City Girl Gone Gardening: Dare to be positive?

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By Jackie Hollenkamp Bentley

An optimist is the human personification of spring.Susan J. Bissonette

Dang it, I want to be Spring!  After my earlier, cynical post on putting in this year’s home garden in Louisville, the rains seemed to have subsided and stuff is actually coming up! My tomatoes actually look healthy. I even went ahead and put cages over the little fellas so staking them later wouldn’t be such a pain.

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It’s enough to give me hope that this was may be a better year than last year.

Everything has popped up, even grown enough that I “thinned” out the cucumbers and squashes. That was something I just hate to do – throwing out life/growth and all that.  But this year, I sucked it up and started pulling.  Now, the plants that survived the cut have room to spread and grow.

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So it’s on to The Farm. Because of the rains, my nephew and I couldn’t even step foot on the 35×35 foot plot on my parents Indiana acreage until Memorial Day weekend. Talk about cramming everything into a short amount of time.

While my first born enjoys his inner pyro burning weeds into ashes, my husband plows the ashes into the ground. Not only does it make the ground easier to plant, the ashes add a bit of nutrients back into the ground.

While my first born enjoys his inner pyro burning weeds into ashes, my husband plows the ashes into the ground. Not only does it make the ground easier to plant, the ashes add a bit of nutrients back into the ground.

After burning and tilling, we were ready to plant my tomato plants that I started from seed. At this point, my nephew and I had not spent a dime on the garden. I am so glad I stuck with my seed bed method back in March. (See my May 23rd post.)

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 One thing we learned from last year is to mark our plants better. We made it even easier on ourselves by relegating the Roma plants (Roma tomatoes are great for canning) to their own rows and the heirloom Box Car Willie (that name still tickles me) plants in their own row so we know we can save those seeds for next year. Now that I figured out the best way for me to start seeds, I’m willing to tackle that aspect of gardening again this year. 

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Another thing we’re trying at The Farm that we didn’t do last year was spread Epsom salt. Let’s hope what they say about the magnesium in it will help the plants grow.

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Little over a week later, our tomatoes have survived and, somewhat surprisingly, look rather healthy. So I didn’t mind hoeing the tomato plants. 

Per my mom's always correct advice, hoeing around the plant and mounding it up helps strengthen its root structure and gives it a bit more air for the roots to spread and readily absorb the water.

Per my mom’s always correct advice, hoeing around the plant and mounding it up helps strengthen its root structure and gives it a bit more air for the roots to spread and readily absorb the water.

Another round of Epsom salt, a 30 minute watering from the drip hoses and that should be it for a bit. 

The nice part about being an pessimist is that your are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised. —  George F. Will

So, at this point in time, as I write this, I’m pleasantly surprised. I want to keep being surprised for the rest of the growing season, dang it.

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