I am happily picking up a little momentum crossing things off my garden to do list. This week I managed to plant six of my sloped beds with my whole cherry tomato crop. Last year I was overwhelmed with cherry tomatoes to the point where keeping up harvesting them was making me anxious. I had 18 plants last year. This year because I apparently got no smarter, I again planted 18 cherry tomatoes seedlings.
Cherry tomatoes will be a staple in our salads and I can dehydrate them and use them for canning tomato sauce so I will resign to spending tons of time picking them. This is also a chore I started grooming the maniacs to help with. The best motivation for Norah is to tell her how many Spencer picked for me- she won’t want to be outdone!
The beds that are being planted are about 3 feet wide by 6-8 feet long. I am planting 3 in each bed. The beds are covered with recycled landscape fabric from last year. I offset the plants in each row then swapped the fabric on the rows from last year so I will not be planting in the same holes as last year. 4 of the 6 beds being planted had cherry tomatoes in them last year but I am trying to move plants around as much as possible. I plant so many rows of tomatoes and only have half a garden of sun so it is hard for me to do a complete rotation each year, but so far I have had no issues with this.
Through the hole in the landscape fabric I start digging up and loosening soil. Then mix in a few hand shovels full of compost. Each hole gets a tomato cage and a stake. The stake will serve to hold the tomato cage up (despite the name tomato cage I don’t believe they have ever successfully held up a tomato plant without support) and it will be used to tie the growing plant to when it gets bigger. For the cherry tomatoes I use a small stake due to budget constraints. I save the large stakes for the full size tomatoes.
Next I plant the seedling. I remove the lowest leaves and stems that would be touching the soil and plant it fairly deep to help it develop good roots.
Now to finish the beds I do some newspaper recycling to prevents weeds around the beds. I lay newspaper down the walking path and cover it and the whole bed with hay. Then I water the newly planted seedlings and the newspaper to wet it down into the soil. So it does have some benefits.
The fabric, newspaper, and hay will prevent almost all weeds from growing and leave me more time to feel anxious about harvesting my cherry tomatoes. Honestly the hay is mostly for looks. I think it looks better in the garden then looking at black fabric beds and newspaper paths. At the end of the year the hay will be used to blanket the garden to provide cover for the good things (like worms) to survive the freezing winter and some will get tilled back into the garden to build up soil.
18 cherry tomato plants in the garden. Last year all 18 were orange and yellow but this year I mixed it up to get some better variety. I planted…
- 6 Sun Gold Tomatoes – orange cherry
- 6 Yellow Pear Tomatoes – yellow cherry
- 3 Sweet 100 Tomatoes – red cherry
- 3 Black Cherry Tomatoes – black/purple cherry
All of these seedlings planted were purchased from a local greenhouse and combined were under $10. I expect a huge return on investment from this purchase. Considering small containers at the grocery store can cost $4-5 each.
Elsewhere in the garden…
I also managed to get most of my planned zucchini in the ground. I planted 4 of my sloped rows. I have…
- 4 Polka Yellow Zucchini
- 4 Spineless Zucchini (green)
- 6 Burpee’s Fordhook Zucchini
14 plants in all over 4 rows. The four Spineless Zucchini were purchased as seedlings and the rest I started from seed. I was pretty successful starting zucchini from seed last year. I was amazed at how quickly they caught up to the purchased seedlings so I found some extra courage to start more from seed this year.
The plan was to have 4 sloped rows planted with zucchini and 1 main garden row but with 14 plants in the ground already I am reconsidering devoting another whole row to more zucchini. Time will tell.
My perennial mint is sprouting up all along the bed on the side of my house- everywhere except where I had originally planted it of course. Mint tea coming soon.
I am starting to cut chives and come up with a storage plan. Dehydrating and experimenting with freezing.
My first planted Raspberry bush “Mother Raspberry” is now 5 years old and looking great. I am really excited for a large raspberry harvest as the kids love picking them (and eating them).
A couple Blueberry bushes that I had long considered dead are also coming to life. I had planted them at the top of my garden near the stairs but they had become overrun with weeds and wild raspberry. I neglected them and I had just about written them off. I will see what they do this year and hopefully recover from my mistake.
In other good news my containers and potato bags seems to be doing great. I hope to get photos of them in another week after some bigger growth. My peas are sprouting up and the beans appear to be just starting to come up but pretty spotty so far.
I will be spending a significant amount of time in the garden in the next week, so I hope to have big progress to share with you soon!