We’ve come to the end of another exciting week of gardening, here in mid-May. It’s Mother’s Day as I write this and reflect on the blessings of family and the abundance of nature.
For me, this is a special time in the season. The transplants are growing beautifully, and most of the seeds have done their job sending up tidy rows of beans, beets, radishes, and lettuce. All is well and going according to plan.
This is what I think of as the “honeymoon” period. Everything in the garden is nearly perfect. There are very few bugs, browsers, or other pests and no sign of blights, fungi, or other nasties.
Periodically, I find myself wandering from the home office into the garden just to take in the newness and to breathe in the inspiring freshness. This will be the best season ever!
The Spring Garden is a Miracle to Admire
Knockout Roses are stunningly beautiful and prolific. The vegetable beds are laden with lush leaves and bright flowers. Every year we get to appreciate this miracle and co-create alongside it.
Here’s what’s underway in our Upper Garden:
- Finished installing the cattle panel tunnel
- Installed two 24 ft. raised beds – filled and amended
- Planted eight tomatoes – Royal Hillbilly and Cherokee Purple
- Mulched the raised beds with heavy layer of straw
Cattle Panel Tunnel Garden Arch – Vertical Gardening
These arched tunnels at both the upper and lower garden will be used to support tomato plants using the string method most popular with commercial growers. Of course, we’re downsizing and simplifying the technique but the basic approach is the same.
Jute Twine Supports for Tomatoes
With twine or string tomato supports, instead of using cages or stakes, you can train each tomato to grow up a string. The top of each string is tied off onto the wire panel some 5 to 6 feet above ground level. The bottom of the string is tied to the plant.
If you’d like a little more detailed info, you can see our YouTube video demonstration.
String tomato supports are super simple and no hassle to store, like metal tomato cages. Of course, each has is pros and cons. While storing tomato cages off-season can be challenge, they also can be multi-purposed into other uses.
Close up on twine supporting the tomato plant.
Coleman stringing Tomato plants under our cattle panel arch.
We were also busy at the Lower Garden. It’s actually looking like the Garden Planner layout.
What we Planted this week in Mid May, zone 7a
- Okra seeds planted in long rows
- Clemson Spineless
- Gold Coast
- Compact Okra – two types – in containers
- Cajun Jewel (compact – in containers)
- Baby Bubba – (compact – in containers)
- Tomatoes- Royal Hillbilly
- Lettuce- Waldmann’s Dark Green
- Nasturtiums – (red) – Empress of India
Yard and Garden Work
- Pruned back a quasi-dormant Meyer’s Lemon Tree. It took the hint and within a week began sprouting new growth.
- Built a bamboo teepee for a container of pole beans.
- Strung 10 tomatoes
- Finished mulching nearly all of the garden beds with a thick layer of mulch
- Placed branches alongside snow peas and edible pod peas for support.
- Moved last flat of seedlings to the great outdoors
Favorite Garden Snippet of the Week
Jute Twine – Such a simple product with a multitude of uses, and it’s biodegradable.
Some of the garden tasks we’ve used jute twine for include:
- Binding poles for teepees and cross-bracing
- Supporting tents of row fabric
- Bundling stakes together
- Supports for climbing tomatoes
- Lattice for bean poles
- Temporary barricades
- Tying off bag ends
- Leafy greens
- Calabrese Broccoli sprouts
- Rose blossoms for the ladies
- Chinese Dogwood (Cornus kousa “Milky Way”) in full bloom
- Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)
- Knockout Rose (Rosa radrazz)
Climbing Hydrangea (Hydrangea petiolaris)
Lastly, we attempted to recruit Zeus (our lovable Labrottie) into mole control. He was quite game. But… the try-out ended with a big hole and no mole. Well… at least, it wasn’t in the garden.
Our goal at GardensAll is to share and develop our gardening skills as a community. The more we know, the more we grow.
Keep growing great gardens!
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson