Saturday, June 4, 2011

How Does My Garden Grow?

I've never had a garden. Really, I've never been able to keep plants alive. There was this one time when I was in fourth grade and we were studying life cycle of a plant that we germinated lima beans and planted them. Mine grew to be the tallest plant and I was pretty proud. I took it home and I don't remember what happened to it (coincidentally, the one food my mom won't eat is lima beans, so there may have been foul play). That was the last time a plant in my care lived for any length of time.

Since we moved into the house, we talked about planting a garden, but since Eli was going to be away we considered not doing one this year because I know nothing about gardening. I was more concerned about taking care of the weedbed on the corner (which we did). But while shopping the high school's FFA Plant Sale this year for flowers to go around the house, on a whim I bought a flat of garden plant seedling since it was only $10 for six six-packs. I got what they had, which was Sweet Baby Girl cherry tomatoes, Monster tomatoes, Black Beauty eggplant, giant jalapeno peppers, green bell peppers, and then some Giant marigolds because they supposedly keep the bugs away.

When the Beavers were here to help with the yard, they used the tiller and tilled up the weedbed that was under my kitchen window and got some MiracleGro Garden Soil and planted 3 of each type of tomato, 3 eggplant plants, and 2 each of the pepper plants, then covered the bed with mulch. One of the monster tomato plants had broken and was probably going to die, but father-in-law stuck it into the side of the bed anyway.

I kept the leftover plants in their original containers and offered them to anyone who wanted them, but I didn't have any takers, and since I had paid for them, I didn't wan them to die, so I bought some pots and planted the rest of the eggplant and peppers in the pots while I was re-potting my Target plants from cute little pots. And then I had four tomato plants left over and they grow too big for pots. These ones were pretty close to biting the dust. I tried again to get someone to take them off of my hands, but ended up having to plant them on the other side of the patio, under the living room window in the red clay to try to keep them alive. I thought for sure they would die but planted them anyway, just in case.

Remember, I've never done this before. I didn't know that having 11 tomato plants in the ground was going to be a lot of tomatoes. Each monster tomato plant will yield 10 tomatoes total for the summer, and the cherry tomatoes would yield about 25-30 each. Right? Right?!? Yeah, so like I said, I've never done this before.

My cherry tomatoes started having flowers. Lots of flowers. And as I learned from the peach tree (and probably should have already known this, but if I learned it previously it went to the backburner of my brain) that fruit grows where the flower was. And now, the three plants that are in the MiracleGro soil are scaring me. I've only harvested 10 so far (Elsie ate 9 of those) but there are over two hundred tomatoes growing and hundreds more flowers. Oi!

This is a picture of the three Sweet Baby Girls under the kitchen window. (These pictures were taken last week, and the tomato count and plant size has doubled already!):

Here's a cluster of tomatoes on one of my plants:

The monster tomato plants have been growing and I would check them every day and not see any fruits, in comparison to the cherry tomatoes. Then one day, I was pulling off dead leaves and I came across this hanging on the back side of the plant behind lots of leaves (it's the size of my fist!):

Since last week, I've spied about 10 little monsters starting to grow. The mini-me in the picture above is already twice as big. Everything is still green though, even the big'un.

This is exciting. These plants are growing in spite of me. I'm learning as I go, and I've learned that plants like water. Basic, right? And I'm learning that plants grow in clay, too, but not as big and not as fast. I had to buy tomato stakes for the plants under the living room window, too, and the cherry tomatoes are starting to produce. My peppers and sweet basil are flowering, and my eggplant leaves are growing bigger and bigger and will hopefully soon flower, too.

Something else I've realized is that the smell of tomato plants is a distinctive nostalgic smell for me. I didn't realize this until I had to get up close and personal with them as I tied them to the stakes. That smell is the smell of my grandparents' garden. I smelled it and was immediately taken back to my childhood vising my grandparents' farm in northern Ohio. I'm always amazed at the power of smell to conjure memories. Maybe Elsie and Oscar will have good memories of tomato plants, too! :)

Eli has been laughing at my enthusiasm for gardening. Who knew I would like it this much?


1 comment:

Craig-Jen said...

YAY! You sound like me! I go outside EVERYDAY and tend to the plants. And I FINALLY spied zucchini growing! Craig thinks I'm nuts for getting so much enjoyment out of it. haha. Better start learning how to can tomatoes or just bring 'em to church. People will definitely take them off your hands! That's great!!!

Plant cucumbers next year (you'll need a trellis or stakes so they can tendril on to them). Seriously. We have so many cucumbers from one plant it's ridiculous.