Sunday, May 17, 2009

First, Dirt. Then, Veggies.

Last summer, I grew tomatoes for the first time ever. Crazy, I know, especially for someone who grew up in a family where we grew tons of vegetables and fruits every year, even renting additional garden space when we didn't have enough at home.

My tomatoes did very well in their sandy soil and sunny patches amid the flowers. I just picked up 9 little Big Boy plants, and one yellow cherry tomato plant at Loews. I also have plenty of organic lettuce and watercress seeds to plant in a nice 6-foot long wooden window box I found in the trash. But even more exciting, I got a big bag for organic garden soil for less than half price! It was broken open and rebagged and marked down for quick sale.

Soil is the key to growing good food and pretty flowers. My yard is mostly full of clay and rocks, with one sandy area by the driveway that I purged of crabgrass, and where I grew huge tomatoes last year (when everyone else in the neighborhood was unable to harvest theirs because of too much rain). I've amended the flower beds with manure, peat moss, compost and more soil for the last three years. There is a patch in the back yard where the previous owner grew vegetables: there was rich, dark soil and wooden fence posts buried to make beds. I planted some lettuce, carrots, fennel and pumpkins there last year, but only half-heartedly (see photo). One crop of lettuce was nice, but I didn't thin the carrots, and the fennel just didn't grow very big. And the pumpkins, well let's just say the vines took over and no pumpkins ever appeared. So the soil was willing, but the flesh was weak.

I am ready for more controlled experiments in growing this year, even planning a second planting of lettuces so I can have a ate summer/fall crop. And I'm using containers! Much more user-friendly. I'll post pictures when I have some.

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