Sunday, May 31, 2009

last weekend in May....

Finally got the tomato plants in the ground on the last day of May. Seems like I am really late, but it is only two weeks later than last year. We should have nothing but warm weather from here on out. The plants that were left over were put out at the curb. I hope someone will use them.

I couldn't resist buying these High Bush Blueberry bushes today at the garden store. These are native plants and I have always wanted to get into growing berries. I have a strawberry patch and now I have two blueberry bushes. Next year I think I will set up a Raspberry bed.

Northern Highbush Blueberry

... and every year, even though I have more than enough tomato plants in the ground, I always have a few containers of patio tomatoes, just because I think they look great, and they always seem to mature much faster than the regular tomatoes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Soil Management

I take a pretty unscientific approach to my soil. In 25 years of vegetable gardening in many different locations, I have never once had my soil tested. I rely on my gut instincts and experience to know that as long as I get a good mix of organic ingredients into the soil, and follow up with a good quality feeding program, it is hard to have any soil related problems. This Spring I had a large crop of cold weather veggies in the tomato bed, and I figure they probably did a good job of depleting the soil of nutrients, so before I plant my tomatoes, I wanted to add a good amount of nutrient rich material. Here is what I have used in the past with great success, and what I just worked into my 130 sq. ft tomato bed...

1. 10 cubic feet of Bumper Crop, an organic mix of peat moss, compost, and pine bark.Makes the soil nice and loamy and helps retain moisture. I wish I had read the bag more carefully before I bought this. This comes all the way from California, which means it carries a pretty heavy carbon footprint to use in my Pennsylvania garden. Next year I will use something that is from a local source. (or better yet, get my act in gear and make my own!)

2. 10 cubic feet of Dehydrated Cow Manure, a well proven source of nutrients with a slow release, as well as another good moisture retainer. Also love it because it comes from Lancaster County farms, and all of my tomatoes are from Amish and Mennonite seeds.

3. Coffee Grounds, free from Starbucks. These add Nitrogen to the soil as well as acting as a pest preventer

So here is the tomato bed, all cold crops were removed as a final harvest yesterday. I froze quite a bit of spinach, and then shared big bags of greens with my neighbors.
The three soil builders have all been worked into the bed, and I am ready to finally put my tomato starts in the ground!

tomato bed May 26, 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tomatoes on hold....

Last night the temperature dipped to 40F here in the Philly area and so the tomato starts remain inside. They are not growing much, but they are healthy and certainly much better off than if they were in the cold ground. I know it will warm up one of these days, and this cool late spring we are having has extended my cold weather crop harvest. I continue to pick delicious Arugula, Spinach, and leafy greens on a daily basis. Lot's to share with neighbors as well!

Monday, May 18, 2009

CSA time!

Yesterday was new member orientation day at Pennypack Farm, the CSA I joined this year. I am really excited about the start of the season, which will begin in the next week or two. The people who run Pennypack are wonderful, and I plan to bring my camera with me every Monday when I pick up my share units so I can document the CSA experience throughout the 2009 season.

new member orientation. pennypack farm

herb and medicinal gardens. pennypack farm

crops in the field. pennypack farm