Friday, May 18, 2012

Planting the Back Forty (feet)

I planted the Back Forty earlier this week.  Not the Back Forty Acres, mind you; the Back Forty Feet.  My own little personal BFF.

Our home is blessed with lots and lots of trees around it.  Since we have no air conditioning, the trees are crucial to our summer well-being, . . . but they're heck on gardens, really.  Just about the only mostly-sunny area near our home is by the garage out back.  In that small space, I've torn out shrubbery and put in edible plants.  I do a little more, year by year.  Just like Laura Ingalls Wilder, clearing the land, turning it into a farm.  Well, a into a farm-let.

Here's a picture of my BFF:  "L" shaped and 40 feet long by about 3 feet deep.
The long wall faces south.
If you're good, you'll realize this picture was taken in the morning;
the short west wall is still in shade.
My plants had all been started in canning jars in March.  They started out looking like not much,
but they grew,
and grew,

and grew, until they were big and strong.  Just like Ferdinand the bull.
This past week we passed the last official frost date.  We were blessed with a soaking rain on the one day I had all-day meetings, so the next day, I got to head out in the sun to plant my babies.  My tomato plants enjoyed their field trip into the great outdoors.

Several people have asked me how I get the plants out of the jars.  I use either a spoon or a knife to push the dirt away from the edge of the jar,

then I turn the jar upside down, grasp the plant close as possible to its base and g-e-n-t-l-y pull it out.  Usually, the part I pull out has grown a big root ball that looks like this:

I put the root ball into a hole I dug, give the plant one canning-jar-full of water, and pat the dirt on top.
The jar of water looks really dirty.  Because it is.
I carry a bucket of water along with me and dip the canning jars in; I hadn't realized until now how disgusting that dirty water looks. But at least it cleans some of the dirt off the jars as I go!

[Note: I put some mulch around some tomatoes, and none around others.  The conclusion:  don't do the mulch. It "burns" the leaves.]

Now my BFF looks something like this.

And the jars?  I soaked them in a bucket the rest of the day.  I scrubbed them at night and stuck them all in the dishwasher; now they're ready to hold food.  Grow, tomatoes, grow!

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