Are You Willing to Take A Risk? Well, Only a Calculated Plant Risk

Happy Mother’s Day to my Mom Jen, my sister-in-law Jenny, my Nana Kimball, my Grandma Carter, and to my Mother-in-Law Mrs. Miller.  Also happy Mother’s Day to all you moms reading.

People who know me know I am not a risk taker. However, I decided to take a couple of plant risks this past week.  I having been paying close attention to the 10-Day Forecast on weather.com.  In the next 10 days there are only two nights of temperatures in the 40s. Also, in my micro farm plan I am using black plastic with the tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.   The black plastic should help create a micro climate and increase the temperature around the plants a degree or two.  Two degrees may not sound like a lot, but that can be the difference if a plant survives or not on a frosty night.  So I took the risk and planted tomatoes, tomatillos, and peppers.

However, there was a lot of preparation before the planting happened.  Step one, measure out rows.  Step two, place the soaker hose out on the rows and areas needing water.

This one section will be watered with one soaker hose. It will water the border of flowers and onions, as wells as the row vegetables.

Step three, was to place sheets of black plastic over the planting rows and the soaker hose. Why place the soaker hose under the plastic?  I am using soaker hose to help conserve water.

In this section I have covered the soaker hose with black plastic.

The plastic will help deter evaporation so the plants can have the water not the Sun.  I recently mulched the garlic with straw and after several days of no rain and dry conditions the soil is still damp.

Step four, measure out were each plant needs to go.  I planted the tomatoes and tomatillos about twelve inches apart.  The peppers were placed about eight inches apart.

One row of beefsteak tomatoes measured and placed. Almost ready to move into their new home.

Step five, put everything into the ground.  Some of my tomatillo seedlings have become leggy and I wanted to plant them deeper into the ground.  I found it was more challenging to dig a hole and cover the plants, the way I wanted, through the black plastic.

The tomatillo seedlings in the ground. Two green and two purple.

In the above picture you, hopefully, can see a green, metal fence post.  I am experimenting with the Florida Weave system this year.  The Florida Weave uses a stake every two plants.  Then at eighteen inches you wrap rope (baling twin strength) around the stake then “weave” between the plants one side then come back down the other side of the row.  After your plants grow another twelve inches, or so, you just run the rope down sides and wrapping around the stakes, no weave.  I am really tired of cages and other methods of staking so I hope this works well.

Three rows of peppers went into the ground, but I had to improvise for one seedling. I had one extra seedling and I decided to plant it so I changed the micro farm plan, but plans are made to be changed. Right?

These two rows of peppers stretched the micro farm plan.

In some of the pictures you will also see straw spread between the rows.  Soil compaction is a concern.  While I was transplanting I was stepping in the planned walking areas and the soil packed down very quickly and tightly.  At the end of the day I loosened the soil with a pitchfork and spread the straw.  Hopefully, the straw will lessen the impact of my foot traffic.

This picture shows the complete picture of what I hope to achieve. Plant covered with plastic, straw mulch on both sides, and watered with a soaker hose.

Earlier I created a new flower bed near the micro farm beds.  This weekend my wife and I planted it with three seed mixes hoping to attract butterflies, bees, hummingbird, and beneficial insects.  I look forward to seeing how this bed will be alive with color and insects this summer.

This new bed will become a place for lots of beneficial insects.

Not everything on the micro farm is newly in the soil.  The first batch of peas are doing well, and the second batch is coming along nicely as well.

The peas coming up and starting to climb the trellis

Although the strawberries appeared to be struggling earlier in the Spring they seem to have recovered.  They are not as strong as I would like there are still lots of flowers, enough that we will be able to enjoy a few fresh strawberries.

You can see the bare patch in the middle. The picture missed a bunch of flowers. The flowers decided to face the sun and not the camera.

Last week I posted a panoramic picture, and I could not resist posting one this week.

Another panorama this week.

I am happy with how the micro farm is doing.  With two and a half days of rain coming up I know the plants will soak everything up and grow.

I know I am risking a lot by putting these plants into the ground a week or two before our average last frost date.  Looking at the weather forecast it looks like it is a risk worth taking.  Fortunately, if I need to cover the plants I can, but that appears unlikely.  Enough for this week.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

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5 thoughts on “Are You Willing to Take A Risk? Well, Only a Calculated Plant Risk

  1. I am not a risk taker either. My planting schedule has my tomatoes and peppers in the garden almost two weeks after my last frost date. However, I may consider planting them earlier if the weather holds out as recently predicted. I have been hardening off my tomatoes and peppers a little each day. Tonight I am leaving them outside for the first time and I am a bit anxious about it.

    I have learned that with gardening sometimes you need to evaluate and make the best decision you can. The plants have to go into the ground eventually.

    Sounds like you are safe with the upcoming weather. If something should suddenly change, covering will save your tomatoes, peppers, and other sensitive crops. I also use soaker hoses and black plastic solar mulch for my heat lovers each year with great results.

    I have researched the Florida weave method for tomatoes, but have never tried it. I can’t wait to see how it works for you.

  2. It looks good SPencer – I’m interested inthe “florida weave.” please post pics as you progress!

  3. I hope your risk pays off. It’s always so hard to wait! I, too, am interested in that Florida Weave! I always forget to put cages on the tomatoes until they’re too big and I can’t get them on there, and other methods have not done well for me, either. I hope you’ll let us know if this is a success or not. And I think your new butterfly bed will be beautiful!

  4. I don’t do much gardening at this point but I sure do enjoy keeping up with your blog , Spencer. Can’t wait to see how things progress!

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