Ahead of Schedule

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Lyngo Soil Delivery    Lyngo Soil Delivery

I can’t believe it, but all the soil is in the beds for the Dirt to Dinner project. When the semi originally dumped one cubic foot of Diestel compost and six cubic feet of Essential Soil mix onto the driveway, my husband had to have been thinking to himself, “Two weeks–minimum.” But it’s all in place and looks delicious. It’s like someone covered all the bare and ugly spots and all the new planting beds with dark chocolate frosting.

Lining Willow Raised Bed "Hurdles"

Lining Willow Raised Bed "Hurdles"

The new willow raised bed is sitting on top of the ground the kids removed the sod from this weekend. It’s fully constructed, filled with soil, topped with compost and ready for them to plant in. The kids did a great job preparing the spot where the bed sits. Then we straightened the willow “hurdles” and tapped them into the ground with a mallet. After the bed was shaped and squared, copper wires are attached around all the corners to further support the “L” shape the kids decided to build in. After that, the inside of the frame was lined with black plastic and the soil was added.

We have also been thinking about adding a vertical growing element and may install trellising along two sides of the bed before we are done. It would give the project a lot more growing space and be a good exercise in growth habits and the flexibility–or inflexibility–of spacing guidelines.

Willow Raised Bed Almost Done

Willow Raised Bed Almost Done

Here’s the nearly finished willow raised bed, ordered as two 4′ x 12′ beds, then arranged in an “L” shape to add an additional 16 square feet of planting space that will be used by our instructor, Mackenzie, for her demonstration gardening space. Total growing area is 112 square feet, or 9.3 square feet per participating child, if anybody is counting. ;-)

We are built out two weeks before our earliest estimate and the weather feels ready to go too. We are also ahead of schedule in some of our growing and planting. The 85-year-old neighbor, who was raised on a farm in Iowa, assures me that it is safe to put out my tomatoes now, so I have gotten severl different varieites and am excited to see the German “Orange Strawberry” tomato plant my mother-in-law is sending over this weekend. I’m going to need a protected spot for that one.

P. Borghese in Flower

P. Borghese in Flower

I think I’m happy to report that we have our first tomato flowering. Though it might have actually been a stress response to being too crowded by the other tomato plants where it was pottted. Anyway, it’s in a good spot now growing with some Bok Choy on one side and Spinach on the other. I’m trying to find space for a dozen of the P. Borghese tomatoes to have lots of them for drying since the whole family *loves* sun-dried tomatoes. Of course, I have no idea how many tomatoes each plant will give, when they will give them, or how many we actually need for drying enough for the rest of the year. This is a year for learning what *not* to do next year!

Here’s the sum total of what I know about my dozen or more tomato plants right from the Victory Seed web site:

75 days, determinate — Italian heirloom variety very popular in Italy and California for splitting in half and sun drying. They maintain color and flavor well. The plants produce heavy yields of small, red plum-shaped fruits. The plants will benefit from support such as caging.

We plan to track how many pounds of tomatoes given by each plant, the height of the plants, the size of the cage needed for the plants, the amount of square feet required to grow the plants and anything else we might need to know to grow them well again next year if we like them.

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