Monday, October 5, 2009

Planting Tomatoes

So they're in the ground now. In a way, the most difficult part is over ... at least in my experience, it's harder to take a plant from a seed to a successful transplant than it is to care for tomatoes once they're in the ground. Seedlings have to be watered once, sometimes twice a day ... they need to be carried outside every day ... and sometimes, they just up and die for no good reason.

But once in the ground, things start to get easier and less time intensive. For the in-ground tomatoes (Homestead 24), I outlined the growing area in old bricks, then dug a deep hole and filled it with the following ingredients:
  • 2 parts sphagnum peat moss
  • 2 parts Black Cow compost
  • 1 part perlite
  • dolomite
  • bone meal
  • blood meal
I next did the two containers (see below). I used 25-gallon containers I found at a local tree nursery. They had a big pile of old containers out back and let me snag two--this was actually the smallest size they had, but you can also grow good tomatoes in 10-gallon containers. For the potting mix, I used the same ingredients and mixed it up straight in the container with my hands and a shovel. Once the dry ingredients were combined, I watered it thoroughly and put the tower in position. The green stakes on the side are pounded into the ground outside the container and tied to the tower. I wanted to give it extra stability for later on.

The next few days will be crucial to get the young transplants established. When you transplant tomatoes (or any plant, really), you should water every morning. With tomatoes, watering takes on special importance because improper and inconsistent watering will actually ruin your harvest. More on that later.

I've also gotten a few letters with questions about fertilizer and feeding tomatoes. I'm going to start on that soon ... even though that's kind of like jogging blind-folded through a mine field. I've talked to dozens of people who grow great tomatoes, and I have yet to find anybody who does it exactly the same way—but people have strong opinions nonetheless.

Yet I will say this: I believe well-fed tomatoes begin with the soil. That's why I put so much work into mixing up and amending my soil. The compost is a natural, organic fertilizer that provides macro and minor elements; the blood meal provides nitrogen for early leaf growth, and the bone meal provides phosphorous and calcium for later. Still, there's plenty to say about fertilizer ...

Up next: The Nutritional Needs of Tomatoes

1 comment:

  1. tomato growing is fantastic. I live in Britain, I wish I was as lucky as you guys to be able grow tomatoes all year round.