Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Growth Happens

I was away for two weeks, then bogged down in work for another week and a half. On June 29th, this is how the vegetable garden experiment looked:

Bush beans, some carrots, three cucumbers, 5 tomatoes, basil, cilantro, and parsley.

Before I left for Minnesota on July 7th, the garden looked not much different:

Now, when I got back from Minnesota, on July 26th, the vegetable experiment looked like this:

Myself added for scale

Insane growth while we were away.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


When I was a kid we would get a large, fold-out Brookhaven township map in our area phonebook. One summer I highlighted all the roads I traveled on already. Then, I proceeded to plan bike rides to points of interest I found on the map. Once I made those trips, I'd highlight the route. Acknowledging to no one other than myself how well-traveled I had become!

In some sense, I am still doing this, albeit much slower and over a bigger area. I'm no excellent hiker and certainly not in the best shape. But I like discovery, seeing new places, and hiking as exercise. I recently logged on to the NYNJ Trail Conference. They sell many NYC area maps (on waterproof tyvek!) and I've gotten some of those too. The Long Island Greenbelt Trail Conference sells maps (paper, unfortunately) to many of Long Island's major trails.

Below is a list of the hikes I have walked recently. If you click, you'll find descriptions of my experiences of the trails, the park, or whatever it is that captures my interest. 

Weir Farm (Metro North to Branchville, CT or by car) MAP
Avalon (Long Island RR to Stony Brook or by car) MAP
Sam's Point (Bus to New Paltz or Ellenville, then taxi, or by car) MAP
Greenbelt Nature Center (Subway to SI Ferry, then Bus or by car) MAP
Forest Park (walk, F, E, J, Z subway, bus, or car) MAP
Muttontown Preserve (LIRR to Syosset, NY or by car)MAP
Nissequogue River (LIRR to Smithtown, NY or by car)MAP
Fort Tilden (A train, Bus, Walk, Bike, Ferry or by car)MAP
Camp Hero (Long Island RR to Montauk or by car)MAP

Friday, July 4, 2008

Trellis or Else

First, my confession. I trellised too late. Yes, I had a plan, a good plan, for trellising my tomatoes. But I had no time to get to it and boom, the tomatoes were large and trellising more difficult. Trellis early, and spare yourself the broken limbs of those rapidly growing vines.

I had a good plan- a trellis method I had used when tomatoes were planted in rows in the earth. Do it early and it works, do it late and all you do is curse.

The Plan:
  1. Take 6-foot long, 1 x 2 inch wooden stakes and pound them into the ground, evenly spaced and two for every plant.
  2. Then roll out 2 x 2 inch poly mesh, cutting it to the length of the row.
  3. Slide the mesh over the stakes, keeping it level along the way.
  4. When you reach two feet above the ground, staple the mesh to the stakes.
  5. Do this every 12 to 16 inches above that first layer of mesh. The quantity of layers depends on how tall you expect your tomatoes to grow.
  6. Let the tomato grow through the mesh, weaving vines through as needed.
This is how it looks on my wooden planter:

I needed four per plant for this tomato because I am growing it in a pot.

Now my other tomatoes were too large to use this method. So my emergency method happens to look like this:

I used 6-foot long bamboo stakes from the local nursery attached at the four corners of the wooden planter. I braced the stakes with common pipe brackets bought at my local hardware store for 15 cents each. Then I tied twine to each of the stakes, going all around and repeating this up the stake.
The braced bamboo stake looks like this:

I also used the poly mesh to keep squirrels from digging holes in my cilantro and parsley. Little boogers like to dig.