Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1, 2011

Well, the cats got into the light system room and wreaked havoc on the plants.  What they couldn't eat, they knocked over. What a mess and all that work down the drain! I had planned on a tomato post today, but what's the point?  At least last year my brother had a crappy germination and seedling growth and still did well buying starts from the farmer's market. 

Thank goodness my lettuce starts and broccoli/cauliflower seedlings were outside hardening off for the last day before planting them out, so I'll still have some brassicas to grow this spring.  I'd planned on a big succession planting to freeze for winter next year, but now that too may not be possible.

Don't let this happen to you! Toddler gates don't work!  Big cats can simply knock them over and most cats can jump them easily!  Your best bet is to close the door and lock it, in case they learn to turn knobs, or in my case where I need the door open to allow heat in, electric fencing is the way to go! Nothing cruel mind you, just the stuff they use to keep small dogs from leaving the yard should do it.

April fools! None of this actually happened, but it is a fear of mine, so I have two toddler gates stacked on top of each other.  In reality, this will be a tomato based blog post with some of the above issues thrown in, but this time truthfully told.

First off, I have ditched the TV tray for a lower storage box with goodness knows what in it. It was just in the storage room, sturdy and the right height.
As you can see, it's give me a few more inches on the tallest of my tomatoes. However, their rapid growth has caused some of the lower branches to be too heavy and start to droop and some even break off.  So to help a bit, I've taken to staking them up with bamboo poles from my folks place.  I knew I was going to miss their old house when they moved because they had a bamboo plant that we'd use for gardening as we thinned out the dead canes.  Thankfully their new home had a much bigger mature plant that provides all any of out three families need. 

While I was up there, I continued to bemoan my limited stock of viable tomato plants to plant out in a few weeks (weather permitting). Thankfully my existing stock provided me with some options for expanding my garden.  A few plants had slow germinating seeds finally sprout, allowing me to semi-successfully transplant them to new 9-ounce cups.  Other plants had already grown healthy suckers (branches growing out of the middle elbow of the stem and another branch). Suckers themselves won't grow tomatoes as branches, but are great for planting for succession plants in their own right.  Funny how they won't grow tomatoes on a plant but AS a plant they grow them fine?  Nature's funny that way I guess.

So, I decided to experiment a bit. Why not, for some reason I have the space in my light system.  After looking around at all my plants, I found tons of possible additions.  Some more viable than others.  One of my more wacky attempts was to pull a drooping branch off a plant and plant it in a cup.  It was far too long/tall to stand on it's own, so I staked it.

Fast forward a day and I'll tell you, it didn't work. hehe.  However, my other attempts did better.  Of the two seeds that finally sprouted, one was salvaged with enough roots to take hold, and as of last night, the sucker was holding it's own, though VERY small.

Sorry for the bad photo. The tray with my tomatoes is in the back, sitting on a couple of VHS tapes to raise it up closer to the lights.  The lights have to be that high for the tall tomatoes. So I had to be creative. That's one of the benefits of doing this in a storage room.  There's always junk laying around to use that nobody is going to miss.  That's why it's up there. ROFL.

Speaking of finding creative ways to raise plants. I mentioned my massive succession planting of broccoli and cauliflower in my poorly executed April Fools joke above.  Well it's in the foreground of the picture above.  As you can see, I hadn't yet raised it up closer to the lights.  You can even see the seedlings laying over, trying to find light on the top of the fridge.  Well, thankfully I found an old box laying around.  Worked out well enough, don't you think?

For the last pic of the post, I have been pretty much leaving the salad greens and initial plantings of broccoli and cauliflower outside all day long, bring them in at night.  I saw no point in taking them back upstairs to the light system every night, so they hung out in the garage and taken back out in the morning. Time to plant these out I think, don't you? Come on, I love comments, please...

Lastly, I've mentioned my brother tons of times in my blog. He's the one who convinced me to start my garden, helped design and build it, and even was my inspiration for wanting chickens.  Well, yesterday he finally decided to take the plunge and start his own blog.  I really shouldn't give you this link, because he was a journalism major in college and writes extremely well.  You may not come back to my babblings. hehe.  Seriously, I encourage you to follow his blog and mine and see how two brothers make the most of their small suburban yards on a journey toward greater self sufficiency.

Enjoy your garden!


  1. Oh I'd consider putting them in the ground. But as I got my salad greens and cabbage in the bed, it rained for the next two days then turned cold again. That was about a month ago and they are starting to take a turn for the better. No if it would only warm up some. I did check out you brother's blog and didn't understand any of it. He does write well but I'm from the south so it takes a while for things to sink in :)

  2. You had me fooled at first. I was already formulating my comment of sympathy by the second paragraph. So glad your seedlings are ok and thriving.

    I have had great luck rooting tomato suckers in water. Once they form roots, I pot them up and allow them to adjust to being in soil. Then they are easily transplanted into the garden.

    I checked out your brother's blog and am looking forward to watching his gardening and chick progress as well as yours.

  3. You had me going there with the April Fools joke but I am seriously glad that it was not a real disaster for you. :D

    Those brocolli and cauliflower should do fine being planted out - since you have been hardening them off already.

    Off to go check out your brothers blog.

  4. Your seedlings look beautiful! Mine are still short and stumpy, but that's likely because I won't bring them inside no matter how cold it is. I always lose too many to hardening off, so I make them suffer outside.

  5. You know, April Fools aside, I sometimes wonder if my cat will learn to open door knobs :-) You have lots of early tomatoes this year. They look nice.

    About the broad beans I started, they are a cool season bean. You plant them at the same time as peas and they finish up about the same time too.

  6. We are establishing our first garden. The new raised beds are built, have a 4 way mix in them, fencing up and around them, water systems in place.. and now for planting. I feel like I am so far behind.. just got seeds started last weekend and have them sitting in a southern window. Still calculating a planting plan for the layout of the 4 beds. Cherry and Pear Trees are in bloom and need to secure some bees for polinating. Started one new blue berry bush on the south side of the house.

  7. Sounds like you're really doing well Cardinal Street. Thanks for dropping by and I hope to hear more about your garden! Thanks and enjoy!