Late Fall Planting

The week of Thanksgiving, we abandoned the warmth of our kitchen to do a bit of gardening.  We recently acquired asparagus and rhubarb crowns, and wanted to get them into the ground before the first major freeze of the season.  So, we took advantage of a seasonably warm afternoon, stepped into our gardening shoes, and dug our fingers into the cool, damp soil.

First on the docket was to sort through our worms from our compost.  The girls and Tyler picked out each individual wormy (as the girls like to call them), and placed them into a fresh compost bin that would be moved inside for the winter.  Then the amazing, black gold was used in the trenches that would house the asparagus roots.

The girls then helped me to separate the asparagus roots, which we concluded look just like how we imagine aliens to look, and placed them deep beneath the surface of the soil.  We did the same with the rhubarb crowns, burying them underneath the black earth in hopes they will produce delicious spring vegetation in a few months.

Fall Planting and Harvest

Upon our return from Disney, it was to the garden we went for some fall harvesting and some more planting.  We came home to our second round of beans, ready and waiting for us on the vine.  They were a very welcomed surprise after eating a bit too much non-homegrown food on our trip.

There were also about 80 tomatoes begging to be picked, and a whole lot of raspberries ripe and ready for a little princess to pick for her afternoon snack.

We then set to planting our new beds with some cold-hardy greens.  We are hoping to add a hoop house or some type of low tunnel over these beds once the frost sets in. (Even though that seems very far off at the moment, as I listen to my air conditioner humming at this precise moment, when it is a whopping 90 degrees again today.)

Tomato Time

In our neck of the woods, Mother’s Day weekend marks our last frost date.  So now that momma’s day has come and gone, we have been “gettin’ out in it” and planting our tomatoes.

If you have been reading for awhile now, you may remember that back in February we had our family’s annual seed starting day.  Well, I’m sad to say that after three years of starting our tomato seeds inside, this year was a complete flop.  We are not sure of the cause:  old seeds (for the first time ever we used left over seed from the previous year instead of ordering new), bad light bulbs, not enough watering, too much watering or a little bit of each.  But whatever way you look at it, those tomato seeds never got beyond the tiniest sprout and then just kind of died.

After getting beyond the feelings of defeat, we went on to plan number two:  the farmer’s market.  I started chatting with a few different venders and found a woman whom I immediately knew I wanted to buy tomato plants from.  She genuinely cared about the plants that she had tended to since seed stage, and I knew with that much tender loving care I was bound to get some great tomatoes out of these plants.  From this kind woman I ended up with:

~18 Viva Italia plants (She claims they make the best tomato sauce and cans beautifully…yes please!)

~2 Juliet plants (These plants produce small, oblong tomatoes that are sweet in flavor and are perfect for garden snacking.)

I then ventured to another farmer’s market where I ran across our favorite local mushroom growers.  They told us that their tomato seeds they started indoors for their home garden didn’t grow past seedling stage either (I must say, this did make me feel a touch less like the worst green thumb on earth.)  They told me they were going to purchase some tomato plants from the vendor whose booth was neighboring theirs, so I too bought a few plants from them.  I ended up with an additional 6 Roma plants.

Finally, I went back to The Seed Savers Exchange, where we buy all of our seeds, and looked at their transplant options.  I ended up ordering a few of our favorite heirloom varieties from them:

~2 Green Zebra plants (A sight for the eyes as well as the taste buds!  Tart yet sweet in taste…delicious.)

~2 Mexician Midget plants (For more garden-side snacking)

~1 Amish Paste (A great paste tomato we had great success with last year.)

~1 Speckled Roman (Also a great paste tomato we loved in past years.)

***A great natural gardening tip I obtained from the lovely woman I mentioned from the first farmer’s market:  When you plant your tomato transplant, put one tablespoon of epsom salt in the hole before you plant.  Then once a month, sprinkle one tablespoon of epsom salt around the base of the plant and water.  She said she has been doing this for years, and the epsom salt acts as a natural fertilizer for the plant.

I tried it out.  I dug my hole, put down a thin layer of compost, then added the one tablespoon of epsom salt.  I then planted the tomato plant as I normally would.

We shall see.