So it’s now close to being over a month since I brought home my little treasures, and they are all flourishing! Well… at least the tomato plants are. The squash, eggplant and peppers are all surviving but they all took a hit – so to speak.
The last few days, we have had quite a bit of rain off and on all day and all night. Ten minutes to a half hour worth of torrential downpour, then sunshine and warmth and humidity and more rain and clouds – in a cycle, all day, every day! I built a tent out of cardboard to put over my tomatoes one day in particular when it was raining pretty hard – even though the ends of the tomato plants were turned down and wilting a bit probably due to thirst! Which means two things:
- My tomatoes are no longer “drowning”
- The terracotta and flint “drainage” system is working wonders!
On the first day of real warmth and sunshine, I pulled out some black garbage bags – the closest thing I had to black gardening plastic, and laid it down between and around the plants in an effort to keep the soil warmer. I did leave a hole open in the center so some of the rainfall can go through and feed the root system, but the plastic is starting to work for the soil! The tops of the plants are looking striped with green and yellow instead of turning completely yellow – it seems to be reversing itself. There are even a few more flowers coming out. FIVE! There are now five flowers! Two have turned brown and fallen out, but I’m holding out hope that more will bloom and They will actually, really turn into tomatoes!! Woot!!
We are starting Phase Two of the tomato growing scheme! I spent the other day at the garden center to find out what kinds of materials I could come up with to build my tomatoes a trellis, and found all sorts of cane support systems. I’m not crazy about using the canes, but there are a bunch of them in the greenhouse when we moved in, and it only makes sense to get some use out of them – so that we are going to do! The British actually have some pretty cool things to create almost any kind of support system for a myriad of vegetables and plants out of canes! And it turns out the supplies are cheap!
The discovery of cane supports also came with the discovery of plant fleece! That’s right folks! And capillary mats for your gardens or grow-bags! The plant fleece are meant to keep the soil warm, and the large plastic, heavy-duty garden plastic, meant to keep away bugs and inclement weather and otherwise shield your plants from late spring frost or, such as we are having, torrential downpour, etc. This only further reinforces the fact that I’m not alone in the world, constructing makeshift tents out of cardboard in the rain while Mei is inside screaming and crying for me and Patella whining to go out – only too chicken to actually go outside in the rain. Yes. My dog is afraid of the rain. Ever since she was a puppy, the sound of it coming down on the windows really scared her and ever since then, she has been none too happy to go out if we open the door and she can hear it. Yep. I love my puppy!
The capillary mats are useful though, it is part of what makes of my window herb growerthing, the mat that makes it possible to water my plants periodically. The mat
soaks up and delivers water to the plants – only what it needs as the roots soak up the moisture they require as they become thirsty. So you can’t over water them! The advantage to having them in something like a raised bed, especially with the poor natural soil in this area, is that the water wont pool! The mat will pull the water away from the roots and leave just as much as the roots are requiring – eliminating the need to install a Romanian drainage system or tent the plants or otherwise dress in all the leather (or pleather, as the case may be) that you have in your wardrobe, stick random duck feathers or crow feathers that you find on walks with your dog – in your hair and go out to your plants and do any type of “sun dance” or “rain dance” to bring the sun out and to get the rain to subside! It’s brilliant!!
Enough about the tomatoes! I haven’t given my peppers, eggplant or butternut squash much attention – but the leaves of the pepper plant are becoming wider, greener, more taut and less brown! I’m debating cutting off the brown tips on the affected leaves tomorrow, so that the plant can’t spend any energy on those tips – something I remembered from middle school biology… its something like that – all I know is if you cut off the brown ends, the plant re-focuses its energy into allowing the rest of the plant to grow. Which is exactly what we are interested in! The squash and eggplant are stable, not getting any worse, not getting any better… keep checkin’ in for updates! Although between you and me, I don’t think they are going to make it. They are not getting enough sun during the day – that I can gather.
Herbs? Ok. I confess. The capillary that is supposed to be wonderful? Only works if there is water in the reservoir. And it’s possible that a certain someone forgot to water it a couple of days ago and I noticed this morning that the little sprouts were looking kind of sad, and walked over to realize that they were in fact thirsty! Oh, if I pay a little more attention to ALL of my plants, I would have noticed a couple of days ago. But fear not! The reservoir is full of water and the shoots were only a little droopy, so I expect them to make a full recovery! The dill shoots are starting to turn into the actual shape of dill leaves, as is the cilantro! The rosemary has one, cute little bud coming out of its portion of the grower, and in the coming week I expect to have a few more shoots – it may be slow-growing, but it will become one of the hardest working herbs in my little garden – probably the most used herb of all the fresh herbs I buy year-round!
SIDE NOTE: While I was at the nursery the other day, I bought two plants called bandana! They are the coolest little flowers I have seen in a long time, and pretty inexpensive, so I bought one of each color they had, and they are doing well too! I plan to move them to another planter soon to put in my windowsill… we are going to practice keeping these alive too – the only non-vegetable, non-herb plants I have to care for!
Onto the yummy parts of life!
We went to the market again today, bein’ that it was market day! That is, after
checking out some bridal boutiques to find a suitable back-up dress for a bride I know. The one we did come across is amazing, shows off her amazing body and she looks absolutely lovely in it! The rest of the family found appropriate attire for the ceremony, leaving us free to shop the market stalls and root around in shops! We went and saw the bread people, picked up a loaf of tomato herb bread, a mini lemon meringue pie and mini fruit tart to take home! While looking for other fruit and veg with our friends that came along, we came across the best looking, plump, juicy nectarines of the summer so far – and for a great price ten for two quid! I have been on the hunt for some good-looking, ripe nectarines to make nectarine upside down cake (keep an eye out on future posts!) with, so this was a great find! We also picked up some mini animal cookie cutters to make some goldfish crackers and animal crackers at home with.
The goldfish crackers are going to be quite exciting to make! I’m thinking about using all sorts of different kinds of crackers, so they can be a bit more savory, or lend a few different flavors for different types of soups, etc. It is quite exciting! I might consider making it at the same time I make cheese scones! How exciting the upcoming weeks are looking with plenty of baking projects to keep me busy! I have been getting great ideas for holiday gifts and more care package ideas for our boys abroad!
SIDE NOTE #2: One of the boxes I mailed home of loot I gathered in the States arrived the other day containing my vanilla sugar and special sea salt, Le Saunier de Camargue Fleur de Sel, that I was only able to find in a little shop called Quel Fromage in Bellingham, WA. I am excited to make a few special treats! I might even collect some fresh lavender to make lavender sugar!… the possibilities are endless!
Well, that said, I have plenty to plan and think about. I leave you with a picture of my lunch today at a wonderful Italian cafe for a girls lunch out! Risotto with leeks, pan-fried scallops, and pancetta! It was heaven! (even though it was not as creamy as the one I made a few nights back…. the scallops were worth the lack of creamy-ness of the rice!)… DROOL!!