Last week, winter’s last grasp finally loosened to the point that I planted a couple of gardens, tomatoes on Wednesday followed by eggplants, hot and sweet peppers and basil on Friday.
One handy fact about tomato plants is that they will grow roots from any part of their stem that you bury in dirt. So by planting these too-tall plants deep in their holes, I’ll have helped them build a strong base of roots the better (I hope) to put out a lot of great fruit.
I’d used a newly purchased Mantis tiller to fix the soil in a narrow new 35-foot-long space made free by last summer’s garage fire, which also wiped out some huge and unruly vines and an old rosemary, leaving the dirt empty and ready for tilling.
Each year it seems I set up a slightly different arrangement to support the big tomato vines that will burst forth. This time I gave each plant its own metal fence post (until I ran out of fence posts, and the rest got their own plastic-coated piece of rebar). I didn’t have any good homemade tomato cages around, but slipped old store-bought cages over each post or rebar, and then fit the cages down around each plant. I know these tomatoes, and they will grow up and out of the cages, and up above the tops of the posts. By then I expect to have sturdy wooden trellises in place behind them, and I may just run twine from their cages to the trellises and let them grow along like that.
The peppers, meanwhile, have been growing kind of sadly in plastic cups with drainage holes I punched in the bottoms but which, unfortunately, were not draining adequately. Most of the little plants were waterlogged when I set them free. But their root systems still seemed in good shape, and I have hot expectations for all of them – Scotch Bonnets, Jamaican Hot Chocolates, Aji Limons, Serranos and a row of seedlings from an odd hot red pepper that appeared last year and which I have termed Devil Dik.
Now I wait for this the coldest winter in years to huff and blow and go away and leave my vegetables to grow in a little warm sunshine.