Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Triple Tomatoes!

As I have said before, I went nuts on the tomato front. I have 34 different varieties, each one in its own pot. (Okay, the Old German and the Roma are sharing one ginormous pot.) It has only been a week-and-a-half since I potted them, and they have already tripled in size! I had to realign the pots to give them all more space!

If they keep this up, I may have to spread them even farther apart. I have no idea where they will go, then!

One of the pots even has a baby tomato already forming! It's still only May! I am so excited, because I am hoping this is a sign of what is to come.

People keep joking that I am going to be able to have a roadside stand this year. How fun would that be?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Connecting with my parents through the garden

Last weekend, I woke up feeling antsy, so I went to the Rochester Public Market. I love it there. Lots of vendors supply the city with fresh produce and goods. Right now it is also Flower Days, which means excellent deals on flowers and vegetables. Trying to find a parking place is a serious problem, though, and frustrates me to no end. I was ecstatic to finally find one right inside the market next to one of the coffee shops. It made it easier to spend way too much money.

I was on a mission to find someone who sold a variety of tomatoes. Last year, I remember seeing a group that had all kinds of varieties I had never seen before. I am a huge fan of the "nibbler" varieties that you can just pick right off of the plant and pop into your mouth. I have been known to have a full tomato lunch while sitting out in my yard. I do also like other varieties and want to try more. To my delight, there was a woman known as "The Tomato Lady" who easily had 50-60 different varieties. I started gathering every "nibbler" I could. She gave me a great deal since I was buying so many kinds. I ended up with 21 plants (all different, mind you) for $32. And the plants were beautiful. I picked up a few more from a couple of other vendors and then a couple more at the nursery after. Grand total of tomatoes to be potted: 34 - all different varieties.

I kept wandering around, looking for some good annuals. The nursery/farm market I go to has excellent prices on their flats. Unfortunately, most of the vendors at the Public Market were higher. I had passed someone who had flats for $13 apiece while I was collecting my tomatoes, but couldn't find that person again. I did eventually find someone who was selling flats at 2 for $25. I relieved him of his last two flats of lobelia. Those are one of my absolute favorites. Once those were loaded in my car, I headed to the farm market and spent more money on lots more flowers and veggies.

I spent the next 8 hours or so, sweating away in my yard. I cleaned out a couple of the beds and planted a whopping half-flat of annuals. I got all of the tomatoes potted, though!

Working on the tomatoes made me really miss my mom. She grew up on a farm and one of their major crops was tomatoes. It was tempting to try to call her and see if she would be able to talk to me about it. But the last time I tried, she could barely get out more than five words at once.

I also spent a lot of time working on the big bed on the side of the house. My father helped me put that together after I had dug it all up. I had reinjured an old break in my ankle the week before their visit, so I spent a lot of time scooting on my butt to place the rocks and plants. I exhausted myself shopping while hobbling on crutches. But we did it all together. I can feel him in the flowers when I am out there.

I still have so much work to be done. Unfortunately, this weekend I have been plagued with the stomach bug AGAIN from the little darlings at school. I hope to get out there in another day or two when I am feeling better!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reflections on Gardening From A to Z

As the A to Z Challenge for 2012 approached, I thought for sure that I would never be able to come up with another alphabet about gardening. I struggled to get through last year's challenge, finishing it up in May or so. It is the only alphabet I managed to finish last year. Yet once the deadline for signing up hit, I decided to take it on again.

I did fall behind in April, due to illness and being busy. I also had entered 8 blogs into the challenge. Crazy, I know. But I did manage to finish all 26 posts in time for the deadline at 11:59 p.m. on April 30th.

I had fun trying to think up different flowers and plants again. I believe I have exhausted most opportunities for some of those tricky letters, though. I doubt I will do it again next year, at least for this blog.

In addition to inspiring me to start writing about gardening again, this challenge inspired me to whip my yard back into shape again, as well. I look forward to sharing that progress with you over the next several months.

Here is a list of this year's A to Z contributions. I am also including last year's alphabet at the end. Thanks for stopping by!

A is for Azaleas
B is for Beans
C is for Coleus
D is for Dogwood
E is for Echinacea
F is for Forsythia
G is for Gardenia
H is for Hostas
I is for Ivy
 J is for Johnny Jump-Ups
K is for Killing Everything
L is for Lilies
M is for Mums
N is for Nasturtium
O is for Orchid
P is for Peony
Q is for Queen Anne's Lace
R is for Rhododendron
S is for Sunflower
T is for Tickseed
U is for Umbel
V is for Vinca
W is for Wonder
X is for Xanthospermous
Y is for Yard
Z is for Zinnia

Here is last year's alphabet:

A is for Annuals
B is for Bulbs
C is for Crocuses
D is for Daffodils, Dahlias and Daisies
E is for Easter Lily
F is for Ferns
G is for Geranium
H is for Hyacinths
I is for Irises
J is for Japanese Maples
K is for Killing Beetles
L is for Lilacs
M is for Mulch
N is for New Ideas
O is for Organic Gardening
P is for Perennials
Q is for Quarreling
R is for Roses
S is for Snapdragons
T is for Tulips
U is for Upside-Down Tomatoes
V is for Violets
W is for Wisteria
X is for Xeranthemum
Y is for Yarrow
Z is for Zazzle

Sunday, May 6, 2012

One flat at a time...

The weather here in Upstate New York keeps going up and down. One day it is stifling hot and we are dripping with sweat. Less than 24 hours later, we are shivering with bits of snow in the air. My allergies are going crazy, my sinuses are giving me headaches and it is just too early for planting. This is what I said as we pulled into the greenhouse yesterday, though I gave the disclaimer that the violas and the pansies would be able to handle the fluctuating temperatures.

E made me wander my favorite nursery for almost an hour. I begged him to not stay too long, because the lure of purchasing flowers would be too much for me. He told me to restrain myself. HA. He has never seen me at a greenhouse before. Last summer, I was so upset about Dad that I just didn't care to work in the yard. This year, though, is a different story. My fingers are itching to get into the dirt and I want to make it look beautiful outside.

We wandered through all of the little greenhouses as he tried to find something to purchase for his mother for next weekend. He was also allowed to peruse ideas for the pots in his yard. (Now, last year, he wasn't interested in adding any flowers. Hanging out with me must have rubbed off a little bit through osmosis, or something.) We bickered over ideas, because we have differing tastes. He also doesn't know as much about flowers as I do. Some of his requests were simply impossible.

I found myself wandering in front of the huge display of violas and pansies, time and time again. This particular greenhouse sells six-packs for $1.99 or a flat for $14.99. He has every color of pansy and viola you can imagine. He also starts everything in waves, so that you can purchase flowers at different points in the season. I just can't help myself. E offered to kick me in the shins or something to distract me. Instead, that just inspired me to pick up a flat of my blues and purples.

How can you resist that beauty?

I would have bought even more, but I was limited in cash and had no debit card on me. I also am realistic and know how much yard clean-up I have to do before devoting much time to planting annuals. I should have been out there all day today, because it was beautiful. But I have these lovely things called parent-teacher conferences that start on Friday. I have 14 scheduled for that day. We write narrative reports that must be approved by my boss prior to being shared with the parents. They can range from 3-5 pages in length per child. Usually I am still working on them through the Wednesday before conferences. I have submitted 11 of them today.

I told myself that this flat of flowers is the dangling carrot toward which I am working. Of course, now that I have gotten a lot of my work done, I have also scheduled three evenings of babysitting after work. I think the flowers will wait for me. And if I am really good, I will buy another flat next weekend. And the weekend after that....and after that....and after that....