The borage is going to take over and is self seeded. The forget-me-nots that I planted last year are blooming. And those pretty jumpups are a gift from the soil that was put in by the landscapers. One popped up last year. I left it to bloom and go to seed. This year I have about six of them scattered around. They are different from the ones that I brought in my compost from my old place. Those are the bicolored ones. They are purple and yellow. These are straight purple. Both lovely in their own way. I wonder what they will look like if they ever cross.

Whoohoo! Yes just picture me doing a little dance. I found this solitary one a couple of days ago. Now it has friends. I'm thinking I'll get my first peas this coming week. I'm really hoping. Peas. YES!

And here they are. If you look at the peas all along the back you will see there are three different heights. One planted in February, one in March, and the last in April. The April sowing didn't have good germination. I think there were too many hungry insects active by that time (in a normal year the insect timing would be early May). So that planting didn't work out too well. But I'm trying to stagger the harvest so they will last longer into the summer. I don't know if it will work. Peas hate the heat. But I'll find out this year. If it does extend my harvest it will be worth it.

18 comments:

  1. Everything looks great. I put my cucumbers on tomato cages as well, though this year I am a bit short on cages and some may have to sprawl on the ground. I love johnny-jump-ups. Just one of those flowers I remember my mother planting.

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  2. wow your garden looks great!!!

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  3. Everything looks great, as usual. The squash vine borers are already hard at work in my garden. They have really weakened my plants already. I have killed 7 of them already. I only have gotten one squash so far. I may not have a good squash harvest this year. I guess I'll try again next year, if that happens.

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  4. It looks like a perfect week for heat loving crops to be planted even up here. That is if the weather predictions don't change.I think I will be planting some out next week. I know you can't eat tomatoes, but it must be nice to grow at least one plant.

    It made me laugh to see the dog prints in your bed. There is no way I could train Bradie to stay in the paths especially when there i food in there :)

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  5. I don't plant my squaah until July 1. They borers have already done their dirty work by this date. I guess this year I can plant them a bit sooner, maybe I'll chance mid june sowing.

    You have just reminded me that I need to get my cucumbers planted!

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  6. Daphne, I'm glad I read your post about the Romanesca being more of a trailing plant. I'm growing them for the first time this year. I'll have to plan accordingly! Everything is looking great in your garden! Hooray for your pea flowers. I think my peas will be flowering soon also!

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  7. Hi Daphne, Interesting post and gardening that you do. Enjoyed reading how you do your tomato plant. Dog prints in the garden were cute but probably not to you! We had to put a fence around our garden as our little dog eats everything! Hope your squash makes it and hope mine does too! I planted radishes around mine. Read that helps. Will see! Nancy

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  8. I am so impressed with your peas, I'm currently fighting a losing battle with the slugs and mine are getting eaten at a slightly slower rate than they are growing - ir progress is exceptionally slow. Hopefully they will get there though.

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  9. I have peas too! I wish I could get my dogs trained to only walk on the paths. They've trampled far too much.

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  10. Can the Costata Romanesca be grown attached up a trellis?

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    1. It would be hard. It is a weird mix of a zucchini growth habit and a winter squash habit. It has very heavy leaves at the "top". The leaves die back as it grows. I've had it grow about an 8' length of vine before but all the weight is in the last foot or so. I'm not saying it is impossible, but I don't think it would be easy. A 6' tall heavy duty tomato cage might work better.

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    2. I have a tall texas tomato cage, but I thought a vertical trellis with pea netting and plastic clips might work. I really want to grow that Costata Romanesca, but I don't have the room this year, unless I grow it vertical.

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  11. Wonder if this would work, http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/simple-squash-trellis

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    1. That looks sturdy enough to work.

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  12. Good alternative use of the tomato cage. Glad you will have at least a few tomatoes in the garden - just would not seem right without them!

    Your experiment with covering the zucchini sounds interesting. The degree day milestone makes sense and helps explain why borers are typically not a problem I have to deal with - we just never get warm enough long enough I think to reach that mark.

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  13. I don't seem to have squash vine borers here, at least most years, but we shall see what happens this year. I've planted a lot more squash than normal. Your garden is lovely and really taking off! Love those strawberries!

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  14. The garden looks great. I've been tempted to set out my transplants, but I'm uphill from you and probably will do it next week.

    Last year I covered my zucchini and patty pan with row cover at the beginning of the season. I hand pollinated the zucchini and only lost one but eventually got tired of doing that and uncovered. The cover did protect the squash from the attack of squash bugs that wiped out my neighbors squash and I plan to do it again.

    And I, too, am trying Costata Romanesco after seeing it at Tower Hill last year. Thanks for the heads up. I guess I remember some brutish behavior but I was too focused on the beautiful fruits for it to register. Now I will be prepared.

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  15. Make sure to let us know how the staggered peas experiment goes (even if they all die at the same time.) Peas are my favorite fresh veggie, so I've thought about trying it myself. Mine have very small pods this week - so excited!

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