Things I have done right, and wrong, in the garden this year

I was not going to plant any tomatoes this year. Last year I did not, but so many volunteers sprung up I spent half the summer making pizza sauce with them, and the other half giving them away… and then, last April, I saw these lovely seedlings for sale at the farmer’s market, three for ten dollars.

I started with one Cherokee purple, a black prince, and a Roma. I thought that would be more than enough tomatoes for me. Then, three or so weeks later, I bought another three: green zebra, Paul Robeson, and an additional Roma. That is when volunteer tomatoes started to spring up. I could not resist transplanting two and then tried to terminate the rest. Terminate with extreme prejudice.

All the tomatoes are in EarthBoxes. I have never failed to grow a fantastic crop in these self-watering containers; they are magic in Southern California. I need to fill the reservoirs at least once a day for each set of two plants, but all but the youngest are over eight feel tall and are covered in more fruit every day.

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I can not plant in the ground here. The soil is nothing but sand, prior residents tried to create a vegetable garden, but there is a price to living close to the sea. Container gardening is just fine by me, and once the tomato crop got going, I decided to try some grow bags of potatoes. They appear to be growing like mad, and the bags will clearly work, but I made a big mistake as this is my first crop. I think I planted the seed potatoes too deep in the bag, without enough space under them for lots of potatoes to grow. I understood that if i filled the bags more as the potatoes grew, they’d spread roots and grow potatoes along the entire network. The potatoes I selected, however, Blue Adirondack, are determinate, and research after planting most of them suggests they’ll mostly grow fruit under the seed potatoes and not above. They sure look pretty, tho.

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Blue Adirondack Potatoes
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I transplanted a ton of strawberries from the one crown my Golden Retriever, Electra, allowed to survive the last few years. It was sending out tons of runners, so I potted 5, and they’ve all turned into good-sized plants that the dog leaves alone. It was surprisingly easy, I just took a small shove and moved the plants to a new pot. Electra and I compete for strawberries, so while a few are at dog level, other containers are elevated to harvest enough at once to make ice cream. Ice cream is not shared.

I am also trying a grow bag of corn, but right now, it’s got three shoots poking up and is not much more than a bag of dirt. I have some onions going that look pitiful, some chives that look great, and a few peppers coming along, but tomatoes look like the crop of the year. I was not going to plant any tomatoes this year.

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Green Zebra