From Dawn to Dusk

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One of my favorite times of the year arrived this week!  In the wee hours of Monday morning, we began pouring over our 2017 seed catalog (We order our seeds and transplants from The Seed Savers Exchange, based in Iowa.) and envisioning what it is we want our garden to look like this year.  Now that the girls are older, they too have taken on an added interest in this task and our day was filled with talk of which herbs would grow best inside their cinder block garden boarder, and whether or not we want to skip growing cucumbers again this summer.  (My girls no longer eat pickles.  Say what?!?)

We normally peruse the seed catalogs in February because this seems to be an especially difficult month to get through for us.  So dark.  So very cold.  This year, however, proved to be a bit strange in that this particular February day was unseasonably balmy.  So, we packed up our seed-browsing-paraphenalia and headed to the backyard.  There we started a nice fire and continued our quest for garden goodness outdoors, well into the evening.  Such an incredibly nice treat.

Arrival

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Just as we were nestling in for the night yesterday evening, there was a knock on our front door.  There stood our mailman with a small box tucked under his arm…Our 2013 seeds had arrived.

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So, our dinner table found itself scattered with those many seed packages, and tiny hands eager to sort them by vegetable, color and shape.  We had such fun, we completely forgot about the steady snow falling silently outside our window. Spring is on the horizon.

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.