Tomatoes in the ground!

Back on April 9th I put the hoop house up, and I let it sit around with nothing in it until yesterday, April 19th, when I set most of the tomatoes into it for the WHOLE day which is a crazy thing to do (sunburn! cripsy!) but these plants are so hard already they’ll be fine even if they lose a leaf or two.

I brought them in for the night, and then brought them out again around noon today.

 

I decided to think about spacing and which ones should go in this bed (I have many more tomato plants than I’m actually going to grow here).

David happened by and took this picture. I don’t know how I would EVER get anything done around here if I didn’t have ducks to help me with planting.

Then I just decided to go for it.  Why the hell not?  With two exceptions I planted one grafted and one not-grafted specimen (heh) of each variety.  San Marzano got one extra grafted plant.  And I only planted one (not grafted) Sungold because omg you only need one.  For your whole block!

So here we are, right on time.  It *feels* really early to be putting tomatoes out but I always do it at the end of April.  So maybe it’s a week earlier than normal?  This is definitely the shortest-ever hardening-off period.  Two days.  I attribute that to two things: 1) they’ve been in the garage where night temps have been getting regularly into the low 50’s since I took the light off 24-hour and let the timer turn it off at night (it’s been about 2 weeks of that) and 2) they didn’t really get sunburn yesterday.  Must be the brightness of that T-5? I have the citrus out in direct sun as well, and they’re not burning either after life under T-5 all winter.

I do use wood chips in my vegetable garden, I know, isn’t that weird? No one does that.

The above pic illustrates how I deal with the wood chips.  The trowel marks the spot where I’m going to dig a hole for the plant.  The big cleared-off bare soil area is where I’m going to put the pile of soil from the hole.  Once the plant is in then I put the wood chips back over wherever there is bare soil.  Some people don’t like wood chips in vegetable beds because they don’t like having to move chips around to plant things, or they don’t like it when the chips inevitably mix with the soil, or whatever.  I don’t care about any of that because the chips are the best mulch I’ve ever found for vegetables.  The trickiest thing is when I have to pull a big plant up by the roots – that can certainly make chips and soil mix together more than I want.   But I just do it carefully and actually, most of the time I just cut the plant at soil level and leave the roots in place (really big cabbages may be an exception).

All done for now.

See how kind of dark and curled and hard those plants look? You can’t tell from the photo but these plants are STIFF.  This is all just because I changed everything up a lot this year in the indoor seed-starting area and I’m still getting the hang of it.  Different lights, different container medium, different fertilizer, and on top of that grafting tomatoes.  Talk about unscientific experiments!

Here’s the scraggly band of remaining tomato plants – and this is not all of them.  The spindly one with the yellow leaves is a rootstock plant.  I just want to see what that’s like so I’m going to let it flower and fruit for the hell of it.

And in addition to that I have about 8 more inside, which I’m only *just* starting to harden off – they are very soft plants so the hardening off needs to be really careful.   Of these remaining plants, 4 will go to Carol on Wichita Ave, 8 will go to my sister and hopefully the rest will find homes somewhere.

We have some exceptional weather coming up so I’m going to try to get as many plants in the ground as possible this weekend.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday Vignette: New tree!

It looks flippin awful right now but just you wait.  There’s so much going on here – hoop house is up with tomatoes NOT in it (what? I don’t know, I don’t work here), there’s fencing and other crap all over the place to keep birds and dog out of the garlic, there’s a big ol’ feverfew that I’m going to put in the ground (it volunteered in that pot and went crazy), grapes that need to be pruned (in the big pots) and of course the big obvious red highlighter mark which is the hopeful eventual outline of a Eucalyptus parvula.

For a long time I’ve been wanting an evergreen tree on my side of the fence right there in between those two Styrax japonicas on the other side.  I’ve considered oak, Arbutus (unedo?), cypress, and various others until it finally occurred to me that (I think) Eucalyptus feels right.  So then it became a matter of selecting the species.  As luck would have it I had a conversation about this with Paul Bonine of Xera Plants while in the car, and not only does he have a lot of experience in growing Eucalyptus, he also knows where they all are around town.  So he took me on a little tour and showed me E. kybeanensis, E. parvula, and several others.  E. parvula won the race handily once I saw the gorgeous one on N. Delaware Avenue just south of Sumner.  Street view here.

Yet another stroke of luck – another friend just happened to have a little E. parvula and he gave it to me.  EEEEEEE!!!

Lastly, If I say it out loud do I HAVE to follow through? I think I’m gonna take out the raspberries.  They are thirsty, hard to harvest, and I have those damn spotted wing drosophila.  Relatively new arrivals to the area, these assholes are responsible for significant impacts to commercial fruit growers.  They are damnear impossible to control and I just don’t think it’s worth it.  I’m halfway though an experiment to see if allowing chickens to forage under and around the plants will reduce populations or eliminate them (adults overwinter in/on ground) so I’m going to see that out but even if it’s successful, I’m still not all that keen on growing these.   Maybe olives…

Wednesday Vignettes come to us from the genius of Anna at Flutter & Hum, so go check her blog out too.

A Visit to Little Prince

Finally I’m posting about our recent trip down to Little Prince of Oregon which happened back on March 18th.  This post will end up being similar to Danger Garden’s post on the same trip, but hey, at least you’ll know that neither of us is making it up.

Little Prince is a wholesale nursery that supplies plants to a lot of retailers around the area, including pretty much every New Seasons store and my local Ace Hardware up on Woodstock.  Their plants are always great quality and well-grown – it was a real treat to see the production greenhouses in action as well as the impeccably clean shipping area.

There are a total of 70 high tunnel greenhouses.  Yes, I went into every single one of them.

The shipping area:

impeccable shipping area!
Inside a typical greenhouse. Colored flags indicate plants that are stock plants (for use in propagation and not for sale), plants that have been sold, or other things

I encountered so many wonderful little fields of plants.  My attraction to masses of plants really drove home the importance of planting things in drifts.  Lewisia:

Beautiful little agaves
Amazing little miniature forest of succulents

LOTS of this. Must be a good seller

Some of the greenhouses are heated, like this one which contains plants that aren’t hardy (or at least, aren’t reliably hardy) in the northwest.  Like these Dicksonia antarctica.

I ended up with one.

I wandered into one house with a bunch of stock plants and just about DIED when I saw what amounted to a field of Drimys lanceolata, which I’m sort of obsessed with.  OMG this plant makes me happy.

two words: RED STEMS

In the end I caved to impulse on a number of things, but the boot of this old BMW has never looked better:

I set them all out on the ground when I got home and then realized I have this lovely three-tiered plant stand right next to my front door that has nothing but junk on it and why don’t I display these colorful new plants there for a while until I figure out where to put them?

 

A list of what I got, left to right, top to bottom in the above photo:

  1. Schefflera delavayi
  2. Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’
  3. Bletilla ochracea ‘Chinese Butterfly’ – a light yellow flower
  4. Grevillea ‘Ivanhoe’ because this spot right here is a zone 9 area and he will get planted in the ground here
  5. A really red Heuchera whose name I didn’t record
  6. A really chartreuse Heuchera whose name I totally failed to record
  7. Agaves.  wow I thought I did a better job of recording what I bought but I guess not…
  8. Tradescantia andersoniana ‘Blushing Bride’ with its tricolor insanity.  Hard to see here but omg it’s awesome
  9. Another of the same flaming red Heuchera
  10. Polystichum setiferum – I got about four of these for Wichita Ave but then decided to keep this one
  11. Couple ferns in there.  Hard to see but one is Cyrtomium fortunei and the other apparently I failed to record
  12. Sempervivum ‘Borisii’ which I never would have bought had I not seen the mature plants in the Semp stock house.  I’ll give you a pic.
  13. (under the red Heuchera leaf on the ground) Enyngium bougatii

Ok here’s why I got that little semp:

JUST LOOK AT THEM

My garden is so young.. It’s kind of silly to be thinking about small plants like this when I really need to wait for trees to grow, but I cannot resist this intense level of cuteness.  I can’t wait until my plant looks this buttoney.  I’ll probably have to plant it into a container for a while, which I really don’t mind doing.

Aside from all the lovely plants, I must say the group of attendees to this event was really top-notch.  It was sublime to meet a number of fellow garden bloggers in person for the first time and I look forward to many more such forays!