Tomato Time

East Nashville’s Tomato Arts Festival may already be history, but the tomatoes here at POD are in full, glorious swing.

And unsurprisingly, we’ll do things differently next year. Notes to self:

Raised Bed
Mr. Stripey, you are delicious071315_leaningstripey, but you do not work so well. Planted on May 9 this plant never had the vigor of the two hybrids planted in the front. I think the religious applications of Tomato-Tone have been the saving grace. Thus far, one fruit has been harvested and although it looks like a few more will make the cut, next year it’s time to look into a different variety.

I’d be willing to give another indeterminate a shot here, though. Next year, consider planting tomatoes towards the back of the planter — because even though the leaves never quite hit their stride, the plant’s height shaded the bush zucchinis that resided behind it into soggy oblivion. Also, figure out a better staking method! the 42″cages were so not up to the task. And finally, alas, tomatoes that are low in acid must also be part of the equation. Mike McGrath has some great suggestions on this front.

South Side

Because I had a couple of extra starts, I decided to hack out a swath of garden along the southeast side of the back yard, because why not? It’s largely devoted to herbs, but we threw a couple of tomatoes and a watermelon out there, because why not? Aaaannnd, forgetting entirely that I, you know, blog about the garden from time to time, I manged not to note the exact variety of yellow tomato that we planted. Or when, exactly, I planted them. (Around Mother’s Day?) But hey, we currently have a dozen of these sweet guys taking up precious kitchen counter space!

We’ve gotten three Mr. Stripeys off this plant, but we’ll still be in the market for a new pet next year.

Also? STAKE AND TRAIN THEM BETTER!!

Front
It would figure that in PODs version of shattering a bottle of champagne on the bow, tomatoes would christen the new land. Hastily purchased at the Home Depot and planted just hours after signing the papers on POD 2.0 (in mid- to late-April) the Juliet plum and Husky Cherry Red tomatoes went absolutely crazy in front of the house. So crazy, that the indeterminate plum totally overwhelmed the cage is hanging kudzu-like over the cherry laurel and spilling onto the porch. Not good for the laurel, very good for the tomatoes. So far, we’ve stuck about 10 lbs of plums in the freezer and the rest have rounded out the Hurricane’s lunches. The Juliet is just about the perfect tomato for lunching and saucing. I’m not totally crazy about the Husky’s flavor, although production is impressive enough.

Next year, select sweet determinate plants for the front and position them as close to the lawn as possible — they’ll eke out a few more minutes of sun and will be infinitely easier to harvest. These are the Hurricane’s tomatoes, so make ’em sweet and small.

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Hello, Stranger

white cucurbit blossomGardening is a pleasure. Often, a surprising pleasure. Some in the good way, some in the not-so-good-way.

For example, this garden is growing! Like really, really growing. The beans are enthusiastically clinging to their poles, wobbly chard grows stronger each day, bright green tomato plants with infant fruits fill cages, knee-high corn is a reality, zucchini blossoms brighten the corner of the bed, and man, those melons and cucumbers are climbing!

Like really, really climbing. I’ve been keeping  close eye on one of the aforementioned cucumbers, dear readers, and one of the freebies (labeled “bush cucumber”) just wasn’t looking all that cucumber-y to me. Let alone, bush-y.

You see, I know cucumbers fairly well. They are among the Hurricane’s (and my) favorite garden treats. I’ve grown over a dozen varieties over the years and, well, I’ve never encountered a white blossom on  a cucumber before. And the leaves, oh my god, Becky, they’re so big.mystery cucurbit leaves

My first thought, “Cool! I’ve never seen a white blossoming cucumber before!”

My second thought, “Uh oh. I’ve never seen a white blossoming cucumber before.”

A little Googling not only brought me to the delightfully named Michigourders Gourd Guild site, but also confirmed my suspicions that the healthy, thriving cucurbit with lovely white flowers is…a GOURD. While a former Michigander I might be, I’ll never be a Michigourder.

It’s gone, leaving more room for the functional cucurbits. At least, we hope so.

Hey, Self

FullSizeRender (2)So here’s the thing: notes are great, but they inevitably find themselves lost, just when you need them most.

One of the last times POD attempted to grow beans, they wound up yellow, brown, and blighted. The yield: one measly handful, not even enough to anchor the amazing pesto/pasta/potato summer weeknight mainstay.

BEANS:
This year, hopes are high and POD’s going all-in on beans. The first batch of IMG_1325purple bush beans were planted on May 9 and have germinated and been thinned to six plants to the square foot. To ensure a staggered harvest, the next installment of seeds are scheduled to hit the dirt tomorrow and again on May 29. The Kentucky Wonder pole beans have been thinned to 9 per square foot and, come May 29, the remaining dedicated space will be home to 5 per square foot.

CORN:
There’s simply nothing as pleasurable as watching corn grow. Last year this desperate container gardener fell for the dwarf corn nonsense, which so didn’t FullSizeRender (1)work, but was enjoyable to watch, nonetheless. This year, we’re going for the real deal. After today’s slightly belated thinning (POD’s Silver Queen are already about a foot tall), 12 plants occupy four square feet. This year they’re all planted in a nice soldier row, but in the future, consider planting two rows of two or three to encourage pollination. Let the second-guessing begin.