Hitting it Hard

No posts for a couple days–here’s why: the weather has been great and I’ve been putting in long days in the gardens. I’m taking a break now after a big thunderstorm moved through.

Headed into town for a bit right after the storm passed and was surprised to see hailstones still in the grass at home. Thankfully, the hailed missed us out in the country this time.

Yesterday I did something a little gutsy–transplanted the first tomatoes. I say gutsy because I generally don’t risk tomato transplanting before the frost-free date–but the weather looks good as far out as the weather forecasters can see, and I couldn’t resist.

I put in a row of 24 of the determinate (early bush) varieties–8 each Taxi, Orange Blossom, and Oregon Spring–manured well and watered in with fish emulsion. I water in the hole I’m transplanting in so the roots have contact with moisture right away. Then, to be safe, I lined up all the concrete reinforcement wire cages over the top of the plants and covered them all with floating row cover–their own cozy little tunnel.

This protection was especially important considering I hadn’t hardened off the plants first–it’s as much protection from sunburn as it is from a chill. I did put three flats of tomatoes plants out after the storm today to harden off. They are a little leggy but not spindly–just taller than I’d like them to be.

Also got some broccoli and romaine lettuce transplants out yesterday and today, and started more romaine and basil seedlings inside as well. We are almost getting to the point where I could direct-seed basil, but I prefer the transplant rather than trying to thin out patches of heavy germination and have the row be patchy where the germination was lower.

It’s soggy out there now, but there’s still a few things that can be done. I need to mulch and mark off the asparagus–the guy who comes and mows out in the country mowed over those first few asparagus spears (argh!). But it’s our fault for not marking it well–I’ll have to fix that.

I also need to set up my Walls o Water for eggplant in the north central garden. I had thought it wasn’t really worth using those things–they’re a bit of a pain to set up–but the plants I protected with them last year did far better than the ones I didn’t.

Other than that–a bit of mowing and hoeing and mulching and another manure run have kept me busy the last couple of days. I didn’t get quite as much manure this time as a couple of the horses were being a little pushy. But, if you want manure, I guess you can’t complain about the animals that provided it.

I was glad to see this rain–my excuse to get some other things done (like final grading for my classes!) without feeling like I’m slacking off in the gardens. And we got enough of a deluge that I won’t have to water for a day or two.

Right now that watering of the entire garden (actually 5 gardens, if you think of them separately as I do) takes a little over an hour–I go out and do it with my first cup of coffee in the morning. Once things are a little more established, I won’t have to water everything every day unless it’s sweltering hot and windy.

It’ll get that way–but right now it’s nice to enjoy (finally!) the warmth of spring. Do I hear thunder again?

PS–One of these days I’ll remember to get my camera back out here and take some shots of the gardens’ progress.


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