Thursday, September 20, 2012

Tomatoes and New Hutch

 A lovely morning, and a very pleasant change from the rain and grossness of the past few days gave me an opportunity to get some photos of our rapidly expanding tomato plants. As you can see, this Cherokee Purple is thriving. In fact I had to re stake it because it was sprawling all over the place on us.

 While not everything is perfect with the garden, much of it is growing well. The bad things are coming first because they are the notable exceptions right now. (Watch, now that I've said that we will get devastated.) Above Left is one of the Cherokee Purples that has had a bit eaten out of it. Not sure what took some of it, but it isn't a huge problem so far. Right is what is left of the poor tomato plant that the horn worm ate. It is still clinging to life, and we're letting it keep doing its thing. If a tomato comes off the plant we will save the seeds.

 The rest of the garden however is doing quite well. As you can see the tomato plants have gotten quite large. Next year when we will be planting at a reasonable time I will have to make absolutely sure that the stakes I put up are well seated into the ground, strong, and tall! The stakes I have in now barely hold up the plants, and aren't really tall enough. The first stakes I put down were 4 feet tall overall with one foot in the ground, and you can't even see them from the sun side anymore. I don't know exactly how many tomatoes we have on the plants, but probably over two dozen. I look forward to seeing what we get and what seeds we can save. We are watching the weather closely so we can cover the plants at night when the first frost starts to threaten. When it looks like it is going to be really nasty we are planning to dig up and bring inside plants that have a lot of tomatoes on them and just need a bit longer to produce. As non gardeners there has been a lot of learning happening with the tomatoes and the garden in general. For instance, our ground isn't as good as pure potting soil. Not in any way a shock to people who know anything about gardening, but definitely something that was good for us to know!

Left is the photo of the porch garden. It is difficult to get a good sense of scale from the separated picture without a reference person around. The huge tall plant is actually one of the tomato plants that got planted especially late.  It has been doing quite well, and the Lady of the House has been working on planning what we are going to be doing with it for the winter since a lot of it is cooking herbs. We are planning on bringing most of them inside and putting them on a table in front of the front door. That way they will get lots of light, and be at least somewhat protected from the depredations of the pets. That's something we will probably try to do a post on in the future. Just seeing how the herb garden does inside. If our cat insists on eating everything in sight like she has been known to do in the past we will probably see how they do in the studio. Less direct sunlight, but all of the studio lights use natural light for the benefit of the artists color accuracy.

In other news, the newest hutch is finally finished. As you can see it has a few design changes from the earlier hutches that will hopefully make it a better place for the rabbits to live while also having been less expensive and easier to make. The first major modification is something that came out of the design of the growing out hutch, and that is using 2x2s for the verticals for the large door with wire on it. That worked well, and I kept it. This lightens the door reducing how much it gets dragged down by its own weight.

The second major change is the legs. Rather than having the uprights go from the top of the hutch all the way to the ground, I have the legs separate from the uprights of the structure of the hutch. This allows for the legs to be replaced easily if they rot, get damaged, or what ever. What I need to do before putting a rabbit in though is put in a secondary angle brace running front to back since they are less stable than the full length legs. They are however MUCH easier to install.

The third change is again to the doors but fairly minor. Through out the use of the hutches the doors have been a bit of a challenge to put together, and have been annoying to work with as they swell and shrink in the weather. To try to deal with this particular problem, which is always worse on the solid doors was to change materials. This time I used 1"x8" planks screwed together to make the door. It is FAR lighter than the 2x4 doors, and easy to make as well. We will see how it handles swelling.

The fourth change is again a fairly major one, and that is creating the private area out of slats from pallets. It was easy to do, quick to work with, and best of all, free. We will see how quickly the rabbits destroy the hardwood, but hopefully it won't be too bad.  If I wanted to really make the thing look nice I could sand them down, and probably will in the future when speed isn't as much of a factor.

The final change is one that is something that I had intended to do before, and has been clearly demonstrated how important it is. That is extending the roof out to the sides more. I am hoping that this will minimize how much rain gets into the hutches. Yes the rabbits have a place they can shelter from the weather in the form of their private area. However their food gets wet on really wet days. I don't think this will completely ameliorate that but I hope it will make a significant difference though.

It's Official, No Babies
Unfortunately it is clear that Umbra did end up getting heat sterility. We will see if we will be able to have another litter this season. Fortunately it isn't a matter of life or death for us at this point! We do still have the good fortune of living in a country where food is plentiful so our first year failure won't lead to a very hungry winter. Next summer we will need to figure out how to keep him cool enough to not have this sort of thing happen again.

1 comment:

  1. On bringing the plants inside with a cat: tomatoes are nightshades and deadly to pets. If the cat shows any interest in eating them at all, move them to a place where they can't be eaten. I had to give away a lovely tomato plant because the cat wouldn't stop trying to eat it. Same is true for alliums. That means no chives, scallions, garlic, onions, etc indoors.

    Other herbs should be ok, but double-check them online. (my cat ate a ton of rosemary with no ill effects)