Before reading this post, see below for the start to this mess, my previous post.
I don’t even know what to say. May 5th? REALLY?? OK, so I just spent the last hour using what’s left of my mental faculties to figure out how to protect my poor, poor tomatoes. After some speed-surfing on the web and some aimless wandering around the house, shed, and garage, I came up with a plan. The usually annoying side-effect of moving, getting married, and being excellent at online shopping is that we have a garage filled with packing materials. Over the past several months, we have taken truckload after truckload to recycling and the dump (depending on the materials), and we’re nearly done finally. Much to Brian’s dismay, I have wanted to keep some of it around in case we need it. Brian likes to throw everything away. I always think it might be useful later. He thinks that means I’m one step away from being on an episode of “Hoarders,” but that’s another story. I disagree wholeheartedly. Instead, it means that I am prepared in cases like this.
So, I gathered up various forms of bubble wrap and some packing tape, and I went out to the garden on a mission. Five minutes after I went out there, it started hailing. At that point, it was just funny. Seriously? HAIL? I could have been dodging lightning strikes and I still would have been out there, insulating my baby tomatoes. So, I laughed at Mother Nature and she pelted me with tiny balls of ice, and I went on with my task. I cleared away the mulch around each plant, wrapped, covered, and taped, and then I pushed the mulch back and added a ton more for added insulation.
I did my first six plants, in the 18-inch bed, and then I recovered it tightly with the Agribon, and moved on to the 12-inch box. Interesting what I found there when I pulled back the cover. First of all, apparently I’m farming weeds and mushrooms. Tomatoes are just an afterthought.
Anyway, I was both pleased and dismayed with the state of the tomatoes in this box. First of all, we have Sweet Carneros Pink:
STUPID PILLBUGS HAVE EATEN ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE STEM. #&ERFGVG#%^Q@#RW$^%$@^&@$%@#$WFSH! This must have happened today because the stem is still plump and green. A couple of days ago, I found a whole buttload of them trying to eat through the stem of another tomato. So, I tossed out some Sluggo Plus, which is organic and is supposed to kill slugs, pillbugs, cutworms, sowbugs, earwigs, and snails, around all of them. It worked on that plant… the bugs disappeared and the damage didn’t increase. The little blue pellets you see in the picture are the Sluggo… apparently they didn’t work on this plant. I kinda don’t think there’s any hope for this plant. More on this in a minute.
Anyway, despite the conditions of the plants, I wrapped, covered, taped and mulched. Then I recovered tightly with Agribon. Then I went in the house to find extra blanketing material to use to cover the Agribon with another layer. I came up with a tarp, an all-weather camping/picnic blanket, and two old towels. I draped them over the Agribon and my work was done.
But I knew it was insincere. As I sit here, it is hailing again – HARD. This picture of our sky tonight seems to sum up our weather of the past few days:
To the west, clear, sunny, mild, blue skies. Right above us, black storm clouds. As the wind blows these by, the weather goes back and forth between sunny, cheery, and clear to dismal, dark, and stormy. It’s almost more than a girl can take. My mood goes up and down with the weather like a yo-yo.
One little bright note in all this is that I have neglected to mention the best survival story from that frost nearly three weeks ago:
I planted out this little baby at the same time as my tomatoes. It seemed to be the softest, most delicate of the seedlings and I had zero hope for it after the frost. And because I didn’t want to depress myself, I didn’t look. I left it covered for a couple of weeks. When I finally did look, to my utter shock and delight, it looked as if nothing had ever happened. Not a single shriveled leaf, not an off-color spot. In fact, it had grown since I planted it out. So, afraid to jinx it (as I’m probably doing now as I write this), I put the cover quickly back and let it be without and disturbances. The next time I looked was tonight when I was insulating the tomatoes. And LOOK AT IT!! It’s BEAUTIFUL!! Healthy and lush and growing like a champ and it even has FLOWER BUDS!! O- M- G!!
It’s like a window into what might have been with my tomatoes, had that one frost not hit. Anyway, I’m not counting my chickens or anything like that, and so I wrapped this lady up and mulched her just like the others. I have no clue if she could take another frost, and I don’t want to find out.
The last bit of good-and-bad news I have for you is that the back up babies are looking great – all, of course, except the elusive Berkeley Tie-Dye. It was the last to come up in my first round of seedlings, but I don’t think this is coming up at all. All the other blocks had 2 seeds each and both came up and I’ve had to thin. Berkeley Tie-Dye did not come up at all. So, I reseeded the block a couple of days ago, and today, after finding the Swiss-cheese stem on the one outside, I decided to go for broke. I seeded several more blocks that had random other seeds that never came up and so I had them sitting around. I figure I can always get more strawbales to accommodate any extra tomato plants. Strawbales are the answer to everything!
I guess the only problem now is that they probably should be transplanted into bigger blocks within the next few days, but I don’t have the time or ability to mix up a batch of blocking mix and make the blocks… so they’ll have to hang in the small blocks until I get back from California. Hopefully that won’t hurt them. Oh woe is me!