A quick update on what’s happening at the Farm at the NSSL…

Hi, folks!  Just a quick update b/c I’m exhausted and my knees hurt. Here’s what’s been up so far this month!

I put the potato sets in on May 5.  I have planted 18 plants of Kennebec and 18 plants of Yukon Gold. My awesome new fabric pots have a drawback:  the sides are floppy! Once I get more dirt in them, they’ll be fine, but having them flop over is a problem. I need to get light to the plants! I added more dirt around the edges of the pots tonight and we’ll see how that works. It’s been quite rainy, and that hasn’t helped much either.  I want to take them out of the drain saucers, but I know if I do that and keep filling them, they’ll be heavy as hell and then this summer when I WANT the water to be trapped in the saucer, it will be difficult for me to lift them back up into the saucers. So, for now, I’m just going out and pouring off the standing water.  I’m hoping that by adding more dirt, I’ll disperse the water through the pot.  I had standing water in some of the pots, and we know from the potato post that is an invitation to rot, which I do not want.

I got my onion sets the same time I got my potatoes, but I haven’t put those in yet.  My next knee injection is the 21st, and it’s not been a lot of fun waiting.  I’m going to try to get them in Wednesday or Thursday this week after work.  I have 25 yellow Copra onions, and 25 red Red Wing Hybrid onions.  I understand onions are tolerant of juglone, generated by walnut trees, so I’m going to plant them under that tree in the new bed.

The blueberries in the front bed are leafing out. Five out of six look great, and that sixth one may just be a late bloomer.  I’m going to not freak out.  I did some weeding in that bed and played the Is It Grass or Is It Garlic game.  I’ve replanted the garlic I yanked up , and I’ve decided that I’m going to wait till the garlic puts up scapes to continue. Chives are up and at ’em as well, and I’m thinking that will give my blueberries a fighting chance against deer nibbles.

I got my plants from Jung Seed on Friday.  The packaging is really ingenious, but I’ve already broken it down and stored it in the garage, so no photos.   I planted them in the straw bales this morning.  As you may recall, I laid my bales on their sides when they arrived at my house last fall.  I have a TON of surface space on the bales now, so I planted the tomatoes toward the back of the bale. I’m thinking I’ll plant some brightly colored trailing annuals in the front half facing the street.  I’m thinking purple and yellow petunias, keeping with my purple gold and green theme.

EDIT 5/23/18: I’m pretty disappointed in these plants from Jung Seeds. They’re pretty puny and I expected better. I wouldn’t recommend them anymore. I also think that laying the bales flat on their sides didn’t help, as when they’re on their ends, the straws face up and carry water and nutrients to the plants much more effectively.

Each bale has four tomato plants in the bale, as the “set” from Jung contained four plants.  I was going to steal the photos from the Jung Seeds site, but they don’t make it easy and I’m really tired.  You’ll have to use the Google, but they’re pretty, so it will be worth the effort.

Pineapple: These are an heirloom, which generally means fussy pain in the rear that tastes delicious.  It’s a new one for me. It’s a big beefsteak type, up to 2 pounds in some cases, with orange yellow skin with red at the blossom end.  Yellow flesh with pink streaks and not many seeds.

Mortgage Lifter:  Another heirloom that is all kinds of trouble but so incredibly good that I put up with having to baby them.   This is the king of tomato sandwich tomatoes.  Big, beefsteak fruits, could get up to 4 pounds.  Yes.  FOUR POUNDS OF TOMATO GOODNESS.

Amish Paste:  This one goes back to the 1900s.  It’s a paste tomato, which means it looks like a Roma tomato in shape, sort of oblong.  Paste tomatoes make amazing sauce and can well because the seed cavity isn’t as big.

Mariana Hybrid:  Another paste tomato, another new one for me.  Good for salsas and a sauces.  Firm fleshed, so it will stand up to cutting and not become tomato mush, but not hard like a Meijer tomato in January.  So sayeth the reviews.

San Marzano:  I thought it was time I tried growing the high holy of paste tomatoes.  The canned ones are outstanding, but expensive. I may try to dry these.  I’ve recently gotten super high on sun-dried tomatoes. It’s like tomato jerky that tastes like well-preserved summer.  Cut these up over some pasta or a pizza or a salad in the dark winter months and you’ll be eating sunshine.  That’s my intent.

Opalka: Another new variation for me, these paste tomatoes look like fat hot peppers.  I have heard from friends who have grown them that they are SO rich and sweet I’ll want to eat them from the vine.   These are also on the list of possible drying tomatoes, but if they’re really that sweet I’m thinking tomato sauce would be a nice use.

Better Boy Hybrid:  There is a bale behind all the front bales, right in front of the white Rose of Sharon, and that bales has Better Boys.  these are the good ol’ dependable slicers that go in salads and stuff.  They’re not OMG MY HEAD EXPLODED like the heirlooms, but they’re a heck of a lot less fussy and I can count on them.

I did make a mistake in where I put them.  I need to take out the Mariana  and replace it with the Better Boy.  Mariana is a determinate tomato and the others are all indeterminates.  Indeterminates are the ones that sprawl all over the place, and determinates mind their manners.  My plan is to put up T-posts and run coated wire down the row of bales and run train the sprawlers up the wires and make a tomato wall!  How cool will that be?!

I also have bales on either side of my cold frame.  To the right I have four hot pepper plants called Fooled You.  I love this, because I’m pretty sure that the deer will be pretty irritated when they get a mouthful of hot pepper and will leave the peppers to the left alone.  Those plants are sweet peppers, called Yummy Mix Hybrid.  They’re the small conical peppers you see at the store in like a 2 pound bag of red and yellow. I love them because I can slice them into little rings and they look adorable in salads.  I’m thinking to pickle the rings, too.

In the fenced garden, I put four plants of Belstar Hybrid broccoli and four plants of Franklin Hybrid Brussels sprouts.  The seed tapes I planted are starting to sprout, and I weeded all four raised beds this weekend.  Asparagus is up, but I have to leave it be this year and next year I can take some!  With asparagus, you should really only pick from the third year on, to let it get established, which is why I am waiting. The strawberries are running wild and starting to flower, so I’ll have my first crop of those before too awful long now.  I inspected my remade raspberry patch and it looks happy and healthy.  I pruned ruthlessly back in February when we had that warm spell and they seem to have responded well.

I also got some FANTASTIC news from my neighbor across the street!  He hailed me as I came home from work last week and said he saw a fox with 4-5 kits in my yard.  Mama was running around in the woods and the kits were playing in my yard!  I cannot wait to see them, because really, what’s cuter than a baby fox?  I’m also glad to hear that there’s a fox family because that will keep the rabbits on their toes. While I have always enjoyed watching them chase each other around my yard, I’m not such a fan of the rabbits coming for my vegetables in my raised beds.  I’m glad animals find my yard pleasant, though, and that’s Reason #5,324,098 that I will never put chemicals in/on my yard.

This week I’ll be starting seeds for watermelon, squash, beans, and a few other summer crops.  I should have started them a while ago, but life intervened.   I also want to plant the herbs, and get the Giant Barrel of Basil rolling.  I’m probably going to start sweet corn in the big apple box, and it’s also time for second sowings of seed tapes.  There is always something to do at the Farm at the NSSL!



Author: Amy Crabtree Campbell

figuring it out as I go, since 1967

5 thoughts

  1. I am exhausted just reading all this! The first thing that comes to mind is, “You reap, what you sow.” All your hard work will certainly pay off.


    1. I really do enjoy it. I also enjoy the fresh vegetables but for me it’s mainly the pleasure of gardening. I imagine it’s like you and fishing. Even a day without a bite is still a good day on the water. 🙂


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