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.

Who’s To Blame for No Garden Photos? Whatever . . . . This Just May Be the Year of the Tomato

The little garden behind the garage, May 21, 2011.

It’s been awhile since I’ve added any garden photos, but this morning after spending a leisurely couple of hours dozing in bed, I got up, made some freshly ground coffee, and headed out to the little patch behind the garage.  Since I didn’t hear any rumblings of earthquakes to signal the end of the earth, I decided to do some picking and watering.  Watering has been absolutely necessary because there has been only one good rain in about the last four months here in northwest Harris County.  This year, I took an old hose, drilled some holes in it, and snaked it back and forth through the garden.  It works well either in shower mode or soaker mode.

The garden is far less organized this year.  Blame it on the lettuce, which when I planted it on January 1st, I got a bit lazy and went for the tossing method of planting, never expecting the abundance of these leafy, salad greens.  Thus, when I planted the beans, tomatoes, and peppers, I had to plant around the already thriving lettuce.  The onions that I planted at the same time as the lettuce are maintaining themselves, but they definitely are hidden under the foliage of the leafy beans and lettuce.

One of the many clusters of tomatoes that have set on.

Now I have a jungle in miniature.  Whether it’s the compost from last year, the added manure and other soil, or the fertilizers, including fish emulsion, that I’ve added, I now have tomato plants nearing the roofline of the garage.  I have just seven tomato plants, and one is a volunteer, but I’ve already picked about six tomatoes.  The tomatoes have certainly set on.  I call one of them “Mrs. Duggar”; it’s so loaded with fruit.  Last year, the garden’s big producer was okra, but it looks like this might be “The Year of the Tomato.”

In fact, I’m having difficulty getting okra planted.  I sprouted about 20 little plants in the bay window in my kitchen, but the process of getting them transferred and growing in the garden hasn’t been a very fortunate one.  Of the 12 that I actually got stuck in the ground, this morning I counted only five still alive.  After I pull out some more of the leggy lettuce, I’ll try just planting the seeds.

View from the Suburbs: Bits ‘n Pieces

This little dab of beans came from tonight's first picking. A couple of sad radishes came along for the ride.

The rain these last couple of days has helped all the plants in my little kitchen garden, those in the pots and beds, and, more than any others, the grass.

So the meager, little first picking of beans this evening seems just as interesting as most of the news items on TV, though there are a few things that have happened for which I have two cents:

British Petroleum:  They’ve promoted the brand BP rather than British Petroleum for a long time here in Houston.  On billboards and in other advertising, they’ve seemed to want to hide their real identity and appear to the consumer to be an American company.   After the explosion at their Texas City plant, British Petroleum came across as a denier, just like now with the gulf well, not wanting to own up to all the safety problems.  That British Petroleum is directly involved in another major catastrophe is not a big surprise.

Ted Haggard:  He’s started a new church in Colorado Springs.  Why?  He’s the type of person that wants to have the stage lights on him, which is really what many of these televangelists want . . . and, of course, the big money.  This guy is really just kind of creepy.  I’ve said it before:  nobody starts experimenting with gay sex–if they’re straight (or vice versa) in their 50s.  I’m betting that even after all the hoopla about his “change”, Haggard is starting a church back in Colorado Springs because it’s a place he’s comfortable in and he’ll be in a situation that he’s comfortable in.  It’s not that much different than getting a job as a mechanic for a Ford dealership after you’ve worked in a similar position for a Chevy dealer for 20 years.  I don’t doubt that in the not too distant future (if it’s still not occurring), there’ll be some “prayer time” with some guys, like Mike Jones, the male prostitute that he was seeing for three years.  (Three years?  That’s a relationship, isn’t it?)

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:  A lot of promises were made by candidate Obama, and he and the Democrats got a lot of both verbal and monetary support because of those promises.  DADT has almost  80% support from the American public, yet this administration is hemming and hawing about getting this dinosaur repealed.  I know that gay people are not the only ones that are disappointed after electing a president and a congress that supported him.  Health care reform is another example.  The sad thing is this administration with the majority in Congress has the opportunity to make some much needed changes, but for quite awhile now they’ve all just looked like woosies.

View from the Suburbs: “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow” After the Rains Came Through? Check Out the Rainfall Amounts and Other Houston Weather

 

The beans were complaining after the rain, but the kitschy chickens didn't even squawk. (5-15-10)

During my drive home last evening, the dark clouds only got more ominous on my Friday evening drive to the northwest.  I was hoping to at least pick up my mail and get Annie outside before the rain started, but the first drops started coming down with a couple of miles still to go.  There were just sprinkles coming down when I finally got into the house, but the thunder was already going and Annie had to be coaxed to go out evening after waiting so many hours.

A garden and a rain guage go together like apple pie and ice cream!

The heavy rain started falling around six o’clock, and half of the 2.60 inches of rain (now almost 3 inches including the slower rain that fell from about 10 AM to 2 PM today) that my rain guage shows (near S.H. 529 and Huffmeister) fell within the first hour.  (I headed out to check between showers.)  The amounts seemed to vary quite a bit across the county from about a half inch to almost 5 inches.  (Take a look at the Harris County HS & EM Rainfall Map via the link on this blog’s right sidebar.  It’s a cool reference map, and updates quickly even as the rain is falling.)

The garden was in somewhat of a disarray after so much rain pouring down heavily in a short period; however, nothing was really damaged that much.  Most of the beans, which had been growing tall and gangly, had been pushed over and some of the leaves were matted into the muddy soil.  A couple of the tomato plants also had to be righted again and restaked, but for the most part, everything looked happy to have real rainwater after nearly a month with nothing but the stuff from the hose.

Though the garden is small and the soil not the best, I’ve already picked a few radishes, some green onions, and yesterday morning, the first tomato, which is from a plant that I had stuck into a container, before I had even thought about actually having a garden plot.

It looks as if the heavy rains might not be over with a 70% chance for rain today (Saturday, May 15th) along with a flood watch and some rain predicted every day for awhile.  Here’s the forecast for our neck of the woods (You just gotta love weather lingo!):

Friday, May 21st: Partly sunny, with a high near 90. South wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind between 5 and 15 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. South southeast wind between 5 and 15 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 75.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70.

Gardening: Food for the Soul–and Hopefully for the Body

This rough patch that was probably a dog run before is starting to look like a garden! I don't know if old smells still linger, but Annie likes the garden as much as I do.

This morning I spent the good part of another vacation day gardening.  Actually, about four hours straight after getting up with Annie.  I finished moving pavers, then dug up the rest of my garden plot, raked in some bags of soil, and finally planted the space to every inch of its life.

Yesterday I bought one more tomato plant–some kind of heirloom–two containers of okra sprouts, and several packets of beans and flower seeds.  This morning I set in the plants and planted both green and yellow beans.  I added some of the flower seeds in with the veggies, but most I put in the remaining space in my side flower bed.  If everything grows well, then I’ve over-planted, but I’m not sure of anything because the space crowded in behind my garage and the back fence doesn’t have the best of soil.

Gardening itself has to be food for the soul.  There’s plenty of time to think while the hands are busy.  Although it’s been many years since I’ve had a vegetable garden, there’s no question about how to do it.  How deep to plant the different seeds, how to make the little trenches in which to plant the beans, it’s all second nature to me.  What’s amazing is how much pleasure I get out of it.  I had to laugh at myself, enjoying my time in the garden today, compared with the drudgery I had felt as a kid hoeing a row of potatoes.  In some ways, I feel like this little garden has almost taken me full circle, back to the days of growing up on the farm, when I learned all the tasks involved with taking care of a garden, but not liking them all that much, and here I am now, getting so much enjoyment doing what I learned as a kid.

Part of my garden looks good already; onions are growing despite being so close to the fence.  Some of the radishes look like it won’t be long before I can pull a couple, and the two sunflowers are stretching and straightening, trying to get more acquainted with their namesake.  Everything else is moving at a bit slower pace, but I hardly give them much chance, checking at least twice a day, and more now that I’m on vacation.  I realized, though, that everything has grown quite a bit when I compare how my garden looks today with just three weeks ago (see the photo further down the page).