Attack of the Killer Tomatoes… The May Garden

This week, I walked into the back bedroom and was nearly knocked over by the aroma of tomatoes.  Even though we planted on March 24, a mere five weeks ago… are you ready for the progress?

March 24, 2012

May 3, 2012

About two weeks ago, we transplanted from initial trays to peat pots; however, things had gotten a little out of control while my attention was focused on grading rough drafts.  Since we’re growing four different kinds of tomatoes… some were still sort of okay, while others were sprawling in all manner of directions.  I remembered last year’s staking catastrophe, whereby I just waited FOREVER before staking and ended up with some really oddly-shapen stems.  I also remembered a temporary solution that I had come up with much too late.

I went to the kitchen and came back with a package of 10” bamboo skewers, the type available for about $3 at our grocery store that I use to make kebabs.  And for a mere $3, you can stake 100 tomatoes!  I drove each stake into a peat pot, about 3/4” from the base of the tomato and then used some left over embroidery floss to loosely tether the tomato to the stake, leaving plenty of room for growth!  Do note that over the next few weeks, until these girls go in the garden, we’re going to have to keep a close eye on their tethers and replace them if they get too tight!

Skewered Tomatoes

It also became necessary to separate out the tomatoes, as their previous trays had become way too crowded… so we split two trays off onto my writing desk for the time being (a nice, sunny window) and plan to work a rotation schedule together, so everyone gets a nice mixture of sun exposure and grow light.

The only problem we’ve had with the tomatoes is with the TCG variety (Costoluto Genovese Tomato).  With this variety’s leaves, we’ve noticed some serious curling, discoloration and withering.  I’m trying to keep a closer eye on things this week, but the phenomenon has me concerned.  You can see in the photo below that the leaves do tend toward curling back in on themselves.  I will note that as soon as I see signs of leaf-decay, I usually remove the affected leaves immediately, in the hopes of containing any bacterial/fungal issues, and we haven’t seen any signs of such decay on any of the other plants, so it may just be a problem with this specific tomato variety.

TCG Leaves

This weekend, we’re hoping to start our kale, squashes, cucumbers and other vining veggies indoors (with what little space we have left!).  Yesterday, Jason managed to get our garden rototilled in preparation for outdoor plantings of peas and ranunculus.

I also finished up this little project for my friend Kate’s baby shower!

The pattern came from the lovely little book Quilts, Bibs, Blankies, Oh My! by Kim Schaefer and was super-easy to amend to our particular needs (smaller, with a soft flannel backing).

Enjoy your weekend!


Seed Starting ~ What’s Going in Our Garden

Given that we have about eight weeks before we will be able to safely plant some of our most tender vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, basil, etc…), we decided that it was time to take out the grow-light and get everything situated.  We use an old metal table (which does a great job reflecting heat back into the plants), a recycled florescent four bulb T8 fixture, and a timer that ensures the plants get a solid 12 hours of light/day.

On Saturday morning, we set everything up and refilled the seed starters that we used an saved last year with fresh potting mix.  Given that the soil had spent the last few days in our garage, we warmed it under the lights for an hour before planting.

Warming the Soil

We then planted the following:
1 Full Flat of Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach (Cold Frame in 2 Weeks)
1 Full Flat of Salad Bowl Lettuce (Cold Frame in 2 Weeks)

76 Italian Basil
9 Cilantro
9 Fernleaf Dill

18 Carciofo di Romagna Artichokes (CA)
*I started with nine but the seeds were so pretty…

9 Container Choice Hybrid Tomatoes (TH)
32 Golden Gem Tomatoes (TM)
27 Costoluto Genovese Tomato (TCG)
10 Orange Paruche Tomatoes (TO)

OR Peppers

36 Oregon Hybrid Peppers (OR)
27 Sweet Rainbow Peppers (SR)
10 Early Jalapeno Peppers (JAL)

Given the outrageous cost of plant markers, I also purchased a box of popsicle sticks (which we can recycle after use) to use as plant markers.  Above, each parenthetical corresponds with the popsicle stick plant markers I plan to use.

Once done, we gave everyone a nice drink of water, put on the greenhouse caps and turned on the lights.  Keep checking back for our weekly plant update!

Waiting for Sprouts!