My First Tomato!

The First, Juicy, Red Tomato From My Organic Container Gardens

The First, Juicy, Red Tomato From My Organic Container Gardens

I’ve finally harvested my first batch of exactly four tomatoes from my container gardens.  The one pictured above was delicious and bright, juicy, red all the way through.  Aside from a few minor obstacles that were remedied pretty easily, including mule deer, aphids and cabbage worms, my baptism into vegetable gardening has been pretty successful.  Of course, this doesn’t count all the seeds that never sprouted or the few seedlings that didn’t make it past the first few hot days we had here but, oh well.

Southern, Coastal California is perfect for growing just about anything.  Especially here on Catalina Island, it never gets too hot, too cold or too dry (humidity-wise that is – we can go months without seeing a drop of rain).

I found a great organic, vegetable oil based pesticide that took care of the aphids and cabbage worms.  Pesticidal Oil by Worry Free Brand is what I used though it seems recently, that there are quite a few brands to choose from, which is great.  I rinsed the leaves and fruit well with water, then gave them a light misting with the oil after they had dried.  I had to re-apply once or twice more but it seemed to have done the trick.  The only drawback I’ve seen so far is that the tomatoes were just a bit sticky even after rinsing well with water but it doesn’t seem to have effected the taste.  I probably put too much oil on in the first place.

The mule deer on the island are really desperate for food considering the dry winter we had.  They even climb one flight of stairs on an almost nightly basis to get to our property and yummy plants.  At one point they were knocking large ceramic planters over and even breaking a couple in their early morning forays for food (usually around 4am).  I finally put deer netting up over all our plants including the shrubbery and they’ve pretty much given up for the time being.

I feel so bad for the poor deer since they’re probably starving to death but I know that feeding them is not the right thing to do.  We have a hunting season on the island but I’m not sure how I feel about that as a solution to the problem either.  I suppose if the hunters eat the deer they kill it’s okay, even though I’ve chosen to not eat any animal based foods myself.  Actually, if you’re going to eat meat, killing the animal yourself is probably the most humane way to go about it.

Advertisements

My Organic, Container Vegetable Garden

Container Veggie Garden

Container Veggie Garden – Tomato, Zucchini & Spinach

Is anyone else out there as freaked out as I am about the insane cost of groceries?  Here on Catalina Island all of our produce is brought over on a barge, in a refrigerated shipping container so it’s even more expensive than it is on the mainland. I couldn’t believe recently that one green bell pepper (yes green, not yellow or red) at our small market was almost two dollars!

I’m drawing on all the self-control I have to not roll right into a political/ socio-economic tirade. But be warned readers, I don’t know how much longer I can contain my frustration.

Anyway, to continue with the less controversial topic of gardening, since I’ve embarked on my juicer journey, I’ve obviously been buying a lot more fresh fruits and veggies than I  have in the past which is a good thing. Last year I’d decided to start a vegetable garden but just never got around to it, which is the fate of many grand ideas. This Spring I bought two large garden containers that were $45 each and the fact that I couldn’t return them was just the miserly incentive I needed to actually do it.

The containers I bought at our local hardware store are intended for city dwellers or those with limited outdoor space, hence the name “City Pickers”. They’re about 1′ 9″ x 2′ about 9″ deep and one of their greatest features is that they’re on wheels! If you think your spinach might be getting a bit too much sun, just wheel it over to a shadier spot.

I found this feature especially convenient last week when our neighbors were having their thirty-foot palm trees trimmed. Large fronds were dive-bombing to the ground right where my garden was, so I just wheeled them out of harm’s way until the tree-trimming was finished.

Watering the plants in the container is fool-proof.  There’s a plastic tube that rests on the bottom and comes through the soil at the top. The reservoir holds two gallons of water to replenish daily and a screen keeps the soil from direct contact with the water reservoir so the plants are never over watered (there’s an over-flow opening on each side). Just pour the water through the tube and it’s wicked up into the soil as needed.

I went into this project rather blindly since I’ve never actually grown vegetables before. I have plenty of experience with ornamental plants and even herbs but not veggies. My mom had a small vegetable garden in our back yard when we were kids, so she gave me some good general pointers.  She, however, lives in the wet, humid north-east, US (NJ) and I live in the very sunny, dry south-west, US (CA), so it’s a very different experience.

I’ve planted tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, green onions and spinach. As expected the zucchini and tomatoes are thriving but the others are having a slow start. I think it’s too hot and sunny for the spinach so I’m thinking of moving that container. There are 5 baby tomatoes on the vine and the squash plants have sprouted beautiful orange flowers, some of which, I hope, will eventually become squash.

I haven’t had too many problems with pests but one young tomato was eaten by a cabbage worm (I think) and I have seen some aphids.  I rinsed as many of the aphids off the leaves as I could, let them dry and sprayed a light mist of vegetable-oil based, organic pesticide to the leaves and it seems to have done the trick.

I’m hoping, in a couple of weeks, to have a great shot of me to post, biting into one of my own, home-grown, juicy, red, organic, tomatoes!  Here’s hoping!