Friday, April 1, 2011

First tomatoes!

Over the past week, my tomato plants have started producing lots of baby tomatoes:

These are cherry tomatoes.  Looking back at last year's garden-related blog posts, I see that I have gotten a much earlier start this year--last year my tomatoes weren't even blooming till the end of April.  Hopefully this means I will get a good crop of tomatoes before the stink bugs show up (I haven't seen any yet).

(Is that sad, that I use my blog for record keeping?)

There's a story behind these tomatoes.  I was out one afternoon when I got a call from Jeshurun.  He told me that a friend was getting rid of some unwanted tomato plants, and asked if I would like him to claim some for me.  "Sure," I said, picturing a plant or two, or maybe a tray with six plants.  Well, I got home to find that Jesh had brought not one, not two, not six, but fourteen tomato plants!  And various seed packets and onion starts as well.

Well this was wonderful of course, except that I didn't actually have enough garden space for all of it.  I grumbled about this a bit.
Jesh said "Well, just dig up another bed, right there."  He pointed. 
"Easier said than done," I grumbled some more.
Jesh, being a "Get it done" sort of person, strode to the appropriate point and stuck the shovel into the ground.  "Oh wow," he said as he turned over a shovelful of stiff, sticky, heavy clay, "this soil isn't very good, is it?"

A memory from the previous spring popped into my head.  I was hacking and stabbing at rock-hard dried clumps of soil with the shovel, trying to break them apart.  Some of the clumps were so hard, they might as well have been chunks of concrete.  In fact, some of them *were* chunks of concrete (left over from the construction of our house, I suppose).  The problem was, I was never sure which I had--a chunk of dried soil or a chunk of concrete--until I had been hacking at it with the shovel for a couple of minutes.  The difference was not obvious.

"No, it's not very good," I agreed with Jesh.

(Thankfully, the beds I dug up last year are much better this year, perhaps due to the addition of peat moss, compost, etc.)

Jesh finished digging up a 4' by 4' bed for me, and with that, after some clump-hacking, I was able to get all of the tomatoes planted, along with a few carrots, beans, onions, and basil.

I'd still like to plant some hot peppers and some okra, but that will entail more digging and clump-hacking, so it might be a while before I get it all done.


  1. The soil is terrible here too -- or at least, it's so dry that the ground is too hard. I'm rather disappointed, since I got permission from the landlord to use some of their field in the back for a garden, and now I can't even get a shovel into the ground! All I have is a lonely tomato plant growing in a bucket.

  2. And yet a few miles from us is Froberg Farms! I wonder if the soil really varies that much within a few miles, or if they've just improved their soil quite a bit over the years.

    I have heard that this clay is quite mineral-rich, so perhaps once it's been amended with organic material, it can actually be quite fertile?


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