I have to say, these monthly updates are fun, mostly because I can clearly see how much things have changed. Here's the garden in the very beginning. And then here it is at the end of April. Crazy, crazy.
Last time I shared photos, I got lots of suggestions get the tomato plants in cages. I did that right away (and added just poles to some of the less "viney" plants. They were difficult to wrangle into cages because I waited so long and will be sure to do this earlier next year. I also was told to "trim the suckers" on my tomato plants. I had no idea what that meant (even the garden books I read just said "trim the suckers" without sharing what suckers were) and I accidentally trimmed some leaves in my attempt to rid the plant of them.
Turns out, (thanks google images) "suckers" are the shoots that grow out of the little nook between the main stem and a leaf branch. (Check out the fancy little graphic I whipped up to illustrate.) They actually can flower and produce fruit (which is why I thought they were a good thing), but many think if you trim them, and therefore keep the energy focused on the main stem, the fruit that's produced will be much healthier and tastier. Other people think there is no point in trimming. According to message boards I stumbled on, it's quite the debate, and for now, in my first season as a gardener, I am happy to just see where these plants go with whatever they get. (Seriously, worrying about "suckers" and over-trimming or under-trimming was stressing me out and something's gotta give.)
My plants have tons of flowers (probably because they have tons of suckers - wop wop), which is rad. Ideally (and I never knew this either), each flower should produce a tomato when the blossom dries up.
I have been anxiously stalking those flowers waiting and finally, last Wednesday, saw the start of my first tomato. VERY EXCITING. More and more are popping up everyday and they are steadily growing.
Because it's 100 times less complicated than tomatoes, the basil is flourishing - even after my first harvest. I can't say enough good things about my new herb trimming technique. If you haven't read that article yet, you should, but here are two of the main points.
First, don't let your basil plants start to flower. This takes energy away from the leaves (which is what you want to eat) and focuses it on the flowers. Bad news. Pinch those flowers right off.
Second, when "harvesting" don't pull off the big leaves at the base of the plant! Those big leaves do the heavy lifting as sun absorbers to bring energy to the plant. Trim from the top and always trim right above a set of leaves. In that second photo, you can see the tiny start of new leaves right in the crook of that branch. You want to be sure to leave these in tact. They'll grow quickly allowing your basil to rebound after a harvest.
I have never had basil thrive like this before and am convinced it's partly because these planters have good drainage, but mostly because I am trimming properly.
And my meyer lemon plant continues to produce fruit buds. Eventually (a few months from now) we are going to be buried in lemons. Seriously. If I stop blogging it's because lemons have taken over my house and I can't find my laptop. I'm so excited.
These past few months have been the waiting and maintaining months. I am so hopeful that the coming months will be the producing and enjoying period. And wow, I am loving these plants. This is such a cool hobby, and I am learning so much as I go.