knitting, but not much happening

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, projects

no new flowers today but here’s a taste of what i’ve been eating for lunch every day this week. mm-mmm—nothing like it. i can’t get enough.

we’ve had several days of heavy rain in a row, following several weeks of extremely dry weather. such a relief—not that it’s been hot, but the dryness really gets into my skin after a while.

the other day david came into the house from the yard, sat down, pulled his pad of paper in front of him, and said (very seriously): anne, we need to talk about the tomato plants

after choking down a giggle i said yeah, they’re awfully big.”
just as a reference, i give you this:

this is what they looked like after all the dry weather we’ve had.
here’s what they looked like last year about this time:

since it started raining, they’ve grown visibly, if you can believe that’s even possible. there are a couple that, when the vines are completely extended, measure at least 12 feet in height. yikes.
plus, the weight of the water is pulling down the vines and they are now crawling all over the peppers and the ground. so it’s getting to be a mess out there.

(buildings are same size as always)

david: you are not going to be able to penetrate the vines to pick when the tomatoes start ripening
me: oh, i think i can squeeze in—i might have to crawl, though . . .
david (looks at the ceiling): i don’t think it’s possible. is there any reason why we can’t lop them off along the tops? you might lose some, but—
me (shrieking): NO. (calmer) well, at least, i don’t think so. i never heard of anyone doing it
david: did you ever know anyone who had to?
me: no
(long silence—david is really good at waiting me out)
david: i underestimated how big they could get; i should have used much bigger cages to support them
me: we-ell, i really don’t think anyone could have predicted what’s happening out there. i guess i could call cooperative extension and ask an agent.
or ask the blog . . .

so i’m asking: does anybody know if it’s ok to prune tomato plants at the top?

most days i i find it’s a good strategy to go out and look for what’s ripe and remain in total denial about the overall picture.
and what’s ripe has been so yummy—correcting the soil not only gave a growth boost to the whole thing but made it all taste a lot better, too.

i’m picking a few of these every day now—they are ripening later than usual but it’s been truly chilly most of july. in fact we are about to break a record in NE ohio for the coolest july weather. still, not too shabby on produce—the fridge is full and i’m giving it away to everyone i know.

the other night i went out and picked all the eggplant that was hanging low near the ground—the plants are really loaded with fruit and i figured taking these in would lighten the stress and help the rest grow a little bigger. we’ve been eating eggplant for the last couple of weeks, but this was more than we can use at once.

so i cut them in chunks, tossed with olive oil, and roasted on cookie sheets til golden. once they were cooled i put them in ziplocs for the freezer. i’ve done this with excess eggplant for the last two years and it is an awesome way to save it for later—they taste really good cooked in pasta sauce, curry, or a mid-winter batch of ratatouille.

tomorrow it’ll be time to pick greens again but i think a couple of the spinners may want to take some home, and then there are more knitters coming on monday . . .

the winter squash is coming along nicely too—i planted a seed mix so it’s a surprise what types we’ll end up with. i know we have at least one acorn squash and whatever this is (possibly muscat de provence?). the plants are growing right through the fence out onto the back street; every week or so i go around and re-lay the vines where they won’t get damaged from car tires.

i bet you think i’m running on about the garden because i haven’t been knitting. well, yes and no.
i HAVE been knitting a LOT, but . . . all the progress is on big projects where it doesn’t show much (at least, not to me)

every night i add at least one repeat to nightingale and it’s finally looking a lot longer.
not quite long enough to say it’s almost done (i haven’t measured, but i can tell it’s not there yet).
i’m contemplating leaving it be until i go away next week; this piece is at the point where it would make excellent plane knitting—i know the body pattern by heart though i still need the chart for the edging (but it’s a small chart, easily totable).

and i’d rather finish off the bee thing before i go—that would save a lot of hassle, since it needs to be blocked before the gifting deadline. if i finish it by next weekend, i could block it before i go. then, david could ship it to its final destination just before he leaves so as to be there when it arrives (very cryptic, i know, since i haven’t explained our august travel plans yet—more on that next week).

i’m well into my second ball of yarn and a little ways into the swarm pattern of the middle section (see the wittle bees?). this is my favorite pattern to knit in this piece (i dunno why).
i have hit that point though, where the rows are starting to feel long and i can only complete about four per hour. i keep thinking i’m less than halfway through, so why does it feel so big, so soon?

i think the bulk of the fingering yarn is one thing that makes it feel big. another thing is that i might be almost halfway there—there are about 170 rows in all and i’ve completed about 110 or so? but there is knit-on edging too so i can’t really be halfway there . . .

probably the biggest reason it feels like it’s slowing down is that i’m not knitting on it enough. and when i do, it’s late. so if i put down nightingale for just one week and motor on the bee thing, maybe i can make it.

i’ve also been thinking a lot these last two days about my travel knitting (besides nightingale). i’ve swatched for a new big project in a yummy yarn that i might take along (not sure yet)

but i’m feeling a need to get some small projects on the needles for traveling and socializing. i’m jonesing for a sock project (it’s only been a week, but i miss them!) so i’ll definitely pack the two nate mates that need to be finished. and i have mitts on the brain—fall is just around the corner. a neckwarmer also makes a nice travel project, hmmm.

i had to go through my stash today to find a few things to send my niece who requested a yarn gift for her birthday. and it really got me in the mood for knitting fall accessories . . .

ok, now, i’ve got a bee thing singing my name in the other room; i’m going to answer the call.

40 thoughts on “knitting, but not much happening

  1. Holy Smokes! Those are huge tomato plants! My tomatoes are finally starting to turn red. I should be picking some soon.

    I love the yellow lace project. The yellow yarn is so cheery! 🙂

  2. Considering that tomato plants aren’t hurt when their branches are torn off by weight or storms, I wouldn’t think there would be a problem with pruning them. More rain is predicted this next week, too!

  3. A couple years ago, I had a tomato plant grow to be approx. 12′ h by 18’w and the vines cascaded over the balcony. I pruned it as needed for ease of picking.

    There are a lot of tricks about pruning tomatoes — and different guidelines for bush vs. vine varieties. Generally, the bottom branches get pruned b/c they’ll suffer from lack of light anyhow. It’s usually good for the plants to be topped towards the end of season but I don’t know of a reason why you couldn’t do it now. It’s going to be hard to damage the plants if they are that healthy so do whatever makes it easiest to get the tomatoes off as you don’t want over-ripe out there.

  4. With indeterminate tomato plants you can stop the growing by pinching off the top…pruning it. The remaining tomatoes will get bigger and ripen faster as the plant won’t have to work so hard.

    Man………….those are freakin huge! LOL

    I am getting very close to the swarm section….yay!

  5. Mitts mitts mitts! I’ve had them on the brain lately too…

    can’t wait to see what the swatch becomes

  6. I agree with the others about topping the tomatoes. It will help the remaining ones get ripe and big faster. Sorta like deadheading flowers?
    If you find you can’t get rid of all the tomatoes, my son-in-law has a chiropractic office on Middlebranch. Feel free to drop them off. heehee
    And whatever the yellow is will really be beautiful. The color already is.

  7. Kim is correct- prune away! I however have always been chicken and possessive of my tomatoes and don’t, so I have to deal with the toppling. My tallest ones are on the deck in containers and tower over me. They lean over tall tomato cage and then the rail eventually.

  8. I had to laugh out loud at the vision of David with his serious face on, come to discuss the tomatoes 🙂 The projects are looking fabulous! I’m getting really antsy for blocking… 😉

  9. I think it’s ok to cut the tomato plants, and I know it’s ok to pick of some of the leaves to let the sun get to the fruit, my mum always did that.

  10. the reason people don’t top tomatoes is because in commercial operations they keep ’em growing along in a special system with cords and thus producing ever more tomatoes (in a greenhouse obviously).
    there’s no sense in doing that as an individual , especially with outside tomatoes who’ll have to face the change of wheather and will not ripen any more. indeed all growth in height and leaves takes away from the fruits (that’s also why you should take out the side shoots in the ‘armpits’ of the tomato plant so all growth is concentrated on the main stem and you’ll get big tomatoes that will ripen). same goes for a squash or pumpkin plant : at some point forward growth must be stopped to concentrate on growing and ripening the fruit.
    the knitting looks as good as ever.

  11. I should send a picture of our tomato plants to you. You would laugh! We’ve had all rain, all the time, no sun, and no growth. Pitiful, I tell you! The knitting all looks grand!

  12. Anne, Do you have a spare room, I’d love to come to visit, so I could knit and enjoy the fruits of your garden..They are both so beautiful..

  13. Oooh, waiting for more info on bee thing. We had a swarm last week that landed on a very high branch on the neighbor’s tree. We thought we lost them. But — we had a rain storm that night that broke the branch, the bees fell to the ground, and John was able to reclaim the swarm.

  14. My husband pinches off the little buds in the v-junctures of the branches to keep the plant from growing new branches…

    Our plants are tall, loaded with tomatoes, but we haven’t had even one start to turn red yet!

  15. I am so jealous of your bounty! I’ll be lucky to get a tomato by November!
    My Brother in law has to wire 2 heavy duty, 6 foot tall cages together for his tomatoes. They are taller than his garage!

  16. My husband used rebar for tomato cages when we gardened. We could stack two, and the plants grew as tall as they had support. Use Amber’s method to prune, if you can’t stand to just ‘lop’. Also, cut the bottom branches off to provide air to the plant.

  17. Yes, definitely prune the tomatoes, so that plant will put its energy into the fruit. Lop off all new runners, prune the tops – it will make for a healthier, more productive plant. At this point you don’t want it sending out new branches.

    The bee project is amazing!

  18. Pruning the top of indeterminate tomatoes will cause them to form more suckers, making the plants even bushier. It might be better to prune the suckers they already have rather than top them. Or do both. My grandpa worked the railroad so wasn’t always home to catch all the suckers when they were tiny, what he did with the big suckers was prune them off just after the first truss, he felt that by letting the sucker form some fruit the plant would be less likely to form more suckers. I dunno if it worked quite like that, but his tomatoes were good. Also, he rooted the suckers he pruned off for a new supply of tomato plants.
    Determinate varieties shouldn’t be topped, by my understanding, because they are only supposed to grow so high. Tell that to my determinate romas, they’re the biggest plants I have so far this year and they keep growing!

  19. I say hire small neighborhood children to go in there and get them for you!


  20. I’m adding my two cents to the garden question…yes you can lop off the tops if you want, or you can selectively prune some of the side stems, you can even–and I know this is really hard to do–take out every other plant in the row. Um…that IS a row they’re in, right? Last year was a banner year for the fungus the tomato plants sometimes get but this year, well….let me just say there’s some really big plants in my back yard as well! You’re not going to do any real damage, because what’s the difference if you prune them or if they’re so heavy they’re toppling over and so thick the air and light can’t get to the inside of the “hedge?” Good luck!

  21. I’m so thrilled you asked that tomato question. I have the same problem, and my plants are in pots! I can’t wait to lop off the tops tomorrow!

    They have grown 2 feet past the tops of their cages, and since some of the branches are heavy with fruit they’ve bent over at the top of the cage and kinked the branch. I thought that it would kill the plant, but it doesn’t seem to care.

  22. Goodness gracious, those tomatoes are practically radioactive! They look absolutely gorgeous and delicious and juicy and many other favorable adjectives. Kudos to proper soil management and reaping the rewards thereof 😛

  23. All your vegs look so good. I will be really happy if my tomato plants grow so hugh. It’s a nice problem to have.

  24. How did you know that my most favorite sandwich in the whole world is tomato and lettuce with mayo (the real stuff) on gazillion-grain bread?? and fresh from the garden? doesn’t get any better!! double yum-o!

    p.s. love the yellow project too!

  25. My husband loves our huge tomato plants because they are making it impractical to mow a good chunk of the backyard. I’m glad you asked the question and tomorrow I’m going to be doing a little judicious pruning so all those little tomatoes will ripen. By the way – if your August trip should take you south, East Nashville has a tomato festival Aug. 8.

  26. All I can think about your garden’s bounty is “ratatoulle”. Which I always thought of as a winter comfort food thing, but now understand the “serve cold or at room temp” directions for the summer when all the veggies are so happy.

  27. HOLY SMOKES!!!! I am impressed and in awe. I’m the one who usually has what I call rainforest tomatoes, and they are usually soooo heavily laden with fruit (but ripen later than my neighbors sickly ones, under stress). But this year mine are only “acceptable,” not “exciting.”

    YOURS ARE EXCITING!!!!! And that sandwich, OMG, looks like Heaven. I’ve not got a ripe one yet.

  28. Yes, you can pinch off the top of a tomato plant. It will just tell the tomato to shoot out more branches. No problem at all.
    OK it’s not even 11am here, and I want that sandwich!
    Beautiful… can’t wait to see more Nightingale. The “bee” looks beautiful too. My favorite color. Can’t wait!

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