Saturday, April 10, 2010

Epic fail…

A few days ago as I was staggering out to Homer the Odyssey juggling backpacks, newspapers, travel mugs and the other sundries of another working day, I glanced at the rooftops around me and saw frost thickly blanketing them. There was a thin coating of ice on the windshield. The dashboard lit up and informed me that the outside temperature was 34 degrees.

And I thought to myself…rut-roh…

I also thought a few other things, but let’s keep the ‘G’ rating, shall we?

Usually, our temperatures right now would be in the mid to high 70s during the day, with overnight lows in the mid-50s. We might occasionally get into the 40s, but the 30s?

Not after February.

But right after I transplanted those poor little plants, winter decided to do a curtain call. It got cold, it got rainy, and even worse, it got windy - the kind of wind that blows down fences and trees, and even the occasional RV.

I watched the weather reports anxiously…but they never said anything about temperatures getting down into the thirties. Forties, yes. Thirties, no. So I crossed my fingers and resigned myself to losing a few more transplants than I’d hoped…

Needless to say, when I went out this morning to look at the tomato field it was a scene of horrifying devastation. Oooooh, the tomato-ity…

There are a few ragged survivors, grimly clinging to the last vestiges of life…but they are a strange shade of yellow and I don’t have high hopes for them. Especially not with yet another cold and windy blast about to descend on us tonight.

Oh, fie.

Welllllllllllllllllll…guess I’ll have to come up with a Plan B for the back forty(yards) for this first planting cycle. It’s a little late to start all over with the tomatoes, especially since I’m out of the seed. Maybe break it back up into the smaller beds for now and get a mix of spinach, broccoli and other cooler-weather things going. I dunno. I’ll have to ponder it for a bit.

I tell you what, though, this actually makes me really glad we’re doing this the labor-intensive way: My financial loss isn’t all that bad. The husband said, “Maybe we could go to the nursery and buy some of those six-packs of tomatoes?”

They’re $3.29 apiece, and if we wanted to replace all of our lost transplants, we’d be looking at a good $90 bucks by the time we’d paid taxes (pause to consider the irony there: if you buy tomatoes at the supermarket, you don’t pay sales tax…but buy the plants or their seeds, and you do).

The seeds cost me about $3. The peat cups I used to start them were $4.

So, I’m out seven bucks for this epic fail.

I’ve had worse. (Far, far worse.)

The white potatoes were kind enough to send up a couple sprouts to say “there, there” this week. The peas have been extra generous and we’re all dreading the shelling tonight. I’ve got another half dozen red onions and a couple random green onions that popped up.

The beets are happy, and the two remaining broccoli plants are in full bud and about ready to harvest in.

Could be worse.

Could be better, too...but could be much, much worse.


ccr in MA said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the tomatopocalypse. And I wish I could take the pea-shelling off your hands!

17th stitch said...

I was sorry to read about your tomato freeze!

When I was growing up my parents had a half-acre organic garden in what used to be the backyard. I remember my mother always planting the seedlings in three or four shifts to try to dodge the fate you just encountered.

Science PhD Mom said...

Tip for your seedlings: cover them with Reemay at night until you are absolutely, positively sure you are past your last frost date (and maybe even a week past that just in case). It's a little investment up front but it really pays off. Or, cheaper way to do it is to go to the trouble of putting up your cages or trellises or whatever you will use to stake them, and then use clothespins to attach 4' wide sections of 4 mil clear plastic. I do this with my tomato starts to provide a very kludgy greenhouse, with 3 sections of 4' wide clear plastic. I clip it to the tops & bottoms of my tomato cages, and leave the top section hanging longer on one side than the other, so I can roll it up and clip it open with clothespins to vent on warm days. It keeps them warm and protects them from freezes, giving them a head start. Or, if you are not inclined to go to that much trouble, save a bunch of milk jugs w/their caps. Rinse them very clean, fill with water, and leave out around your tomato plants. The water will absorb the heat of the sun during the day and slowly give it off at night. It can be enough to mitigate the effects of a late frost. Hope that helps!