Spring came early this year, it has been uncharacteristically hot, we are 3 inches below our normal rainfall, and now I’m wishing that I’d taken advantage of global warming a couple weeks earlier than I did.
I did plant some tomatoes a couple of weeks before what is normally considered the last Spring frost date. Most of my tomatoes are open pollinated heritage varieties, started from seed during the first week of March. I’ve got one hybrid, an Early Girl that Elizabeth bought me in the nursery, which I aggressively planted in early April. Close to 3′ tall, she started setting fruit last week, with the first tomato about 1.5″ in diameter right now.
She’s flanked by the first of 4 of the ones I started from seed. Under black paper ‘mulch’ and surrounded by 5′ cages, they are thriving in this hot and sunny spring, and Old German should start blooming any day now.
A pair of ground cherries can be seen on the left. I started them at the same time as the tomatoes, and their growth has been painfully slow. I don’t know how big they will eventually get, but I’m assuming they will not become as big as a tomato, even though they are related.
Two weeks ago, which was two weeks after planting the first group of tomatoes, I decided that all danger of frost was past, and the second group of heritage tomatoes went in. Also planted under black paper, they are currently only about half the size of the first group. The plant density is a little bit on the high side, but with a plot of potatoes going in this year, I didn’t want to complicate rotation over the next couple of years by sprinkling nightshades all over the garden. I also didn’t want to throw anything away, so I planted all of my indoor starts, which was 2 of everything but one of the Mortgage Lifters, which suffered an unfortunate re-potting accident.
This is the first time I’ve tried potatoes, but after what seemed like a very slow start, the 4×4 plot in the back is filling up nicely with 4 different varieties.
The plot I started the first week of March is doing well. I’ve been snacking on 2 different kinds of radish for a couple of weeks.
The sugar snap peas have been blooming for a couple days, and I snacked on a couple of early pods yesterday. I decided a couple of days ago to start harvesting lettuce, and now it is looking like it might bolt before I can finish it.
The adjacent plot has some arugula that has been doing great, but that hardy green is flanked by two pathetically feeble attempts to grow lambs lettuce. Rapunzel, let down your roots! Incredibly slow to germinate, neither the Vit nor Green Jade are anything to brag about. The peas in the back are traditional English garden peas, which look healthy enough, but haven’t started to bloom yet, and I’m concerned about the heat.
My third 4×4 of greens is doing even worse. It has been 5 weeks since I planted the first 8-10 squares, and so far, my germination rate is awful. Unlike the early March plot above, I’d very carefully fluffed up and composted this one. The chicken wire was in place from the beginning, keeping out the birds, and I put a cardboard shield across the top whenever it stormed. I’ve regularly hand-watered this lovely little plot to keep the seeds moist, and there is precious little to show for all that attention. So much for trying to keep a fresh supply of lettuce throughout the Spring. I think I’ll need to shade these plants soon.
I started 4 squash plants at the same time as my tomatoes. I know that squash don’t always transplant well, but I wanted to get a jump on the season with some of the yellow squash that Elizabeth and I prefer over green zukes. I put two plants out at the same time as the first set of tomatoes, and put Reemay over the top to keep the borers away. I’m not sure they liked being under spunbonded poly, and the other plant died of stem failure (NOT borer damage). This plant had some damage to the stem also, but seems to be doing much better, and has visibly grown in the 2 days since I took this picture. Today it has a very distinct female bud and a male bud that might bloom tomorrow.