Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Whom All Blessings Grow

It's growing season here! I expect most things to be dead and dry by August, a carryover of my mostly-Floridian life (or maybe just my lack of skill as a gardener?). 

But at last, at long last, tomatoes are taking center stage.

I have a special love for homegrown tomatoes, and this year we planted seven varieties -- if you're going to plant tomatoes, why not have some fun? We planted Black Krim left over from last year, along with Roma, Chadwick Cherry, Green Zebra, Yellow Pear, Black Cherry, and Rainbow Cherry (not an actual variety, but a "mix" of various colorful cherry tomatoes -- it's a toss up as to what you'll actually get. Ours are pale yellow and red!). 

This is a green zebra, with a not-yet-ripe Black Krim behind it to the left

Our tomatoes are real survivors, having overcome the ravages of hornworms early in the season (they disgust me, but fortunately our chickens' delight in devouring them made it a little less terrible to pull them off the plants), various "predators" throughout the season, and my overly ambitious planting. I had every intention to thin the plants properly, but I underestimated how agonizing it would be to rip out completely healthy plants! And I definitely underestimated how large the plants would get. The straw bales are, apparently, extremely fertile -- despite their crowded spacing, our tomatoes are quite massive. Poor planning in the staking department has left us with plants trailing all over, pulled down by the weight of the fruit. It's honestly so bad that some of our tomato plants are trailing on the ground! Basically, everything that we could do wrong, we did.

And yet, tomatoes. So many, so beautiful, and so delicious. We are harvesting around a pound every day or two, and we have been eating, freezing, and giving away tomatoes at every opportunity. 

Our cucumbers and bean plants bit the dust early in the month. I'm not sure whether to blame "old age," voles, disease, bugs, or heat. Or maybe all of the above. Here's a photo from earlier in the summer, when they were at their peak:

Every year we learn more in the garden -- our zucchini and spaghetti squash fell prey to squash vine borers (ugly little things! They eat out the INSIDE of the plant stem. Ugh), all of our plants would have benefited from having trellises in place early (we were a bit rushed getting the garden planted, so we only did the immediately necessary things), etc. We've replanted the bales from the picture above (all that was left was the little lavender plant in the front corner, and an enormous basil plant in the back), so hopefully we'll get some more produce before the season is over. I want everything to thrive and produce, so I'm always disappointed by the failures -- but I'm realizing that gardening is a skill that takes time to hone, and even experienced gardeners have their setbacks. It's still a joy! It really is amazing to me how God has designed life to recreate itself. The curse (bugs, disease, weeds, etc.) battles hard and sometimes wins, but life is resilient. 

The littles have been growing like weeds all summer, too. This little fellow turned one, and I'm struggling to believe it (though he's very comfortable in 18-24 mths clothing, "little" chunk that he is!).

We've taken advantage of "pass swaps" to visit some new-to-us places -- this one was particularly magical, with the imminent threat of a summer thunderstorm preventing us from lingering too long. I do love our little adventures together!

And now, Summer is almost over. We've already started the school year (back in July, actually -- littles with too much time on their hands...), and I'm eager to see the season change. Goodbye, August!


  1. Shannon,

    Your variety of tomatoes is beautiful! I haven't seen so many unique varieties before. We planted all beefsteak tomatoes this year. We also had horn worms and squash bugs. It is a constant battle! Adam used neem oil this year, and I think it did help. Unfortunately our chicken will not eat the horn worms. I think they are a bit spoiled, too many table scraps for them. : )


  2. Sarah,

    Yes, we're enjoying the variety! I ordered this seed set (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071XJPLVT/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1) from Amazon, and at the time it was only $7 for six organic seed packets. Quite the bargain! And we still have plenty left for next year. The kids (and I!) love eating the cherry tomatoes raw, so I like to have plenty of them.

    Worms are the worst! They can eat a surprising amount. I'm far more sympathetic to butterfly caterpillars, even though they're technically very similar (hornworms are "pre-moths"). We had limited success with our zucchini plants last year -- just two zucchinis, I think! -- so it was distressing to lose them to vine borers. I guess they are as hungry as we are... :-)

    I can't blame your chickens, though -- I'd certainly turn up my nose at hornworms, too! :-)


  3. That is quite a variety of tomatoes! So fun! Hopefully next year we'll get our garden back into production.


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