First signs of Spring

Yesterday — Spring must be here as nature’s beauty bursts forth

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Today — Oops nature boy, not so fast

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Too good not to try again

It was just a whim. It was early Saturday morning and I was trying to get to the community garden on time — sounds like a silly idea now, probably don’t need to be too precise, not like anyone was waiting for me (although I’m sure the weeds were busy growing). I stopped off to buy a few pepper plants and I was about a half cup low on coffee, so not up to my usual questionable level of mental capacity. I’m someone who can never pass a seed rack so I stopped at one for a quick peruse. There they were, a nice big pack of heirloom variety seed corn and it just seemed like a fun thing to try. I had no serious expectations about production but thought that even if the plants got to a decent size it would be fun to show the local kids.

I planted six kernels, three each on opposite ends of my plot and they all came up. These plants produced eight ears of the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious corn that I had eaten in years. It was so good that I could have just pulled it off the stalks and eaten it uncooked right on the spot. Of course, it probably wouldn’t have turned out as well if it was all part of some big master gardening plan…but being the stubborn gardener I am, it’s not going to stop me from giving it another try this year.

So this year I’m renting an extra 4’x8′ plot just for planting corn. Last time I planted in early March and harvested in mid June and plan to stick with the same schedule this year. As usual, I’ll try not to get over confident — but I’m hopeful. Stay tuned.

My few stalks of corn did surprisingly well in the community garden last year.

My few stalks of corn did surprisingly well in the community garden last year.

Time to plan(t)

Not one to rely on long term weather predictions from even the most reliable sources, I nonetheless have a strong feeling that this winter is not going to be too harsh at my locale. There’s something about the trend in temperatures that makes my middle age backyard farmer’s bones feel there won’t be any very late freezes this year. Of course, this could just be a way to make sure everyone keeps following my blog so that, in six weeks time,  you can all smugly comment on what an idiot I am.

Whenever we have an early spring, I like to take advantage of it by planting tomatoes as soon as possible. The best tomato crops that I’ve ever had here in our sunny dry clime are the ones that have been started no later than the middle of March. If I don’t have an opportunity to plant them early, I usually skip them all together. Also, I always plant a mid-size variety that will grow and ripen sooner. We don’t eat many cherry or grape tomatoes so roma tomatoes are usually the smallest ones that I grow. These are just my personal preferences and a plan that I have developed over the years based on how I like to garden and where I live.

I have a place in one of my 4’x4′ raised beds that gets a great dose of morning sunlight and then is protected from the long, hot, scorching, drying, burning afternoon sun that we always seem to have in such wonderful abundance around here. This has been working very well and the spot also offers protection on the north side in case of any late blasts of cold air when the plants are young and vulnerable. If anything too cold is expected, it’s easy to just cover them up for protection. In case anyone is wondering if this is some error talking about burning and freezing in the same paragraph, the standard response is, “welcome to Texas!”

The sun is coming up now as I write this and the clear blue sky out my attic window is giving me hope for a good crop this year. That’s a good thing because even looking at a picture of home grown tomatoes makes me not want to eat a store bought one!

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Picked in late May from plants planted at the beginning of March

Getting Ready to Plant Something

I was out in the backyard today watching Leo and feeling completely overwhelmed (but in a good way) about the approaching spring. Building on last year’s banner tomato year, both as still life material and on the table, I think it’s just about time to get some in the ground. There’s still a slight chance of a couple of nights close to freezing, but I think I can protect my plants well enough.