Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Tomatoes in an EarthBox
So I finally planted the yellow Azoychka tomatoes in their EarthBox.
If you're new to it, the EarthBox is a self-watering container that has gained a near-rabid following. In essence, it's a two-level box, with a potting medium suspended over a water reservoir. The soil wicks water up as needed, and the top of the box is covered, so less water can evaporate. You add nutrients and dolomite at planting time, and never feed them again.
To maintain the EarthBox, you simply keep the reservoir full and let the box handle the rest. It's very easy to set up, with simple provided instructions. The biggest downside to the EarthBox is the cost: a full set-up, including the company's staking system, costs over $100. But it's a one-time expense: the box is reusable, year after year, and you can grow pretty much anything in the box. In addition to tomatoes, I'm also planning cabbages, romaine lettuce and broccoli. If you want more information, click on EarthBox.
I don't know about you, but the last week has been pretty hard on my little transplants—yet it's also been instructive. With temperatures of 92º to 94º every afternoon, we're at the very limit of what tomatoes can stand. And it's been interesting to watch the different varieties react to it. I'm growing one heat-tolerant variety (Homestead 24) that has absolutely loved the heat. I mean it ... these plants have shot up and are already more than a foot tall. On the other hand, my beefsteak variety (Belgian Giant) is just about ready to cry uncle and head for the great compost heap in the sky. I've had to water them twice a day for the past few days to prevent a total collapse. I'm curious if this will affect the harvest. I'm also growing an heirloom variety—Marvel Stripe—and they have been somewhere between the other two. Not thriving, but not wilting every afternoon either.
Thankfully, it's supposed to cool down by the end of this week.
My last thought for the day: it's almost time to start fertilizing, so this weekend I'll begin the regular feeding program. I'm going to be using Espoma's Tomato Tone organic granular fertilizer, a synthetic granular fertilizer, and a liquid tomato fertilizer and see how they work. I know it's not exactly scientific—these are different varieties, after all—but I'll still be curious.
Up Next: Watering Tomatoes