Monday, March 8, 2010

First Tomatoes Are IN

I'm calling it: SPRING.
The red buds are budding, the daffies are up, the grass requires mowing weekly, and the forecast (for now) looks to be staying above 40 degrees.

Last year i was a bit hard core. I planted 6 varieties of tomatoes, 8 peppers, and 3 eggplants (you'd realize how insane this is if you'd seen the smallness of my garden space). I worked at The Natural Gardener last spring and was the "Authority" on vegetable gardening - answering onslaughts of questions and learning tips from the good ole' gard'ners daily. I put in my first tomatoes at the beginning of March, a good two weeks before 'last average frost' and battled with several freezes with pots and freeze cloth and crossed fingers.

I also had problems with blossom end rot, some kind of wilt, purple leaf tomato disease, all kinds of wierdness - not to mention leaving for 3 weeks in June to get married only to return to a dead dead dead garden. (my neighbor tried, bless her heart, but those diseases were too much for any woman). Apparently last year was hard for most of Austin's gardeners: drought, heat waves, and lack of Winter to squelch the bugs all added up to one nasty season.

This year, i'm banking on two things: Ambivalence, Weather. I waited to plant my tomatoes. I won't plant peppers until i'm sure it's warmed up. I'm using a lot of pots (which was too hard last year due to no rain) to avoid successive planting the same family in the same soil again this year. And i'm just not caring as much in hopes my plants will vie for my attention and grow leaps and bounds all by themselves. I will still treat them with kid gloves, compost, fertilizer, and kind words - but i'm taking my time and being more relaxed. Gardening is supposed to be fun, anyway - right??  Plus it's been raining. We're almost out of the drought. The snails are a b*tch, but Sluggo does the trick, mostly. I can cross my fingers that temps will be less extreme this Summer, and at the very least my rain barrel might stay full, and my new watering can will serve my plants well.

March 8th:
  • Mustard plants germinating well and growing nicely
  • First batch of onion sets growing nicely, second in and trying their best
  • Multiplying onions growing upper bulbs, harvesting occasionally = tasty
  • Main garden clearing out as i go: corn planted, salad being eaten, one tomato in and staked (Japanese Black Trifele)
  • Second tomato planted in pot with soil and homemade compost (Rutgers)
  • Seeds scattered in back yard to grow poultry forage plants
  • Pruned perennials putting on shoots, even a flower!
  • Wildflowers filling in: toadflax blooming like crazy

One last discovery: upon reading through my Foxfire 2 book, i figured out what those two weeds in my front lawn are: and they're edible!  Shepard's purse (darn it, i've composted so many, could have been eating it) and Chickweed (well that makes sense, the chickens LOVE this stuff, also edible by me). Just goes to show - double check what those weeds you're composting are, they just might be a delicious treat. Think i'll add some of this to my salad tonight (i love not using any nasty chemicals so i too can eat from my own lawn.)

It was a lovely weekend in the garden. It's raining lightly now and the grass is all shiny with droplets. Chooks are in for the day, but had a big weekend out. Unfortunate discovery on that front: Belina seems to be bloated (or overweight?) Might be a problem. More on that in my next post.

Do you have any favorite "weeds" that find their way onto your dinner plate?

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