Kitchen Garden

Big Weekend in the Garden

Three rows of tomato plants.

I returned nine empty seedling trays to the farm Sunday morning before my soil blocking shift.

The empty trays reflected clear weather and dry enough soil for planting. I had been worried seedlings would get root bound. I think I made it into the ground in time. I hope so.

The last three days have been devoid of rain with mild temperatures. I worked outside a total of 15 hours, finishing initial planting in six of seven plots. Now I must find spots for garlic planting in late July, Ancho and Guajillo chilies, eggplant and winter squash. I retained several trays of extra seedlings in case there are failures. Starts of basil, parsley, cilantro and broccoli are ready for the second wave of those varieties.

Putting in tomatoes is a big production. I cleared a plot that had been inactive since fall. I dug two-foot wide trenches for the seedlings and prepared the ground with a hoe and rake, putting down fertilizer before raking. A big part of tomato planting is sorting seedlings grown in the greenhouse, seeing how they germinated and counting varieties. In the end I made 47 planting areas with one or two plants per cage in 21 varieties.

Row of Green Beans

This year I separated the cherry tomatoes into their own spot with more space between plants. The idea is to use that space to gather bowls of multi-colored fruit for the kitchen and for gifts. They are already blossoming.

Main crop slicers will be Brandywine and German Pink, both available from the Seed Savers Exchange. Plum tomatoes included Amish Paste, Roma, Speckled Roma and Granadero. I planted six varieties of cherry tomatoes with orange, red, yellow and white colored fruit. If the plots grow there will be plenty of tomatoes for fresh eating, gifts, freezing and canning.

Another big project was planting cucumbers. Planning included seed selection (Northern Pickling, Little Leaf Pickling, Jade and Marketmore) and downsizing the space from last year. I use 2 x 4 inch welded wire fencing to support plant growth and put seedlings close together. Everything survived the transplant. If plants are successful, there should be plenty of fresh and pickling cucumbers.

The last big planting was hot peppers. I made a patch of 15 plants and everything survived transplant. I have extra seedlings if some should fail. I selected jalapeno and Serrano for fresh eating and Bangkok, Red Rocket, Cayenne and Red Flame for drying. I also have Ancho and Guajillo chilies ready to plant once I figure out where. This will be an experiment in Mexican cooking if successful.

Spending time in the garden enabled me to watch the beans grow. From early Friday morning until late that night plants pushed out of the ground until the row was filled in. The same was true for the red beans, although they were a day later. It is something to watch the garden grow.

By Sunday afternoon I needed a nap. Today I’m rested and ready to get back into the garden for as long as the sun shines. The stress of too much rain is changing to worry about drought. We’re not there yet.