First Sunflower

The first sunflower is blooming!  The garden is finally looking like a garden, not like a pile of hay with bits of grass sticking out.  It is always encouraging when it gets to this point.  The marigolds are blooming, too, so there’s a little color out there.

The garden is going in bit by bit.  We finally got the tomatoes off the ground on their horizontal trellises.  This was a genius idea I got from my friend Haley of Comet Farm.  We tried so many other ways of tying the tomatoes up before, and they always grew too large and flopped over, causing the fruit to rot on the damp ground.

It’s just T-posts with clips supporting the cattle panels.  The tomatoes grow through the wires and are held up.  We are planning a second layer for later in the season.  I can’t speak highly enough of these trellises.  They have made tomato-growing in our climate so much easier.

The pumpkins have been planted, and we are beginning to build the corn beds!  It’s the same as last year’s garden – rye cover crop crushed down by moldy hay and black dirt.  The black dirt is from the pit that our friend Danny dug, thinking he was going to build a cob house and farm.  The “cob house” is still a pile of rubble, but we have a pond now and lots of black dirt for the garden.

It looks like a bad year for the stem borer moths and the squash.  I’ve been hand-picking hundreds of eggs off of them every day.  As long as I get the eggs off, it keeps them at bay.  An organic farmer who visited recently asked me why I don’t just spray bT on it.  Because I’m just not willing to expose myself (and my baby, because I’m nursing!) to pesticides, even “organic” ones.  I do use diatomacious earth on occasion, and soapy water, but usually I just hand-pick pests into soapy water.  I can do that for my little garden.  I realize that’s just not possible for any scale of commercial enterprise, which makes me appreciate my home-grown vegetables even more.

Beyond the tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, tomatillos and summer squash I’ve got the watermelons, cucumbers, casaba melons and beans planted.  We have spiffy new trellises for them – T-posts and wire.  They are even braced, which makes them the garden trellises of my dreams, ones I was asking Ethan to build for years.  We’ll see how they turn out.  We have yet to find a long-bean trellis that really works for us.  Last year I used my old laurel oakling with sections of red-top fencing.  It was ugly and collapsed mid-season from rot and the weight of the vines.  We’ve also tried posts with twine tied back and forth, and the very worst one that killed all the pole beans, posts with bits of twine dangling down along the row.  The twine just rots in our very humid climate.  I’m hoping the wire we’ve invested in will be used again and again in other trellises.

We are trying to trellis the melons and cucumbers this year.  I’ve heard of people growing them on trellises, and I want to try it out.  I don’t have a good set up for them yet, so we’re still trying different ideas to see how they work.  I’m hoping it will help keep the melons from rotting this year –  always a tragedy in previous years.

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