Sarah's Garden Week 17: Clean

(Editor's note: Sarah's garden is one of 20 (!) gardens featured on the first annual South Philly Garden Tour on Saturday, September 10 from 11am to 3pm. See what we did there? First Annual. We like to be optimistic. Anyway, if you're a fan of Sarah's garden and want to see it and several of your neighbors' gardens in person, buy your tickets today. Today! And save $5 off the price of what they will be on the day of the tour. All proceeds go to help pay start-up costs for the co-op. Information about where to buy tickets - which can also be purchased online - is available on our home page.)

Whew!  I've had a bit of a whirlwind few weeks and didn't have too much time for my garden.  And after the big storm on Saturday night - I know it was big because it woke me up and I RARELY wake up (ask my friends about throwing boxes at me one night trying to wake me up; actually, don't) - I found my garden in disarray.  Just look at these poor monkeys:


Now I understand why people with more room grow their tomatoes along the ground instead of forcing them to stand up:  there is less chance of them breaking and sometimes the tomatoes get too heavy and the ground gets too wet and then you get entire wooden stakes falling over.  In case you're wondering, here are just some of the bunch of tomatoes that caused that plant and stake to fall over:

So I knew it was time to start cleaning things up.  I moved pots, retied tomatoes and got bigger stakes.  Here's some of the jungle I was working through:

but I went pot by pot and took off dead leaves and tried to make everyone stand as straight as possible.  Here are two re-staked tomatoes:

and some more:

That pot above used to have four beefsteak plants in it but one was definitely on its way towards death so instead of trying to coax it back to health I ripped it out!  This is exciting because I used to be super worried and tried to save every one of my plants.  Now I realize I have a ton of tomatoes and losing a few is totally fine.  I think this is the gardener's equivalent of letting go of your children as they grow up.  (Lame joke.)

Another problem I ran into was that sometimes the plants with all the tomatoes were just too heavy for the stakes, no matter how big and strong the stakes were:  even if the stake is a couple of inches in diameter it can still only go down to the bottom of the pot which can be two feet (if I'm lucky) or less than a foot (the majority of my pots.)  Take a look at this one, and sorry in advance for the tilt of the camera:

That tomato's pretty tall but still in its little Germantown thrift store pot (you can just see the white half-circle of it at the bottom.)  I used the biggest stake I could find but it still wouldn't stand up because there just wasn't enough space and dirt in the pot to anchor it.  Then:  epiphany!  Okay, not really, but:  since it was already right against the wall behind it I started looking for ways to tie the stake to the wall and, hey, there was this mysterious little hook just hanging out:

So it's not really the prettiest but it gets the job done.  And now everything is staked and lined up and looking good!

I kind of assumed that my tomato plants were done producing tomatoes but I keep finding more flowers so looks like I'll have more tomatoes!  I also found flowers on the Beauty Queens which are taking a much longer time to grow.  Here are some pretty beefsteak flowers:

And!  More excitement!  My little eggplants have started actually flowering!  Take a look at this cutie pie:

And here's another, with more on the way:

I'm so excited!  These eggplants were so slow-growing compared to the beefsteaks (and the sunflowers...more on that in a moment) but I guess they just needed a little more time.

So sunflowers!  They are so tall.  It's ridiculous, really.  I can't even take a picture that will get the actual flower part and also the rest of the garden, so here are some stems:

There they are!

I know I covered this last week but:  they sure are mammoth.  One of my loyal readers suggested I take a picture from the "room with a view" aka the bathroom so here it is:

Thanks for the suggestion, Sharona!

In closing, please accept this blurry picture of my monster basil plant, Basilmonster.

It got so big and I was on such a staking frenzy this weekend I staked it.  Time to make more pesto!

Sarah DeGiorgis has lived in Philly for five years and is finally starting to feel like a true Philadelphian, though she still detests cheesesteaks.  She enjoys reading, watching bad tv, eating and cooking good food and digging in the dirt. Catch up with her continuing efforts to grow food in South Philly by clicking here.