Surely, this is a huge mistake. 2016’s tomatoes were incredible, amazing, prolific, and enduring. And honestly, I didn’t do a thing. Stakes collapsed, proving entirely insufficient for the task, the previous year’s wildflower offspring snuck up between the vines and I didn’t have the heart to stop them, and I watered when I remembered. Fruits were smushed by the alley’s traffic but it was totally fine because there were plenty more on the vine. Tomato-devouring squirrels lived in fear (or died by the dozen). I’m pretty sure the garden cat did more for the tomatoes this year than I did.
Happily, tomato-devouring squirrels lived in fear (or died by the dozen). I’m pretty sure the garden cat did more for the tomatoes this year than I did.
This year, however, we’ve got big things in store for our tomatoes.
Bed 3 will feature a purpose-built tomato support system, a first for POD. In addition to Jelly Bean, Easy Sauce, Orange Whopper, and a volunteer (which we’re sure to have), we’ll plant a few basil plants and marigolds.
Nothing to see here, folks. This bed spells summer.
First sowing of beans: May 1
Corn: May 1
Pepper Seedlings: May 1
Note to self about peppers. So, in a marathon session of online seed ordering, I ordered Gurney’s California Wonder peppers. Not really thinking about the fact that they’re SEEDS, not plants. And while I love the idea of growing peppers from seed –and the magic of seeds, in general — our tiny house isn’t the best place to cultivate seedlings. Our little home is a dangerous vortex of clumsy cats, a demanding Hurricane, poorly positioned windows, and too-much-to-do-to-little-time-disorder. It’s enough that I manage to keep a kid and three cats alive, let alone seedlings. Anyhoo, I digress. So that May 1 thing is a loose guideline. The Hurricane and I are going to make seed germination a cool science thing this spring and she’s in charge of keeping them alive. Not that she knows that yet. Plan on an early to mid-February seeding session.
Beans: May 1 (or earlier, weather depending. It’s been, like, 70 degrees, for 3 days. In January. But hey, Global Warming is just a thing scientists cooked up to get funding. No biggie. Nothing to cry about here.
Cucumbers: This year we hit Gurney’s for our seeds and sets. Just not super happy with Burpee’s last year — plant sets arrived late and battered and the cucumbers succumbed pretty immediately to blight.
Melon: Here’s hoping the Li’l Sweet Hybrid is amazing, because we need melons to work it this year. We need a money maker.
I’m pretty sure the Russians are going to be taking over the Kroger by the time spring rolls around, so January feels like a great time to get my head straight and garden plan on.
It’s a brand new world, good garden people. As I type, a grand garden shed is being erected in the back 40 (more on that later) with plenty of room for tools and just enough room for out-of-towners.
We’re expanding to four, count ’em FOUR, 4×8 beds this spring which means all sorts of fun. Undoubtedly, I’m being over-ambitious here, but hey, a gardener’s gotta’ dream. The first bed features early spring goodies. Nothing terribly earth-shattering in this particular bed, other than one last (I swear) attempt at growing something in the brassica family.
After suffering a series of catastrophic cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts failures over the years (thanks for being so dependable, cabbage loopers and stink bugs, you’re the best!), I swore I was done. Then the Endurer hit me with puppy eyes and we’re giving romanesco a shot. We haven’t seen one of these fractal beauties since fleeing the East Coast.
I thought Nashville was the next “It” city. Come on y’all, get with the program.
Last year’s garden was a largely a success, despite a shocking amount of neglect. Despite totally insufficient staking, four varieties of tomatoes flourished through early November, with the last of the green tomatoes ripening and becoming a delicious late December sauce. And happily, for the first time in POD’s history, an almost sufficient (the Hurrican and I really, really like beans) amount of green beans hit the table. The only complete failure were the cucumbers, which quite immediately contracted a blight and died after one round of prolific fruiting.
This year, one of POD’s many ambitious resolutions (ranging from chestnuts like exercise more and snack less to unicorns like slow down and smile more) includes paying a bit more attention to both the tiny plot of Lockeland Springs land and then actually writing about it right here in this here blog.
So much has happened in gardenland this summer that it’s been tough to keep up. Despite so-so attention, the summer garden was a one family CSA. Alas, it’s on the wane, and we’re digging in for the fall.
Here’s a quick summary:
Zucchinis have been uprooted after six solid weeks of zucchini meals four nights out of seven.
The four cucumbers caught a wilt and produced a meager dozen of fruits. Note to self: lemon cucumbers may be Nana’s favorites, but they’re not ours.
Tomatoes are going great guns, despite totally inadequate staking and a nasty, nasty worm proble
BEANS! Finally, after years of failure, the yields have been spectacular this year
And in the fall garden, seeds planted today by the Hurricane and yours truly:
beans (more beans!)
zucchini & cucumber (round two, planted earlier this month)
Wow. Behind on posts these days. But here’s the thing: we had a great spring for greens. The two beds produced well, but we’re still figuring out how much to plant and when. So, file this away in the “Note to Self” department: go greens crazy in March. We planted a two squares of arugula and spinach and four squares of lettuce. Not enough. Cover the beds with arugula and spinach, scatter in a few square of lettuce, but go for the greens. They’ll be ready to yank by the time May planting season rolls around in earnest and the freezer will be well-stocked with arugula pesto and my craving for saag paneer will be sated.
We love arugula around here, but never had the space to grow enough to do much beyond topping a few sandwiches. This year two square feet of garden space produced plenty of sandwich toppings, salad spice and three cups of arugula pesto. That’s a lot of rocket.
Planted in early March, the Selvatica arugula had just started to bolt when the craving for pesto hit hard. The entire patch was plucked and pesto was pounded. As this is apparently a smaller, wilder form of the tangy green, it’s a bit more heat tolerant, so we’re reseeding today, hoping for one more crop.
Note to Self: Although we did a much better job planting both beds with spring crops this year, I’m going all in next year and plan to plant an abundance of greens in early March, using each available square foot. It’ll take some fortitude, but when it’s time for summer planting, I’ll get all ruthless and yank them to make way for beans, zucchini, melons and corn in late April.
Okay, so here’s the thing: I need a good local nursery (Nashville, TN) or a great mail order one. Go!
My starts from Burpee are gorgeous, but customer service was so-so and they arrived a good two weeks later than I would have liked, despite asking nicely to have the shipment move up. And my lone Roma start from Territorial arrived more dead than alive.
At long last, the eagerly awaited shipment from Burpee has arrived. Although a couple of weeks later than this gardener would have like, the garden is planted.
Well, with the exception of the basil. Here’s a pro-tip: never place your complex online plant order with a very, very demanding and garden-aware 5-year-old at your elbow. Surprising precisely no one, but disappointing plenty, I managed to order 4 lemongrass starts rather than the 1 lemongrass and three Italian basil plants I had intended.
Who the heck needs 4 lemongrass bushes? Evidently Plants on Deck.
The Hurricane is not much of a baby anymore, having just forsaken “Frozen” for a reinvigorated allegiance to Hello Kitty and Rainbow Dash. (That I know a Pretty Pony name frightens me terribly.)
At any rate, this gorgeous Tennessee weekend was a busy one. False Indigo seeds imported from Michigan now bookend our gorgeous Autumn Sage, just upstage from our overwintered Blanket Flowers. Perfect timing, as our daffodils have gasped their last and the tulips are about to say goodnight for the season. Snap dragons augment the perennial pansies and self-starting borage, coreopsis, and zinnias have been transplanted from last year’s flower bed (eventually this year’s tomato patch, if Burpee ever gets around to sending us our starts) into the treacherous front hill. Calling all bees!
Lest you think this blog is about pretty things, let me tell you about our beans.
We love beans. And, legendarily, POD has had a rough go of growing this magical fruit. Last year was okay, at best, if you count black-eyed peas as beans. Which I do. I really do. We managed a few great pesto/bean/pasta meals featuring the young pods and enjoyed a New Year’s Hoppin’ John feast from our quart of shelled dried peas, but our Royalty Purple suffered from storms and poor garden positioning and our Kentucky Wonders were not so wonderful.
So this year, because I had to spend money on at least one new gadget, we’re going to plant our pole beans around this shiny new leaning tower, a row of faithful cow peas (black-eyed peas) and lima beans already line the property line fence, and a strip of Scarlet Runner bean will, we hope, will multitask as beautiful and bountiful.