Containers · Earthbox · Edibles · Garden · Kids

Goodbye Spinach Hello Tomatoes!

I actually started writing this post almost a month ago. As I was about to put the finishing touches on it, my hard drive died. It turns out that it’s a bit of a pain to publish a post from my iPad. Luckily, I found some great computer techs within our homeschool group who worked their magic and fixed my computer. I meant to post this at the beginning of May so the timing is a bit off but I figured I’d post it anyway.

The beginning of May marks a new season in the garden for us.  I had been harvesting spinach like crazy trying to keep up with the plants that were trying so hard to go to seed.  We had a couple of hot days at the beginning of the month which finally did them in. We had a total of seven plants this season which was perfect for our family.  We ended up using all of the spinach in green smoothies.  If I made them as often as I should then I could have easily doubled the number of plants.  For the next cool season, I’ll aim for at least 15 spinach plants.  There are a few varieties of spinach and spinach like plants that are supposed to do well during the summer heat even for us in the Mojave Desert.  I meant to start the seeds early enough to have young plants by now but time got away from me.  I’m still going to give it a try and see how it goes. It feels like February magically turned into May.  Our spring weather is coming to an end.  Where oh where did March and April go?

Spinach in Earthbox
Spinach in Earthbox

Most of my lettuce was done in early April but I had three plants that I just finished harvesting.  It’s a little sad to go back to store bought lettuce.  Growing your own lettuce is a great way to understand just how old the store bought produce really is. Even from the best grocery stores in our area, lettuce is often bad within a week. I’ve had homegrown lettuce last three or even four weeks. It usually gets eaten much quicker but sometimes a stray container gets lost in the fridge.

The Swiss chard just keeps going and going.  We’re not fans of cooked greens so we’ve been using it in green smoothies. Four plants provided just enough for our family. I’ve heard it can last during our summers but I’ve never tried it.  Perhaps this is the year to find out.  They are planted a bit close to my tomatoes so I’ll see if they end up being too crowded.  I may have to sacrifice them to free up some room for the tomatoes.  I’ll be starting some new Swiss chard seeds soon to plant in another area of the garden.

We are also picking the last of our carrots.  They have been the biggest hit for the girls. We planted rainbow carrots this year and they really got a kick out of pulling up the different colored carrots.  Purple was their favorite but white was the most plentiful.  Next time I’m going to buy them in individual seed packs instead of the mix so that we can plant more of our favorite colors.

They were really excited about Watermelon radishes but they were way too spicy for them.  Actually, I think even the mildest radish would be too much for them.  Radishes are usually a great choice for kids because they are fast maturing but our girls just don’t like them.

Tomato, Gold Berries, photo from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Tomato, Gold Berries, photo from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Four of my tomato plants are in a raised bed and they had a bit of a rough start.  I’m trying a few new things this year so I’m not exactly sure what has been helping or hurting.  Gold Berries and Dr. Wyche are just now starting to show some decent growth on top but I planted them in the middle of March.  Gold Berries gave us a few tomatoes and then pretty much stopped growing for a bit.  I’m hoping that they will start producing soon before the weather gets too hot.  Gold Berries are cute little cherry tomatoes that are indigo and yellow.   The entertainment value is quite high for this tomato!  We really got a kick out of the few we’ve harvested so far.

Super Sweet 100 tomatoes
Super Sweet 100 tomatoes

Stupice and Yellow Pear are in large pots and doing quite well.  This is my first year growing Stupice and so far it’s my favorite tomato of this season.  We started harvesting it toward the end of April.  It’s a great size for salads and snacks. By the way, Stupice is from the Czech Republic and is pronounced Stoo-PEECH-ka.  We started harvesting Yellow Pear about a week ago.  We grew it when we lived in California and the girls really enjoyed them.  I’m excited to have it in the garden again.  There is just nothing you can buy that tastes as good as a home grown tomato!

Straight 8 Cucumber
Straight 8 Cucumber

We’re also growing watermelon, cantaloupe, bell peppers, green beans and cucumbers.  I actually have three Earthboxes of cucumbers.  Each planter can hold four plants.  So, I’m hoping for a great cucumber harvest.  We love to snack on them and I’m hoping to make pickles again this year.  I’m growing Straight 8, Homemade Pickles and Picklebush.   I should be able to start harvesting the Straight 8s next week.

Bell Peppers
Bell Peppers

I was so excited to find organically grown bell pepper transplants at a few local nurseries this year.  Peppers, tomatoes and eggplants do best under grow lights when starting them from seed and I’m just not set up for that right now.  I bought five of the organic transplants but I lost three to some crazy windy days shortly after planting them. We had 50 mph gusts on one of those days! The garlic also took a beating.   I guess I should be happy that I didn’t lose more.  The two remaining pepper plants have cute babies on them now.  I bought three more plants but sadly I couldn’t find another purple bell to replace the one I’d lost.

Canteloupe
Cantaloupe

I was asking the girls what they wanted to plant in their bed for the warm season and I was never able to get an answer out of them. They’ve picked out a few random flowers on our nursery trips that have found a home in their bed but they couldn’t decide on anything else. So, I planted cantaloupe and watermelon in there. I think those will be good kid pleasers when the melons start to grow.

So, that’s a quick rundown of how our warm season is shaping up. My goal of planning and documenting was thrown out the window pretty quickly but it’s all coming together anyway. Most of what I wanted to plant is in the ground. Now, it’s just a matter of filling in any extra spaces in the beds and maybe some extra pots as I find them lying around.

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