Thursday, June 24, 2010

Passing the Knowledge to the Next Generation

Ryan Smartt tells us about gardening with his family!

Passing the Knowledge to the Next Generation
We have a three-year-old. And Lyla wants to do EVERYTHING my wife and I do. There are some obvious things I won’t let her do (mow the lawn, drive our car, do our taxes) but every now and then, I definitely have to say YES when she wants to help.
A perfect example is working in the garden. Lyla’s at the age now where I’m comfortable allowing her to try a few things on her own – and then I’ll show her the correct way to do it. Like watering the plants. The first couple of tries, she simply poured as much water wherever she wanted. But after showing her how to use her little blue watering bucket to slowly pour the water near the roots of the plant…she got it!
Picking tomatoes was definitely a problem last year. If there was a tomato – ripe or unripe – she was going to pick it. This year, however, Lyla knows not to pick it until it’s red (or a color closer to red than green.) So far so good.
When I grew up in Kansas, my parents had a vegetable garden in our backyard every summer (tomatoes and peppers, of course!) And they taught me a few tricks of the trade. So when I share the gardening experience with my daughter, I feel like I’m passing something on to the next generation. And hopefully, in about 30 years, she’ll do the same with her kids. (But as I’ve said before, she’s not allowed to date until she’s at least 30.)
Check out this week’s Garden Wars! And feel free to vote me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Should We Talk About The Weather?

And the saga of Ryan Smartt's (@rsmartt) garden continues!

Should We Talk About the Weather?
While summer is the best time of year to grow vegetables, it can also present some challenges. The biggest challenge for me = weather (specifically rain, or lack thereof).
Most of what I grow needs plenty of water (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers) and unfortunately, Richmond seems to always have very inconsistent levels of rain between June and September.
As a result of the mild droughts we’ve had in recent years, I have become quite clever in some of my watering techniques. For example, occasionally after dinner, I recycle the leftover water I use when I boil vegetables. It not only helps conserve water, but there are lots of good nutrients in it. Also, my daughter LOVES playing with daddy in our baby-pool on the weekends, and I use what’s left of the water in the pool when we’re done to water our plants.
In addition, we vacation from time-to-time during the summer, which also presents a problem for the garden. Essentially, I have to roll the dice and hope it rains while we’re gone (which could be anywhere from 2 to 10 days). And with the inconsistency of rain this time of year, we never know what will happen.
So, anyone interested in watering our yard while we’re gone in a few weeks?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Say Tomato... I say... More Tomatoes!

The latest installment of garden goodness from Ryan Smartt!

You Say Tomato…I Say…More Tomatoes!
Like I said in my blog last week, I am not an expert gardener. However, throughout my vegetable-growing trials and tribulations the past few years, I have had one consistently successful crop: tomatoes. Whether I’ve started indoors with seeds, or transplanted store-bought vines directly into the ground, I always have lots of tomatoes. Of all shapes and sizes. In fact, last year, my tomato plants produced well into November. Which is perfect because my three year-old daughter devours tomatoes any time, any place.
Are my experiences with tomatoes blind luck? What’s going on here? Is there something about the Virginia soil? We all know about Hanover tomatoes, so maybe this region has magical tomato-producing goodness in the ground. Whatever the case, from the looks of things, I plan to have another strong tomato season. (Hopefully into November again.) Check out the latest edition of Garden Wars to see for yourself.
Have you had luck growing tomatoes? Why or why not? Are there any specific tomato plant foods you use? Do you have any theories (or facts) about the success of tomatoes in central Virginia?
Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Thumb is a Mild Shade of Green- From our friend Ryan

Our friend Ryan Smartt ( @rsmartt to some of you) is going to be guest blogging his garden experience this season. Here is his first entry!

June 2, 2010
My Thumb is a Mild Shade of Green
I am not an expert gardener. And never will be. So if you’re reading this blog thinking you’ll get expert advice on gardening, well, you’ve come to the wrong place.
But wait, before you leave…
What I will try to do, however, is share with you some of my experiences this summer as I participate in the first-ever RVANews “Garden Wars”. I somehow got roped into this competition a few weeks ago via Twitter with a couple of friends/fellow-amateur-gardeners (although, they probably think otherwise). It started as some good, old-fashioned smack-talk, but has turned into an international sensation. Actually, a few of our friends/family in Richmond find it entertaining, anyway.
Gardening has been a hobby of mine for the past five or six years, but I now garden every day, and it’s something I truly want to get better at doing. So, what am I growing? I’ve got three types of tomatoes, two types of hot peppers, green pepper, cucumber, watermelon, strawberries, eggplant, a mix of spicy greens, and several herbs: rosemary, parsley, and thyme.
As Garden Wars evolves, each week I promise to share with you what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, and of course, give you the chance to respond. Like I said, I’m not an expert and could use all the help I can get. My thumb isn’t green yet. It’s just a mild shade of green.
Finally, I’d like to thank my friends at Strange’s in Richmond for giving me this opportunity. Full disclosure: I purchased all of my vegetable and herb plants and seeds there this year.

Tune in next week to see how Ryan's garden is growing, and check out the guys over at Garden Wars too- There is some nifty stuff going on here in Richmond!