After walking around both gardens and making some observations into my hand held recorder, I decided it was time to finish planting the indeterminate and dwarf tomatoes in the big garden. The first step was to fill in all of the holes Caitlin dug (some still filled with water from the rain of a few days ago). It is clear that this garden does not drain well. The ability to hold moisture should be an asset during our typically hot, eventually dry summers. Although it is breaking one of my guidelines (not resuing the potting mix), the pile of spent Miracle Gro mix/composted cow manure is quite well aged in spots, and provides a perfect material for "raising" the garden. Each spot to receive a tomato plant was dug and turned well, and spent grow mix from the pile was added on top of the turned hole to the depth of nearly one foot. I worked each row this way, first determining where the plants were to go, digging the hole and turning it over a few times, then adding the spent mix from the pile on top of the turned area. The plants were then set in as deeply as possible.
The good news is that the tomatoes easily fit into one less row than was originally considered, thus leaving a perfect row in which to plant bush beans immediately (well, tomorrow, to tell the truth...I am too tired to plant anything else today). I added a thick layer of the spent mix onto the proposed bean row, so it is all ready to go. Once the greens and lettuce are done, it will be squash that takes up the newly vacated spaces. I also put a thick layer of the spent mix onto the front of the garden, making a row at the very front into which I will place some nice colorful annuals, like Marigolds or short Zinnias. If all goes well, the garden will be nicely photogenic for the book.
As to my early morning garden walk through, I hope it doesn't jinx things to state that everything is vigorously growing, healthy looking and making great progress. All of the driveway tomatoes - be it large pot indeterminate, grow bag dwarf or grow bag indeterminate - are shooting upward rapidly. I positioned some 4 foot stakes in all of the bags yesterday, but haven't tied the plants to them yet. I did tie up some of the indeterminate tomatoes that are growing very quickly; a few of the plants have open blossoms. The peppers and eggplant, all in grow bags, are healthy, happy and growing well. As to the big garden, the basil and tomatoes are fine, yet growing much more slowly than in the driveway - the advantage of the heat-absorbing grow bags is evident. The mole or vole that dug up some of our lettuce plants seems to have left the premises after I sprinkled castor oil-impregnated pellets in the area (the damage was noted a few days ago, near a few 2 inch diameter holes that appeared).
We are picking lots of lettuce and greens, and eagerly anticipate the beets. What remains to be done - and will be a task on tomorrow's list - is to finish staking all of the indeterminate tomatoes in both the driveway and large garden, plant bean seeds and annual flower seeds, and start the daily routine of pinching suckers, tying plants, and doing typical garden maintenance - watering, troubleshooting, and just being on the lookout for any issues before they get serious.
Though I am sore and tired, there is always that wonderful feeling of accomplishment at having made it through a major gardening milestone - getting pretty much everything planted.
Check out the pictures below - big garden front and back, chard, mustard, lettuce, caged dwarf, indeterminate - then a few shots of the driveway, including eggplant, peppers and dwarfs.