Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tomato planting and growing tips!

It is tomato plantin' time!

Well, for some of you.

I'm waiting for my clay soil to dry up a bit more.
But even if you have your plants in, there are a few ideas I'd like to pass along for your consideration.

When I finally get out on my field, the first tomato planting rule I'll follow is :


I remove all the lower leaves and branches, and plant them way down.  I dig my holes nice and deep, put in a good shovelful of my best compost, and sink the plant in as low as possible, sometimes even laying the stem down, and covering it up.  In another world, if I had a lot less plants, I'd water before I covered my plant up with soil to make sure it got a good drink where it is most important.


Don't kill your plants with kindness, but get them established by making sure they are watered before they dry out. In the 2nd week or so after planting, give them a nice foliar feed...Mr Kelpman , a liquid kelp solution is always my first choice. In Niagara you can find it at Natural Insect Control, or mail order it through the fantastic Mumm's Sprouting Seeds in Saskatchewan.  When you see growth..

MULCH, then....


Yes, it's true, even in a dry year.
I read about "dry farming" tomatoes, and thought I'd give it a try last year.  It was something that had become pretty popular amongst tomato growers in California. It never rains in California, you know (it pours). Sorry for all the song references.
So both outside last year, and in the hoop houses, I stopped watering the tomato plants.
Outside the plants did well, but the hoophouse tomatoes were astounding!  They got no water from me, no natural moisture from the rain and the flavours were unparalleled. Intense and sweet and the plants were remarkably resilient. Sure in the middle of summer, some nights the plants were downright weepy.  But overnight they seemed to reconsider their sad state, and popped back to shape by morning.

If perhaps you are finding your tomatoes aren't as tasty as they should be, maybe overwatering is the problem.  You could be watering the flavour right out of them.  Consider how lacklustre the flavour of  tomatoes is in a wet year.  It is worth a try!

I like to tell the story of my little tomato plant that grew on my deck last year. Not in a pot.
In about a 1/2 " of dog fur and crud, between the cracks. A  little seed established itself...I didn't plant it.

The little tomato plant who could

It just grew, perhaps thrived on neglect. I didn't water it, and it wasn't even in full sun. It ended up being a currant variety and produced lovely little red cuties.  Finally the dogs noticed it and started playing a bit rough.  But its' will to survive was,  well...inspiring!

And the sucker or don't sucker debate..well I don't.

The stake or don't stake debate.....I don't again.  But I have LOTS of space.  If I had very little, I likely would stake.  But then, of course,  I'd have fewer plants and more time too!

(Next post up...a new series.....tomato of the week!  Can you stand the excitement!)

No comments: