Sunday, April 22, 2012

Home-Grown Tomatoes

We’re still working on our garden like crazy lately. The early warm weather means we can plant early and maybe get some early produce. Recently, we planted my very favorite, tomatoes.

I cannot put into words my love of fresh tomatoes. So juicy and refreshing and just completely amazing. When you buy a tomato at the grocery store, they’ve normally been picked up to or over a week ago, so they are actually ripening in the store. While there’s absolutely nothing WRONG with those ‘maters, they just don’t compare to walking out my front door, picking a fresh red or yellow one, and slicing it up with salt and pepper. It’s pretty much the best food you’ll ever eat, and I dare someone to tell me that they like store-bought tomatoes better than home-grown.

P picked up some plants at a local sale and we (using “we” pretty loosely here) planted them in our second raised bed. H helped.

I would have helped, too, but then who would take pictures?

P does not think that this is a great excuse, but he doesn’t even LIKE tomatoes, so I consider his opinion null and void. How he can like the disgustingness that is ketchup, but not the good stuff, I have no idea. It’s his one flaw :)

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See that red plastic below? I learned something when we were planting. See, P is an Agricultural Extension Agent, which I’m pretty sure means he knows everything about plants and crops. Or at least way more than me. Apparently, some research has shown the red plastic (as opposed to the traditional black) can help tomato plants yield up to 20% more fruit. That’s 20% more tomatoes for me! We’re going to try it out and see how things go.

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We already have a few blossoms, which means I will be not-so-patiently awaiting my tomatoes.

Or as H calls them, peaches.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Friday, April 6, 2012

In the rye jungle.

I love this photo of my boys. P is telling H all about the rye we planted in our garden two years ago. Yep, two years. Last year we planted tillage radishes as cover crop, but we had some "volunteer" rye come back from the year before.

Volunteer crops are ones that come up sort of by accident. Have you ever had a pumpkin plant grow where you tossed the previous year's jack o'lantern? Same basic principle.

It cracks me up to watch H try to wade through rye grass that is up to his waist. In fact, he won't go through it without holding P's hand. "Hand, Daddy!"

Speaking of hands + things I find hilarious, lately when I tell H he has to hold my hand (like when walking to the car from daycare,  he clasps his hands together in front of him. After a couple of episodes of this, I realized what he was doing.

Holding his OWN hand. Good grief. He's going to constantly outsmart me, isn't he?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gardening Part 2 - Raised Beds

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For the last two years, we've planted our garden in a series of raised beds. Not the fancy knee-high wooden plots that *I* wanted and that P said was way too much work, but a simple bed of soil that has been worked up and that lies just a couple of inches above the rest of the garden. We planted our first two beds this weekend. They're about 3 ft wide by maybe 25 feet long.

P does most of the work. H "helped" and I took pictures.

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See how pretty that soil looks all turned over and ready to go? Almost pretty enough to touch (unless you're me, in which  case you stole your son's gloves and tried to cram them on your hands in an attempt to ward off the dirtiness).

H and I planted wax beans and green beens. P planted sweet corn. And see that black tube? No, that is not a snake. It's a soaker hose. We lay the hose on top of the bed, but underneath plastic, to irrigate our garden. This way we don't have to use a sprinkler, and our water usage is actually much more efficient, since we're only dripping water where the plants are growing, and not all over the garden.

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Finally, we cover the bed with black nursery plastic for two reasons: it helps keep the soil warm, and it stifles weed growth. As our plants start to grow, we'll go back in and cut holes to allow the plants to come through the plastic and get some direct sunlight.

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Now that the temperatures have dropped back down a bit, we'll hold off on planting anything else for at least a couple of weeks. Or H + I will. P hopes to get started planting field corn behind our house by mid-April. He already has everything disked and ready to go :)