Category Archives: Tomato

Over Mothering or Under Mothering???



Years ago a friend and I used to joke about how we were mothered.

Both raised in the 50’s and 60’s

We marveled at the different styles of mothering we experienced.

We dubbed her mother’s style as “over mothering”

And mine as “under mothering”

Looking back all these years later

I realize that we were both young & wrong.

Her mother had 4 children

It’s not humanly possible to “over mother” with 4 children.

My mother had 3 children, my grandfather living with us

And no running water!

Who am I to judge.

But the truth is we all wonder if we are doing this right.

We even have those moments when our children are grown.

Which brings me to this year’s tomato plants.

The last 2 summers have produced maybe a dozen tomatoes in the entire state.

Just not good tomato growing weather.

But this year is different

People are raving about their tomato crops

And rightly so.

My uncle George has such a bumper crop

George's Tomatoes

George’s Tomatoes

He’s even more popular at the retirement village he lives in.

And a healthy 88-year-old man was pretty popular to begin with!

Then there’s my house!

Let me give you a little history.

I was determined to have a good tomato year.

So I started my plants early – like January.

As they grew I kept potting them in bigger pots

So that I would have big healthy plants to put in the ground.

And I did.

I even located extra tall – 8″ tall – peat pots to achieve this goal.

Then when mid-March was acting like mid-April

And everyone else was digging their plants into the ground.

I chose to protect mine from what I was certain would be a late frost.

Never happened.

Which means I “over mothered” them at that stage.

I kept in that mode when I finally did plant them

Making sure that they had crushed egg shells

In the bottom of each appropriately deep hole

For all those deep roots.

I even used a new – to me – organic fertilizer as I planted.

Then I left them alone – “under mothering”

They grew and grew

And began to bloom – lots of blooms.

It’s getting really exciting at this point.

Then the blooms began to turn brown

And fall off.

Every single bloom

On every single plant

Except for one

What is going on?

June was a perfect tomato month

All I have to show for it

Is about a dozen tomatoes on one plant.

And 4 large happy tomato-less plants.

I’ve tried everything.

Jerry Baker’s tomato tonic of epsom salts and baby shampoo.

My friend Virginia’s solution of a Tums (calcium) allowed to melt into the roots.

So far I can’t see any change.

If anyone has other ideas.

Let me know.

So…are they suffering from “over mothering”

Or…”under mothering”

The truth is we all are probably guilty of both at some time.

It’s hard to know when to move forward

And when to pull back.

A minister once told me that

“All parenting is incomplete

We do the best we can

God will take care of the rest.”

Perhaps the same is true of growing tomatoes!


At least the Daisies are happy!

At least the Daisies are happy!


Filed under Garden Planning, Gardening, Motherhoos, Timing, Tomato, Uncategorized


It’s the time of the year when I begin my frost dance.

Or should I say “threat” of frost dance.

You know the routine.

The first few nights you just throw a sheet or towel over a few tender plants

Then you drag most of the ferns in to the warmth.

After a few more sunny days

It happens again.

Freeze warnings

You begin to take them seriously.

You start picking things.

Almost ripe tomatoes

Not quite mature peppers.

Then the freeze frenzy really sets in.

One cold windy morning you yank every green tomato off the vine.

Cut cockscomb to the ground.

 Whack away at armloads of roses and zinnias

Dig up baby basil plants for your winter supply.

Then lie in wait for mother nature to kill everything you’ve nurtured all year.

After several nights of freeze warnings

It finally happens.

The first hard freeze.

The killing freeze.

With the end of one season

Another begins.

So now it’s time to plant…….

Spring Flowering Bulbs!!!

Even though I won’t actually plant my bulbs till later in the month.

I thought I’d send along this primer.

Here’s what I know about planting bulbs.

As with all of gardening the health and size of the bulb will determine the quality of bloom.

So look for big bulbs that are firm.

Make sure there is no mold present

Soft moldy bulbs will only turn into compost not flowers.

Tulip bulbs should still have their brown “skin” attached.

We talked about bulbs a bit in August in two prior blogs.

Planning Time and Planting Hope

So lets cover how to plant all this stuff.

First – find a gardening friend

Make a pact to help each other plant bulbs.

This friend may be a spouse, a child, a sibling, a neighbor

Or if you’re lucky you have a Megan.

Megan has helped me plant bulbs for well…

I don’t remember how long.

We use the “lasagna” method. 

It saves labor

And makes for glorious blasts of color.

Which means you never….never….never

Plant in rows.

Instead if you want to line an edge

Dig a series of oval holes.

Good sized holes

Because you will put a minimum 7 daffodils and 11 tulips in each hole

Dig the hole 6 ” –  8″ deep.

Mix in a little Bone Meal

Place the daffodils pointy end up

(That is very important !)

Make sure they don’t touch – or they will rot!

Use odd numbers 7 – 9 – 11.

Cover with a few inches of soil

Add a bit more Bone Meal

Then place Tulips

Again pointy end up.

To get a good show use at least 11 tulips or more.

Then repeat soil and Bone Meal

Top off with Dutch Iris.

Then refill to ground level.

Actually a little higher since it will settle when you water it all in.

And do water it all in

The water will fill up the air pockets in the soil

This will keep it from freezing when it’s first planted.

If you’re really energetic or inspired you can cover it all with pansies.

Now….that’s a blast of spring!

We do a series of these “lasagna Holes” on each side of the path

Leading to my garden house.

This forms a full border that doesn’t look contrived.

You’ll notice that the biggest bulbs need to be buried the deepest.

So you plant from large to small bulbs with this method.

Lilies can be planted 3 – 5 to a hole

Or…you can dig a winding trench

Place the bulbs in a zig zag pattern along the trench.

I generally don’t plant anything else with them.

So…that’s pretty much how we do it here.

It’s a tried and true method you may want to try.

Or not.

After all gardening is personal.

We learn from each other.

We adapt to our own garden.

We create.

We wait.


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Filed under Basil, cockscomb, Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Ferns, Garden House, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Grape Hyacinths, Green Tomatoes, Oriental Lilies, Peppers, roses, Spring Flowering Bulbs, Tomato, tulips, Uncategorized, Zinnia


Recently I bought a new camera.

Just a simple point and shoot that hopefully will give better color to the pictures I share.

I’ve noticed something since I got it.

I see differently

more, actually.

Can’t wait for the sun to come up to go into my garden and take pictures.

Pictures of the same flowers and bugs that I’ve known for years.

Decades really.

Late summer visitor - Orb spider

But I’m seeing them differently through this new lens.

Veronica spicata, for instance.

Veronica Spicata

It’s not a terribly showy flower.

I’ve called it a “filler flower” for years.

Probably not politically correct to cast it in such a subservient role.

I’ve even threatened to dig it all up from time to time.

But…the truth is it’s a great flower

now that I see it through a new lens.

And cockscomb

Sure, I’ve marveled over the big “brainy” blooms

Now I’m fascinated by the clusters of feathery blossoms as they rustle in the breeze.

I’m suddenly drawn to the things that have been right in front of me.

Things I walk past each day

Yet don’t truly see.

Like this short but mighty Gloriosa Daisy that just begged me to take its picture.


It’s so important.

Critical really in much of life.

Perhaps seeing is the thing that ties the varied parts of my life together.

Because I garden

I observe.

My mind keeps going to another of my passions.


How to solve it.

It, like veronica spicata, is right in front of us.


We may not see it.

We likely don’t realize it’s even there.

But it is


Close at home

And far away

If we look – choose to see.

Recently we opened a food pantry at the high school.

It will provide food for kids who have none on weekends.

It has refrigeration so kids can have access to fresh food

A staple for so many of us.

A luxury for so many more.

Kelly is planning to plant another “field” of lettuce this fall.

Harvesting last spring's lettuce

I’ll have a row or two.

We’ve made arrangements to have volunteers come and cut and take it to the high school.

Lettuce bagged and ready to deliver

Seeing a need right in front of us.

Planting a way to meet that need.

Seeing the world connected.

Is it any wonder I love to garden!!!


P.S.  If you have extra fruit and vegetables you’d like to share, just let me know.

A potential fall tomato crop?


Filed under cockscomb, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Hunger, Lettuce, Orb Spider, Tomato, Veronica Spicata