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Planting Tomatoes in Mustard

June 1st, 2016

Last week we traveled to Ohio to visit family and friends. That meant that two weeks ago I was madly planting all my trays of seedlings and hoping we’d get rain while we were gone. Even though our last frost date wasn’t past, I had to plant my tomatoes and peppers. The area I’m using for them this year is a second season bed. Pigs worked up the soil two summers ago and last summer I planted it in a variety of cover crops. This spring I seeded it with mustard to fumigate the soil in preparation for nightshade crops.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 3
The mustard was only a few inches tall when I planted my tomatoes and peppers, so I just pulled up a small circle and planted the tomatoes directly into the cover crop.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 2
When I arrived home, the mustard had grown and was starting to flower, most of it was about a foot tall. The tomatoes and peppers were still growing slowly inside their sheltered growing areas. The mustard would have given them a small amount of protection from a late frost if we had had one.
mustard cover crop around tomatoes 1
Yesterday I pulled the mustard and simply laid it around the tomatoes and peppers as a mulch. When it dries I’ll cover it with a layer of compost which will protect the soil, feed the crops throughout the summer, and maintain moisture throughout the heat of summer. The mustard is said to help fumigate the soil of pathogens, particularly those that affect nightshade crops. I also seeded it in the area that I will be planting my potatoes. I’ve been doing this for years and it seems to be working well for me. Mustard it probably my favorite cover crop, I use it all the time.

What’s your favorite cover crop?

Using up Seeds

May 30th, 2016

I start onions from seed each year, mostly because I can find varieties that I can’t get in sets/plants and because they store longer than onions grown from sets. I like to grow 4-5 different varieties, which means I always have loads of extra onion seed.
seeding onions 4
Since it doesn’t store from year to year, I plant all the seeds thickly in rows and either harvest them as small set onions for quick growth the following spring, or as scallions during the summer/fall.
seeding onions 1
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The direct seeded onions have germinated and are growing nicely, though the ones I seeded indoors back in March are much larger.
seeding onions 3
This year I may try transplanting a few of the direct seeded onions to see how they size up and store. It would be nice to direct seed onions and save a bit of time, but I might have to experiment with different varieties. Either way, I enjoy scallions, pearl onions, and onion sets and I don’t have seed going bad.

Do you grow onions from seed, sets, or plants?

Friday Favorite: Spring

May 27th, 2016

Things are growing and blooming here at Chiot’s Run. Spring is in full swing. The potager is starting to burst forth with greenery, lettuce, spinach, violets, and so much more. The lilacs are blooming along with many other beautiful things. Here’s a glimpse of what’s going on just around the house.
garden update 1
garden update 2
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The birds are singing and flitting about, the bees are buzzing and pollinating flowers, I’m busy planting and watering as well. It’s a beautiful time in the garden and I’m trying to enjoy every second I can.

What do you love most about spring?

Creeping Thyme

May 26th, 2016

I have a few large rocks that create a patio of sorts by the front door. The area between the rocks was pretty much grown up in weeds, since the rocks aren’t level, it was extremely difficult to manage the growth of the weeds growing there. Last year I dug out a portion and planted creeping thyme, wooly thyme, and scotch moss. It thrived and expanded to take over a fairly decent portion of one of the cracks.
dwarf creeping thyme 2
dwarf creeping thyme 1
Now that I know it will thrive in that location, I will propagate a few more and fill in the rest of the cracks between the rocks. I like the creeping thyme a lot because it’s so short, growth densely enough to smother most weeds, and it blooms beautifully attracting tiny pollinators. I’m looking forward to have the weeds gone and something beautiful and useful in its place.

What plant are you particularly loving this week? 

Broody Dex

May 25th, 2016

On Sunday I went into the kitchen and there was Dexter camped out on over a dozen eggs. No doubt he had gone broody, hoping to hatch himself out a batch of snacks.
broody cat 1
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He jumped on the raise your own bandwagon before he realized how much work it takes to raise a clutch of chicks. This is not the first time Dexter has decided that a carton full of eggs would be the perfect place for a nap, I can’t make this stuff up.

Any animals doing crazy things at your place?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.