Vacation Planting

By Roger Erpelding
Contributing Writer

I took the week of May 7-11 off for vacation. The weather was beautiful, and I spent a considerable time in the garden. We had 1.2 inches of rain on May 6, which was of great benefit.

I had purchased seven large tomato plants on April 28. I potted the cherry tomato earlier. On May 5, I planted the six large plants. Since they are along the west edge of the eastern leg of the garden, I had two corners to help me begin the row. My trusty Braille yardstick was again at its job, along with a large trowel. Beth read the labels, I planted them in a row, north to south, as I desired. I had them in a large pan of water on the patio, which meant they were very wet. I like to set my plants in wet, as it will become dry in the garden soon enough, and any water boost I can give them will be helpful. The plants were easy to set in their holes, and soil replacement was also easy. I did not use a row of string for this purpose. After planting, I went near the patio, found 6 tomato cages, and set them up on that same day. I placed the tomatoes 2 feet from the west edge, and placed them 2 feet apart.

Eggplant and ground cherries were planted just east of the tomatoes–two feet to be exact. I used an old row of string that was still intact to achieve this task. Again, the Braille yardstick measured the distance of one foot between plants. This time I started at the south end, working north. I had a little space on the north end of this row, where I placed cucumber and summer squash seeds. They are too close together and too thick, but we’ll see what germinates, and I’ll thin as need be.

I noticed that there was plenty of room further west, on the eastern edge of the old perennial bed. It was off to a garden center on May 7, to purchase acorn squash and pumpkin plants. Four additional sweet banana peppers were also purchased to go into pots. They were planted on the 7th, even though the soil was a little wet. I knelt in the well-mulched perennial bed to prevent compaction.

May 5 was also the day for a box of perennials to arrive from a mail order catalog. They were immediately placed in the water bath as well, and planted on the 7th in the afternoon. Since they were placed in the apple tree and pine tree gardens, for the most part, I knelt in the grass to dig their holes. I did not use a yardstick, string or sticks for this purpose. Their placement was random, wherever there was room. Three of the plants went into the old perennial bed to replace plants that had not survived earlier plantings in previous years.

Tuesday, the 8th, was the day to go to 3 out-of-town garden centers. Two of them were new to Beth and me. One had a few sweet woodruff plants left, which I purchased, and planted under the magnolia tree that afternoon. Another had some nice Shasta daisy plants, and some good-looking raspberry plants which went into the car as well. The third had some new items, which I will discuss in a subsequent blog. After time in the water bath, the daisies went into the apple tree garden. The raspberries were not planted until Thursday, along the south garden fence. Again, I placed them where there was the most room for them.

Late on the morning of May 9, I set forth to plant green beans–one of Beth and my favorites. These were planted west and south of the tomatoes, on the south side of the garden, south of Beth’s bench and footstool. I started on the south end, and worked north. I used the tomatoes for my eastern border, and in large part, the apricot tree determined the western border. I began 14 inches from the south fence, placed my sticks and strings in place, dug a furrow with my hoe without a handle, and went to work. The north row had the fence behind Beth’s bench as its northern border.

As I write this, it has not rained for twelve days. Many of our plantings this spring are in the hurt bag. We have never seen it dry out so fast! We thought there was plenty of subsoil moisture, but we may have been wrong. Timing may be a part of this as well, as our long-established plants don’t seem to be suffering yet. Our water bill will definitely be higher next month. All forecasts indicate that rain is not likely for at least the next two weeks.


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