I have not written about my garden for quite a long time. I typically (minimally) grow tomatoes, herbs, eggplant, and assorted other vegetables each year, although last year it was limited to a few tomatoes only. This year many of us have some spare time on our hands given the SIP (shelter in place) orders across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic, so I decided to get moving and get some vegetables in. Therein lies the first problem. At least in our area, the nurseries are closed. I tried buying online, and everyone seemed to be out of everything from seeds to plant starts.
I was driving to the hardware store to pick up gloves I'd ordered and OMG, I saw racks of fresh-looking vegetable plants. I pulled up into the parking lot only to find a very long line. My husband got in line as I charged over to the vegetable plants and started selecting as fast as I could. As he approached the front of the line to get in the store, I shoved a flat in his hands that included a few tomatoes and a couple of squash. I tried to grab more plants, but there was no way to get to him inside the store. Better than nothing, I said to myself.
I spent the next few days preparing the raised garden beds. Typically this wouldn't be such a big deal, but our garden area borders our neighbor's, which includes several huge trees, including a Loquat and a few large live oak trees. The trees have very greedy roots and continuously seek out the water provided by our drip-system. So instead of a simple, quick turn of the soil, we have to hack out tree roots. This process took several days. On top of that problem, we got some early 100F temps that made working in the garden next-to-impossible except for early morning or evening.
It took several days of garden prep, but I was finally able to plant my first plants about April 29th. Those included two Ace tomatoes (large, salad type tomatoes) and two Roma tomatoes (used for sauce). In a different bed, I planted the two yellow crookneck squash. I planned to plant other plants too when and if I ever scored more plant starts.
With the last beds, all prepped, I was ready to plant my last load of plants I was able to track down a couple of days ago. I found two Early Girl tomatoes, one of my favorites. I like them because they bear well, they are lovely medium-sized tomatoes, perfect for salads and I can pitch them in my tomato sauce if I have excess. I planted these in a bed with 2 Serano chile peppers, two red bell peppers, and two Fairy eggplant plants. I find the small eggplant handier to use than the sizeable Black Beauty eggplant.
I also planted two San Marzano tomatoes next to the Romas I planted several days ago. I planted the basil in a bed with some cilantro and English thyme.
I pulled out my giant can of vegetable and flower seeds (most many years old). I selected two packets of seeds. First, I planted two rows of bush filet beans (haricot vert). I love these thin green beans because they have a delicate flavor, and as long as I pick them young, they are very tender. Germination time for these beans is 5-10 days. I planted the first row from an old seed packet circa 2013 and the other from seed I reserved from my last crop of beans grown in 2018.
Between those two rows, I planted some "True Italian arugula," again from some older seed dating back to 2011. I'm curious to see what comes up. If these seeds germinate, we should see them peeking out of the soil in 7-10 days.
Some of the beds, like the one shown above, contained remnants of last year's garden. I moved a couple of chive plants over to the bed with six tomato plants. Supposedly, chives and tomatoes make excellent companions.
I shifted some tarragon that was growing under the window box shown in the top image to the bed just above the freshly planted bed above.
As it happened, we received a light rain after I got the beans and arugula seeds sown, so the garden is happy. Next, I plan to plant some Italian parsley from seed. I still have some spots where I could tuck in another plant or two. I'll be keeping an eye out when I pass by the hardware store. Oh, by the way, the nurseries here opened, but the lines are crazy long. If they ever slow down, I need to find a trellis for the one plant I didn't mention, a Sweet 100 tomato. More to follow, stay tuned!