Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tomatoes, more than you ever hoped to know about them

On Saturday I took a 1 1/2 hour class on how to grow tomatoes. It was at a house in the Valley, run by the Taylors, a nice couple who have a huge garden in their yard, and are self-confessed tomato geeks. It was well worth the $10. They even gave everyone a tomato plant afterwards. I wished I could have lingered all afternoon in their garden, but I had another class (more in another post) afterwards.

Here are some of my notes from the class, some internet research and a Martha Stewart article that I read beforehand:

Tomatoes come in determinant and indeterminant varieties. Indeterminants get very tall and require a lot of dirt, are better in the ground. They have fruit all season long. Determinants are okay in containers, and have a big harvest all at once, with tons of tomatoes. Determinants still need a 5 gallon container, minimum. All tomatoes should be planted with a metal thing around it called a cage and with a tall stake. You then tie the plant to the stake as it grows. When you buy the plants, the tags gives all of the info about the particular variety, and tells how many days from planting until you will have fruit. Say, 100 days.

The container needs to have holes in the bottom for adequate drainage. When you plant it, dig the hole twice as wide as the container and 1 1/2 times deep. Pluck off the bottom leaves and plant the tomato with the bottom part of the stem buried below where those leaves were. They'll become roots. Use fresh potting soil (they recommend Gardner & Bloom Potting soil) and put in some fertilizer (they recommended Dr. Earth) and 2 aspirin. Water "slowly and deeply" with the hose on trickle for 1/2 hour. At the same time as planting, put the stake and tomato cage in the pot.

Water once a week. The way to check if a plant needs water is first thing in the morning, if the leaves look droopy. They will look that way at night even if they don't need water. 3 weeks after planting, fertilize again with Dr. Earth liquid solution. After that, give liquid fertilizer once a month. Mark on calendar. Make sure to put it on the soil, not the leaves.

That is part 1 of the notes. I have the plants (birthday gift from Mom and Dad plus the one from the class) and some of the supplies but I thought I had 5 gallon containers, turns out (according to Dad) they are only 3 gallon. Which doesn't matter anyway, since it turns out I had indeterminant plants so I need 15 gallon containers. So I ordered some SmartPots online. I also had an upside down planter which I got at CVS. The Taylors don't recommend them, they say you don't have enough control over the plant that way, knowing when to water it, and can't see the soil. But since I have it, I will give it a try. Oh and I don't think it holds even 5 gallons, looking at it.

At the end of the summer, or in 100 days, whatever, I hope to have some tomatoes! A lot of this stuff is a one-time investment and I can use it next year as well, but so far this is shaping up to be a $100 salad! Cross fingers for me that it works!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

35 + 35 1/2 month update

The past few months, a lot has happened. And I haven't seemed to find a few minutes to write about it. I'm sure I will forget something. But here are a few observations I can remember!

The Jokester: The past few months, Lauren's been making jokes. She told me "A coffin is for when you're really sick. You know, I'm a' sick and I'm a' coughin!" Then when I asked her where she heard that, she said "I thought it up my OWN SELF!"

She has various stall tactics she uses at bedtime, and a favorite is "I need food". A few nights ago she tried that one again on me and I said "have some water then, and go to sleep." Her response was "you don't understand. Mommy, I could eat a WHOLE ELEPHANT!". So of course, when I got done laughing, I carried her back to the kitchen where she did indeed consume a full meal.

A disappointing development in her appearance is a newly brown tooth. One day at the end of February, I looked in her mouth and saw that one of her top front teeth (the ones that are buckteeth in some people) had suddenly turned brown. This was right after a week of more candy (from Valentines Day) than she'd ever had before in her life. I freaked out that I had been lax in supervising her brushing, and a fast cavity had formed. So I took her to a pediatric dentist who told me that the tooth is bruised and should fade in a few months. But in the interim, it may turn purple. Lauren got really excited when she heard this, and said "oooh, I love purple! Maybe it will turn pink? I love pink even more!". Happily, no signs of any plaque, no dental problems.

Then when we were at her pediatrician's office for yet another ear infection, Dr. Woo saw it and told me it will probably never fade (and showed me her own brown tooth from an injury) but that at least it is on a baby tooth, and she'll get a new permanent white tooth in 5 years. Or whenever that is that they loose their top two front teeth.

We remember a time when she fell and hurt her mouth, in the parking lot after Ammy's birthday dinner, and this must have been the time the discoloration happened, except it didn't show up for a full two weeks. I actually got out old photos (I think I even posted a few teethy ones here) to compare and you can't see anything in the week after that fall, it all appeared suddenly the following week. Anyway, although she now looks like a street urchin (I mean really, you will be appalled if you notice it, it's quite prominent and looks like she has parents who never brush her teeth) the dentist said she didn't consider the bruised tooth a problem, it is purely cosmetic.

My birthday happened, or actually it did NOT happen this year, but I'm somehow a year older anyway. We celebrated by a quiet dinner at the Greek restaurant that I like in Farmer's Market Hollywood. Lauren behaved herself and especially enjoyed the olive rolls. On the way home, we stopped at Trader Joe's to buy a flourless chocolate cake, and she saw some flowers there, grabbed them and said "here Mommy, you should have flowers on your birthday. Have these. Daddy, buy them for her!". The gift that she wanted to get me? "A mommy pig." Since she was unable to find a live one for sale, she was willing to buy a stuffed one. But couldn't find that either, so I got the flowers instead. :)

Potty training is going very slowly. In February, Lauren picked out a musical potty chair she wanted, at Target. It was a princess throne one. I agreed to buy it with the promise that she would use it every day. She has used it about three times. The initial novelty of the song wore off and she is back to realizing that diapers are much more convenient. As she says, "I don't have TIME" [for the potty]...
She did have a day where she insisted on wearing underwear to school, so I sent her there with a change of clothes and she ended up being fine all morning. Used the potty, kept dry, and then pooped in her underpants in the car on the way home. :( Next week, she again wanted to wear underpants and then pooped in them AT school. So she has not been wearing them lately.

RIP Josie the Fish

Josie the Fish died today. Lauren reacted by saying quite dramatically and all in one breath "I am so sad we won't ever see Josie again and now can we get a new fish and name her Dorothy?". You see, at some point we figured out that last year when Lauren was naming "Josie" and we thought it was so clever and original, it was really her attempt to pronounce "Dorothy", which is the name of Elmo's goldfish.

And the funny thing is that today I would not let her play the goldfish toss game at the carnival at her school because "you already have a fish at home."

Anyway, Petco, here we come again. Victim #3...