Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Contrariness of the Mad Gardener

The Garden, Before

The Garden, After
I received my Mantis tiller (seen in the front bed, left side of photo) via UPS Thursday evening. Friday from 10 AM-2 PM or so I was a tilling maniac. By my count from the photos, I tilled seventeen of my 21 4 x 8 raised beds. My verdict on the Mantis: Best piece of power equipment I have ever owned. It's light enough to lift in and out of the beds, powerful enough to work through most grass roots, and easy to handle. I don't know how I gardened without it.

The one thing the Mantis won't do is dig out boulders and carry them off to some new rock garden. I encountered a surprising number of rocks in the garden beds, ranging from golf ball size to too big for me to dig up.

But wait, there's more! In the photos above, you can see 21 raised garden beds. I have an additional 5 raised beds for potatoes that are not shown. I did an inventory of my tomato plants today, and decided I needed a minimum of 9 dedicated beds for tomatoes. The most I have ever planted was six beds, at eight plants per bed. That would put a squeeze on everything else I could plant, so...I'm adding four more raised beds. Insane. And I'll probably still plant some tomatoes in containers.

So what are all these tomatoes I'm planting? I had to take inventory this morning, since I hadn't kept track of just how many varieties I started and transplanted to pots. I have perhaps a record 21 tomato varieties, all open pollinated heirlooms, and 74+ plants. That's not counting the ones I did not transplant from their little starting cells. Here's the list; most are chosen for being under 80 days:

Break o'Day
Grandma Mary's Paste
Igegnoli Gigante
Polish Linguisa (paste)
Taxi (yellow, of course)
Mountain Princess (Baker Creek lists this at 48 days!!!)
Yellow Pear
Cuor di Bue
Principe Borghese (supposed to be great for drying)
Ropreco Paste
Ivory Egg
Black Cherry
Pantano Romanesco
Cosmonaut Volkov

On top of that, I have nine kinds of peppers and three eggplant varieties. Insanity, I tell ya!

By the way, none of these tomatoes were planted out today. It's supposed to freeze tonight. More insanity!


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Such cool names on the tomatoes!

"You are the tiller queen-
young and sweet-
only seventeen .... (plus!)"

Deb said...

Lynne- Aren't those names beautiful, especially the Italian ones? That's part of the beauty of growing heirloom tomatoes.

Seventeen, I wish. I ache all over! :)

Jayne said...

Whew... I forgot about your getting that Mantis, and when I saw the before and after, I was praying for your back and arms Deb! So glad it proved its mettle! Now, THAT is a list of 'mater plants!

RuthieJ said...

I have a little tiller (not Mantis though) like that too and it works so great in my raised beds.
A 48 day tomato? That would be great--especially in your "frosty" neck of the woods.

barefoot gardener said...

That is so cool! Now I know what to ask the Mr. to get me for X-mas. And all I can say about the tomatoes is....well, WOW! That is a heck of a lot of 'maters. I planted 18 plants this year and thought I was going 'mater-crazy. Now I feel better.

Glad you had fun!

Deanna said...

Aren't you tired of the frost? Tuesday night, too, as far as I can see. We planted in Wrenshall yesterday and covered them last night, and probably again tomorrow night. Sun, oh sun, where art thou?

Floridacracker said...

You go girl!

Hard to imagine that!

Ken Januski said...

I've used our Mantis tiller for 5-7 years now on our eight 4x8 beds (they look very similar to yours). And even doing eight beds, that have been tilled many times before and are therefore in pretty good shape, is a whole lot of work! You must have spent a lot of time tilling 21.

I just put in our seedlings. I think we had about eight tomato types, two of which you also had: Stupice, which is nice and early, and Yellow Pear, which is just a nice meaty but small tomato. It's one of our favorites. Others include the mild-tasting Green Zebra, the large and colorful Hillbilly Potato-Leaf, the tasty Red Brandywine, and Cherokee Purple. We didn't plant any of the delicious Mexico Midget, a currant type tomato, because I'm hoping that there will be plenty of volunteers from last year that I can plant somewhere.

Deb said...

Jayne- It would have been torture doing that by hand!

RuthieJ- What kind is yours? I looked at a couple others before we decided on this one. We'll see about the 48 days...if I can remember where I planted what this year!

Barefoot- I am a tomato fool. I used to think I was crazy with 40 plants.

Deanna- Frost advisories again tonight (Tuesday). I'm in kind of a funny low spot here, and we have had frost in mid July. Crazy. I'm going to keep hoop houses over most of the tomatoes.

FC- Not hard to imagine when you live in Minnesotarctica. :)

Ken- Nice to meet another Mantis owner and heirloom tomato fan! I have had Green Zebra before, I like them and I can't remember why I didn't start any this year. Cherokee Purple is another one I have enjoyed. This year I guess I was more into trying new (to me) varieties under 80 days. I have had volunteer tomatoes here before, but I would be surprised if any showed up this year just because I tilled more thouroughly.

Robby said...

Cool blog. I have a blog that you might find interesting: Will you let me know if we can link?

Penelope said...

Wow, what a variety of tomatoes. Are they all for your family's consumption, or do you sell some?

I have nine tomato plants this year and probably six or seven different varieties. I'm trying a green variety for the first time this year.

I'll look forward to seeing photos when you have fruit!