The newest immigrants in our garden come from Mississippi and Maine

tomato plants from MississippiOnce again, we have used our travels to help stock the vegetable garden.

Four of our 15 (!) tomato plants (and it’s NOT my fault this time) are Brandywines we picked up at a farmers market in Jackson, Miss., in March. Four for $1.50 and the potential to get a jump on the tomato season was just too irresistible. (And for the record, you can take plants on an airplane as carry-on. I have done it several times.) I had expected one of the Brit’s colleagues would have wanted one or two in a trade, but nope. All the better for us.

It’s been a rainy and generally cool May and June, and the plants aren’t the tallest tomato plants we have. (That would be one of the sungolds we grew from seed.) But all four have yellow flowers, compared to just three of the others.

And when we were visiting friends in Maine last weekend, we stopped at a garden center that we had mail-ordered from many, many years ago. The prices were great then and still are attractive. Best of all, we found three varieties of leeks at 16 cents a tiny plug. Not that there was only one leek in each plug! So we have bigger, more established plants than the ones I had bought in Indiana last March that were perhaps as thin as a strand of angel hair pasta and which didn’t fare that well. (OK, I could have watered those more.)

leek seedlings from maineWe bought 18 plugs (six of each variety), so less than $3 before tax; we have more than twice that many plants. There’s the Megaton, which it seems should be harvested in the fall, rather than left to cope with snow; the Gervaria, which a seed company describes as a mid-season harvest; and the Lexton, which that same company describes as very frost-hardy. It will be an interesting experiment and taste test.

We also picked up a robust Canada Red rhubarb plant that looks like it could be three. I decided not to stress it by trying to divide it.

This is to make up for a frustrating experience with a national mail-order company. We ordered eight bare-root plants at the end of March; the lone Canada Red bare root in our order is now out of stock, as is our order of purple potato seedlings, and we’ve been told we won’t get them and had that portion of our order refunded. We’re still waiting on the Glaskin’s Purpetual (two sets of three bareroots — but worryingly, the website lists them as now out of stock, though our order is still listed) and the Crimson Red jumbo bareroot. The shipping date has been pushed back time after time, and I’ve been oh so tempted to cancel the whole thing. We will never use them again.

Our Maine friends also gave us some flowers that they are constantly dividing and moving. If they can survive the deer and the rabbits (and one has already been attacked by something), I’m going to let them fight it out with the Black-Eyed Susans. And I’ll post some photos.

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What a Weekend

Amazingly, those tulips still haven’t been munched! And we are up to six blooms.

That gave me the courage to buy two peat pots of several tulips at Lowe’s on Saturday. Granted, the investment was tiny — 5o cents apiece at the clearance rack, but I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. They’re now in bigger pots, and once they fade, I’ll find a new place to try to hide them from the deer. Maybe behind the lavender against the porch? Question for you: do you dig yours up every year, or treat tulips like annuals? Just read this on Garden Rant, and we’re one of those whose bulbs rotted because we hadn’t stored them properly one summer. (They’d been in containers. I’m not digging them out of the ground!) I’m wondering what kind of tulips work best for you. Obviously, we’ve left tulips in the ground and had them come back. Annuals? I’ll find something else unless they’re in the bargain bin.

More is in bloom, including the creeping phlox and more daffodils, though many days of hot weather means the early bloomers are fading. The rhubarb seems to be growing about an inch a day. We thought we’d transplanted all of it a couple of weeks ago, but apparently we missed one piece. Moved that on Saturday, so now we have four rhubarb plants (and I think there may be another one hidden somewhere else.)

This weekend was a big gardening weekend. We emptied out R2D2 (ie Earth Machine), and that compost was amazing! Just so light and loose! It’s on top of a couple of raised beds, and I hope all the vegetables will appreciate it. The manufacturer seems to do promotions with local governments, so if you ever have the chance to buy one, do it!  I’d definitely get another one.

In the meantime, we have filled it again with half-broken-down leaves from last fall and have dropped off a couple of buckets at a local coffee shop to be filled with grounds (speeds up the compost process). If more people did this, plants would be happier and we’d spend fewer tax dollars on garbage/leaf and brush collection.

What else got done? Strawberries are now out of a bed and in pots (anyone want some? We have TONS.) Potatoes and some snow peas are planted. Weeded parts of the flower beds, planted a few annuals to add some color, which of course led to dividing a few plants and moving things around. Mowed the lawn for the first time this year.

In all, everything seems further along than last year. Unfortunately, that goes for the weeds too. I’ve seen dandelions and the flowers from mock strawberries. Back to attacking dandelions and trying to make a dent with some hand-weeding.