Plants On Deck

Today was a busy day for the little blue deck. Tomatoes (Black Cherry, Isis Candy, and Gold Nugget made the cut — alas, my Kellogg’s Breakfast and Dwarf Tims didn’t do so well as seedlings and were scrapped), beans, (more) lettuce, carrots, oregano, basil, and orange cosmos were all planted.

Unfortunately, Philly’s expecting a week of rain and evening lows in the upper 40’s; so it’s not necessarily ideal, but the tomato seedlings were straining at the seams of their seeding container. And this gardener was sick of hardening. If you can wait until next weekend, by all means, do. Anyway, in preparation for the big day the seedlings were doused fairly generously with water so they’d come out of their containers fairly easily — which one hopes will help reduce transplanting trauma.

The cucumber, pepper, and melon seedlings will join rejoin their friends in a week or two, after the evening lows have risen a tad.

Black Cherry Tomato Seedling
Black Cherry and the Knife

This black cherry gets to call the container filled with 28 lbs of Organic Mechanics dirt home for the next 5 months. The soil acclimated to outdoor temperatures for a week and was augmented with a few eggshells for additional calcium, and a few handfuls of worm castings were mixed in as well. To help the seedling free itself from the bonds of its nursery, run the knife around the perimeter of the container and…

Transplanting Black Cherry
Free the Tomato!

…Gently shake the seedling into your hand.

Black Cherry Strips Down

Tomatoes are one of the few fruits (or vegetables) that actually like to be planted below the soil line. That is, below the point where your seedling meets its original dirt. Strip the leaves that will be buried from the stem and set your seedling deep into its pot. This strengthens the primary stalks and roots will sprout from the submerged stem.

Planted Black Cherry Tomato Seedling
Yippie!

Here, the black cherry has been surrounded with luscious seaweed-enriched mulch (to prevent splash back and, one hopes, diseases) and lettuce seeds have been planted around the perimeter of the container.

Planted Black Cherry Tomato Seedling
Caged Black Cherry

Dirt Bags

Dirtbags

Dirt’s here! Over 5 cubic feet of organic potting soil, 5 lbs. of worm casings, and one cubic foot of seaweed enriched mulch have made their way to South Philly. Although POD desperately wanted to try the local Organic Mechanic soil, nothing larger than a wee 14 lb. bag could be procured. So, the D. Landreth black cherry tomatoes will enjoy that while the rest of the deck will have to settle for the less expensive Coast of Maine potting soil.

And, for those of you keeping track: $100 for seeds, peat pots, and seaweed fertilizer and $65 for dirt, mulch, and worm poop. Here’s hoping for a fruitful harvest. (4/24 next year buy more like 8 or 9 cu feet).

Drink Milk

Tomato Milk
Tomato Milk

Last year POD’s Nebraska Wedding suffered from (among other things) a nasty case of blossom end rot. Wherein the lovely half-formed fruits suddenly blackened at the, well, blossom end and rotted. Exactly as the difficult-to-parse name would suggest.

Since then I learned that tomatoes need calcium to keep their cell walls strong and healthy. So this Chocolate Cherry is soaking up a diluted mixture of soured skim milk (why use good milk?) and water. This particular batch was about 40% milk and 60% water but it’s not all that fussy.  Well, calcium and warm soil. So practice patience, if you can, and wait for temperatures to stabilize.

Supposedly tomatoes also enjoy a seaweed snack every now and again. Since South Philadelphia isn’t quite close enough to the Jersey shore to use seaweed as mulch, I ground up some dried seaweed from the Number One Asian supermarket, dumped it in the milk solution and called it a day. We shall see.