We had a lovely, relaxing few days at Margie's beach house - great walks, food, wine, conversation, weather. But such times are to be treasured and can be only on occasion - so it's back to reality (which, in truth, is pretty great too!).
Caitlin did a great job keeping the pots watered and alive during our absence - never easy when the plants are small and the weather so unexpectedly hot. Still, the first thing I did after unpacking was to get everything well-watered. I then took stock of how things look.
The good news - no deer attacks (except for a few calendula and zinnia in pots behind the water scarecrow, where the deer were out of triggering range). There was a pretty heavy storm that likely contained some hail while we were gone, which seems to be the reason for a couple of the hot peppers being cut off at the soil line. One eggplant was too small to make it. A few tomatoes are a bit touch and go. But all in all, things look great, and every year has a few lost plants. Tomorrow I will fill in the problems with substitute plants.
There is a big garden to-do list for the week....staking the driveway plants, completing the dwarf planting (after I get the next batch of grow bags and more soil less mix and cow manure) - then on to the big garden - mulching the second row of potatoes, weeding the entire garden border, planting the front dwarf row, and harvesting some garlic, beets, greens, radishes and summer squash - and perhaps some blueberries.
It's great to get away, but wonderful to be back home!
It was a typically relaxing day.....
Sue and I are really fortunate to have a great friend, Margie. Margie and I worked together for years. It just so happens that she has a wonderful beach house at Sunset Beach, so wonderful that I've torn myself away from the garden so that the four of us - Sue, the two dogs and me - are spending a certain-to-be-relaxing long weekend with Margie at her place.
So, after a walk on the beach and a nice dinner - and anticipating some home made strawberry ice cream (mixing and freezing as I type), a much needed escape from work and the house begins.
Tonight on our beach walk we saw two Black Skimmers soaring over the waves near the shore. I've not seen Skimmers for years, long ago during a summer trip to Ocracoke Island. Hopefully, it will be just the first in great wildlife sightings on our mini-vacation.
It's so hard to realize how much time has passed....at 12:28 PM on on May 27, back in 1980, the greatest, most significant event of our lives to that point occurred - Sara finally decided to enter the world. Sara's arrival was so significant to our family in so many ways. She is truly a blessing that has provided delight (and yes, some intrigue!) at every stage of her still so young life. We can't wait to see what she will be up to next!
Sara is celebrating her birthday in Vermont, having achieved her Masters degree just yesterday. So, Sara, Congratulations and a Happy, Happy Birthday! We look forward to your return home....be sure to have a restaurant in mind so we can appropriately celebrate!
It is remarkable how people heal, how they can move on from loss and heartache. Sue reminded me a few hours ago that this was a special day. In fact, May 25, 1927 was when my father, Wilfred LeHoullier, entered the world. It was a few years ago - on March 14, 2007 - when, a few months after suffering a severe stroke, he was finally at peace. Though I still miss him, my memories of him make me smile.
It is appropriate that I spent a few very enjoyable hours after work this afternoon working on the garden, and even more appropriate that I was busy planting tomatoes. Gardening wouldn't be such a passion of mine if it weren't for my dad. When I was very young, he took me on walks through gardens in Slater Park in Pawtucket, RI.
Many years later, the favor was returned when I sparked in my dad an interest in growing heirloom varieties in his little garden in Rhode Island. His favorites were Cherokee Purple and Cherokee Chocolate, and he grew them beautifully. For a handful of years leading up to his passing, he would start seeds I sent him, or grow the plants I mailed him. He kept a diary, which I wasn't aware of, documenting his garden successes, and it is something I treasure.
So, dad, happy birthday....when I am out working in the garden, you are beside me, giving me advice and sharing gardening stories. As they say, I owe it all to you!
This is proving to be a really interesting, productive and enjoyable gardening season so far. Interesting in the wide variations (some unexpected) in temperature and precipitation. Productive in relation to the excellent lettuce, greens, beet and radish harvest. And,enjoyable in being able to find the time to take it at a reasonable pace.
Some of those early season lessons:
- It seems as though anything can be planted thickly in plug flats (my dense planting method), and
- Anything can be transplanted successfully.
More specifically, some crops that either seemed to provide a challenge (beets), or warnings on the seed packet (Asian greens) are doing just great. We are having our best beet crop ever due to the ability to use beet transplants and, thus, good spacing. And if we realized how easy the Asian Greens, Radiccio and Broccoli Rabe were to grow, we'd have tried them out far earlier than this year (our first attempt with many of them).
So on to today....the experimental hot peppers in small pots were completed (it's going to be another complicated year of record keeping on these!), so I moved on to the first 40 grow bags of tomatoes from the Dwarf project. I will provide a more complete update, but today I focused on the F2 generation growouts, and a few of the F4s. I worked until I ran out of potting material, so another trip to Home Depot is needed before I can continue. Another 40 grow bags are on the way, meaning there will be potential for 120 Dwarfs in my driveway, and another dozen in my garden. Yikes! Talk about a massive documentation, tasting, photographing and seed saving effort....but it is going to be loads of fun!
Work took up most of the day (which is appropriate, of course!). I got home to more of the same weather-wise - cloudy, muggy, occasional showers, which is perfect planting weather. So I started working on the experimental hot peppers I've been playing around with for several years, and am about half way through.
After finishing those (tomorrow, perhaps), I must plant as many of the Dwarfs in grow bags as I can - we are off for a brief respite to our friend Margie's wonderful beach house at Sunset Beach for a long holiday weekend.
This is a bit longer than I thought, but it provides a good overview on what's growing and how things are doing. Here goes.....
And now for something completely different...http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/05/23/494374/laid-off-hired-back-oh-its-great.html
I always worry when I get interviewed for something but don't have a chance to read it before it runs......
Today, dashing between thunderstorms, saw more pepper planting...the garden is progressing well! Still lots to do - Dwarf tomatoes in the garden, in the driveway, and lots of experimental hot peppers in small pots for evaluating.
Still....better a bit late than never!
This is a post I just created at Tomatoville...let's see if I can paste it in here without too many formatting issues.
Finally (May 21, took some time to get my act together...and the seedlings in the driveway cleared out sufficiently to make room), I made my selections and planted my "big driveway pots". Following - tomatoes and rationale.
Mexico Midget - Sue would kill me if I didn't plant this one in the driveway every year! Plus, omelets, frittatas, pizzas, and salads wouldn't be the same without a handful of them included.
Speckled Roman - love it for the productivity, flavor and the stripes - and for fresh seed.
Yellow Brandywine - it's been quite some time, so for fresh seed, also to compare with Aunt Gertie's Gold head to head
Cherokee Purple - of course; using JSS seed source to see if they've maintained it wee
Nepal - need fresh seed desperately; can link it back to the first time I grew it and loved it in 1988.
Cherokee Chocolate - of course
Tiger Tom - need fresh seed desperately, and for a tasty early salad tomato with bite
Cherokee Green - testing the JSS release against my expectations
Caitlin's Lucky Stripe - a recent selection from Little Lucky....will it be true to what I selected?
Sungold - of course, and another cause for Sue murdering me if it isn't in the driveway. Problem is she eats them before I can get to them!
Green Doctor - from Victory, hoping it to be a nice indeterminate green cherry (something that Green Grape for me is not)
Orange Strawberry - it's been years, fresh seed badly needed, wanting to see how it does in a large pot. Loved it the only year I grew it.
Berkeley Tie Dye - for fresh seed, and a fair evaluation.
Lucky Cross - of course
Buckeye State - from Victory - want to compare it to the Livingston description
Lillian's Yellow Heirloom - of course; can never get enough seed to satisfy my needs!
Aunt Gertie's Gold - to compare with Yellow Brandywine, for fresh seed and to test the hype level
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye- same reason as BTD
Trees Bottom Yellow - for fresh seed, to test it out, and compare - is it like LYH or YB in color?
Large Lucky Red - recent selection from Lucky Cross, was stellar last year, huge PL red (rare) - will it come true?
Sunlucky - from Keith - to evaluate.
Andrew Rahart's Jumbo Red - for fresh seed, and to compare with Aker's WV as a large red (I grew that last year).
Little Lucky - of course. Always seem to be short of seed for this.
And in smaller pots, but still the driveway
Stick - fresh seed...and, just because...
Silvery Fir Tree - ditto
Variegated - ditto
Kimberly - to get a nice non-cherry red early in the season for salads
Whew...that seems to work out just fine and saved me lots of retyping!
OK...now I am off to plant peppers and eggplant for the driveway pots. (in between the raindrops!)....
the rain held off all day - managed to get eggplant and sweet peppers and some hot peppers planted before I ran out of gas. On tap for tomorrow - the odd and unusual sweet and hot peppers, and perhaps start on the Dwarf tomatoes.
I did take a video, but need to look it over, edit it and load to YouTube prior to posting. Just a bit of a walk about garden update.
Here are the eggplant I put into big pots today:
New York Improved (green stem - this is typical)
New York Improved (purplish stem - a cross, perhaps?)\
Casper (green stem - typical)
Casper (purplish stem - cross?)
Neon F2 (green stem)
Neon F2 (slightly purplish stem)
Orient Express F2 (purplish stem)
Orient Express F2 (dark purple stem)
Rosa Bianca (still too small for the big pot, but got one ready for it)
Jamaican Hot Chocolate
It was a pretty hectic week at work, so the coming weekend is very welcomed! Friday was a really good day...the Driveway indeterminate tomatoes are now planted, and Sue and I went to a wonderful concert tonight at the North Carolina Art Museum - the Swell Season, comprised of members of the Irish group The Frames, with Marketa Irglova (she and Glen Hansard of the Frames starred in the movie "Once").
First, the tomatoes....I ended up planting 23 varieties in 10-15 gallon pots (all Indeterminate varieties, and many of our favorites), and another 4 in 5 gallon pots. Once the lettuce/greens/beets are is clear, there are an additional 30-35 Indeterminates to be planted in the big garden. I will take a brief update video this weekend and post to my blog, as well as list the varieties I planted. I am a bit late this year with my tomatoes, but thankfully, it is a long season.
Next,the concert - after loading up with good food from Neomonde, we got great seats at the venue - add a bottle of wine and some great music - as well as perfect weather for an outdoor concert - and it ended up being a perfect day.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, I hope to get sweet and hot peppers and eggplant potted up...and perhaps get a start on the Dwarf varieties, in grow bags, and in the garden front row.
One more thing - we will have seedlings only until next Thursday - email or call if you are interested. Plenty of varieties remain, and they look great!