Sunday, May 16, 2010

Smallest farm: planting day

Big Planting Day on Smallest Farm

The weather and the calendar finally cooperated briefly Saturday for a big day of planting on Iowa's smallest farm. We had steady rain through Thursday, and then again last night. So Saturday was a little muddier than optimal but it was my best chance.

First up: the smallest residents of the Smallest Farm have moved on to bigger and bunnier things. The nest was empty by Wednesday, and Friday I found the last two banging up against the fence. Unlike Mom they couldn't hop high enough to get out. So I scooped them up in an empty pot and gave them a lift.


There’s something magical about planting tiny tomato plants the second week in May, and they'll be taller than me in mid-July.

We have 14 tomato plants in big cages along the south end of the north garden. I've also got one small cage with cherry tomatoes on the south garden, and I'm going to try to grow some single-vine style on the Giant Bean Fence. I had marginal luck with that in 2008. The trick is supposed to be training the plants and pruning aggressively to one tall, skinny tomato-producing vine. I started strong but ran short on time (tends to happen to me in presidential election years). The plants got away from me and I got about one tomato from that setup.


Here's the South End North Garden setup. The eggplants are under those milk jugs. As you see I still have a lot of weeding and mulching to do.


The peppers are along a fence so I can tie them up later. Last year they flopped over and I lost some really good bell peppers that got icky on the ground.

Everything seems to have survived the transplant process well. A couple tomatoes and the tomatillos looked really droopy last night but they perked up after they got a drink.

Other highlights:

  • Squash family members on the north garden, where they'll overtake the salad as we pick it.
  • Just outside the north garden is a pumpkin hill on the site of a short-lived compost heap. That's the boys' favorite part of the garden (their least favorite part: eating the vegetables)
  • Seven out of eight sections of the Giant Bean Fence are planted. One section is for verticalcukes, one has tomatoes and tomatillos, the rest is four kinds of pole beans (Kentucky Wonder, Romano, purple beans and the long skinny Asian kind.)
  • I had bad luck with okra last year (I blame the bunnies) but I have a patch of six plants in the south garden. I've only successfully grown it once but if I remember right it's extremely prolific once it gets going.
  • North edge of north garden is supposed to be a wall of sunflowers. They did fantastic there in `08. Last year they were in the south garden and they got wabbitized.
  • So did the peas. They've suffered a few bites this year but most of them made it. I'm looking for blossoms soon.

    The hot peppers are not in the ground yet; their tiny patch near the house (the "pepper garden" or, better yet, Pepperland) was still too wet, and the hot pepper plants are still small enough that getting them out of pots and into the ground was less urgent. Other than that, the main thing left to plant is the corn. Gotta have corn; it's Iowa. The Smallest Farmers want to help on that, especially since it involves a drill bit to gig the holes. It'll be a photogenic moment to be sure.
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