Sunday Sunshine Makes for a Good Day To Spend Time Puttering in the Garden

These are some of the vegetables planted in November; in comparison to the lush growth of the turnip leaves, the carrots are coming up sparsely.

These are some of the vegetables planted in November; in comparison to the lush growth of the turnip leaves, the carrots are coming up sparsely.

Yesterday was the perfect day to be outside; even with the breeze, the sunshine warmed up my face from the cooler air inside the house.  I set about trying to clean and organize  my veggie garden out back of the garage.

The three short rows of turnips are spreading out their thick leaves, and I think I might have glimpsed a bit of white root that is starting to be a turnip.

After last year’s poor showing, I was against planting English peas again, but somehow I did it, and the spindly plants are trying to pull themselves up the trellises by their tendrils, despite their lack of a real affinity for climbing (unlike the pole beans, who really get it).   The peas’ real talent comes in the sweet white blooms they produce.  Even so, when the time arrives, I can never pick enough pods of the little green balls to get more than a handful or two to throw into some soup.   I couldn’t imagine trying to grow enough of these fragile plants to collect enough to fill a bowl for a family meal.

Back in November when I put in the turnips and peas, I also planted a mix of lettuce, Texas onions (which are supposed to make bulbs, and not just get to the scallion stage before the heat burns them up). and carrots.  These are all doing their best although they have an ongoing contest with the ever-eager chickweed, which wants to grow anywheere it can in early spring.  I tried to help out the young vegetable by getting on the gloves and pulling out the chickweed and occasional nasty nettle, but it wasn’t an easy task because in the midst of all the vegetable plants and weeds are at least 30 volunteer tomato plants, which have sprung from the compost I had tilled into the soil.  Because a number of the tomatoes I had last year were heirlooms and so tasty, I’m leaving some of the bigger ones in the ground where they are and digging up and temporarily potting others to pass along to friends.  The remaining ones will have to be either pulled up with the chickweed or hoed under.

These volunteer tomato plants are trying to get acclimated to pots after being plucked  from their crowded space in the garden.

These volunteer tomato plants are trying to get acclimated to pots after being plucked from their crowded space in the garden.

My potting table at the back door is not so convenient to the garden itself but is just the right place to be the landing place for sprinklers, empty pots, and any other outside necessity.  Right now, the table is also crowded with a couple of pots as an experiment of container lettuce, a number of the tomato orphans from the garden, and the starting homes flowers that I hope will grow from the seeds given to me for Christmas that came from my niece and nephew’s Kansas garden.  We’ll see which can take this southeast Texas humidity.

When I arrived home from work this evening, the plants and flowers all over the entire yard and garden stood perky and were still glistening from the .30 inches of rain that had fallen in the late afternoon.  Like other rains  over the past few weeks , the amount of rainfall was small but is enough to keep the ground moist.

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The First Ripe Tomatoes Do Make for a Good Monday

There's no better find than the first tomatoes of the spring!

As Mondays go, this one wasn’t all that bad.  Work was nothing other than ordinary, even for the first day of the work week.  Getting home was probably the worst part of the whole day, with a number of slow spots on my route.  I take most longer-than-usual commutes pretty much in stride.  I do like my SiriusXM radio, and though I normally stick with OutQ’s Derek & Romaine Show, I don’t mind hittin’ Channel 51 for some electronic dance music, when the talk radio goes astray.  Why the last three miles of my tree-lined suburban drive got into bumper-to-bumper mode tonight, I have no idea, but the satellite radio and knowing that I was inching nearer to my home got me through it.

With the car in the garage and the dog properly picked up and hugged, I headed out to check on the garden, just to see what effect last evening’s soaking from the sprinkler might have had.  First glimpse showed peeking sprouts of the yellow beans that I had planted about eight days ago.  Other plants seemed to have stretched a few more inches.  When I headed around the corner to check on the four tomato plants in containers, I spied a bit of red among the velvety green leaves.  Though I knew that there were already cherry tomatoes on that plant, I had no idea that some would be ripe before the end of March!  Yet, there they were: one nearly ripe and another already turning yellow.    There are other small ones on that same plant, and other plants have blooms, but I know that it will be awhile before I can stop hitting the produce section at the supermarket for tomatoes for salads.

Stimulated by the Wet Weather, Tomato Plants Get an Early Start

A Better Boy and a cherry tomato just planted get their first taste of rain. (Feb. 15, 2012)

Thanks to a bit of an odd schedule, I got to have some of this afternoon off.  A few free hours mid-week almost feels like a mini-weekend.  Like on my morning commute, I had to put the wipers on a slow intermittent to skim off the little bit of drizzle and the wet thrown up from the road by other cars.  Already after 2 o’clock, I was ready for the tacos al pastor from one of my favorite food stops, El Rey.  Once my appetite was sated, I headed for Lowe’s. 

With all this rain, garden fever has set in big time, and even though many think February is too early, I had already decided to find a couple of tomato plants.  Thinking that the garden is just too wet to use the tiller, on the way home, I decided to put my new plants in containers.  Even though the rain gauge showed no significant moisture in it when I arrived home, as I began the task of mixing potting soil, cow manure, and Jobe’s Organic Tomato Fertilizer, bigger drops started to fall.  In the approximately 10 minutes it took to get the containers filled and the plants set in, I got soaked, and the rain gauge held .20 inches.

It will be interesting to see how these tomatoes grow–one is a cherry (I’ll have to check the spike for the variety when it’s drier outsided) and a Better Boy.  Although they are in a narrow space between the garage and side fence, the east to west trajectory of the sun should give them plenty of light once it moves north a bit more.

It will also be interesting to see how if the experts still show us in a drought tomorrow.  Even though the ground is soppy and many ditches have water sitting in them, they seem determined to keep our area in a drought zone.