I Love Books Like 'Carrots Love Tomatoes'

The legendary gardening classic has maintained its' popularity for a reason.
Loooong weekend! This is it - it's time for all of the planning to come to fruition as we bust out of the house and into the soil with gusto. Planting mindfully is important, though, as tough as it can be.

This past winter, I spent a significant amount of time reading. And planning. And reading. And scheming. And reading and dreaming and sketching and reading and gettingsoveryantsy!!  In anticipation of my first 'big girl garden' with a new home and new lot in sight, I wanted to make good decisions that were well-informed, and plan my gardens with the best organic practices possible.  While my friends will argue this, the fact is that I am NOT an "expert" when it comes to gardening.  Frankly, I kinda loathe the term.  I know plants, and I love plants, but what drew me to horticulture as a career path in the first place is that it's built for lifelong learning.  I've been gardening for almost 15 years, working in the industry for 12, and I learn new things every single day.  I hope I'm never an expert.

Something I'm fairly new in discovering is the concept of companion planting.  This is certainly not because it's new... it's a practice that's been used by growers for at least a thousand years (according to wikipedia, anyway) that gained renewed popularity in the 70s as the organic movement began gaining serious momentum.  It's a concept formed by the principle that some plants are mutually beneficial, while others are incompatible.  

Sometimes the relationship works because of physical characteristics of the plants, like the Native Americans 'Three Sisters' - corn providing structure for beans to climb upon, the beans fix nitrogen into the soil for the heavy-feeding corn, and they're grown with squash at the base, which deters animals from eating the corn or knocking it over as well as shading the roots.  Sometimes one plant will help to deter common pests of another, as happens with marigolds, which tend to deter aphids and attract predatory insects.  Sometimes, plants will actually help to improve the flavour of others, as with mint and basil planted with tomatoes.  Incredible, no?  This information was, and is, fascinating to me, and quite honestly, a little intimidating.  Enter the legendary Louise Riotte!

'Carrots Love Tomatoes' became instrumental in the planning of my veggie beds for this season, as well as all of the surrounding areas.  I read the book from front to back, and then kept it at hand throughout the winter and spring as my vision of my gardens began to become clearer.  Once I decided to start modestly and work with a four-small-bed system this season, sketching became easier.  I worked through the spaces, mindful of companion plants and 'uh oh' combinations, and ended up with a pretty little schematic.  Will I stick to it religiously? Not a chance!  But it's a PLAN, and something to go by.

Little beds with BIG plans.
By using smaller beds this summer, I'll plant my gardens more intensively, paying close attention to the soil.  This is always paramount in organic gardening... the soil is everything and by starting with smaller spaces in my first season at this house, I'm ensuring that the soil quality will meet my needs.  It will also make it much easier to plan next year's gardens with crop rotation in mind.

It's really hard to reign in big dreams.  If I had an unlimited budget, and no full-time job, there would be no lawn left and a bounty beyond anything I could imagine.  But hey... there's nothing wrong with humble beginnings, you've just got to give it a go, have some patience and let things happen.  Happy planting this weekend, friends!  

And the offer still stands - if you'd like to head out to Linda's Tomato Days sale at Tree & Twig this Sunday, you can ride with me! 

Tomato Days are Coming!

I'm so excited for Tomato Days at Tree & Twig!  I'll be heading out to see Linda on Sunday, May 22nd - anyone who would like to come along with me is welcome to join in the fun. 


The first blossoms open in my backyard.

So much has been happening at Mo Farm - there's hardly time to post about it!  A quick update...

Peas are emerging.

So are beets, both Golden Detroit & Chioggia.
Hopeful little Golden Detroit beets.
Mammoth Melting Sugar peas begin to emerge. I can taste them already!

The fruit trees are blooming wildly - it's like a circus and I'm in love!

Blossoms & blue sky.
I expanded the existing perennial border on the left side of the yard and added 2 yards of black loam (with the help of my small and mighty sis!)  It will now become the 'fruit forest' where I've planted rhubarb and a blueberry already, and will soon add additional blueberry varieties, strawberries, plum and apricot trees, another cherry, and an assortment of perennial faves.
My newly-acquired 'Pink Lemonade' blueberry.

The fruit trees buzz with life. It's awesome!

On the not-so-great side,  the broccoli and brussels sprouts are pretty lame.  They're doing fine, but haven't put on any growth at all since being planted... we'll see what happens!

Finally, the downer-of-the-month: my fence blew down.  Almost all of it.  It was a wild storm that impacted hundreds of homes in the area, and frankly, I suppose we're lucky.  Some folks close by had giant trees crash through their homes or onto their cars... that said, way too much time and money will need to be spent in the next week in order to repair the damage.  Ahhh, glorious homeownership...