Monday, April 11, 2011

First Harvest!

The best day of the year occurred in my garden on Sunday! My first harvest! I needed to thin out my lettuce a bit. I planted the rows pretty thickly and every variety needed pruning. My spinach is also big enough to be eaten. The benefit to me is a yummy baby spring green salad. I mixed the baby lettuce and the spinach with chopped kiwi, strawberries, mushrooms, and broccoli from the store and made a really delicious salad.

This begins two months of having fresh spinach and lettuce in my house!

My other row of potatoes is finally peeking through the ground and I found some more volunteer potatoes in a few spots in my garden. I'm going to move one of them because it is in a really inconvenient spot where I would like to plant other things.

I uncovered my tomatoes as Gardeninggurugoforth suggested, but the past two weeks have been busy and getting out there to care for them has not been easy and only two of the young plants made it - a Brandywine and a Grandpa Charlie. Disappointing, but next year, I will use his radiant heat method with bottles of water. I did notice that the Grandpa Charlie Tomato has sprouted some roots along its stem near the bottom and seems really healthy.

Spring fever is always so hard! I want so badly to have that first tomato sandwich, but I can honestly say that I'm not sure putting the tomatoes out early does a whole lot of good! My plants inside have done really well. I've been slowly hardening them off outdoors and moving them back indoors in cooler weather. I have a lot really great plants now from it! I may find out, though, when green houses start their tomatoes, because all the store bought tomatoes are a bit larger than mine. This occurred last year as well. I bought a few larger tomato plants from a local greenhouse last year, but in the end, my plants got just as huge, and the tomatoes just as delicious as the greenhouse tomato plants. I'm not sure what the difference is in the way I raise my plants. However, I did lose a few more of my tomato babies, than my greenhouse babies last year. I think because of the size of the plants. How do I get my plants to be bigger and stronger? Are my plants smaller and weaker because my house is warmer than a greenhouse would be? Do they start them earlier? Do they repot to make for stronger root systems? Hmm... I really need to find someone willing to teach me their secrets. Maybe a weekend volunteer job at a greenhouse is in order next winter? It might help my seasonal depression to spend my Saturday mornings tending to plants in a great big greenhouse. Maybe I should go stand by someone's greenhouse and hold up a sign that says, "will work for spring plants" on it! Maybe I should ask my family for a combined Mother's day, Christmas, Birthday gift of my own good sized green house in my back yard.

Next weekend, (April 15-17) I will put out all the rest of my tomato plants get some pepper plants from the local farmer's market and many of my seeds both in my flower garden and in my vegetable garden:
Straight Eight Cucumbers
Black Diamond Watermelon
Blue Flax
Early Prolific Straight Neck Squash
Black Beauty Zucchini
Grey Zucchini
Cocozelle Summer Squash
Burelle's Jumbo Melon
Dixie Queen Watermelon
Moon and Stars Watermelon
Golden Wax Bush Beans
Blue Lake Bush Beans
Golden Bantam Corn

April 15 is supposed to be the date that there will be no more frost this season in North Carolina and is when lots of folks plant their garden. A few years ago, we had a late freeze that killed the blooms (little tassels filled with pollen) on my pecan trees and black walnut trees. But the likelihood of a late frost is not so much that I worry too much.

I will also be purchasing a nice sized roll of fencing this week some time to make new tomato cages. Last year, I used store bought tomato cages and it didn't work out so well. This year, I am planting all of my tomatoes in a row so I can have room in my beds to plant bush beans as a border crop to my tomatoes. I've thought about letting a few of my tomatoes run in the garden and take root and see how they do. I've never done that before, but I have had a few branches break, take root, and produce fruit late in the season.

Evie's little flower garden is doing quite well. Her wild flowers and sunflowers have sprouted, and I will let her pick out her own seed pack of cucumbers this week and we will install an existing trellis.

I have so much to do, but for some reason, I do not get overwhelmed emotionally by my outdoor projects like I do with my indoor projects. I don't feel anxiety when I think about the tall grass like I do when I look at a pile of laundry. Even though it takes just about as much time to do that pile of laundry as it does to mow the grass and it is just as futile - the laundry will keep coming and the grass will keep growing! But for today, I fight the war on ignorance (teach my kids) and prepare for tomorrow's Science Olympiad Class. If I have time, the kids and I will head out after lunch and finish cleaning the yard so I can hopefully mow one day this week before planting this weekend.

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