Container Gardeners, These Are For Us

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If you are growing plants in containers, have you tried the fabric pots yet?

I tried one for the first time last year and I liked it so well that I bought 5 more this year. They have everything going for them.

First, if space is an issue, they are a breeze to keep and store. This is a 5 gallon pot. It folds down to the size of a large, glossy magazine–just about as high and thick. I  bought a 5 pack of them. They arrived, folded, in an express mail envelope. Try doing that with any other sort of container!

They’re made right here in the United States, in Oklahoma City, to be exact, by a family company that began manufacturing them for trees.

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This is mine from  last year,  planted with a tomato and some herbs.  The tomato grew so well that I eventually pulled out two of the 4 herbs.

This year I am planning to be even more ambitious . I am planning a couple of tomatoes –1 per bag, obviously–& a bag of cucamelons. I will do a bag of just herbs, to give them room of their own. And I have a fig for one, that’s begging for extra room.

So I should have a nice edible garden–if I can get the Spoiler to haul the soil for me. Thanks to Amie, I won’t be moving much.

And I found–& buy–these all on my own. I get no credit or anything else for promoting this product.  In fact,  I know that there are other fabric type bags out there. I buy these because I like supporting an American company.  You can make your own choices.

Wordless Wednesday–Poisoned!

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If you have any doubt about what did this after Monday’s post, I have to wonder about you.

This is caused by the pesticide drift from the backpack sprayer where the lawn guys applied broadleaf weed control in my yard.

So in addition to killing all the “good stuff” like the clover that my bees were loving, now my entire vegetable garden is contaminated–and I have visible proof!

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These are–or were–my green beans. You can even see a bean just about ready in the photo. But who in her right mind would eat anything that’s now contaminated with broadleaf weed killer?

But of course, it’s not just the beans. Everything in this garden is  now contaminated: tomatoes, herbs and edible flowers are all a loss. And those are just my losses. Losses to the pollinators are immeasurable.

And of course I don’t dare walk my own dog in my yard because this sort of weed killer has been implicated in cancer in dogs. There are lots of reasons we’re organic. Yes, it’s just the right thing to do. But we’d also prefer not to prematurely kill our dog.

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So now the question becomes–do I look at this or do I just rip it all out?

And of course–what else is going to die?

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day and a huge, grateful “thank you” to all who served or who are serving our country this Memorial Day. Particularly in this election year, it’s most important to remember that all of us would not enjoy our freedoms without your service.

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Normally, I plant my vegetable garden on Memorial Day but this year the weather has been a bit flukey and I am a bit off schedule.  The critters, however, are not! As fast as I can put anything into my little raised bed, they dig it up and plow it under and I find it all over the yard. Most peculiar and most frustrating.

In addition, what’s not getting dug up or dragged off is getting eaten. “Wascally Wabbits,” I believe, to quote Elmer Fudd.

So, I just about laughed out loud when I saw a newsletter from Fine Gardening all about making the garden a place of relaxation. It had links for types of seating and seating areas and was so inviting.

But this year, my garden couldn’t be less relaxing if I tried. Because of the ongoing drought, it’s a battle zone (with due respect to those truly in a battle zone of course, and apologies for using that term).

Chipmunks are regularly hurling themselves into my pond–which should be comforting because it means there are fewer of them to dig up the garden and to wreak havoc there, except it’s not. I have pulled a record number of them from the water this year despite setting a bird bath on the side for them (and the birds) to drink from (and regularly cleaning it to avoid the mosquito issue).

Rabbits are eating everything in sight–not just the buffet of clover and violets in the lawn that we provide for them. Again, I think this is partly to do with drought. Plant matter provides moisture as well as nourishment.

Last week, after 10 days without moisture,  we had 2/10ths of an inch of rain. That was followed by a 4 day stretch of upper 80s and lower 90s. So that moisture was gone the very next day from the soil and everywhere else.

Other parts of Connecticut are faring better. But the northern tier is extremely dry and has been in drought since last summer. We had no snow to speak of this winter and were not hit with the monster blizzard that affected most of the mid-Atlantic and even New York City!

So we are hurting for moisture in a bad way. We have long gloomy gray stretches but no real rain. Even my clay soil is dusty dry.

So on this “unofficial” start to summer I am praying for rain and lots of it. It’s going to be a tough summer without it!

 

Wordless Wednesday–The Tomato is Always Redder….

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This is my neighbor’s Big Beef tomato plant. It’s one of a couple I’ve started for him and given to him.

A few weeks ago, I was out to dinner with the Spoiler and he said wistfully, “Oh, you should see our neighbor’s tomato plants. He’s got this one nice round red tomato. Every time I’m over there with Amie [the dog] I’m so tempted to reach out and pick it….”

I literally started sputtering. This is what we had at home on our counters from our own plants.

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They were literally developing bad spots because we couldn’t eat them fast enough–and he’s coveting our neighbor’s tomatoes?!

When I pointed this out to him, his response was, “I don’t eat them like apples. You have to serve them up to me.”

It’s a good thing we weren’t home. I might have “served them up” in a way that just might have wasted all my efforts in growing them–and caused me more work in cleaning the house!

Wordless Wednesday–A Taste of Summer at Thanksgiving

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This is my last plate of home grown tomatoes. When I pulled out the vines I had so many green ones I thought surely I would be eating homegrown tomatoes until Christmas. As it turns out, it’s only going to be until Thanksgiving. Oh well–it’s still pretty nice to have my own tomatoes on the Thanksgiving table. That’s definitely something to be thankful for!

Speaking of being thankful, this is my 200th “Wordless” Wednesday (although they’re never really wordless with me, of course) and my 998th post. Guess I need to think up something spectacular for Monday!

Tomato Testing, Grafting and Tasting

An article in the “Science” section of last week’s New York Times about the search for a better tasting tomato (isn’t that vegetable’s holy grail?) led me to muse about this season’s tomato crop.

While overall, it has been a slower season than usual for me, not helped, of course by the fact that deer browse stunted all my tomatoes, there are certain things that have been successes.

The first thing that has been a success, at least in terms of disease resistance, has been the grafted tomatoes. I can’t say that they have grown or produced fruit any quicker than the un-grafted varieties (but that may be due to the deer browse problem and not due to any fault of the tomatoes themselves).

I planted 3 types of tomatoes, and I planted a grafted variety next to an un-grafted variety. In each case, I gave the grafted variety slightly better positioning in the garden so that it got slightly better sun. It didn’t seem to make much difference–but that again may be because the deer ate the tops off at a crucial time in late June.

Where the grafted tomatoes really shone was in disease resistance. By late July there was nothing left of the un-grafted ‘San Marzano.’ It had completely succumbed to a disease or blight–I wasn’t really paying attention because I was focusing on warding off the deer at that point. I suspect it was a disease, however, since none of the other tomatoes in the garden succumbed and blight, from what I understand, is highly contagious.

The grafted ‘San Marzano’ is still going strong and producing fruit–so that is ample reason to speak up for the grafted tomatoes. At least in my garden, every year there is some reason that something attacks the tomatoes.

This year was the perfect storm of attacks on the tomatoes too–or the “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong” year. In June it was the deer and the over-abundance of rain (if there can be such a thing) leading to disease.

In July, it was still the deer, and disease.

In August, I found hornworms, something I don’t think I’ve ever had–or if I have, I’ve had them with the beneficial wasp larva on their backs so I could remove the worms, sequester them somewhere safe and let the larva do their work. This year, no such luck. No larva to be found. And I’m such a sucker, I still can’t kill the big lugs. I just cut them off the plants and put them way over in the woods. They probably die anyway, removed from their food source. But I figure if they have a chance of transforming into a moth, they ought to have it.

So needless to say, with all that going on, there haven’t been a lot of tomatoes yet. I’ve got a lot of green ones on the plants but I haven’t had a lot of red ones. But there’s still time. And if all else fails, I know a few great methods of ripening the green ones. I’m just not into fried green tomatoes and I don’t have the patience to make my Dad’s green tomato relish.