Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Amy Stone


Peas and tomatoes perfect for backyard


Kelly Heidbreder


It is so much fun to walk out on the deck and see some vegetables hanging from the vines.

My dad always says I should put my gardening effort into feeding my family instead of planting silly flowers. He’s a die-hard, backyard vegetable farmer who grew up with eight brothers and sisters in Petersburg, Mich.


I see his point clearly: That garden was a direct pipeline to their family’s dinner table.


I don’t have a big sunny spot in the yard for a vegetable patch, nor do I have the time to keep it tame. So, I know my limitations this season and just had fun planting pots on the deck with my kids. We have two of their favorite vegetables, grape tomatoes and snap peas, climbing all over the railing and it is fun to watch the progress at arms length every night after dinner.


Peas and tomatoes


We planted only one grape tomato plant in one pot and planted six pea seeds around the outside of another pot. Just to give the peas some stability, we also planted dwarf sunflowers around the base. And now — boom! — Everything is taking off. My son was excited to show me dozens of small tomato fruit starting to form just off the end of a bud.


We expect this one tomato plant to be a high performer this summer. Shaping it within the next week or two is important. Cages are good for larger tomato varieties. It helps hold the heavy fruit on the vine and lets the leaves shade the fruit from the hot sun as they ripen. Vining tomato plants like the grape tomato or the cherry tomato may benefit from growing on a trellis. You can attach a trellis to the back of your pots on your deck, or tie twine from the base of your pot to parts of your deck to give the vines something to hold on to.


Snap peas are already growing around the railing of the deck with more sprouting from the pot. Peas don’t always have to grow vertically, they can also grow horizontally, as long as they have something to guide them. Use twine again to give the pea vines something to cling to as they stretch out. The peas will naturally dangle from the vine and be easier to pick.


Keep your hoe going


Rectangular patches of vegetables in thousands of backyards are in full sprouting mode right now. Small blooms are popping into small fruiting buds. Vines are winding around everything they touch. If you have a vegetable patch, check it at least every other day for progress. Pull weeds as they pop up and keep the soil between the rows and around the plants loose with a small hoe.


If you have a hose close enough to your garden, set up a sprinkler on a timer to water your vegetable garden giving it at least an inch moisture every three days. As the days get hotter, your garden may need even more water. Soaker hoses work really well in a vegetable garden because you can keep the moisture down at the soil line where it its needed and not get the leaves wet, which can cause disease problems.


Can’‍t help myself


My dad is right, I’m always happy when I can walk back into the house with a basket of fresh raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. But it wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable without the vase full of hydrangea, daisies and peonies I have out there too! I love you, Dad. But I just have to have those silly flowers, too.



Contact Kelly Heidbreder at 

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