Thursday, November 5, 2009
Has it really been since April last I wrote? Pity. But now comes a new chapter in my history that I hope opens up my horizons more and more. The time since April has been a bounty that until now has not been recorded and I hope to amend this! My time has been riddled with WAY too many things and that as we all know can have dire consequences but a true gardener knows that taking the time to thin and weed cannot only help the garden but also one's life as well.
Above is a photo of the mortgage lifter tomato flowers that my garden produced this spring. I didn't get them in the ground until mid June and they positively burst out of the ground and surged into the cages I had for them. I have to say that my garden in some respects surpassed all I had hoped for and I believe the land is fertile even though rocky. I had also employed the help of my worm compost and compost tumbler and am now a firm believer.
Here is a photo of some of my cherry bell radishes. Though I was excited about radishes and got quite a few, I don't think I'll be planting them again next year. I planted them too close together but still got some nice sized ones. They were really hot and I couldn't eat them all at once. The rest fell pray to slugs or didn't produce at all. My white icicle radishes either didn't get big or got ginormous and fibrous. The french breakfast radishes were nice but most of them grew into freakishly twisted knots.
My real pride and joy were my tomato plants. Here is an unripe shot of my mortgage lifter tomatoes. I was blown away at how massively big they got. They were rivaling the county fair sized fruits that my grandparents produced that I had not seen since I was a child! I was very proud of my tomatoes! Having not expected this success, I learned a few valuable lessons this year. I had purchased small cages that would've sufficed to hold up the small plants I had expected but not the weight of the monsters we produced. Thankfully, we have a stand of established bamboo and I kept having to reinforce the plants as they were toppled by their sheer weight and the winds that liked to play around the garden. At first I was swearing and cursing the deer because I thought they came in the middle of the night and trampled my tomato plants. I had gone down to water and most of them lay of the ground! I had just propped up two or three of them back into the ground when the wind blew and they slumped down again. I also noticed that there was not damage of trampled branches or nibbling so it wasn't the deer. (Though the bastards did get my lettuce!)
My amish paste tomatoes out produced my mortgage lifter tomatoes I'd wager. Even though the fruit was massive and plentiful, the paste tomatoes just kept coming, and coming, and coming, and coming!!! My sister and I were worn out this fall with canning but my husband was a bottomless pit when it came to homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese. Even now he asks if we can crack open the canned tomatoes for soup but I keep telling him that we'll need them in January or February when we need some cheerful tastiness from the garden!
These are the storm victims that I found on the ground when the storm initially knocked my plants to the ground. :-( But I put them on the blanket chest in front of the window to ripen and they came out just fine. I probably would have gotten a few more gallons of tomatoes this fall if the soggy weather hadn't come early. After a few days of sogginess the tomatoes that were still ripening began to rot. I went out to retrieve a particularly pretty mortgage lifter fruit that I had been waiting on only to find that it had split open with rot on the bottom and the ants had already moved in. I left it in the garden to feed the ants.
The other bounty in my garden was basil. I had grown two kinds and the variety in the picture is large leaf. As my tomatoes began to rot I decided that there was not much left to the basil but seed so I pulled up what represents 4 large plants and hung them upside down to dry in the wind. The other variety I had planted was genovese. At first, it was clear in their early maturing stage that the large leaf and genovese were different because the large leaf had broad leaves. Then, they both grew into a bush form and the large leafs leaves began to narrow as it bolted to seed. Pinch as I might, the large leaf was intent on bolting. The genovese took its time though and its leaves were as broad as the large leaf's. Granted, the large leaf was in more sun and the genovese was shaded by the bamboo. One plant on the end was really slow to bolt and it was from this plant that I tried to harvest the most seed so that I might achieve a slow bolting basil. Since the two have such similar properties, I'm going to sell or trade the large leaf seed and grow genovese exclusively for the moment.
I am excited to plan my garden for next year. Even though the garden was not as big as I had wanted it this year, it was very rewarding and still a lot of hard work! But next year I will have a few lessons under my belt and who knows what the future may blow in!