Letters to Gardening Friends, March 16, 2009

After I posted my first letter to Dee and Mary Ann last week, and they posted their letters to me as well, Chookie, from the other side of the world in Australia, left a comment that what we are doing is writing an epistolary, a story told through letters. I didn't know it was called that, I just enjoyed reading books of letter exchanges.

If you like these types of posts, why not try it yourself? Reach out to one or two other garden bloggers who you would like to exchange letter posts with to tell the story of your gardens this season and start posting your letters to one another. If you do decide to do it, leave a comment on Dee's post to let us know.

Dear Dee and Mary Ann,

Greetings from May Dreams Gardens. I can’t believe how quickly a week goes by around here! The weather was much colder last week than I would have liked so I only worked in the garden one evening. And then all I did was empty out the compost tumbler and fill it up again.

I hope I added enough green material to the tumbler. All I had was the forced hyacinths from inside and a bunch of henbit that's growing all over the place. It’s hard to find green plant material here in my Zone 5 garden in early spring.

Yesterday, I officially started my summer vegetable garden by sowing seeds for all my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants inside. I ended up with 14 tomato varieties, but a flat and a half has 15 rows of five cells each in it, so I decided to get another tomato variety to finish off that half flat.

I hesitate to tell you two this, especially Mary Ann, but I sowed the tomato varieties in alphabetical order, so one of my criteria for the extra variety was that it be alphabetically after ‘San Marzano’. I’m kidding about that, a little bit. But I did decide on ‘Super Beefsteak’ for the 15th variety, so my alphabetical orderliness has been preserved, and you will never know for sure if I was kidding or not.

And at least now I’ll be able to compare ‘Beefsteak’, ‘Kentucky Beefsteak’ and ‘Super Beefsteak’ to see if they are much different from each other.

I also went to the Indiana Flower & Patio Show yesterday which is where I bought the tomato seeds, along with a few other packets of seeds, including three more varieties of peppers and another variety of eggplant. Dee, one of the pepper varieties is ‘Poblano’, which you recommended I grow, so you are responsible for that extra packet. I also bought seeds for a couple of other squash varieties and some Bok Choy.

But guess what my big purchase was at the show! A worm composter! Yes, I’m going to be a worm rancher very soon, as soon as I finish reading all the instructions and get some red worms. I’ll probably keep the worm composter in my garage for awhile, but I’ve been assured that the worms like it nice and dark and will stay in the composter. They don’t want to come out into the light to see me as much as I don’t necessarily want to see them all the time. Anyway, it should be fun to see kitchen scraps and paper turn into nutrient rich worm castings that I can then use in my garden. If it goes well, I might have to change my garden’s name to May Dreams Gardens and Worm Ranch.

Anyway, because I went to the Flower & Patio show, I didn’t get a lick of anything done in my garden, even though it was a beautiful day. But I’ll be making up for that tomorrow. It looks like the soil will be warm enough and the weather will be nice enough (sunny with a high of 74 F!) for me to carry on the St. Patrick's Day family tradition of planting peas, onion sets, lettuce, spinach, radishes and whatever else I bought seeds for that should be planted well before the last frost. Then it will feel like the gardening season has really started around here!

That reminds me, I need to soak the sweet pea seeds overnight before I plant them tomorrow. I’ve got three varieties to plant: ‘Black Knight’, ‘Fairytale Blend’, and ‘High Scent’. Some years, I start the sweet peas inside and then transplant them out to the garden later. But I did that last year and they seemed to just sulk for weeks after I transplanted them, so this year I’m going to go back to direct sowing them. I’m off to soak them now…

Flowers (and veggies) to all,


P.S. Did one of you ask about my seed labels? I included a picture of one to show how I make them. I type the labels up in a Word table, print them, cut them out, and then use those sticky laminating sheets to cover them. Then I just tape the labels to a short wooden stick, like those wooden ice cream sticks they sell in craft stores. They usually last for a season out in the garden.


  1. Girl, you are going to be busy planting up a storm, then harvesting, eating and canning if all of those tomatoes produce.

  2. I love these letters.
    Our ground is still frozen an inch down, so no planting peas or anything else here yet. 74ºF sounds extraordinarily warm to me! We did get up to 60ºF today, which was perfect for garden clean-up. It felt wonderful to be out in the garden!
    Have a happy St. Pats/Pea Planting Day! :)

  3. Wow, 74, That is so nice. I think we hit 60 one day a week ago. At least we will see at least 50 for a couple of days this coming week. I'm using plastic to warm the beds and melt the snow on my pea bed.

  4. Well, my dear, I hate to admit this, but I am not as organized a gardener as you are. Love those labels. I use mini-blinds that I cut on an angle. I write on them with a sharpie and put them in the soil. If the soil covers the writing, it will last a long time, but since most veggies are annuals, it doesn't matter as much. I can't wait to see how your tomatoes and other veggies do.~~Dee

  5. It sounds as if you will have a wonderful day tomorrow! I hope the weather is just as predicted!

  6. My soil temp. was 54F yesterday. I forgot to check it today.

  7. Carol I do like your letters, a lovely idea. I am off to visit Dee and Mary Ann.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

  8. Carol — glad to hear you alphabetize; I do it with my spices. And Dee, I also used mini blinds for labels; great minds etc. Love this epistolatory concept!

  9. Carol,

    Glad to hear that I'm not the only one who bought the worm farm! Picked one up Saturday at the show. Can't wait for my worms to show up!

    So I should have soaked my peas??? I planted peas, spinach, lettuce and broccoli rabe on Sunday.

  10. Carol's Worm Ranch...it has a certain ring to it. I wonder if you might qualify for a government subsidy:) I do hope those worms like to stay in the tumbler, though; if one escaped in my garage, that would definitely be the end of the experiment!

    I enjoyed this chapter of your epistolary. I can't wait to see how many tomato plants you have in your garden!

  11. Welcome to the world of Global Worming! I do caution you about keepig them in the basement. they aren't happy if they aren't fairly warm so if your basement like many in the northern tier of the US doesn't get much above 65 degrees year round you may want to choose a place where your worms will be closer to 70-75*. Or ,keep the basement door open during the warmer months so the worms get warmer.

  12. What a lovely letter. It makes me nostalgic for the act of sitting down and composing a letter to a friend or relative - it's all emails and phone calls now, but receiving (and writing) a letter is such a delight.

  13. New to your blog,and I love it!
    This is how cheap I am.I save the 'popsicle' sticks that come in caramels every fall.We like caramels,but we don't make caramel apples,so I save the sticks and use those.

  14. Hi Carol, I am loving this letter writing thing and hearing about the exploits of your veggie gardens. That is some high temperature too! I second, or more if others have done it too, about the poblano peppers. Great for chili rellenos and just roasting and eating with anything, yummy!

  15. Oh, how interesting! I thought you knew about it. They talked for a while about your Bloom Day post and about the different gardeners around the world who are participating in that. =) It was really interesting, which is why I showed up on your blog! =) I was listening because I just won the Martha Stewart Green Thumb contest for my little container garden story, so I thought I'd stop by your place and say hi and check out what they were talking about. =) Great idea with the Bloom Day!

  16. I love the idea of a Worm Ranch. It'll be interesting to see how it effects the performance of the garden.

  17. My Goodness that is terribly organised. Laminated labels has to be the Gucci of vegetable gardens!


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