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.

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Sunday in Suburbia: Strings for Peas and a Hot Plate of Grub To Get the Morning Goin’

String lines to give the tender pea plants something to grab onto to keep them up out of the wet soil.

As gray and cold as it is outside, one can almost believe the prediction Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction that spring won’t come for another six weeks.  Despite the mid-40s temperature, I put the coffee on and went outside to tend to a much-needed task in the garden–putting up some string lines for the peas to climb on.  This year is my first to try peas, and I’ve found that the stems of pea plants don’t have the strength that beans have.  Consequently, after the rains of the last several days, most of the plants were flattened onto–thankfully, not into–the ground.  Still in my red plaid flannel pants and a hooded sweatshirt (yeah, I don’t say “hoodie”), I rounded up some heavy string, my garden chickens, and a few mini-trellises and rigged up some support for the plants, which already have tendrils ready to grab on.

Back inside the coffee was ready.  To help warm up, I decided to make something substantial.  My weekend breakfasts come in one of two types; the quicker is usually coffee with frozen waffles with a slathering of peanut butter or jelly.  On a cool, lazy morning–like this one–I get out the 6-inch cast iron skillet.  Sometimes, I might make an omelet, but usually, I saute some chunks of veggies–onion, a small pepper from the garden, celery, or whatever I have.  Sometimes that might be it.  However, this morning I had real good stuff in the fridge:  about a third of a box of french fries from a fast food run and tasty Kansas smoked sausage that had come back with me at Christmas.  When all these were browned and hot, over the top came a couple of beaten eggs that got cooked slowly, but ended up crisp on the bottom and easily flipped over to cook just a bit more.   Once on the plate, I added a hefty spoonful of homemade chili sauce, given to me for Christmas.  (If I haven’t made your mouth water just a little, you ain’t alive.  This is my version of migas, a Mexican dish that uses crispy pieces of tortillas in the eggs.  I think mine with the leftoever french fries are pretty good too!)

Standing water from recent rains has caused some of Bear Creek Park's roads and picnic areas to be closed.

There’s still no sun out.  Since Christmas, it feels like we’re back in the groove of having more typical Houston weather.  I’ve started checking a site that shows the severity of the drought across Texas and the U.S.  Over the past week, my rain gauge has collected about 2.5 inches of rain, a lot of which came down early yesterday.  If the ditches, empty lot, and open fields are any indication, maybe the drought here in southeast Texas has been broken.  I hope that all the trees are getting a good, healthy drink.  Too many others didn’t make it through last year’s long hot summer and fall.