Regina’s Garden Update: May

published May 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

Well, hello there! It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve updated you on my garden. One big recent change is the addition of trellises and stakes, which I’m sharing with you today.

We recently trimmed trees in the yard, which left us with lots of firewood, but also spindly, twiggy pieces. We took the longest of those and constructed pea trellises for the two squares of thriving snow pea plants (see pic up top). The result is a rustic tipi-style trellis that stands about 24″ tall. The variety of snow peas I planted are a bushing type, so I don’t expect to need more height than this. If it turns out that we do, we’ll add on height by building atop these really stable, three-sided trellises.

I love that this trellis type cost us nothing. We had the limbs, of course, and we also had the twine and cotton kitchen string i used for stringing between the verticals to provide a climbing surface for the plant. If your trellis construction doesn’t happen to coincide with tree trimming (or if you are working on an urban plot without a yard of your own), I would suggest contacting some local tree-trimming services to pick up branches from them. Much of this smaller stuff gets mulched up on-site when trees are trimmed, and it wouldn’t be missed (especially if you offered to come and pick up your own pieces as the work was being done).

(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

As for the tomatoes, we decided to stake and prune them as is commonly recommended for small-space gardens (and the square foot gardening method in particular). The strongest, cheapest tall stakes we could come up with were bamboo poles, which stand about 7′ tall once hammered as deep into the ground as we could drive them. We drove a “pilot hole” first using a 2×2 wooden stake. Then we pulled out the stake, inserted the bamboo, and back-filled soil around it. As the tomato plants grow, we will tie their main stem to the stakes using — most likely — panty hose. Panty hose provide support to the plant without rubbing harshly and damaging the vine the way twine or other rigid string would.

An important note about staking tomatoes: be sure to drive the stakes before planting the tomato plants. This way, you don’t disturb the roots of the plant when hammering the stakes into the ground. You want the plant to be relatively close to the stake so it can grow right up its length, tied back every foot or so.

I also saved eggshells, ground them up in an old coffee grinder, and put some of this calcium-rich powder into each planting hole when transferring the tomato plants. This is supposed to be a calcium-rich soil amendment for tomatoes, preventing blossom end rot (caused by calcium deficiency). It’s not 100% clear to me whether the calcium in the eggshells is immediately available to the plants or whether it takes time to break down, but I read to grind it as finely as possible to make the calcium readily available and figure it can’t hurt!

(Image credit: Regina Yunghans)

I’ll be back in a month or so with a general update showing the (hopefully) progress on the growth of the plants!

How is your garden growing?