Some garden Zen

A little while ago I built a small ‘greenhouse shelf’ thing. My idea was that I could be growing some veg there, mostly tomatoes and chilies. Just before I built the thing, my colleagues Monika and Sonja gave me a variety of their homegrown tomato and chili starter plants, and my mother-in-law also donated a bunch of tomato seedlings. Tomatoes don’t like rain much, so the greenhouse roof and shelf were basically a response to that. I potted all my plants just after I got them and then had hardly any time to do anything about them, aside from watering them every now and then, especially on the warmer days. The weather has been particularly crappy, and I had very little time and energy to do anything that remotely looked like care after arriving home from work. Luckily, the crappy weather meant that I didn’t have to water all that much. Regardless, there was quite some growth, and yesterday, one of the first days that I had time to have a closer look, I found that my greenhouse thing was quite a jungle. The tomatoes were too high to fit for much longer, the younger tomato seedlings were in dire need of support. Most importantly, all plants were in need of a trim.

Three of my most monstrous tomatoes. Almost 1.5m tall and very bushy – I thinned them quite heavily, and they look much more open now. I placed them on the side of the house, where they are covered by the roof, but at least have some space to grow up. (Note my neighbor’s grapevine that I have been not very successfully trying to train to grow into my garden, so I can steal some grapes.)

So this morning, I spent an hour or so to do a bit of work. I opened up some space in the tomato canopies, removed axial growth, and excessive leaves. Tomatoes need to breathe. (And of course they need to invest their energy into making tomatoes, not into more offshoots.) I tied the larger ones to their support sticks (which they have well past). While doing so, I noticed that many of the tomato plants already form fruits. Apparently there are quite some buzz-pollinators going about my garden to pollinate my tomatoes. I think my eco-friendly garden is quite successful in that regard. Now it is time for some decent sun so these green ‘peas’ can balloon up a little, and get some color and sugar in. I should have five or six tomato varieties, so hopefully a lot of taste!

Some kind of Coeur de boeuf like variety. I forgot the name. Big and chunky tomatoes that still need to grow quite a bit.
These look quite cute – some variety of plum tomato that my colleague calls ‘Ampel’, which translates to traffic light. I wonder if they will go from green to orange to red. This plant already bears quite some fruits.
I think this one is called ‘Striped Turkish’. We’ll see what they’ll look like in a couple of weeks :).

After trimming all tomatoes, I continued with the chillies. I got three varieties from my colleague, and in addition got some habanero, scotch bonnet, and jalapeño from the local garden store. All did very well, and especially my Aji Umba and Habaneros are already producing quite some fruits. I guess I will be producing a lot of hot sauce this year. (I like making hot sauce – and fully homegrown hot sauce will be a first for me.)

Aji Umba plants bearing quite some fruits. I didn’t know this variety, but it is supposed to be a Habanero-like variety, although the shape is a bit longer, it seems. All my chilies have plenty of flowers, so soon other plants should follow their example.

I sometimes forget how much I love having a garden. Just getting my hands dirty and working with my plants is my meditation. A big plus is that with these plants – as opposed to my plants at work – I don’t have to think about questions, harvests, sampling, or other stress. I just mindfully do my business.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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