"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gardening Progress

Hard to believe it was almost a month ago when I put the first tomato plants in the straw bales.  In the pic below you can see them under the screen that was there in case we needed to cover them quickly for frost protection.  Those are marigolds at the edge.  They compliment the tomatoes.  Insects that like tomatoes don't like marigolds.  Plus, they will just make the garden look prettier.

It's amazing how fast and almost imperceptibly the plants can grow.  The temps have dipped into the high thirties, and it can frost as late as May where we are, but for some reason I'm not worried about it.  We've got butterflies galore and the hummingbirds are back.  We have at least two pair and possibly three feeding in the back yard.  But here are the tomatoes as of today.

The tomatoes all have blossoms and are looking very healthy.  I keep gathering leaves from my own and the neighbor's yards to add to the walkways and the compost bins.  We eat fresh salad every day from four varieties: Head lettuce, Romaine, leaf lettuce, sorrel.  I also collect some sheep sorrel to go in there as well.

I also planted three varieties of bell pepper.  California Wonder, Red bell, and yellow bell.  But I confirmed with another farmer that I trust that pretty much all common bell pepper turns red if you just let it ripen all the way.  It's only the yellow and purple varieties that have been raised to give those specific colors when ripe.

That's red cabbage in the upper left.  I have three more like it elsewhere.  That's head lettuce to the right.  Those are pepper plants in the foreground.  The lettuce and cabbage got planted in the remains of last year's straw bales which were about 80% composted.  I raked them into piled rows and planted the cool weather veggies in them weeks before we set out the new bales.  The black you see at the top is a bed of soil with spinach on top of four straw bales.  Out of the pic to the left I planted radishes and nasturtium.

Planting in straw bales makes for nearly weed free gardening and high yield.  But if you are very serious about high yield, you will still need to check your plants every two or three days for suckers.  For the benefit of you newbies, suckers are not some kind of insect or pest.  They are unwanted growth on the plant itself.  I wish I could have gotten the focus better, but here is how you recognize suckers.

A sucker will occur in the joint of the plant where a leaf branch comes off the main stem of the vine.  Here is one just below a fruit stem that has blossoms on it.  You simply want to pinch that little sucker right out of there.  The reason they are called suckers is because they suck energy away from the fruit production, trying to spread the vine elsewhere.  As I stated in the post on grapes, plants will try to propagate themselves both asexually and sexually.  If you were to let a tomato vine run along the ground, it would put out roots wherever it touched the ground and keep spreading.

By pinching off the suckers, you cut off the plant hormone that signals for the plant to keep doing that, and instead signal the plant that it would be better to produce fruit with seed.

Little Bitty Suckers

I try to check for these little suckers every other day if possible and pinch them out while quite small.  The more you do it and get used to knowing what to look for, the easier it gets.

Sometimes, you will get suckers at the base of the plant.  They might even grow up looking like a smaller, separate plant.  Cut that thing out of there.  It will just pull more energy out of the plant that could go toward producing more fruit.  It usually won't produce more fruit itself, being shaded by the larger part of the plant.

While at the feed store the other day, I found out they had a few asparagus plants left, and I couldn't resist.  So along with buying some red seed potatoes, I got a four pack of asparagus and planted them yesterday as well.  I dug down really deep, about 16 inches and about a foot wide.  Then I went and scraped up a bunch of top soil from beneath the dogwoods and the other trees to fill the hole.

My little asparagus beds
They don't look like much in the photo, but a lot of work went into amending that soil to make it very rich.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Moshe,
    I finally got around to looking at your blog. Your plants look awesome. We want to come up some time and check it out in person when you have some spare time.


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