Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Happy Spring … Happy Gardening!

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Happy Spring … Happy Gardening!


Well summer is just around the corner, and with that comes the new growing season. But before I get started, I thought I would post a recap from last year. 

With last year being my first year planting a full garden and in a new part of the country … it went fairly well. Had some difficulties, but also learned at least a few things from those mistakes. 

The Spring of 2015 was very late, with 18 feet of snow on the Island it took a LONG time to get it all to melt! Then the ground had to warm up. Needless to say it took a while before we could even prepare our new garden plot. Starting from scratch, removing some bushes, removing sod, tilling it, removing rocks. Whew, I’m tired just thinking about it! Oh and did I mention the black flies apparently love to eat me!! All I can say is, suit up, bug spray, gloves and netting hat saved me. 

I had decided to go with all Heritage/Heirloom seeds. Which I don’t think was a bad idea, just they did not grow as well as I hoped, and some not at all. There was some contributing factors that may have affected things, such as poor soil condition (heavy clay), temperature of soil, weather conditions. There were some winners though, and would grow again. 


Opalka Tomatoes – a sauce or paste tomato. Though the plants looked fragile to start with they grew and produced the best yielding tomatoes. Did not have any problems with any rot or other disease. 

Russian Mamoth Sunflower – they got to around 10 feet tall, full heads, very impressive. Though the sunflower seeds did not quite get to full maturity before the season was done, I think being planted in fuller sun, south exposure would have solved this issue. 

Squash (Zucchini) – grew like crazy, and had a long production period. Generally these type do grow well in most areas. 

Irish Cobbler Potatoes – grew well, nice sized potatoes. Was able to get new/baby potatoes fairly early which was great! A bit of scabbing once they got to full size, but not a big deal if just peeling them. 

Bull’s Blood Beets – one of my best growers. Came in thick and strong. Tops are edible as a green while young to cook or put in salads. My fault was not thinning them out enough. Lesson learned!

I had also tried growing onions from seed, which did not work out. It took a lot of time and once I transplanted into garden they all died. Maybe I will try again, but not any time soon. 

Something we did last year and will be doing again this year is mulching the rows with straw. Really helped keep down the weeds, and will really improve the quality of the soil this year. As our soil is heavy clay it will help lighten it. 

So onto this year, some veggies I will be growing again are Bull’s Blood Beets and Irish Cobbler Potatoes.  Among many new varieties I will be trying this year (more on this will come in a new post).

We will be improving the soil conditions as well by tilling in the straw we used as mulch last year, and chicken manure (from our hens that has composed down). I figure each year the soil should improve in quality. 

I will be trying a few new techniques this year and will try to be better at posting my results as I go along. 

So here’s hoping for a great year of growing!!

GARDENING UPDATE – MAY 2nd, 2015

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Front yard May 1 2015

 

Happy May!  Hard to believe if you look out my living room window.  With Prince Edward Island receiving a historic record amount of snow this year, I guess it takes a while for 18 feet of snow to melt (we actually got just over 18 feet, with the last “sprinkle” a few days ago)!!

It’s been a while since I last reported about my gardening plans.  Check out my previous posts from March 21st and February 15th.  I was hoping the snow would have been gone by now, and that I would have a lot more to report.  But alas, it is what it is!  So what have I been up to … well I received all my seeds in the mail, and have started some of my seeds.

I figured with the amount of snow that we received, that I was planning to plant my garden the first weekend in June (6th / 7th).  With the hope that all the snow would be gone and the soil would be warm enough!!  Here is a picture I took yesterday of where my garden will be!

 

Garden space May 1 2015

 

I started with my onions, by planting them on April 3rd.  Onions started by seed are to be started about 10 weeks before you plan on planting your garden (I planted mine 9 weeks in advance).  The variety that I chose was Yellow of Parma onions.  I have never started onions by seed, but did a lot of reading about it.  I figured either they would work out or not, so gave it a go!  I decided to use some containers from my recycling, and found some salad/greens containers.  They were a good size and had the plastic dome already!  I started by washing out the containers good to make sure there was no bacteria in there.  I took some organic seed starter mix and added warm water and mixed.  You want it to be moist, but not a sloppy mess!  I filled two containers about 2/3 full.  Then sprinkled the onion seed on top spreading it out as evenly as I could.  I then sprinkled on about ¼ inch of dry soil on top of the seeds.  I gave it a good spraying of warm water with a spray bottle, and put on the lid.  I kept in a warm area, and gave it a mist of water every couple of days.  At this point they did not actually need sunlight yet.

 

Onions 17 days

Onions 17 days 2

 

Within 7-10 days most of the seeds started to sprout.  I was pretty happy with the germination of the seeds.  I planted approximately 60 seeds in each tray, and about 55 germinated.  I took off the plastic dome off at this point, and placed in front of a window.  I also drilled a half a dozen holes in the bottom at this point, and took the plastic covers and put underneath them as a drainage tray.  I found as long as I gave it a good spraying every day or two that I really didn’t have to water it too heavily.  The seedling are pretty tender at this point and did not want to drown them!  I found they grew pretty quickly, and I kept them trimmed to about 1-2”.  You want them to put their energy into growing the bulb under the soil, not into growing tops.  At this point, four weeks in, they are growing their first sprout off the main stem.  Once they have two sprouts off the main stem, they will be ready to transplant.  At that point I will take them from their trays, and plant into individual pods.  I will post an update when I do this.

 

Onions 4 weeks

 

I then started my tomatoes on April 10th.  The varieties I chose were Brandywine tomatoes and Opalka tomatoes.  I also got some free Mary Unger tomato seeds in my order so started those as well.  I was not sure how many to start, so decided to do a dozen of both the Opalka and Mary Unger, and 18 of the Brandy Wine.  I started the soil as I described above, and filled 3” pots and some small yogurt containers.  I put three seeds in each pot, and covered with ¼” soil.  This time I did not have a plastic dome big enough, so I covered each with a sheet of wax paper as recommended by my mom.  It worked really good as it keeps in the moisture but can breathe enough as well so you don’t have to worry about any mildew forming.

 

Tomatoes 10 days 2

 

Tomatoes 10 days

 

Within the first week they had all sprouted and I took off the wax paper.  I watered daily or every second day as needed.  Again the seedlings are super tender at this point.  Once they reached about 1.5 inches in height, it was time to snip off some of the plants.  Instead of having three fighting for all the nutrients, you keep the strongest and snip the other two off.  This way the roots do not get disturbed!  It was hard as I wanted to save them all, but I did cut them off in the end.  They are now almost 3” tall, and I will need to transplant them into a 4” pot.  You know they are to be transplanted when they get their second set of “true” leaves.  The first two leaves you get are just from the germination process from the seed.  The next set of leaves are the “true” leaves.

 

Tomatoes 3 weeks 3

 

Tomatoes 3 weeks

 

Tomatoes 3 weeks 2

 

Tomatoes can be transplanted two times before they actually get planted in the garden.  The next size container would be a gallon size container.  I hope to have enough 4L milk jugs to use for mine!

This weekend, I will also be starting my cucumbers, zucchini, melons (musk/cantaloupe and watermelon), and pumpkins.  All of these are to be started 3-4 weeks before your garden planting date.

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow my little seedlings, and eventually being able to plant them in my garden!  As things progress, I will post more updates, and hope to do a full post of each category of vegetable I am growing from start to end.  That will be in the fall, and over next winter.