Thursday, June 28, 2012

of tomatoes and orchids

While Jerome was here over our anniversary weekend, a major goal was to build tomato cages for our 10 varieties of tomatoes and to mulch the ground beneath them with newspapers and a deep bedding of grass clippings to conserve moisture and reduce the weeds. Given how dry it has been and how slowly the grass has been growing, between the two of us we walked behind the push mower with the bagger attached and cut ALL of the lawns here on foot. It took us hours to finish, but we had nearly all the grass we needed.
We began with old cattle fencing we had found with much other extraneous "stuff" in the potting shed. We devised a plan for cutting it and shaping round baskets that would stand up on their own. There was enough fencing there to build 7 of the 21 we'd need.

We estimated we'd need another 100 feet of fencing to finish the job. Alas, the rolls are only sold in 330 feet lengths, 20 rods. Should we buy so much more than we needed? We decided we could use it for other projects later and brought home this new and extremely heavy roll. We couldn't carry it to our work site, so Jerome and I rolled it there! In the shade of the apple tree in the early morning, we began.

Here I am standing on the free end to keep it from rolling back on itself and to keep the surplus fencing from unwinding. We pictured it springing open and expanding into a monster we wouldn't be able to confine. Note the bungie cord holding the fencing together in the above photo.

In the end, the roll stayed tightly wound and it proved to be relatively easy to cut, bend, shape, and install. We got them all finished and in place that morning.
You can't really see much difference between the old and the new. And from a distance they are hardly visible in the vegetable bed.
I can walk around them, reach into them, and for now at least, keep the plants under control. They are growing practically before my eyes in this heat and I've already snapped off all the side shoots 3 times so the plants can put their energies into making tomatoes and not just monster plants.
For weeks now my concentration has been focused on the outdoors, remembering to water the houseplants on the porches and indoors, but giving them little else. You would think I had enough plants to take care of, but really, can you have too many plants???
To lift my spirits after Jerome left I bought myself a pretty orchid at Walmart of all places, for just $10. It is extraordinarily full of blooms, as you can see.

Bringing it home prompted me to pay a little attention to the orchids I already had here.  While I was ignoring them, they had been busy preparing little surprises for me.  My Sherrie Baby produced a 3rd flower spike and the first spike had begun to open. Delicious fragrances now move in the air currents in the dining room. She's an old plant that I divided last year and gave away all but the smallest piece. And not just one spike, but 3. Amazing. It's too late tonight to get a good photo, but here she is last year before division.

A moth orchid I've had for several years produced a flower spike I hadn't really been watching as it grew, and it is not open.
Another moth orchid, a small flowering type, is just about to finish after several weeks of flowering.  When I bought it the care instructions said to put 2 ice cubes on the soil once a week. It was meant to be displayed in a cubicle in the work place and wouldn't need more attention than ice cubes to grow! Imagine that!  I see today that it has two new side shoots developing on the old flower spikes!

You can see one with a few small buds already forming and the other a tiny shoot forming now just below where the stalk is attached to the support. Sometimes after they bloom, if you cut the flower stems in just the right spot, it may send out another shoot. This little one did.
My collection of orchids is growing as has my love for them. I now have 7 total, 4 varieties. And if you were avoiding them because you thought they're difficult to grow, I hope my tale has proven they are not.
So, tomatoes and orchids. Food for the body and the soul. Life is good.


  1. A lovely post Sharon. All your hard work is paying off. I love to see how the farm is taking shape. You and Jerome make a great team. Thank you for your comments Sharon. Your words really do help to lift my spirits. The orchids are truly beautiful. I may have to treat myself to one too!

  2. What great team work on your tomato cages! Brought back memories of my dad's vegetable garden which he loved working on. And your orchids! So beautiful. I have never had success with orchids but may try again after seeing what you've accomplished, Sharon. You certainly have a green thumb!