cherry tomatoes by Yukié Matsushita

"Every tree, every growing thing as it grows, says THIS truth,
you harvest what you sow."
— Rumi

Ça y est !

I picked some of my orange and green cherry tomatoes. 
They are riping in a basket slowly and surely. 
In Loches, France, it's been exceptionally cool and rainy summer. 
Tomatoes, fruit trees, and other plants suffered. 
Most of my tomatoes are still green now.  
I heard that before a tomato rots, you could pick green tomatoes and let them ripe in a basket. 
So, that's what I will do. 
For me, from seed to riped tomato, it took four months and a half to grow. 
In warmer climates, it will take only two to three months. 

What grew well in excessive rain were zucchinis, mushrooms, and Marigold flowers. 
We planted two zucchini plants last year, and they grew well. This year, zucchini plants grew surprisingly bigger than last year. The garden bed which we made for zucchinis was not big enough. Zucchini plants went way over an edge of it. Since I did not expect the zucchini plant to grow so big, I planted some green beans next to them. I was afraid that green beans would be overshadowed and would not grow. However, they found their ways to grow and still gave us some green beans.  

We planted three cucumber plants, they grew fine, but one eggplant plant died because it got sick. 

I failed to master the use of mulch, so the weed took over the garden. 
Since it rained so much, so I did not tend our garden for days. And that was a big mistake. One time, the weed grew as big as the plants, which was quite overwhelming and discouraging. 
My friend Julie encouraged me to work on the garden for 30 - 60 minutes EVERY DAY, and her advice helped me. We must tend our garden a little bit every single day; otherwise, the weeds start to grow. 
I avoided working on the garden when it was wet, but actually, it was the best time to pull out weeds. 

Well, for someone who did not know much about gardening, the plants grew somehow.  
I am constantly fighting to get rid of weeds. Our garden reflects my garden skills — not very experienced. 


Too many rainy days


cherry tomatoes by Yukié Matsushita

"What cannot be cured must be endured."

How are cherry tomatoes doing in my garden? 
It's been cool and wet for the last few weeks in Loches, so that's not ideal weather for tomatoes.
They are hanging in there and enduring excessive water.
From tomorrow, the sun will come out. 


Slow growing tomato


tomato plan by Yukié Matsushita

"Every plant grows at a different rate."

I planted cherry tomato seeds in the yogurt pot at the end of March. 
It germed in a week and then grew very slowly. 
Three of them were transplanted in our garden after "Les saints de glace" (the ice saints day - May 13th.)
The month of May was quite wet and cold in France, so it did not grow very well. 
So while we had bad weather, I covered them with a mini plastic greenhouse so the small fragile tomato plants would not get wet from excessive rain.

Today (June 10, 2021, almost two months and a half after seedling,) they are the smallest tomato plants in our garden. 

We planted one Cœur de bœuf grafted tomato plant which we bought from the marché. This grafted tomato plant is already 30 times bigger than the cherry tomato plants. It is already forming a few small green tomatoes.

I care more about cherry tomatoes plants than any other plants in our garden. 
Is it because I grew them from the seeds?

Summer is coming and after many days of rain, we are having hot days this week. 
Tomato plants will love that. 

I am confident that my cherry tomatoes will grow fine and bigger.
That they will give us plentiful delicious tomatoes this year.  


Seedling experiment

On March 31, 2021, my friend Hervé gave me one old cherry tomato. He said that I could plant its seeds. 

cherry tomato by Yukié Matsushita

In this cherry tomato, there were about 35 seeds.

seedling starter mix by Yukié Matsushita 
I bought a seed starting mix for the germination.
My understanding of the seed starting mix is that it is light so that the seeds can germ easily. It is different from regular soil, so I have to transplant when the seedlings have developed their second set of true leaves (about in a month?); otherwise, the plants will get sick from a lack of nutrients. 

So, I planted 20 seeds (out of 35 seeds) in the different seed starter pots.

Overall, the month of April was cold in France, so my seedling experiment was not successful.
It was done in a sunroom, not in a greenhouse, so the tomatoes grew quite slowly. 

The plants need the right temperature, sun, soil, and water to grow.
18 out of 20 seeds started to germ after one week of planting.

Three weeks after planting the seeds: 

The tomato seeds in the small biodegradable seed starter peat pots grew only two leaves.
Not very impressive. 

The tomato seeds planted in the pots made of toilette paper tube grew two leaves and the tiny third leaf.  

seedling by Yukié Matsushita

The tomato seeds planted in the recycled plastic pots grew four leaves. 

origami planting pot by Yukié Matsushita
Tomato seeds planted in origami plant pot grew four leaves and two tiny leaves. 
(Click here to see how to make an origami plant pot.)
yogurt plant pot by Yukié Matsushita
Tomato seeds planted in our favorite goat yogurt pots grew four leaves and five tiny leaves. 
And this was the best I could do. 
Seeds are like fish, they grow bigger according to the size of the pot. 

In an ideal situation, three weeks after planting a seed, it can grow twice as big as this one. 

At marché I bought one pineapple-tomato plant, which is 18cm (7") tall, and one grafted tomato plant, which is already 50cm (20") tall. The lady at the vegetable shop told me to wait one more week to plant them. "Les saints de glace" the 'ice saints days' (cold snap in early spring) in France, is on May 11th and ends on May 13th this year, so that's the date all gardeners are waiting to plant vegetables. 


Healthy soil

gardening by Yukié Matsushita

The best time to plant tomatoes, peas, green beans, zucchinis, etc. is in late spring/early summer when the lowest temperature of the day is at least 10°C (50ºF). (Someone said 10 - 14 days after the last frost day.) 

I am getting ready to plant some lettuces in my garden soon. 

I am mixing organic fertilizers and compost so the soil will have more nutrients for vegetables. 

The foundation of good gardening is to have healthy soil.

Good soil = Good plants

healthy soil by Yukié Matsushita

I took a note from various gardening sources. 
So this is what healthy soil is made of; 45% Mineral matter, 25% air, 25% water, and 5% organic. 




Morigolds by Yukié Matsushita

On YouTube, I found Gardener Scott. He gives some advice to a beginner gardener. One of the advice he gave was that to be a gardener, you have to be patient. 

There is timing for everything. 
Time to sow, plant, water, harvest, etc. 

Spring is here, but it is still cold. 
In France, the frost is damaging fruit trees now. 
This is not the time to plant outdoor. 
My friend, Hervé, planted two tomato plants in his greenhouse. He thought that they would be fine from frost, but one of them has died. 

One of our neighbors has a big beautiful vegetable garden. Every year I admire it. They plant different flowers with vegetables, so the garden looks pretty. 
They don't plant anything until May. 
I want to copy them. I will not plant anything in my garden until my neighbors do. 

As a beginner, I will learn from the expert gardeners, the experiences of others, and my own experiments.

seedling by Yukié Matsushita

I thought bright orange flowers would be attractive to bees and birds. So I planted Marigolds seeds in the egg box. 

As waiting for the right day to plant, I am planting seeds indoors. 
I am amused to see tiny seed germs. 


Happy Easter

Happy Easter Monday!

My vegetable garden is ready; however, it is still too early to plant. 
So, I am waiting for the right timing. 

I planted some tomato and pea seeds indoors.
I might end up buying small tomato plants in the end, but I decided to try planting the seeds just for my garden experience. 

The paper egg box is a good seed starter pot. 

My first garden lesson 101.
It's IMPORTANT to read a seed packet thoroughly.
All the information you need is written on the package.

- Plant name/picture
- Company name
- Plant description, traits, characteristics
- Price, weight, quantity
- Dates packed for/sell by
- When to sow and transplant
- Planing depth and seed spacing
- Days to germination
- Days to maturity
- Harvest time
- Level of difficulty 

It was common sense to read the instructions, but I admit that I never paid attention to it until now. 



Hello again


garden tools by Yukié Matsushita

"We must cultivate our garden." — Voltaire

My garden tools.

Hello again, 
The last few years have been quite different because of moving and renovating a country house and a new apartment. Then previous year, Coronavirus hit worldwide, and that changed quite many things. 

Since 2012, I have been participating in a few art shows, and this time of the year, I would be busy preparing some illustrations for exhibitions. But that's all in pause now. At the moment, another lockdown in Paris.

It's now over one year that we live in an uncertain situation. Many people started to get some vaccinations, but still, we have to stay vigilant. We have to be careful not to catch the virus nor propagate it. 

I hired a marketing coach Neni, and she recommended that I post on Instagram, so I abanded blogging and started to post on Instagram. However, the blog of my friend Sarah Galloway inspires me to blog again. 

During this pandemic, we are staying in our country house in Loches instead of Paris. 
I am having a hard time focusing on my projects. 

What motivates me now is "gardening." And that's what I am inspired to draw. I am making a 240cmx370cm (7.9' x 12') rectangular vegetable garden. Right now, just digging and getting rid of weeds. I am new to gardening, so I like to take notes about it.