I’d thought we were done with spring. Weeks hitting 80 and nights no longer cooling. Broccoli bolting and tomatoes past ready.
This week cooled again. Highs in the 60s, lows in the 40s, and everyone out soaking in the final days before the heat truly takes hold.
Each evening I’d lay on a blanket ten feet from the back door while DH or his amazing mother made dinner. Our daughter would ask me to find bugs, so we’d peer through the grass for ants and pill bugs (or rollie pollies, or as she calls them “doodle buhgs.”)
Today marks the last day of bed rest. She and I are outside examining pebbles and spilling water bottles. DH is planting tomatoes (24 transplants this year, and 14 of them kept their labels!)
“The volunteer dill is doing its job,” he announces. He comes over to help me up and the nearly-four of us trek to the dill. Sure enough.
Hello there, handsome.
I’ve never so enjoyed two hours of pulling weeds. With our dog on a longer rope to wag his way to greet any wandering garden neighbors, my big floppy new garden hat, and my mud-stained leather gloves, I squatted in the garden and pulled weed after rooted weed and lobbed it at the stone wall. The sprawling kind with the fragile arms. The tall ones with the white pillar flowers. The ones like those, but deep purple. The ivy. The frilly crawling ones. One after another, the hit the wall and fell to the earth. Soon there was a spongy bed of pulled weeds along the wall and a clear patch of earth between the peppers and sweet potatoes where for months there had been a growing bed of foliage.
Now the fish peppers are free to stretch their stripey fruit and variegated leaves toward the sweet potatoes.
And the sweet potatoes, they have a bit of a head start on the reaching-toward-the-peppers…
With the weeds gone, I marched to the tool hut for a shovel and wheelbarrow. Our gardens are supplied with a regular pile of mulch that composts nicely. The hut was sans shovel. It was then that I remembered the hut had been sans shovel for months. That’s ok. I’d learned last time that a wheelbarrow tilted just-so with a hoe to pull the mulch worked as well as I needed.
I tilted the wheelbarrow just-so. I pulled the mulch into it. Tilted it level. Backed it up off the mound and…nada. The wheelbarrow wouldn’t move. Perhaps I was in a hole? Check…nope. No hole. A completely flat tire? Yeah, one of those.
I went looking in the tool hut. There were two new contraptions. They’re like buckets, with tall backs like chairs, that have handles in the back and wheels on the front. Handbarrow? Not sure of the actual name, but it would have to do the trick. It worked surprisingly well! It only held about half of a wheelbarrow’s worth at a time, but was easier on my shoulders than a wheelbarrow. I don’t think it would work outside of a well tended path area, but for a place such as our gardens, it seems kind of perfect.
I hadn’t planned on watering, but with the triple digit heat before this “cool spell” and more heat expected, I figured the last hoorah of tomatoes could use the extra juice.
The tomatoes are definitely slowing down on production in this heat. Last year production didn’t make it until July, and this year the later heat and additional rainfall (additional? I mean the fact that there was rainfall at all) has them still going for at least the next week or two.
As much as they’re slowing down in production, they’re still growing. The camera is sitting on the top of a T-post, five feet tall.
They’re getting taller. Last summer my Cherry Chadwick vines were 15 feet long by the time the first frost hit in November. As they get taller, they point out the weaknesses in my trellising plan. These aren’t the tallest vines, they’re just the ones that have yet to fallen over. The others have all fallen over. They don’t fall sideways, because of the twine. They instead fall down the line, between the lengths of twine. This keeps the picking areas as clear as they have been, but it creates such a deeply thick jungle of vines and leaves, that the fruit is hidden from view. A little tomato hide and seek.
I know the Cherry Chadwicks, and the Black Princes will make it through the summer with careful water management and send a second harvest into the world after the heat of the summer has passed. I am excited to see if any other varieties do the same.
I thought I got a huge harvest on June 8th. Look at all those bigger guys out of focus in the background!
And then, on June 14th, I put the 8th to shame. Nearly twice the harvest as before!
Sunday, for Father’s Day Birthday, DH’s family came over for dinner and afterward wanted to head to the garden. It was really neat walking around the gardens with them. Oooh and Aaaahing over the giant gourd squash, the comically huge sunflowers, the beautiful squash flowers, and the mystery corn-grass in others’ plots. It was also fun to hear them get excited over all of the ripe tomatoes in my plot like I do. Once again, the harvest left the previous harvest in the dust. Once again, the latest harvest was double the previous.
Want to see what (at least) 10 pounds looks like?
Why only “at least”? Well, the scale broke. I thought it took regular batteries, and knew it had been dying slowly. It finally died, and I go to replace the batteries…giant watch-style batteries. Crap. So we’re guessing on the weight this time.
That morning I snapped a shot or two of two of the large varieties in the early light. The Black Prince (so named for the dusting of darker green/purple shoulders) and the Zapotec (the pink wrinkly one.)
Tomato I’ve ever grown! Not big by general standards in the slightest, but having only grown cherry varieties until last year, it’s quite the happy moment for me!