Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tomato Humble Pie

I may have come off like a know-it-all gardener.  My apologies.  I had to admit some mistakes today.

See, my Early Girl has had fruit since the last week of June.  I was excited, thinking I would get to have my first tomato on July 4, like most years.  Not.  Few issues.

First, I didn't quite have the directions quite right when I drew up my plan.  Rather than the front of the row of tomatoes catching the morning sun and the back of the row basking in the afternoon sun... I am off enough that some plants are pretty much in part-shade, rather than full sun.  That would not be the end of the world, except...

Second, my mini-ecosystem method created a jungle, which is fine...when it is getting the sun properly, and when the zuke isn't growing ever taller nearby, and the butternut squash isn't sending up shooters into the tomato trellises.  Instead, I have part-shade+ inside the row, and the indeterminate plants are shooting legs everywhere attempting to get the proper sun, which shades further the plant next to it.  Again, this wouldn't necessarily mean the end of the world, although it makes it challenging, especially since...

Third, we have had the coolest and dampest June-into-July that I can remember.  I almost never have to water, which is nice, but we're getting cloudy days mostly.  So, cool temps and not a huge amount of direct sunlight.

I spent almost two hours trimming back on the creepers and such, re-training some of the legs to go elsewhere, and...gulp, actually removing one entire plant.  I collected the green fruit from that plant and have it sitting in the window at home, hoping that they might ripen.  I am not holding my breath.

Tomatoes never come when you think they should.  On top of that, I planted two weeks later than I usually do.  That makes a big difference, especially when the weather has been so odd.  My husband suggested that maybe the tomatoes are being considerate, and holding off on exploding with Romas until we are moved and truly settled.  And truly, I know that middle August is when I usually start panicking with the volume of tomato production and get into a twice-weekly canning routine.

Arrogance and impatience are my tomato sins.  The plants are doing well.  There is little sign of insects (so far, ha ha) and no sign of serious tomato diseases.  The plants are healthy.  They'll give me tomatoes when they are good and ready.

And when summer comes and stays.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Squash that Ate My Garden

Back in May, I planted 2 rows of spaghetti squash and 3 of butternut, expecting not every seed to thrive. The Boy had 5 birdhouse gourds planted around his tee-pee, where they could climb the posts and the string wound between them.  He also planted 2 giant pumpkins.  We had 2 volunteer something-or-others that could have been melons or squash based on how they looked back when we were planting.

Everything has survived.  I had to thin my winter squashes down to 2 spaghetti and 3 butternut plants total, since every seed I'd planted had sprouted.  I had to spend about an hour today untangling the 5 squashes, and intervening in their attacks on marigolds, nasturtiums, the 2 zucchini plants, all the tomatoes, and the cucumbers across the aisle in the next bed.  The birdhouse gourds were spreading out rather than up, so had to be trained up.  The pumpkins know no borders, and had spread into the grass.  The 2 volunteers whatevers have been identified as yellow squash (also called crookneck)  They are attaching to mulch, birdhouse gourds, popcorn cornstalks, and anything that doesn't move fast enough to escape.

Oh.  I forgot.  A volunteer squash has devoured the compost heap.

In the meantime, I have about 80 pounds of zucchini that must be eaten or stored.  I am gonna be able to get the guys to eat the zucchini if I make it Parmesan, along with some kind of meat.  Venison and Zucchini Parmesan?  But that is only gonna go so far.  I intended to make a huge batch of ratatouille to freeze...except for one small problem.  While my tomato plants are now taller than me, are growing thickly enough that they are great shade, and have tons of fruit ripening... they are not ripe yet.  So, I'll have to either try to save the zukes for another week and gamble that I'll have enough tomatoes to make ratatouille... Or I'm gonna have to buy some.  Sigh.

On the plus side, I saw fresh zukes at the grocery store selling at $1.99 a pound!  Take that!  Never mind that I would never choose to buy 80 pounds of zucchini.