We shall have tomatoes — maybe
April 19, 2016
Y’all. Don’t laugh at my little tomato garden patch.
Daddy would be horrified. His freshly planted garden was always immaculately tilled, without a sprig of grass anywhere, plants in geometrically precise rows.
My garden was a bermuda sodded yard this time last week.
Breaking up sod is essentially what Daddy used to refer to as ” breaking new ground.” He would do it with a turning plow on the tractor, and then would follow that up with a disk. Finally, he’d take the tiller to it. Then he’d go back over it with the tractor with the thingy, I disremember its name, that made the rows. And that was in a garden that had been a garden for probably 30 or 40 years. By the time he got through, the soil was the texture of cornmeal.
I finally found someone to come till up my garden spots. Truthfully, they should have been tilled, let sit a day or two, raked to get a lot of the big clumps of bermuda, a healthy coating of topsoil and/or compost added, and then tilled again. But when you’re depending on volunteer help, you take what you can get. I’ll hire it done next year, and get a more thorough job of it.
So anyway, I worked three bags of compost into each of the plots with a hoe. After a fashion. I pulled the biggest of the clumps of bermuda by hand and chunked them over against the fence and out in the middle of the yard. They’ll get chopped up by the lawn mower, I trust. There’s still a boat-load of bermuda in the beds; I’m choosing to look at it like it’s no-till soybeans, where you use the old organic matter in the field as built-in compost. I had neither the tools nor the energy to do much better.
And this afternoon, after a light rain had soaked things down enough to soften the soil, I went out with the only two other tools I possess, a hand spade and a hand fork/mattock, and commenced to plant 20 tomato plants. I dug out holes for them, mixed some compost with the dirt in the bottom of each, plopped a tomato plant in, and hilled the dirt up around it. All the while sitting on my broad rear end on the wet ground, much to the bemusement of Lucy, the pug, who was sitting in the cardboard tray I took the tomatoes out of. She could not figure out what Mama was doing.
I held off on planting the pole beans, which will fill the remaining space in the back yard bed, because they really need to be planted later, when it’s a bit warmer. I think, later this week, I’ll go back and get several bags of garden topsoil and spread amongst the tomato plants and over the unplanted space, covering the remaining bermuda and letting it start to rot. Then by this fall, when the garden’s through, I’ll leave the old tomato plants and bean vines on the ground, cover them with a healthy layer of straw, and let them sit all winter. THEN it should be in a position to till up pretty well next spring.
I planted two each of two different kinds of hybrid tomatoes, a half-dozen Bradley heirlooms, a yellow cherry tomato, a red grape tomato, and a half a dozen Romas. If those grow and bear decently, I’ll have plenty to eat and some to can; it’s yet to be determined if I’ll have as many as I want to can, although it’s looking like I won’t go through all the ones I canned last year.
Didn’t get the squash, cucumbers and tomatoes in the front flower bed. Will do that tomorrow; I ran out of energy. It is, at least, not as full of organic matter as the garden beds were.
A friend who no longer gardens has offered to let me pillage her shed and get whatever hand tools I need. A rake, a better hoe, and a turning fork would be nice, as would a shovel. We’ll get this farming thing going, eventually.
I’m still waiting on you ‘n y’mama ‘n’em to come over and help, though.