Drought Planting Technique Works in Flood….and Carrots

A few weeks ago, I wrote about planting techniques that worked in drought conditions.  Now it’s apparent that heavy mulching also works in flood.

A garden columnist recently recommended that gardeners just pull their spring tomato plants and give up until fall planting. The reason was that so many tomato plants were suffering from the abundance of rain, and suffering from fungus and other ills caused by wet conditions and wet feet.

Tomatoes may 2015

However, as you can see from the pictures, tomatoes planted using heavy mulch – and in some cases only mulch – fared quite well and are flourishing and producing tomatoes.  The tomato plant in my straw bale also is doing well, blooming and getting ready to put forth tomatoes.  In addition, my container tomato just yielded a lovely cluster of cherry tomatoes.  It is not suffering either.

The secret?  DRAINAGE.  As long as the days are long, there are a reasonable number of days in the 80s, and the plant’s feet are wet, the tomato will be just fine.


What about fall tomatoes?  There are a couple of ways to achieve this without going out and buying new transplants (although it’s nice to support local businesses).

First, June is the time to start seeds so that your seedlings will be ready to plant in time for a fall crop.

Second, the suckers that develop at the junction of each tomato branch can be removed and placed in a rooting mix to develop roots and should be available for transplanting in time for a fall crop.

Finally, there is the lazy person’s way…just prune those plants that are doing well.  Tomato branches that have borne for the spring will be less likely to bear fruit for the fall.  So, prune them off during the heat of the summer when production has fallen off.  Those suckers I mentioned earlier?  Leave them and they will develop new branches, ready to bear at the right time.  You can get two crops off the same plant, without the labor of transplanting or the expense of buying new transplants.


Carrots Carrots 2

I mentioned some time ago that I “winter” plant my carrots.  With the cold weather, their growth and maturity has been delayed, but they are now ready for harvest.  Since the carrots were lonely in their container, I transplanted a couple of tomato plants to keep them company this spring.  As the tomatoes have now grown and need space, I started harvesting carrots.  Wow – was I surprised (I always am)!  Here’s a picture of the harvest of these few.  There are many more waiting.  They are bound for a roasting with some red potatoes and onions, chunked and covered with olive oil and a sprinkling of time.  Add a little water and cover the roaster, then put in the oven for an hour or till everything is nice and tender.  Another lazy person’s dinner – and so delicious!

Carrots 1

Weather Signs When You Don’t Have Your iPhone

Several years ago, I was camping in SW Missouri.  We had arrived the night before, and in the morning as the group was preparing breakfast, I happened to look down the meadow at campfire smoke at another campsite.  The smoke went up straight, and then leveled out as though it was hitting a ceiling.  I mentioned that we were in for some rain.  Everyone thought I was crazy, because there was a clear blue sky…no cloud in sight.  As the morning wore on, clouds starting blowing in and by evening we were drenched.  The next morning, while we were trying to get the wet wood to ignite, I was asked if the rain would continue.  I looked down the meadow and saw the smoke rising a bit and wafting up and over and around in a crazy generally upward pattern and stated that I thought it might just let up during the day.  Sure enough, we had no more rain.  I was lauded as a weather guru, but it was all in how to read the signs that are around us. And I’ll share them with you.  I wish I could say I had noticed all these signs myself, but I read this delightful little book that talked about reading the clouds and, particularly, the animal and plant signs.

Last week, on the last day of Earth Day Texas, the organizers closed the event about a hour earlier than scheduled.  They said a bad storm was coming, and a tornado watch was issued.  We packed up our booth, and headed to our cars.  But the skies didn’t look that threatening. As the lawn had lots of clover among the grass, I eye-balled the clover.  The leaves had not turned over – which they do ahead of approaching rain.  As it turned out, no bad storm passed through our area that night.

This week, as I was driving north to Oklahoma on a rainy, stormy day, it just wasn’t a good idea to pull out the smart phone and check the weather radar.  But I wanted to know if I should pull out on the next exit or could travel on…

The answer was with the cows in the pastures …  When a storm is approaching, the cattle will start congregating in a group, usually in the farthest corner of the pasture from the storm.  They will lie down with their tails to the approaching weather.  Watch the cows.

Some dogs will start panting rapidly as the air pressure increases.  I had a beagle I called my weather dog, because I would go to let her out sometimes and she would get to the door, pause and turn around…Nope…not going.  Sure enough, it would rain soon after that.

Flies and birds will settle just before a storm, and you have probably noticed that sounds travel differently, that it almost seems quieter just before a storm.

So…watch the animals and plants, and observe what is going on around you.  I think you will feel amazed at what you notice.  And it will give you time to plant the last things into your garden, or know when to tie things down to prevent damage.