Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tossing and turning.

Sunday night, I went to bed early, but found it difficult to sleep. Instead, I spent most of the night staring out the window toward the raised beds I built this fall. In my head, I made plans for where things would be planted this spring.

In the upper bed, I will plant squash every two feet along the southern edge. In between, cucumbers will grow on a trellis I need to build. To the north, I'll plant pole beans. The trellis will span the beds leaving room in the center for a few companion plants like nasturtiums and herbs. They'll help protect my squash from certain bugs and provide flavor for summer recipes.

The two lower beds will hold tomatoes. Last year, I started my tomatoes on February 8, indoors, under lights. I'm waiting two more weeks this year. Spring is forecast to be cooler and arrive later than normal. That being the case, waiting makes sense. I just hope the Farmers Almanac is right.

This is the plan. I'll have 36 tomato plants, each with 1.5 square feet. Since they are all indeterminate varieties, they will need to be staked. I am still working on that problem. The goal is to grow enough tomatoes to can one quart for each week during the winter. I still can't eat what grocery stores try to sell us.



The upper bed needs more amendments to the soil. I'll take care of this in April when I remove the hoophouse. If my compost isn't ready, I'll buy bagged compost, peat, and perlite. I'm hoping for a dry spell in the near future so I can pick up some horse manure from a coworker. There's still a chance that I will build one more 4' x 8' bed next to the two lower beds. That may have to wait until fall again. Getting the soil right is the most important part of the equation. Lots of nutrients are needed to grow vegetables in such small spaces. I feel pretty good about what I've done so far. My cabbages will be planted out this week, if I can get the bottles to use as cloches in the lower beds. Carrots have germinated too. They'll mostly be harvested by the time the tomatoes are ready to be planted. But just in case, I'll plant these along the grid lines rather than in the spaces that the tomatoes will occupy.

It's another cold, rainy day here. It's 36 degrees and cloudy. By noon, the rain will be moving in. High wind advisories are in effect for this afternoon as well. The ground is still soggy and wet. The 10 day forecast shows us finally returning to normal February weather in about a week. Highs in the 50s, lows in the 30s are the average. I can't wait.

10 comments:

Tim said...

Looks like you have a pretty clear plan for spring! I don't know if you grow San Marzano tomatoes there; for years people told me not to plant them here because of the humidity. From my experience of the past three years, nothing produces better, and they're amazing for cooking!

tina said...

Looks like you have a good plan. I think by the end of the summer you will be swimming in tomatoes:)

L. D. Burgus said...

The best planning comes late at night. Inspiration and clear thinking seems to take over and you gotta write it down!

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Tim, I grew them this year. I don't know what happened, but they were awful. Every tomato had a black spot in the center of the fruit. From the outside, they looked perfect. It was like they were rotting from the inside out. I really prefer tangy tomatoes to sweet ones. Yellow and orange are my favorites.

Tina, that's the plan. I love these things.

You're right LD. I perfected my plan a little more over the past two days. I think there's still a little more to do. It'll get better as the weather warms up.

Engineeredgarden said...

36 tomato plants is ALOT! You should have no problems whatsoever having enough to can for the winter.

Darla said...

This was something to keep you awake Tom. Sounds as if you have it just about figured out. We are in dire need of amending soil for our veggies as well..the rain just hasn't let up..the tiller will surely get bogged down right now.

Barb said...

You southerners have to toughen up a little bit about your "bad" winter weather. Here in IL we had a winter storm all day yesterday and then an earthquake at 4:00 in the morning. What's next--a tsunami in Lake Michigan?

Cindy said...

Tom, how are you going to manage/harvest those tomatoes in the middle row? Are you planning on walking inside the boxes?

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Darla, I've had to amend more for drainage than nutrients. The soil here is clay and stone. I've got about 12" of good dirt in those two smaller beds now. It's taken me 3 years.

Bob, I know we sound weak. We are. ;)

Cindy, the beds are only 4' across. I have long arms. I can reach past the center of each bed without having to step inside. I'll never walk on that soil again. That's the main reason I wanted to build raised beds.

Tom - 7th Street Cottage said...

Ugh...Barb, not Bob. Sorry. More coffee needed!