Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Tomatoes

I took charge of this crazy garden this weekend. Last night I sat out on the lawn and just thought about it, sort of like Peter in the tub after the Snowy Day. I thought about the lasagna. I thought about gardening with people in the community rather than alone. I thought about our space and investment in it. I thought about how much we loved all the tomatoes last year.

And the decision became clear: fuck the lasagna for now, dig a new trench for all the tomatoes, make room for neighbor friends to plant as they wish, and enjoy this thing. It felt good. I got out the shovel and just started turning earth. It’s not the kind of sustainability-minded practice the lasagna is, but it’s practical and realistic and I want space for tomatoes!

I’m taking courage from Natalie’s advice to just let the lasagna be what it is for now and move on. The kids helped me. Idris wanted to jump on the spade as I was digging. “Todos juntos!” he said. Io and a friend got down and “helped.” (You’ll see the line gets a little wiggly there. I’m sure it was my fault.)

I didn’t want to stop working but nightfall came.  Then this morning I was able to go get my tomato seedlings.  After a few years of this I now know how much I love the Sweet 100s, and how poorly most of the big tomatoes do.  I figured in my new trench I’d be able to plant about 16 (although I always space too closely).  The store (Fragers, not Gingko Gardens) had exactly what I wanted.  Ridiculous prices, but oh well.

Ken took the kids to a neighbor’s field day party, leaving me with four hours (!) to do as I pleased.  Because there has been some talk of a fence on the north side of the garden, I figured I better actually measure the trench against something rather than eyeballing it next to the already eyeballed lasagna.  While I got out the measuring tape and dug the outer edge 135” away from the fence, two dads and their kids played in the most charming way in the park to the west.  The digging went fast and was quite fun.

Since I come from North Dakota, I am full of shame as I admit that I had to buy dirt for this phase of the project.  I’ve been adding compost for years, but because I’m doing this trench late in the spring season and the lasagna is such a handful, I just broke down and bought dirt.  The ground is VERY rocky, so I spent quite a bit of time digging rocks out.  Then I added the compost, stirred in the top soil, and voila:  a pretty place for my tomatoes.

I also decided to do a couple other things.  First, I dumped the trench soil—grass and all—on the lasagna.  I’ll deal with the fallout from the grass later.  It just felt good to get some dirt on that sucker.  I covered the area down on the west side where the sad, sad little greens are (I feel like a bad steward having let them get so sad).  We’ll see if that brings them back.  And then I dumped the rest over on the east side no-grow-land.  I have no idea what I’ll do with that space.

The other thing it that I made the east and west side edges parallel to the things closest to them:  the building on the east side and the park fence on the west.  I measured, again, and cut the dirt to reflect the new angles.

And then I planted!  (The thing still doesn’t look very straight, does it?)

Two Beefs.

Six Sweet 100s.

Two Sweet 'N' Meat Yellows.

Two Romas.

And two San Marino somethings.

Stay tuned to see how they do.  I mostly didn’t follow any best practices, which is really dumb.  I planted them in the middle of the day in full sunlight.  I dug up the soil the same day and conditioned it with compost and top soil the same day.  I didn’t add bananas or egg shells.  I didn’t modify the soil in any other way, despite the fact I know it’s short on nitrogen.  So they probably won’t make it!  But it’ll be fun to see what happens.

I’m also very happy to report that the Zambian Green stalks I chopped off are sprouting just like I hoped they would!

And the peas are doing wonderfully, getting bigger and staying hearty each day!

Happy Mother’s Day to me. 


Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I finally dared to plant the peas on May 3rd.  Two and a half rows, with Io's help.

Look what I have by May 7th!

Pretty little pea shoots.

Hi, little worm.

Io and I also dropped some zinnias in the sprout box about a week ago. Sprouts!

The potatoes continue to do okay in the lasagna.

Hi, little ladybug.

Neighbor gardener friend has added a couple tomatoes to the mix, along with a superman bean (that seems to have met its fate.

Rogue arugula from last year, with peach babies dropped from the tree above.

Peach baby tree.

Saturday (day before Mother's Day):  TOMATOES!

Posted by Picasa