Sunday, April 20, 2014

Raising Tomatoes, Part 4: Folklore: Planting Before Good Friday & Rain on Easter

This year, I set a goal of learning how to raise tomatoes successfully. I am part way there, as I raised about a hundred plants from seed. I was surprised at how few died off in the seedling stage: hardly any did. So when I got antsy, and planted after we saw the old mesquite trees leafed out (they are always the last to show up, when it is good and warm), naturally we had a frost before Good Friday (the other rule is don't plant before Good Friday because we often have frosts right up to Easter, no matter how late in April Easter falls).

I covered each of them with glass mason jars or 5 gallon buckets, but they still all froze to death. Fortunately, I still had about 25 left of those I "raised from scratch", and was able to buy some interesting varieties to fill them out. I would have planted today, but IT IS RAINING!!!!! Isn't God good? There is another bit of lore, that if it rains on Easter, it will rain for the next seven Sundays. The last time this happened, I tracked it, and it rained within 36 hours of Sunday on 6 out of the following seven weeks.

Our friend Herb came this week and blessed us by installing a drip system in my garden. This is made with drip tape, so has an outlet built in each 16 inches. He suggested I plant tomatoes 32 inches apart, and put something tall, like corn or okra, between them.  Herb did this out of simple Christian love, recognizing a need without prompting. And then he prayed over Paul while he was here.  If you have wondered, this is what Christianity in action looks like.  We have received so much during Paul's illness and recovery, there have been uncountable blessings from others who follow Jesus Christ.  God has surely given us goodness and mercy.

Back to tomatoes. I was upset for a couple of hours after I discovered the plants I worked so long to raise had died. But I felt better after I realized I can still test a fairly broad array of varieties to see which are best for me, here in the drought-intensified Texas heat. The tomato varieties I have ended up with are:
Better Boy
Black from Tula
Black Cherry
Pink Tye Dye
Old German
Mountain Spring
Black Krim

There might be a couple of others but it is hard to read my writing on the little cups after they have been wet so long. I used waxed Dixie cups to pot them in and wrote on them with black sharpie. It was very clear originally but over time has faded. Next year I guess I will use popsicle sticks.

Some of these tomatoes are bush types, and others are what they call "indeterminate" which means they grow long and tall. I will let them sprawl, since there are too many to try to cage or support.  Plus, since I have the drips on them now, there is less chance of them going to sleep wet (wet leaves are bad for tomatoes - I killed all mine one year by watering them with the sprinkler. They got fungal diseases and turned up their toes.).

Wish me luck - tomorrow they go into the ground! :-)

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