Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tomatoes - 2012

If you live in the Northern United States, you are just now seriously working at getting your tomatoes in.  If you didn't grow starts from seed, you should be able to still find a good variety of starts at your local nurseries.  don't forget to check your local feed stores, as they often bring in organic, heirloom varieties just for this time of year.

Tomato Nursery - inspected by my cat Macie (this is her first year ever being outside).  I ordered a flat of Amish Paste from 13th Street Nursery - wanted to make sure I got as many as I needed.  I also bought some Sweet 100, a yellow pear, a couple of small red slicers and one heirloom I wanted to try.  I had to put them somewhere since I wasn't ready to plant them, and it was still dipping down below forty degrees in April, so put them in my future pepper bed and kept them covered.  some of the tomatoes were a bit leggy, so had to use bamboo to keep them upright.

This is the area last year where I grew corn and sunflowers - and since I put the herb bed in, all the rows were in the wrong place.  Layers of mulch from last year were in the area where I needed the raised beds to be.  So, I had to move everything.  Scrape back all the mulch I had put down, and move the dirt over some.  Added to it some fresh soil mix from my supplier, but I was worried that I was putting in too much nitrogen with all the compost that is in the soil mix, so added in some coir ( more about that latter). 

I used a 2x6 to help me line up the rows - once I had a raised row of soil mix (soil mix, coir, and bone meal mixed in) - I covered it with weed block fabric ( not the plastic stuff, but the fabric).  then I returned the mulch to between the rows.

Here I am ready to put in the next raised bed portion.  first I put down the fabric and put some mulch over it, then put down the board at the edge f where I wanted the raised bed.  When the mulch was down, I folded back the fabric over the board, and built up my raised bed, covered it with the fabric, and then put down the next row of mulch.  One of the benefits of doing this was the black fabric helped to raise the soil temperature, and while it let in some rain, the soil didn't become a quagmire of mud from all the heavy rain we were having in April.

The beds for the Amish Paste are done - and the supports are in.  (Second potato bed in upper right of photo).

This idea was from one of those aha moments that you get in the middle of the night.  I had all the short tubing left over from covering the corn last year.  I took it, sometimes cutting it up as needed, and threaded it over the supports for the tomatoes.  Now, I can attach my row cover to keep the wind and rain from pounding my poor plants.

Tomatoes are in - these are all Amish Paste

With row cover on.  It is important to keep row cover on during cold, rainy, windy days, and some of the cold nights that we are having - still into May.  Last two years we have had lots of rain even in June, so I am prepared for that if we get that again.

Watering - I had originally planned on putting in a drip line under the fabric, but just didn't have the time and money.   I have seen in gardening catalogs these cones that you can put into the ground next to a plant, where you screw in a 2-liter bottle of water, and it waters just the roots.  I liked that idea, but didn't want to spend $100 for all the cones I would need for each tomato plant, and there was no way I could drink enough pop, water, etc to come up with that many 2-liter bottles.  Plus, I didn't like the idea of filling the bottles, and then screwing them in to each cone for all 26+ tomato plants.  I went to the local builders supply, and came up with some slotted drain pipe - about 2.5 - 3 inches across ( and the fabric sleeves for it that keep roots from growing into the slots and keeping it from draining).  I cut them at about 7 - 9 inches, covered them with the fabric sleeve, and the dug a hole between every two plants and put them in.

Here is what they look like all set up.  I can take my hose and put in about 2-3 gallons of water before it stops absorbing - all the water is going to the roots, and there is no splashing of soil onto the leaves.  I am hoping this reduces the amount of watering I have to do. It will be interesting to see how this method produces - I will be sure to keep you up to date on how it is going.  Tomatoes are starting to bloom now and getting taller!

1 comment:

  1. Cool!! Everything about this tomato set-up is so cool. =)