Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nightshades & Squash

There is something about rapidly changing weather that makes us more susceptible to colds... I'm not sure why... But while battling snotty, coughy, yuckiness today we got some fresh air, enjoyed the sunshine, and got some more plants in the ground.

Yesterday our garden fairies left 2 trays full of beautiful plants and seeds on our doorstep. I was excited to plant again, and thankful for such gorgeous weather to do it in, but I was also a little overwhelmed by the amount of plants we had and my unfamiliarity with gardening. I wasn't exactly sure where everything was supposed to go, wasn't sure which squash were "vining" and which were not, and couldn't exactly remember the instructions for planting the 3 sisters--2 of which were sitting in my tray waiting for me to figure it all out.

I started by preparing the beds I thought I would be planting in. I broke up the topsoil (I should have mulched it after adding the compost, initially) and evened the beds out so there was less of a slope to them.
I set out all the plants roughly where I thought they would be planted, and then I opened up my notebook to get specific instructions. The sheet with all the instructions (culture info??) did not tell me how far to space the tomatoes (probably because it depends on how you are going to grow them), so I was unsure. With 8 tomato plants I was concerned that they would not all fit, but I just spaced them all evenly apart--zigzagging them to maximize distance--and hoped for the best.

I dug down 8" (I've got the hang of digging those holes now!!), sprinkled in 1/4 cup of bone meal, and put the plant down in the hole. I carefully packed the soil back into the hole, making sure the roots had contact with the soil, and covered them all back up.

By this point the boys were tired and ready for some milk, so I took a break and came in to get one or both of them down for a nap (Kiran ended up sleeping, Kaden did not) and to have some lunch myself. While I was inside, Donna returned my phone call. I ran down my list of questions for her, and she clarified everything I was supposed to be doing. It turned out that the tomatoes, because we will be staking them, need to be spaced 24" apart... I had to dig them all back up.

I returned to the garden to undo all of the work I had spent the morning doing. It was hot and dusty, and the moment I got down there and plugged in the monitor Kiran woke back up. With both boys, we pressed on, trying to finish our work while they ran around--wreaking havoc on our beds.

Rich prepared another bed for the tomato plants that wouldn't fit in the current one. He had turned all of the alpaca manure under, and the soil underneath was rich, loamy, and dark looked beautiful!! He mulched the bed with straw, and then dug holes for the tomatoes. Un-planting plants is not easy, and the whole time I was digging them out I was afraid that I was killing our tomato plants. I am hoping that they survive all of the trauma they went through yesterday!! I then planted the sweet peppers and eggplant, made bowls of earth around all of their stems, and we watered them thoroughly when we were through.

I then moved on to the squash bed, where I planted 7 plants. Those went much much faster, I think because I was figuring out a system for digging and planting, and because the holes were much more shallow than the 8" I had to dig for the tomatoes. I noted everything we planted for the day on our garden map.

I ended the evening by picking some fresh greens for dinner and our first small radish!! The mustard greens were starting to bolt, because it was so hot last week, so I picked all of those. The collards were starting to get pretty big, and the lettuce was really packed in the bed--so I thinned it a little by picking some baby lettuce for our salad. There were some holes in the collards, and when I inspected the leaves I saw some tiny flying bugs.. aphids??

After dinner, when it started to get dark, the sky turned bright pink and a lightening storm began. My mom and I cuddled with the boys on the living room floor and watched the lights streak across the was so beautiful, and the biggest lightening storm I've seen in a long time. I was thankful for the fresh rain on our newly planted plants...hopefully it will get them off to a good start. The lightning went on for a couple of hours, at least, and the boys were enthralled the whole time--Kaden would as after each bolt "More light-name?!?"

Rich had put the chickens out in the morning, and I made him go out and check on them before bed to be sure they weren't too cold on their first night outside. He set up the heat lamp for them, because he wasn't sure, and I slept better knowing they had a warm place to snuggle.

Kaden loves to chase the 2 rabbits that live in our yard. I'm so surprised by how close to them they let him get, before turning and running out of reach. So far they are not a problem in our garden, and I am thinking of planting them some lettuce of their own in the front yard, to karmically keep them out of our food in the back.
The Pirate Bunny!!
The First Worm


elliesmadre said...

Wow, that looks like a lot of work. :) Make sure your chickens are safe, especially after what happened to Amy's. :(

Hedro said...

The rain REALLY came down hard last night. Craziness! We watched from our living room window too!