The Heirloom Tomatoes Have Arrived

The heirloom tomatoes arrived in Wilmington this week. Steve planted them this weekend. “Then I weeded the vegetable garden really well and put straw around everything,” he said. “And I don’t think I’ll have to buy any tomatoes for the garden at the fire station this year, because I bet I pulled up about 50 seedlings that must have come up from the half-rotted tomatoes I threw out there last fall. Remember, in November?” Yes, I do remember that.

I’ve never grown the heirloom tomatoes before (unless you count the varieties that I grew as an eight-year old, 40-some years ago). I got eight varieties and don’t have a clue which ones. “Please don’t forget to put the tags with the names by the plants, as you plant them,” I texted Steve. “And you now have those tomato cages I gave you at Christmas!” Though, come to think of it, I don’t think I gave him enough to surround all eight.

It will be fun to watch them grow and taste them, come summer. There is nothing on the planet like the taste of a homegrown tomato. Yum.

It’s getting to be time to plant them, everywhere. But give them lots and lots a lots of sun. Or you won’t get tomato one.

Posted under Uncategorized, Vegetable gardening

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on April 13, 2010

Tags: ,

The Earliest Veggies

I am lucky enough to be able to split my time between Arlington, VA (Washington, DC, area) and Wilmington, NC (southeastern NC, not far from the SC border). Arlington is in growing zone 7, Wilmington is in zone 8. Arlington has heavy clay soil, Wilmington sand. This gives me the opportunity to grow different plants in different conditions.

Steve, my partner, turned the vegetable garden here in Wilmington last week. We had a good rain on Monday that soaked it down. Taking advantage of the rainy day, we stopped by the local Farmer’s Supply store and picked up the earliest vegetables we wanted to plant this year.

Cole crops, or those in the genus Brassica, can be planted early in the spring (or in the fall in the South) because they can withstand cold temperatures. Cole crops include broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower, and kohlrabi, among others. We decided to plant two varieties of broccoli, collards, and brussels sprouts this spring. They will be established long before it is time to plant the next round of spring vegetables. We also picked up a bag of Black Hen, which is dried-up chicken manure and a great organic fertilizer. Our garden is small, 14′ x 14′, so one bag will do it.

So yesterday, I went into the garden on a gorgeous, mid-60s afternoon and got busy. I fine-graded the soil with my cultivator and hard rake to make sure it was level and there were no weeds lurking underneath the surface. I spaced the broccoli and brussels sprouts 18″ apart, and the collards 36″ apart. Then I sprinkled the entire garden with chicken manure and lightly scratched it in with my cultivator to work it in and loosen the soil. We are due some rain today, so the timing is perfect.

There’s something about the first real working day in the garden, in the early spring, that is just magical, joyful, wonderful. The warmth of the sun, the sounds of the birds, the smell of the soil and things stirring…all the senses are just bombarded. I love it. It sustains me.

Posted under Vegetable gardening

This post was written by Jeff Minnich on February 24, 2010

Tags: , , ,