Planting Tomatoes

| 5/15/2017 12:00:00 AM

Tomatoes used to be easy to grow. Almost anybody with a garden would plant them often letting them sprawl over the ground in many directions. The long, hot, lazy days of summer would kiss the plants and the bees would buzz and fertilize them voraciously.


Then Came the Blight

Unfortunately, the rise of big box stores brought bugs and diseases from one part of our country to another. The blight, once in the soil, lives for many years and can contaminate new crops for a long time. Rain splashes the organisms up from the soil infecting first the lower leaves then moving up the plant. They get spots, turn brown, wilt and die. If you are lucky, you may get a crop before this occurs. If the weather is damp early in the season, you may not get a crop at all.

Soil specialists with whom I have consulted and interviewed in my book, “Celeste's Garden Delights,” have reassured me that—if your plants get absolutely everything that they need—they cannot be eaten by bugs (the sugars are too high) and they are not susceptible to disease. In our depleted soils, this is generally not the case. But last year I gave my tomatoes some extra care and the blight didn't make its appearance until nearly the end of the summer. Here's what I did:

I prepared my soil as usual adding organic alfalfa meal, greensand and Azomite powder. Then I forked it loose using a broad fork. Raking it flat, I placed a garden mat on top. This is a durable tarp with holes where the plants will go.

Then, I bought healthy, organic plants. Next, when I went to plant them, I dug a deep hole. Into the hole went one fish head, two crushed eggshells, two aspirin, some micorrhizial fungi and a bit of compost. Then the tomato was placed in the hole. More compost was added around the plant bringing it almost to the same level as the soil. Leaving a slight depression where the tomato was placed allows water to be directed right to the plant. Tamping it down very lightly (roots need oxygen), it was watered well at least a couple of times.

Joe Franken
10/5/2018 3:55:34 PM

For staking tomato plants...I use 7 foot steel fence polls (one purchase) and remove and store at end of season..Bought steel post hammer from Menards for installing each year. Buy cheap cloth from joanne fabric... Tear it into 3 to 4 inch wide strips and then cut four 2 inch long cuts in both ends with scissors .... I then knot the strips around the polls (or pass thru the holes in the polls and knot) using 1/3 (short) and 2/3 (longer) in length for each strip and then, when needed, tear each end into 4 strips (8 total) for tying and supporting the plants. Very inexpensive especially if one buys material on sale (I choose any green material to blend with surroundings). Initially can tear entire length of material in 3 to 4 inch wide strips (and cut four 2 inch long cuts in each end) to be ready for when needed.

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