Sunday, June 27, 2010

Garden Report

The problem with weeding is the original Pringles jingle: "once you pop, you can't stop." You start popping those clover roots and deep dandelion roots out of the soft mud, and you just can't stop. I want to finish the job, and clear the jungle of weeds away so that you can see the soil in all the garden patches, and not just in the lovely tomato patch which I weeded yesterday.

Note to self: make sure shirt is tucked in when weeding. There are certain parts of my body that have not seen sun in 30 years, since the bikini days of long-ago summers. With my shirt untucked yesterday, and mid-day June sun hitting a couple inches of my very white lower back, I now have a glaring red streak just above my jeans' waistband.

I don't know what it is, but my fruit trees didn't do well this year. The cherry harvest was less than what I would have gotten in 15 minutes last year. One apple tree has no fruit; the other has only 3 apples. The grape vines are very sparsely fruited. But the grapes are babies. They have an excuse; they need time.

Still haven't harvested the spring beets. They're getting big.

Lettuce is almost done. My second planting still has a small head or two.

None of the carrots have germinated.

My early-June planting of cilantro seeds (bought fresh a few weeks ago!) is coming up. Finally I'm seeing some cilantro. And smmmmmelling cilantro. The cilantro plants that I bought and transplanted are going to seed already. I hope I can still use them. Or that the seeds will hurry up and form, and fall, and grow, and get me some more cilantro. Can't have too much of that!

Bye-bye to my organic tomatoes. I found little red aphids on one of them. Hello Sevin Dust.

Yesterday I staked the tomatoes and pruned them. These hybrid tomatoes sure put out gobs of leaves. That was a problem last year. This year I pruned earlier, hoping to give the tomatoes room to grow, and sun and air, and hoping to put a little more of the plants' energy into creating fruit instead of lots of lovely greenery. Doing all 10 plants at once helped me figure out which branches needed to go and which were the fruit-bearing shoots. Woo hoo! I've tried to figure that out before; it's been explained to me. But sitting there, following branches from the roots to the tip, and seeing what was on them, and making careful observations, well, it paid off. I figured it out!

How come so many slugs? I'm going to have to figure out what to do about them. I'm hoping there won't be so many when I'm caught up with the weeding -- not so many moisty dark hiding places. On the other hand, maybe they'll be hungry for the plants I'm trying to grow instead of being satisfied with the invading weeds. Eek.

Been meaning daily to plant more beans and more carrots. But it's SO wet out there that I'm afraid to try to dig. Loosening the soil at this point may have the same lumpy results as trying to dig in mid-March. I could just shove bean seeds into the soil, but that wouldn't work with carrots.

Strawberries still have some fruit. I haven't even tried to harvest them the last week, what with other duties and some illness. Need to get out there tomorrow. I hope.

While weeding near the asparagus, I saw pretty little red growths on the raspberry canes. Oh boy! I better prune next year's canes pretty quickly, so that I'll be able to find the fruit on this year's canes. I pruned back a lot of next year's growth already, but I need to hack back more of it. Jam soon, raspberries to snack on sooner. And my favorite raspberry pie!


  1. We have so much to learn. Pruning tomatoes? Sigh. Time to do some research.

  2. Cheryl, I never heard about pruning tomatoes either. But last year we had some plants that grew so full and lush that you couldn't find the ripe RED tomatoes in amongst the vines and leaves. I pruned last year just as a desperation measure. This year, with all hybrids and no heirlooms, I could see the plants headed in the same direction. So I tried pruning again this year. I hope I didn't snip too much away.

  3. My little short raspberry bushes have about 5 raspberries on them. (They were first planted this year.) I suppose I should pinch them off so that the plant puts energy into growing this first year, but I just can't do it! Raspberry pruning is still rather a mystery to me...

  4. Today I went wild "snipping". Got a new pruner. There is just no stopping once you get started. Tell me about pruning tomatoes. Any of the big pretty branches with all leaves and no sign of blooms? My one cherry tomato in a cage is now taller than me. The up-side down is luscious looking, but has wilted enough times, I am doubtful of good fruit. It has lots of green tomatoes.

  5. What were you snipping, Mom? Isn't it NICE how those new pruning shears are so sharp and easy to work?

    What I did with the tomatoes was prune off the horizontal branches that came off the main vine at the same place where there was a more vertical (or diagonal) branch. The horizontal ones (or the ones headed back to the ground) that are all leaf and no bloom are ones that can be snipped. I guess I won't know for another month or so whether I snipped too much. I kept telling myself that the poor plant needs SOMEthing with which to make food from the sunshine.

    Now, why does your tomato cage not fall over? (Or are your cages a lot like Gilly's? I remember his durable ones!)

    How did Karen's upside-down tomato work last year? I think I'd kill one. I assume they have to be watered every day like a flowering basket of petunias or geraniums.

    Jenny, I wrote you an answer on raspberry pruning, but I don't see it here. I'll wait a while and see if it reappears. (Maybe somebody changed windows before I hit "send"?)

  6. I can't get my tomato cages to not fall over either. There has GOT to be a better way than these supposedly-reusable cages that end up all bent and beat up after one year!

  7. I snipped the bushes in front, spirea, evergreen between us and duplex, limbs of blue spruce that I hit my head on when I mow, garbage growth coming over fence from back, etc. It's still all laying where I snipped, as mosquitoes started biting. I can get back to it tomorrow afternoon. I'll probably try tomato pruning at that time. The cages Dad made were out of that heavy stuff they put into concrete (I think). I can't remember one ever falling over.

    Karen's up-side down didn't do very well last year. Had blossom-end rot. Directions say that's what you get if you aren't consistant with the watering. Therefore, it would not surprise me a bit if that's what happens to this one. Karen bought some humungous tomato and pepper plants. I've never seen plants like them. So if I don't get what I need, I know where to go :)

  8. Jenny, we're using just one pole of 1/2" diameter rebar. It's a 6' pole, with about 18-24" stuck in the ground, good and solid. I use rags to tie branches to the bar.

    So my mom is talking about rebar too, but she's talking about a mesh and not a pole. (At least that's what I think.) Mom, weren't Dad's cages made from stuff where the square holes were smaller? I think Gilly's cages had the wires about 6" apart both vertically and horizontally. But his cages, too, were strong stuff and not about to fall over.

  9. My tomatoes are growing, but my pepper plants are teeny tiny. They're growing peppers. One has two sweet peppers (banana-shaped, not bell) that are practically bigger than the plant!

    I pulled a lot of clover and sorrel out of the raspberry patch today. It's still lying all over the ground too. I could claim that it's lying there, drying in the sun, so I can add it as brown matter to the compost pile, seeing as how I've got an overabundance of green matter right now. Yup, that sounds like a good excuse for not picking it up today. That'll be my story.

  10. Dad's cages look like about 5 inch squares - enough to get your hand through, holding a nice fat tomato.

  11. We've used our tomato cages for several years in a row. Just bought a few more yesterday because we have more tomato plants this year. The new ones are about the same size but seem heavier duty. We haven't had trouble with them falling over except in a really bad storm. Maybe you're not anchoring them deep enough in the dirt, EC?

  12. They're not falling over, Cheryl, just getting terribly bent up from the weight of the plants.

  13. Ours would get bent up, like EC described. Ours would also sometimes fall over, in part because of the weight of the plants inside, and in part due to the high winds where we used to live. But hey, there our trees grew on a diagonal, and we could not have a tent in the backyard unless it was an exceptionally calm day. In other words, I doubt Cheryl very often gets winds like that in her suburban back yard. But hey, come to think of it, we don't either now that we moved. But I already have my rebar, and it should last a good long time.

  14. I think I'll try the rebar idea, Susan. I could even spray paint the rebar a bright cheery color, just for fun.

  15. Don't paint it red. Also, if possible, do not use red t-shirts or red socks as your rag-strips to tie the tomatoes. You stand in the kitchen, look out at the garden, see red, and your little heart starts going thumpity-thump over the ripening tomatoes ... and then you hasten to the garden, sallivating all the way, and discover it's just a piece o' cotton holding the vine to the stake. Go with blue or yellow or a funky green, or maybe even orange or purple. But not red. (Surely there is orange paint around there SOMEwhere....)

  16. Maybe a cheery golden yellow?