Kitchen Garden

Tomato Planting

Tomato Plot

Despite extreme heat tomatoes were planted yesterday.

Temperatures set new records throughout the state. Here it was 96 degrees by noon. I began planting at sunrise and finished around 10:30 a.m. when it became too hot. Snow last fell on April 15, so spring, if we can call it that, lasted about five weeks.

It is shaping up to be a punk vegetable season although it’s far from over. The heat stresses cucumbers and zucchini requiring a close watch to make sure they get enough water to survive. Likewise tomatoes. Some plants won’t survive and I reserved the extra seedlings to get through initial planting and establishment. Gardeners will adapt as best we can to weird and unseasonable weather. It’s what we do in a time of global warming.

Tomato Worksheet

That said, the tomato seedlings survived planting and the heat.

This year I planted eight varieties, Martha Washington, German Pink, Brandywine, Soldacki, Nepal, Red Pearl, Taxi and Clementine. If they all make it, harvest should include a variety of textures, colors and flavors.

The process was to dig three yard wide trenches in the designated plot. Using a hoe I broke up the clods of dirt then fertilized. Next I used a garden rake to further break up the dirt then fertilized again. Finally I smoothed everything over with a rake.

Down the center of the plot I spaced Soldacki and Brandywine seedlings about 18 inches apart — a bit close together but it allowed a dozen plants in the row. These varieties will produce fruit that weighs less than a pound.

I began the east row with German Pink. This variety grows fruit up to two pounds and I planted all five seedlings that germinated, spacing them more generously. It is one of my favorites because of the large slices it produces. Next I planted four each of Taxi, Red Pearl and Clementine bunched together. Each stake held two cages in which two each of the seedlings were planted together. These three varieties are smaller, with fruit weighing from 20 to 150 grams each.

In the west row I planted four each Nepal and Martha Washington spaced at 24 inches. These slicers will produce fruit weighing less than a pound. It’s the first time trying them both.

With seedlings planted, next is mulching. I need to harvest grass clippings for that, which got pushed off because of the heat.

Farmers Market Asparagus

After planning to skip the Solon Fire Fighters Pancake Breakfast, I showered and went to town after five hours in the garden. The morning crowd had dissipated so there was no line and plenty of food.

The big news was announcement of a $5 million fund raising goal to build a new fire station near the Dairy Queen. According to the handout, the building will be funded by private donations, donated goods, services and labor, and via loans. The goal is to raise the money by Jan. 1, 2020, although $5 million is a lot for our community comprised of a small city and four townships. “We’ll donate something,” I told first assistant chief Scott Wolfe.

It’s been a bad spring for asparagus with none from the farm this year as the farmer tries to reclaim her asparagus field. To make up for it, I went to the farmers market in the county seat on Saturday and found some. We featured it for dinner last night — steamed with butter and a seasoning mix. It was fit reward for a hot, tiring day.