Tomatoes a bust, but hello lettuce!

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My first veggie experiment in Texas was a failure, but I’ve quickly moved on to my next challenge. The tomatoes I planted in mid-September never did seem to thrive, and then a week or so of nights in the 20s and 30s didn’t help. Nor did the fact that I neglected to cover them up. At my Wisconsin home, flowers and containers near the house always fared better when the mercury dipped below freezing, negating the need to cover them the first few frosts. Not so here in Texas. Although I’m not completely sure they would have risen to the potential I saw in them anyway — they hadn’t been growing much since first planted.

As much as I was hoping I might have my own garden-fresh tomatoes this fall/winter, I’ve decided not to worry about it too much. Yep, that means I’ve moved on, this time to lettuce, a cool season crop I think has a better chance of surviving any cooler nights we might get here in central Texas. On Nov. 23, I planted several kinds of lettuce from a variety seed pack I bought at the local Home Depot. I used the containers I had planted the tomatoes in, given I don’t have keyhole or raised bed gardens in yet.

I ringed each of the containers with Black Seeded Simpson, a favorite lettuce in my Wisconsin garden. In the middle of one container, I also threw in some looseleaf Oakleaf; the second container got Rouge d’Hiver, a red Romaine. Seven days after I planted the lettuce — seven days of 60s and 70s and lots of sunshine — I’m happy to report the seeds have sprouted! This time around I’ve been paying closer attention to the new plantings (it’s been really windy, and together with the warm temps, the pots really dried out quickly and needed lots of water). The daytime temperatures also are expected to be only in the upper 40s and 50s today and tomorrow, and with tonight’s low of around 35 expected, I think I’ll either cover the pots or bring them inside.

Really looking forward to fresh lettuce, and with a little luck and extra care on my part, I might just have some in a couple weeks!

Fence-staining: A few of the photos in the gallery with this blog show another project I’ve been working on — staining our fence. I can honestly say I had no clue that it would take SO LONG to stain the picket fence. The nice weather during Thanksgiving week allowed me to get the inside of the fence stained, but I’ve still got one long outside section to do, plus two shorter outside sections. And that’s just to get one coat on it! Hopefully, the weather will cooperate enough to get that finished soon.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Hi, we’ve had similar failures with tomatoes, but after trial and error, had a bumper crop in spring of 2014. We find spring the best time to plant and grow tomatoes. We also tried 3 varieties and Celebrity was the winner by far. Hope sharing our experience is helpful to you. It will be Celebrity tomatoes planted in spring of 2015 for us in the future.

    • Thanks! I planted Celebrity tomatoes in Wisconsin, so I’ll give them a try here in Texas, too. Tomatoes are absolutely my favorite thing to grow (mostly because I love to eat them so much), so I was hoping to get a spring and fall crop here. But I’ll take what I can get. And, next fall, when I’m a bit more settled here, I’ll probably try to give them a go again.

  2. I loved that you put the word “yet” after “don’t have a keyhole!” In another month, you’ll want to be starting your tomatoes indoors with grow lights, and by mid-March or so, you can plant them, raised bed or not. You will be wanting to give away your tomatoes, there’ll be so many. I just know it. 😀

    I can’t wait to see how your lettuces play out. Containers are a great way to keep ’em. Seeds always do better for me direct sowing, rather than starting and hardening first. I always feel like I have a few extra children when I have plants growing indoors and hate when I finally kill them all (which I usually do).

    I am so far behind my garden it is not funny! Life just keeps getting in the way. Glad to see you’re settling into the Texas life.

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