I got a good day of gardening in this past Saturday, as I was beginning to feel that I was being cruel to my poor tomatoes by keeping them in their pots any longer. I still have another 4 tomatoes that I'm hardening off this week, which were from the second planting and not so tall, so I will put them out this next weekend. But this particular batch of six got too tall for the lights weeks ago, and I had been putting them outside every day to harden them off and to continue getting light, but had hoped I could last at least a couple weeks into May before putting them into the ground. We've been having crazy turbulent weather the last couple of weeks--hail, torrential rains, wind, and record "low high" temperatures, which made me a little worried about my garden's ability to cope. However, it soon became evident that these tomatoes desperately needed cages to hold them up and more room for their roots. So out they went, and they seem to be doing just fine.
I had three tomato cages that I bought last year, and then I got some large mesh wire from freecycle a couple months ago, which I planned to cut apart and make into more cages. Matt brought over some wirecutters, but it turned out that I had ended up with the heavy-duty wire that is used to reinforce concrete. Whoops- we couldn't cut through it! So we bent it around into zig-zags between tomato plants, which works just fine, but looks like I've put my plants into a high-security prison. We dubbed it "Tomatotraz."
I had a couple extra tomatoes that weren't going to fit into my garden, so my friend Alina adopted them, and yesterday stopped by with some golden plum preserves as a thank you. I also passed off a huge batch of tomatos to my coworker Olga last week, and in return she brought me starts of sweet peppers, oriental cucumbers, lemon cukes, and marjoram. I love all this bartering!
I was planning to put the cukes in where the garlic is growing now, but it looks like the garlic won't be ready to harvest until mid- to late June. So I might have to come up with an alternate solution. Grow cukes in pots? I need to find out if that's possible.
I planted a couple short rows of basil last weekend, Lime Basil and Genovese Basil, and have a couple little basil plants growing under the lights. I also planted some Rattlesnake snap beans (pole beans) that Olga gave me, and a row of Empress bush beans from my mom's garden. My marigolds are blooming, the nasturtiums and sweet peas are up and growing like weeds, there are tiny lettuce, chard, and cilantro sprouts, and Matt and I just had a salad that included bok choy and radishes that were picked just 10 minutes earlier. I love this time of year!!
I am also falling in love with the length of Portland's growing season. To have such a garden this early in the year without a greenhouse or cold frame is a rare thing, and I couldn't do it if it weren't so mild here. (Alas, this goes hand in hand with a gray, rainy winter. Oh, well).
How does your garden grow?