Sunday, May 01, 2016

Mobile Tomatoes and the Wildflower Express

I was delighted to see the tiny Violas I planted last year (sold as annuals) 
are back, and blooming, for a second summer.

Got the text from the girls ~ aka the Saddle Sore-ority ~ let's go horseback riding at 1:00! And, while I'm pretty much always game... this day I said no. Which made Casey super happy. That's Beth's little cowboy ~ who gets to ride my horse, since I'm being a party pooper.

Utah is blessed with some remarkable wildflower meadows.

A glance at the calendar confirms it is May Day but it still feels like winter to me.

Orange and yellow Violas are already blooming, making a wonderful ground cover for the ever plentiful Montana.

Such a baby I am!

Brrr... it's chilly.

Waaa... It's cloudy.

I have no good excuse.

Though, I suppose, my lame excuse is somewhat valid. Utah is typically a very sunny state. Gloomy weather messes with my mood. Always has. Always will.

Even on a grey day, these Daffodils scream happiness.

All I need is some sunshine! Not getting a whole lotta that this year.

If only we could love yellow Dandies as much as we love yellow Daffodils. 
Then, my gardening chores would be a breeze! 

So, I bailed on the horseback riding. Poured a cup of coffee. Checked my email. Met a gardener from Austin, Texas who's planning to grow tomatoes in the mountains of Park City, Utah, this summer. And, could I give him some advice?

Amy's Sugar Gem Heirloom Tomatoes reach harvest in 65 days.
Fast-growing tomatoes are fantastic for mountain gardens.

Breaking it to him gently:  June 1st ~ which coincides with first harvest for some lucky gardeners in kinder climates ~ is actually too soon to be planting tomatoes in the mountains.

Unless....... you put them on wheels!

Mountain days are just as ideal as 
anywhere else you might like to garden. 
It's the nights that cause us trouble. 

When temperatures can drop to a chilly 40 degrees.

Though, that is the precise reason why I love living this high in the mountains.

Windows open, cool breeze, no air conditioner blasting away. "Good sleeping weather" as we used to say in the hot as blazes Midwest, where I grew up.

You can get all creative with raised beds, clear plastic sheeting, walls of water, and those methods work pretty well. Or... you can take the easy, and considerably more fun route, and buy yourself a Radio Flyer. 

Paul Robeson: my go-to heirloom, every summer.
These days, I grow most of my tomatoes in containers, on wheels, on the deck.

Why? Because it's the simplest way to do battle with Mother Nature.

* The deck is the ideal hot house for heirloom tomatoes during the day.

Bonus: I can wheel my wagon of tomato plants indoors on a night when cold temperatures threaten.* 

If you're looking for a fast-growing, truly fabulous tasting Heirloom Tomato, try growing the Paul Robeson. It's fast, fast, fast.. reaching harvest in 70 days. With a flavor 2 die 4.

The Wildflower Express
Friday was the most exciting day of what will forever be known as the horse chapters of my life.

Pay no attention to those grey skies. This dismal weather can't last forever.

The culmination of 3 years of discipline! 
A brand new 3-horse trailer that fits my fat Appaloosa 
(she takes up 2 spaces) and tows like a dream.

Three years, glaring at my savings account, wishing it would grow faster. Wishing I was a more normal person who simply finances things vs. saving for them. It always felt like such an extravagance and it took forever for me to justify the purchase of such freedom...

I'm so very excited! To plot out a brand new wildflower trail each and every weekend. And, to actually get there because I'm no longer depending upon undependable horse people to drive me to exotic flowering meadows.

Giddy. I'm just absolutely giddy.

To do the weekly giddyup with Sable.

* About those Tomatoes: If temps drop below 50 degrees, tomatoes shift sugar production from fruit to stem - those lovely heirlooms won't be nearly as tasty. It's generally quite cool in the evenings, this high up in the mountains. (We're talking jackets in August.) And, that's why it's hard to grow a great tomato at 7,000 feet altitude.

** It's not a wise idea to actually plant veggies in your painted wagon. Set deeper containers in the wagon, so plants don't become root bound.

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