Thursday, May 24, 2007

Planting Tomatoes and Cukes

I am blessed to have a mother with two very large east-facing windows, who is willing to offer her windowsills for starting my seedlings - not to mention watering and turning them every day! So this year, as is our custom, she started for me a number of tomato plants, cucumbers, and all sorts of odd perennials I have collected or purchased seeds for.

The last couple of days, she has been acclimatizing some of the plants, by taking them outside during the day, and bringing them in at night. So tonight they were ready to plant into my garden.

For the tomatoes, it is important to water deep, to prepare the soil, so I started by digging 5 holes, and filling them repeatedly with water. Since my garden is rich soil on top of a solid clay base, the holes drain very slowly.
Holes Prepared for Tomatoes
I would have liked to add in some bonemeal, but I couldn't find it (perhaps I need to buy more?) so I planted without it. Tomatoes can be buried in quite deep, to allow a good root structure to develop. So I removed all but the top 2 branches, and buried the remainder. Then another good watering, or two, or three. The sun was already setting behind the house, so the conditions were ideal for planting - cool, with no direct sun. Here are the little row of tomatoes, between my espalier apple (left) and espalier asian pear (right). Behind the post is a Sunflower Giganteum.

Tomatoes Just PlantedNext, the cucumbers. Two years ago, I planted a couple of seedlings at the top of my upper retaining wall, on the West side of our house, and they were a huge success, trailing down the wall and onto the grass, and bearing a crisp, sweet cucumber nearly every second day! Then last year, I tried the same thing with cukes and squashes, and was completely disappointed, they couldn't even make their way to trail over the edge of the wall, and I only got one small squash. I suspect the soil, which at that location, is a thin layer of topsoil on top of gravel and clay (backfill to the wall), had lost its nutrients. As an indicator, the hydrangea down the wall had blue flowers, whereas the others in my garden were a vibrant pink.

So a week ago, I amended the soil with an inch of so of compost on the top, and mixed that in, to form a richer base to plant into. I ended up putting in all 7 seedlings, and I'm already dreaming of crispy cucumbers this year. Assuming a slug doesn't come by and chew them off (which is a good possibility in my garden). Well, let's hope.

Cucumbers Just Planted
I also planted in some more seedlings of Cardoon. Last year, I planted one in the front (shady) garden, which didn't get very big, but seems to be taking off this year (although quite covered in black aphids!!).

To my delight, my daughter has taken an interest recently in helping me in the garden. I have even bought her garden gloves (the stretchy cloth ones, with rubberized fingers and palms), and she has been helping me weed the garden a couple of nights. Here is my beautiful little helper, holding a few stalks of our very healthy Campanula Glomerata, which are now on the respective bathroom counters of my two little garden helpers (my son's ongoing contribution, among other gardening interests, is cutting up slugs).
Garden Helper with Campanula Glomerata

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