Sunday, July 6, 2008

July 6, 2008

Well, the end of a three-day weekend.  I started in a sweat shirt and shorts because it was a bit cloudy out. Low 60s so not cold, but I was mostly lounging around the house and taking the boys out to play.  We went for a walk and I got a good side walk view of a neighbor's raised-beds that I've been tracking for a while now.  Their yard is all immaculately manicured with bonsai trees and little islands in a sea of beauty bark.  Unfortunately their raised beds are barren.  I can't figure it out.  I haven't seen them outside or I'd ask.  They've got 6 4x8 beds or so so they could really be growing something.  But all I can see is a few small bushes and some weed looking things.  What are they waiting for?  Summer is in full swing here... /shrug.

After it started to sprinkle, we came in and I checked out the web.  While checking out my blog posts, I found one from a mini-farmer in Northern California.  Chuck Bartok used to be a real farmer specializing in tomatoes but is now retired.  He has a series of videos demonstrating how to grow as little as 24 tomato plants for Health and Wealth.  He's got a restaurant in his town that is willing to buy many of his varieties and does a stand on the side of the highway selling the rest at $1 a pound.  He expects to grow 1,000 pounds and make $1,000 doing it.  Apparently, 1 acre of tomatoes can earn someone $18,000 a year.  Hehe it seems like a ton of work to grow an acre of tomatoes, but if you could, that could be a decent additional source of income.  Of course my 1/4 acre isn't going to cut it even if I transformed my entire front yard, which isn't particularly neighborly, hehe.

However, he did a great job of showing how to prune a tomato plant.  It's a variation on what my brother and aunt were "showing" me on the 4th.  So I went outside and pruned my two tomato plants.  Here's a before pic... realize that we'd already pruned a bit.

And here is an after pic or two...

I realize now that I may have gone a bit overboard on the left-hand Momomoto. I sure hope it does ok. I can't start over this year.  The right-hand Early Girl looks a bit better.  On both tomato plants I left more on top because I remembered I was supposed to leave some leaves for shade.  Some of the lower tomatoes might not get much of that. Oops.

If the plants thrive I'll prune a bit more on top, especially on the Early Girl.  However, I made sure I got the branches growing in towards the interior to give light. I also made sure I got rid of the ones poking into the peas and shading the cukes.  Finally, I made sure I tucked the stray branches inside the trellis or cage to support it.  Overall it was pretty productive.

I must say that even being in shorts, getting pelted by the summer sun in that garden really made me sweat in the sweat shirt.  hehe.  While I was out there I cleared out a bit of Toasty's SWC. It's in a bit worse shape than I remember. The reservoir is full of mud and weed roots and some of the tubes supporting the platform have fallen over.  Looks like I'm going to have to completely remove the platform and all the tubes, really clean it out and try to put it back together.  Hehe I didn't build mine like that so it's going to be tricky.  I've got a bit of time because I still don't have seeds. 

However, I did get some trellis netting for my cantaloupes.  Really it's for my corn which is still falling over, but appears to be growing fast after the fertilization.  Really, it looks like the two rows I fertilized are taller today.  So I went and got a 5x15 nylon trellis with 7 inch squares.  5x11 will be used for my corn bed to support the corn.  Boy is it going to be tricky to work the leafy corn stalks through a 7 inch square, hehe.  Let's hope it works.  I'll take pictures along the way of course.  That's for another to-do list though.  Oh yeah, the cantaloupes. They'll get the 4x5 feet I cut off the trellis roll.  At least that's the idea.  And next year, I could even use it to trellis the back of the corn bed when I use it for something else.  See, I'm thinking ahead and using every inch of materials.

Afterwards I felt the urge to weed.  Mostly I saw this far too often...

If you can't tell, that's my blueberry bed.  It's horrible.  Some of the weeds look bigger and healthier than the blueberry bushes, and I have two to three inches of beauty bark as mulch.  Not to mention that bed is extremely acidic to promote the blueberry bushes.  Weeds don't seem to care. hehe.

So, an hour or so of weeding while watching the kids play in the turtle sandbox that was once empty and now full of water, it was looking better.  It was funny to see my 4 year old get the idea to undress to only a t-shirt and help his brother do the same before splashing each other and having a blast.  Oh yeah, pictures of the de-weeded bed...

And the other side...

Not quite sure what to do with the dying bulb leaves.  I'll ask my aunt, they're hers anyway.  I just want something growing in there (other than weeds) until the blueberry bushes join in the middle and take over the entire bed. MUAHAHAHA!

Lastly, in my research today I came across a post on GW from Grandpop1 about watering basics.  Seems I (like most in-experienced gardeners) am watering too little, too often.  Apparently I should be doing what I have done with the potato bins. Soak the heck out of the soil and then wait 4 or so days to water again, despite what the top inch looks like.  I kind of knew that because Mel's Mix retains moisture so well, but I just get worried.  Apparently too frequent watering leads to shallow roots.  So much for my 16 inch beds hehe.  So I just got done soaking the corn bed and the cukes primarily. We'll see how that works.  However, I'll still top off my SWC every day. Those babies go through tons of water (remember it's a closed system so it's water conservation at it's best).

Anyway, hope you all had a great holiday weekend and spent some quality time in your garden!

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