Summer of the Tomato | Vegetable Gardening

Having a successful vegetable garden is always my summer goal. Growing up, my parent’s garden thrived each summer and I anticipated those ripe summer tomatoes. Nothing beats fresh homegrown tomatoes! They are like gold to me. Though, since being married, we have either been living in an apartment without a yard or been in the middle of a move where my “container garden” suffered and would get neglected. Last year, in our inexperience, we got started a little late and learned from mistakes with diseases, pests, over/under watering, and soil amending. Live and learn, right? So this was our year. Our summer of the tomato! (James thinks I overdid it with my 24 tomato plants of many varieties…but it was a must for me! Next year, I know which kinds I like best.)

garden tomatoes

 

Last year we did amend our soil and put in compost. We got a soaker hose with a timer on it. And we had some success, just nothing like I had hoped. We learned a lot about working with our yard full of Stone Mountain granite and Georgia red clay. About different plants and their pH needs and different watering needs. And that our “compost” was perhaps a tad too fresh which caused some issues. Georgia sun and heat can be brutal. The bugs…mainly stink bugs and caterpillars are intense! So I was sure to do my research and plan properly for this year. Of course, James was on board and ever so helpful. I also made it a goal to start from seed in the winter so that I could have heirloom varieties. Thank you, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! Starting from seed is just that much more satisfying and I am finding out that, like my mother, gardening is a happy place for me.

Before spring hit, we – and I say WE lightly – doubled our bed from last year from 10×10 to 10×20 feet. Handy husbands are the best! We also bit the bullet and bought and had two square yards of compost delivered to amend in (not pictured) – We bought ours from Soil3 online. Being early in my pregnancy, amending soil was even more back-breaking work. Ugh! Worth it though.

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Jude loves being helpful! ^^^

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garden.progress

I like taking pictures to see the progress. We did lose some young plants from an unexpected freeze…mainly all but one tomatillo plant and a few tomatoes. Luckily, I had plenty tomato plants I started still in my milk jug greenhouses! I was able to replace most. Though then I learned about the need to adjust my young plants to the sun slowly after having lived in milk jugs. I made the mistake of planting them in full sun right away and a few suffered from sun-scorch. Nothing too drastic though! We bounced back. It is crazy to me how quickly everything grew in just a couple weeks! ^^^ . . . And now, pictured below, we are thriving and I can hardly stay on top of picking. I fill up a couple buckets a day with tomatoes, peppers, & squash. There is endless basil for my pestos. Jalapenos for pico de gallo & tomatillos for salsas. And sweet potatoes for later in fall. We had sugar snap peas growing up the trellis in the back, but come mid-june they were drying up.

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I do not mind having more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I live off of tomato sandwiches, caprese salads, and have cooked up batches of delicious pasta sauce. Not to mention, I enjoy gifting tomatoes to others that appreciate them as much as I do.

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peppers

^bell peppers^

We had one of those huge blue plastic barrels (I have no idea what from), so James cut it in half and drilled holes in the bottom so we could plant our sweet potatoes in containers. Being able to dump out our potatoes seems easier than digging them up like last year. Carrots are in the middle white tub.

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James also planted cantaloupe in some compost bags ^^^  – He was meaning to get lawn fabric and plant them behind the stables. That may or may not still happen.

Last year, we planted seven blueberrie bushes and a couple raspberries, so we enjoyed more fruit from them this summer as well!
raspberries

flowers

cone flowers

. . .And some random pictures I have of some of my flowers and nooks. Perhaps I am a nerd because I like to document my plants?

Some relevant iphone shots from the last couple of months:

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Jude always in the middle of building and helping

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These green zebra and solar flair heirlooms are my favorite!

xoxo

Whit

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