So, what does one do during an Easter Weekend when one is confined to home with a bad case of Strep Throat?
If you're guessing that the answer is "stay home so you don't infect anyone else," good answer. I wish the person who spread this nasty little bug my way, who just might be a physician no less, had taken the same route. Unfortunately, that person didn't.
Strep, which is highly contagious by the way, meant that our plans to hold an Easter Weekend dinner for family and friends were promptly canceled. This made the wife none too happy, of course, as she had been planning an Easter egg hunt for her nieces and nephews. Instead, what she got is a weekend alone with a sick husband.
Thank goodness I have the best wife known to mankind. ;)
While the medication I'm taking is making me feel somewhat better, it is kind of frustrating. That "feeling better" part is followed by an urge to get out in the garden. But "urges" and "energy" are two different things entirely. I have plenty of "urges" to do this and that. I have the actual energy to do very little.
But -- one thing that did take place this weekend was the initial planning of the Bill & Venus Bird Tomato Garden of 2009. We didn't do everything mind you. This planting effort involved the planting of just eight starter plants -- and Venus did half of those. I barely had the energy to handle the four on my end.
But -- "in" they are. It was time. Although I had taken great pains to stake up the leggy starter plants that Fred Hoffman delivered last weekend, this just allowed them to grow even more. And grow they did. Some of the starter plants are nearly three feet in height -- half my size. Some of them, like the Bloody Butcher, actually have tomatoes on the plants. All of them were rootbound beyond belief.
In short, it was time. Time for the babies to go out to a permanent home. We're taking a bit of a chance by planting this early. Most growers normally hold back until the first weekend in May, and some even later than that. But the starter plants I have nursing for a good week just didn't have that kind of time. So, in they went.
All eight plants went into a 4X8 raised bed, made of redwood lumber that I purchased just last year. This bed held strawberry and pepper plants last season -- its first. Since I strongly believe in rotating crops from bed to bed, this year it will hold eight tomato plants, four plants per row.
Although the planter mix soil in this bed was fairly new (purchased last year from Redmond's Building Supply in North Highlands), I knew from experience that this bed would need quite a bit of compost and recharge. Much of the original soil came out with the strawberry plants, which were replanted in a nearby raised bed. Four bags of Steer Manure compost plust EarthGro planter mix were added during the recharging process, made easier by my handy-dandy Mantis Rototiller.
As you can see by the photos -- the Bloody Butcher is already throwing out tomatoes. If we're blessed with mild weather for the rest of this spring, Venus and I will be harvesting the first vine-ripened tomatoes of the season later this June.
Four plants is about all the energy I had for this project. At that point -- it was time to go back inside -- back to some fruit juices and the comfort of a nearby couch. This bout with Strep has set me behind considerably. Hopefully, with time and rest, I'll be back in the saddle again in no time flat. Perhaps next weekend. Perhaps the weekend after that.
But, please, no surprise visits between now and then. Consider the North Natomas home of Bill & Venus Bird QUARATINED until further notice. As much as people enjoy our tomato starter plants, you won't like what I'm currently spreading.