April 26, 2009

Playing in the Dirt

With this wacky weather we've had lately, it's been hard to really get into gardening, but I am happy to report our first vegetable crop has been planted in the sandbox, a.k.a. alpaca poop transport box that Neal found. We planted onion bulbs!

We used soil from our compost bin, some alpaca poop and some regular soil from our yard, all tilled and mixed together, as our growing medium. We planted one full row of bulbs very close together to give us what we hope will be an abundance of green onions to snip off and use in cooking. The other three rows we planted further apart to allow the bulbs to grow into fat, juicy slicing onions. Germination is supposed to take place within 7-14 days and I feel like a kid eagerly anticipating that first green sprig that will pop up into the world!

The plan is to put some fencing around the onion box, as well as the other square foot gardening boxes we will use for the rest of our crops. For now, however, the above piece of fencing is doing a wonderful job of keeping the cats and squirrels out of the box and off of our tender bulbs!

Indoor seedling update: Everything is doing really well. It's been six weeks to the day that we planted our seeds, and watching them grow and take shape has been so exciting. I've been researching how to get my tomatoes to be as productive as possible, and it appears the little buggers really needed repotting AGAIN. They were becoming "leggy" and apparently that is not good. They needed to be potted deeper, with the soil covering at least the bottom set of leaves in order to encourage the roots to grow along the stem, thereby increasing production. The garden center told me that all the little hairs that we see on the stems will develop a stronger root system if buried deeper into the soil. So, today I repotted 41 tomato plants, along with a few miscellaneous seedlings that had outgrown their original containers. If everything that we have currently potted- along with some additional seeds we will sow directly into the ground- produces a harvest, we will have more than our share of fresh veggies this season. Whoo Hoo! But, I am not getting my hopes up too high. We are still very "green" at gardening. Not only do we have our high altitude, short growing season to contend with, but our own ignorance as well!

Because the seedlings are set up in a room where the cat litterboxes and food bowls are located, it was not possible to just close off the room, so we've tried barricading around the table to keep little paws away. Our efforts were working pretty well for a while, but apparently all the new pots and fresh dirt proved too tempting to someone. I almost had a heart attack when I noticed a complete tomato seedling had been plucked from the pot and kitty footprints were discovered in my lettuce pot! See what's left of the evidence in the round pot, left foreground. Damn cats!


Jon said...


41 tomato plants!
I know we will have more than we need with just three plants, though our growing season is a little longer. I just have to protect the plants from the Texas summer.

frugalmom said...

Hooray for tomatoes! I have 40 tomatoes plants as well. This is my first year at growing onions and we began ours as seeds...they are down there next to the tomatoes...they seem to be doing well, but I sure cant wait to get them in the ground in a few weeks.

Lilla said...

Jon, yes 41. I may have overdone it just a bit, but if they all produce I won't complain. I can always can and dehydrate the extras. Yum!

frugalmom, glad to hear someone else is going tomato crazy! I can't wait until we can plant everything in the ground, as well. I'm actually counting down the days! Good luck with the onions from seed. I'll be curious to know how well they do for you.

Anonymous said...

your little seedlings look beautiful!! shame on those cats :)
and your onions look good too...
it won't be soon enough to get those tomatoes into the ground, huh?

i can't wait to see pictures of them in their own plot :)

Lilla said...

Actually, I think it's just one cat, but I haven't been able to catch her sneaky butt...

Just today, I noticed about 7 onion sprouts popping up above the dirt. Yeah! Yes, I am definitely ready to put the tomatoes in their permanent garden boxes, but have to wait just a few more weeks. You can be sure there will be pictures and much celebration if they survive the transplanting!

basicliving@backtobasicliving.com said...

Woo hoo! Looking good! Sounds like you are going to have monster tomato plants and plenty of wonderful tomatoes! If they are leggy, they probably need a little more light, or the light is a little too far above them and they are reaching for it. I usually position the light just 2-3 inches above them and move it up every other day or so. Then again - your seedlings look better than mine, so who am I to advise you??

Take care,