This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

You know you're a gardener when...
Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Mar 24, 2009

Why didn’t they just name it Rain, Oregon?


Yes, Portland is rainy and cloudy! I understand there is a ‘port’ here, but sometimes I think the name Rain would have suited this town much better! Who knows, maybe there is a city named Rain already somewhere in Oregon.

Each time I venture outside of Oregon, people always tell me ‘Oh, I love Oregon! It’s so green!’ I bet the rain has something to do with that- ya think? I wouldn’t mind the rain so much if the constant cloud cover would give us a break! That’s exactly what it did yesterday, so I’d better stop complaining!

I awoke to sun yesterday- I knew I’d have maybe 3 hours outside if I got my butt moving! I managed to do a little weeding in the cold frame- amazing how fast those little weeds grow, especially when you don’t want them to! I also managed to do some fertigating- what is fertigating you ask? Well, I’ve been reading Steve Soloman’s book Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades, and I have to wonder why in the world have I not read this book before! He has a great low-tech way of fertilizing/irrigating his crops! Saves your back as well :)

Luckily, I already had the materials needed to make this. This low-tech system directs the fertilizer right to the root zone! We don’t need to be helping those weeds any, do we?
Here are the materials needed.

  An old broom or tool handle 
  Small tubing  
  Tie wraps 
  Milk carton or bucket
  Fish emulsion or whatever you’re using at the time

You can use any handle from a broken tool or whatever- come on, I know you have them somewhere in your shed! The tubing needs to be one that is small in diameter, so you’re not drowning the poor plants. I had this one on hand from a fish tank siphon- it was perfect, and it was about 4 feet. A milk carton works best because you can keep the tube in the water easier- when I tried a bucket, the tube kept curving up and was harder to hold onto. Tie wraps are something I usually have on hand and work best for this, hubby is in telecommunications and always has them somewhere!

Now there is one unpleasant part of this, if your using fish emulsion. You have to get it going...and that means you have to have great skill at spitting! And quickly! For those of you out there that never learned to spit effectively, learn :). So, get the water moving by sucking on the tube a little- it doesn’t take much, and put the tube down at the base of the plant, and move from plant to plant. You can raise the milk carton, that should be in your other hand, higher or lower to control how fast the water comes out too. It goes very quickly, and all with no backache! Viola! Fertigating!


Which brings me to the other things I managed to get done yesterday, I planted out some more lettuce- some of these will be harvested when they’re small and tender, and the others will have more room to get a little bigger before I harvest them. I usually sow a different lettuce for the warmer seasons and will be starting them in April.


I just love how easy it is to work in this tunnel now that I’ve made  it into a chenille! The plastic is insanely easy to move up to do any work that’s needed. This isn’t all of the lettuce I planted, but I needed to take a shot before the rain came :). I sure wish I’d never put in the 4x4 SFG boxes and the perennial bed because I really need my chenilles to be a lot longer, and more of them- hind sight is 20/20! I’ll work with what I have and take everything I’ve learned with me wherever God plants us next! The SFG method (square foot garden) works well if you’re just starting out and don’t have much room. I have noted over the years, however, that the plants need to be watered more often when planted that close!

I also moved the cherry tomatoes on to their next pots yesterday. They look very healthy and happy!

‘Gold Nugget’

Next the eggplant and some flowers will need the same thing.

I started 3 different Nicotiana-

  ‘Lime Green’ 
  ‘Perfume Deep Purple’ F1 hybrid 
  ‘Sensation Mix’

There is one more variety that I wanted to get that is lower growing-  Lime and Purple bicolor! They were out of the seeds when I ordered mine, but now I see they have them in stock!

I’m still waiting on the Lantana! If you remember, it takes 40-62 days to germinate. The one little seedling that came up did end up being a weed, so it was tossed! It will be 40 days on April 2. The wait is killing me. All I’ve managed to grow in that flat is beautiful moss! I was sure that there would be no way for the Lantana to germinate with the moss there, so I removed it. Luckily the Lantana seeds are shiny black so I think I managed to leave the seeds in most of the cells!

I’m about ready to put out an ad- ‘Missing...Lantana seedlings, last seen in someone else’s garden!’ This was too much for me to tackle, I think. I don’t know how the nurseries do it! I think I need to call Portland Nursery and see if they have some suggestions.

Lastly, some really exciting news! My greenhouse tomatoes have buds!

When we returned from Medford, I thought the ‘New Girl’ tomatoes didn’t look that great- they looked worse than the ‘Beef Steak’. Yesterday, I went out to have a look at things, figure out what needs to be potted on, etc. and there they were! This is an early tomato variety, so I guess I should have expected it- still, it was very thrilling!

Both of the large tomatoes I started this year will be grow in the greenhouse. I did grow some extra of the early ‘New Girl’ for friends and they will get them with buds on them. Now I’ve always read, both online and in books, that you want to set out your tomatoes before they have buds on them. I’ve read that it is a bad thing for them to have buds, or flowers at planting time. In Steve Soloman’s book, he says otherwise! He plants out monsters in his garden, protected, 3 weeks (I think) before last spring frost and has a large harvest, early! The ‘Beef Steak’ doesn’t do well out of doors, here in the PNW- so they always stay in the greenhouse. I may try and find a spot of 1 ‘New Girl’ out in the open, just to see what happens. This year, I’m going to plant them on their sides too- read this post over at Aunt Debbi’s Garden for a great tip on planting your tomatoes sideways!


I hope all your gardens are looking lovely this spring day, and as always,


Happy Gardening,



  • Daphne

    We usually get a bit of rain out here too but haven't had much yet this year. I hope that changes soon because we are going to need rain soon.

    Congrats on your tomato blossoms.

  • Cinj

    I think there should be a drizzle and down pour too. I don't think I could live somewhere that it rains so much. I suppose it makes it easy to water the garden though. Most people probably think I'm nuts for living in WI too. I think Rhinelander should be renamed snowlander.

    We had a fertigation system installed in our old underground sprinkler system. Your system looks like it works just as well for much less expense.

  • gardenerprogress/Catherine

    You always have so much going on. I like the fertigating :)
    How nice to have buds on your tomatoes already! When is your last frost date anyway? Ours is April 8th.
    Good luck with the lantana!!

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Daphne- Well, I'll be sure to send some your way!

    Cinj- It has definitely been tough on me living here, that is why we need to move. It's not the rain so much as the lack of sun- the cloud cover for weeks and weeks is hard! At least where I grew up, when it snowed the sun was out after!

    Catherine- Yes, too much sometimes :). Ours is supposed to be April 3, sometimes I wonder though! I set it at about the 10th. Thanks for the luck- I will be in shock if I actually see any of that Lantana!

  • Anonymous

    Tessa~~ I don't mind the rain. It's the freaking cold and wind that I despise. :)

  • Kathleen

    lol on renaming Portland "Rain!" I had an Aunt who moved there and after a year, she left. Said she felt like everything in her body had rusted! I suppose all that moisture takes some getting used to but the green is nice. Cool fertilizing tool. I would probably be the girl who swallowed some trying to get the suction going! ugh. As always, your seedlings are looking so great. Maybe you'll have more sun tomorrow so you can get out again??

  • Sue

    I enjoyed reading about all your gardening goings on. It's cold again here in Nebraska.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Grace- Cold, wind, and the constant overcast skies! I really wouldn't mind the rain if it wasn't accompanied by all that too!

    Kathleen- I know exactly how she felt! Rusting! Perfect :). Yep, I've tasted what fish emulsion really tastes like- yuk!

    Sue- I've only been through Nebraska, but I've heard it's cold, cold, cold- never fear, spring is here!

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