42E149C5 9117 4037 B52B BFEDA15AFBC2 Bear Claw blooms

Bear Claw blooms

The tomato plants I ordered from Laurel’s Heirloom Plants in California came in on Saturday! She had them packaged really well, but wow — they sure looked gnarly when they first came out of the packaging:

4 Bear Claw in back, 1 Anna Russian in front

They looked weak to me, and the potting mix was totally dry, so I decided to wait a few days before planting them out to see how they’d fluff out:

Sunday afternoon I moved them to the sun for the first time
By Monday they were looking much better
And today (Thursday) you’d be hard-pressed to know these were squashed up in a three inch cardboard tube just 5 days ago

The craziest thing about these plants is the flowers. Look at this monster bloom on the Bear Claw:

This may actually be a double mega bloom (two fused flowers)

I fertilized with a little bit of Neptune’s Harvest as a foliar spray on Monday, and my plants are looking amazing:

Happy plants, fertilized and treated with Daconil for protection

They are definitely ready for planting, but it’s going to be down in the thirties this weekend due to a freakish, late polar vortex that’s coming. Some places north of here will even get snow! Luckily we will not get a hard freeze, but I’ll just wait one more week to plant out so that I don’t have to cover. It also means that my bales will be ready for planting, too.

Bale Update

The straw bales look super good — much better than the hay bales I did last year, actually. There is definitely “dirt” inside them, and there are mushrooms growing all over, which means it’s working properly:

Sydney fertilized the bales again for me yesterday, and I will probably fertilize them heavily again tomorrow for the last time before planting next week. I’m delighted these are working so well.

Garden check-in

The tomatillos haven’t done anything — I probably planted them to early:

Here there be tomatillos…. maybe

The peas look fantastic! This cold snap has made them so happy:

I am worried that the beans will not sprout because of the cold and the swampy conditions. I’m thinking I may have to try again. The scarlet runner beans are doing well, though on the garden side of the trellis the one plant died in the flooding:

And the ambrosia melon plants on that side also also died, while the others are doing okay:

The azalea bush is in full bloom finally — this rebloomer is always later than the one-time bloomers — and the irises keep coming. I even saw two little rose buds on my Fitzhugh rose. I haven’t looked at it in a while, and some weeds have grown up inside along with a LOT of new shoots that I was not expecting. I’m not sure what I’ll do about that….

The asparagus is amazing this year as usual. I have another 3lbs away this week, plus we’ve eaten it twice. I’m going to dial it back and only cut a few spears in a few days after I see what has grown up. I always try not to over harvest any one plant, so at the end of harvest I only cut spears when I can see it has a brother spear (or three) next to it that will grow up to keep the plant alive.


I decided this week to bite the bullet and make my own tomato cages. I tried to start it yesterday, but the wire is thicker than I remembered, and I really need bolt cutters to do this job. I’m not certain I can bend the wire by hand, either, so this will be a job I need to do with Jared’s help.

Concrete mesh is ugly, but it will make cages that last my lifetime

Posted by Jenny Smith

I'm Jenny Smith. I blog about life on the 300+ acres of rolling farmland in Northern Virginia where I live. I like tomatoes, all things Star Trek, watercolor, and reading. I spend most days in the garden fighting deer and groundhogs while trying to find my life's meaning. I'm trying to be like Jesus -- emphasis on the trying.