The Once and Future Tomato

What would life be without homegrown tomatoes? Well, not as good as otherwise! Last year was a bad one around here for tomato crops. Ours came in late; enough to eat, but we barely had enough left over to can 7 quarts, and none for frozen pizza/pasta sauce.

I am determined to have a good crop this year. Our frost date is late May, but we were getting into the 80’s in early April, so I went ahead and bought two 4-packs of plants at a local hardware/grocery store. I went with two heirloom beefsteak-style varieties: Mr. Stripey (1800’s, mid-Atlantic, low-acid, colorful red/yellow) and Mortgage Lifter (early 20th Century, West Virginia, big-n-meaty, pink/red).

The weather stayed pretty mild so at the end of April I prepped my tomato beds — two of our five 6′ x 6′ terraced beds. First, I dumped the last of the winter woodstove ashes:
Tomato-2017-04-28-ash

Then I added several tractor bucket loads of goat shed compost on each bed, mixed, and leveled:
Tomato-2017-04-28-compost

Then, for several weeks, the weather, especially at night, turned chilly. It is my understanding that if tomato plants are repeatedly exposed to temps below 50 their yield will suffer the entire season. So I waited. And waited. I bought some peat pots and re-potted the root-bound plants.

Finally, in late May (admittedly, our historical frost date, but weeks and weeks and weeks after prolonged spring/summer temps), I deemed the forecast suitable for transplanting; in the background you can see the goats enjoying the bolted collards that I cleaned out of the nearby beds. I planted 4 plants per 6’x 6′ bed with landscape fabric mulch:
Tomato-2017-05-17

A month later the plants are going gangbusters. I have tied a few plants with baling twine to encourage them to grow through the “tepees” I made with short sections of cattle panels:Tomato-2017-06-19

Sunshine on my laundry makes me happy

I love the smell of laundry when it comes off the line. I know that this has to do with the disinfectant nature of the Sun’s UV rays, but I couldn’t find a more detailed scientific explanation; perhaps my Google-fu skills are a bit lacking?

sunshine-on-my-laundry

Last Friday was a very nice Spring day!

Easter Eggs: The Aftermath

The food dye we used to dye our eggs seeped into some of the eggs in a most delightful way.

EasterEggs2017Aftermath

AfterEaster: hard-boiled eggs aplenty!

Happy Easter 2017

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Happy Easter!

Easter2016

We dyed a mix of white and brown eggs

Chilly Spring

On cloud nine? Well, almost. This is our cat Sunny zonked out on our sheepskin bedcover. And, yes, even though it is mid-April, the weather is still pretty chilly, and it has been unusually windy all winter. Spring is slow in coming this year, but

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Chilly Spring [Continued]

… there are some encouraging signs of spring, including these lovely daffodils in the front garden, as seen through the living room window. [Update: This picture is included in the print-on-demand book The View From Your Window.]

First Colors of Spring

Last week our long-awaited Spring arrived, with the forsythia and daffodils blazing forth in all their glory. The pastures have begun to turn green. Can the red of the tulips and the blue of the irises be far behind?

Virginia Bluebells

The Virgina Bluebells have bloomed to carpet the riverbanks, underneath a canopy of Redbuds.

Winter Is Over…

… but the memory lingers. Eric is spending this week cutting and splitting firewood for next winter.