Friday, June 8, 2012

Mysteries continued...

Last post I told you about a mystery tomato plant that came up in the garden. Since that post, I have picked probably 130 - 150 tomatoes off that one plant. Below is a photo. The concrete block is for size reference.

I am amazed at the production of this bush, and am saving seed in the hope to at least get this good of result or better next year.

I also mentioned in my last post about two rogue sunflowers that just popped up—one in the garden, one in an old compost pile. Below is a photo of the one in the garden.

As you can see, it is a beautiful specimen. I love all the flower heads on it. I plan to save seeds from this and the other plant for next year as well. Just today I cut the heads off the other sunflower to dry them.

The heads shown above are from just one plant, so if all goes well, I should have an abundance of seed.

If anyone is interested, I would be will to share the seed of both the tomatoes and sunflowers. Just email me at tomanda2042 at bellsouth dot net. The tomatoes, as mentioned in a catalog description I found, are addictive!

Happy summer!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mystery tomato

One of the interesting (and frustrating) aspects of gardening is the unpredictability of it. Plant 20 seemingly good seeds, only 10 germinate (sometimes none, which is what I am finding out, though I think my seed is too old). Give all your seedlings the same amount of water, fertilizer, and love, and they grow at different rates (or, again, not at all).

My point in mentioning this is the discovery of a rogue tomato plant in my garden about a month or so ago, and its extreme growth and production despite my not planting it and lack of proper care. Not sure how it got there, other than perhaps through my compost pile after spreading some of it in the garden. When I saw it, I decided to let it grow just to see if, by chance, it might produce something (I have read many times that planting the seeds of store bought produce will not grow true).

Check out the number of fruits and flowers.

To my surprise, the plant grew... and grew... and grew. And not only that, but produced numerous flowers to which have grown numerous small tomatoes. To date, there are approximately 50+ tomatoes growing on this one plant that is about 2 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Looking through some seed catalogs, it looks as if this is a Cherry Roma tomato plant. The description says: 'Incredibly heavy set of 1" long plum-shaped fruits,' which is how this plant looks. My wife also identified the fruits as ones we have purchased in the past for parties.

The amazing thing is that I started some regular cherry tomatoes, Black Krims, and Old Virginias a short time after this one showed up, and they nowhere near got as big as the Cherry Roma before they began fruiting. And the Cherry Roma is just in plain old dirt, not a row I created and added anything to—just dirt! I have since added a bit more compost around the plant, but nothing major.

We have in the past 2 days picked some of the tomatoes, shown below, with many more that will mature in the next few days.

I am definitely saving some of the seeds from this plant, and hope to have the same success when I actually try to grow them!

I also have 2 large sunflowers that have sprouted on their own. Yet another anomaly, as I have planted sunflower seeds in my daughter's garden which did not grow.

Such is the wonders of nature, I guess.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This and that...

Red potatoes from my first ever planting!

Been a while since I posted anything... I am still here and actively working to better my gardening skills.

Started a new garden back in March, of which my success has been minimal. I managed to get a good amount of red potatoes (my first time planting them). And my tomatoes seem to be doing good. Everything else I have planted is not as I had hoped. I am thinking my seed is too old, or gone bad, as hardly anything germinated. I do have a couple watermelon and squash plants that came up after I had given up on them. There are bugs eating my cow pea and corn seeds, though I did find one pea plant poking thru this morning.

I could also attribute it to lack of water. With the terrible dirt we have here, the water just runs off as you water, thus putting more water in the paths between the rows than on the plants. A bought a soaker hose, but at 50 feet long, it is difficult at best to use in my short-rowed garden.

I do have one rogue tomato plant growing in the garden, apparently from the compost pile. It looks like roma tomatoes, and they are growing on the vine much like cherry tomatoes do—several fruit on one branch. And the plant is huge. And I haven't really done anything to it except water it.

And on that note, it amazes me that you can spend all this time preparing a garden, meticulously plant your seeds/seedlings, water them with love... and get nothing! In addition to the "roma", I have 2 sunflowers that just popped up—one in the garden, and one where an old compost pile sat. Still scratching my head on this. Perhaps I just need to randomly scatter my seeds in the garden, cover'em with some leaves, and see what happens.

I am kidding of course, but it does zap some of the motivation out of one!

After watching the Back to Eden film, I have put some requests out for wood chips, but no luck yet. May have to "bite the bullet" and pay for  a load from the company near my home. But at $125 per load, that is a bit steep for my budget (and the wife won't be too happy either)!

Anyway, that is the news for now. Will keep the updates more frequent in the future.

Pray for rain! : )

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The New America

Gray's General Store, billed as the oldest surviving general store in the US.
While reading John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley", I came upon an interesting section that I felt was worth sharing here, in light of the growing "Buy Local" movements going on today. It reads:

The big towns are getting bigger and the villages smaller. The hamlet store, whether grocery, general, hardware, clothing, cannot compete with the supermarket and the chain organization. Our treasured and nostalgic picture of the village general store, the cracker-barrel store where an informed yeomanry gather to express opinions and formulate the national character, is very rapidly disappearing. People who once held family fortresses against wind and weather, against scourges of frost and drought and insect enemies, now cluster against the breast of the big town.
The new American finds his challenge and his love in traffic-choked streets, skies nested in smog, choking with the acids of industry, the screech of rubber and houses leashed in against one another, while the townlets wither a time and die. And this, as I found, is as true in Texas as in Maine. Clarendon yields to Amarillo just as surely as Stacyville, Maine, bleeds its substance into Millinocket, where the logs are ground up, the air smells of chemicals, the rivers are choked and poisoned, and the streets swarm with this happy, hurrying breed. This is not offered as a criticism but only as an observation. And I am sure that, as all pendulums reverse their swing, so eventually will the swollen cities rupture like dehiscent wombs and disperse their children back to the countryside.

Keeping in mind that this was written in 1962, it is interesting to see how things were changing back then. Perhaps with the help of the buy local, eat local movements, the pendulum will begin swinging the other way, to our new America.