Sunday, June 13, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part 14: Tomato plants!

Oh man do I wish my tomatoes looked like that right now! I can barely remember what a garden fresh tomato tastes like. The ones we get from our local grocery store are not like garden tomatoes lol. By garden tomatoes I mean that they have this fresh tomato smell and are so juicy when you cut into them the insides pour out all over your cutting board. The texture of the tomato is indescribable. The tomatoes from the store have to be shipped from point A to point B and they have lots of meassures they take so they aren't rotten when you buy them. These meassures make for not the tastiest tomatoes in my book.

If you haven't planted your tomato plants I would do so very soon.  Most varieties have an extremely long growing season. Or maybe it just feels that way! Here's some tips that I want to pass along when planting /caring for your tomato plants.

- Tomato plants need full sun. Plan out your spot accordingly.
- When digging your hole place your tomato plant sort of sideways. Say what?! I mean lay it down like it is tired. It will sprout roots the whole length of stem you cover with dirt. This has been known to be great for people with a shorter growing season. If it makes you feel better another option is to stand it upright like you think you are supposed to (hee hee), but dig the hole real deep until the bottom set of leaves is touching the ground. Doesn't it already have enough established roots? Why do we want more roots? More roots equals a happy tomato plant. It will get more food easier and it will be grr stronger
- Now that your maters are in the ground you need to keep them evenly watered. Tomatoes don't like water on their foliage. I go the soaker house route. And not those green flat ones that grandma had. Mine is a permiable rubber so it drips out everywhere. This saves on water lost through evaporation from the hot summer sun. And no more changing the setting on your sprinkler every 15 minutes because what you thought was good was really just a slight breeze pushing your spray of water further. My neighbors must have thought I was a nut job. I would change my sprinkler daily. Really I'm not kidding. Thank goodness I came to my senses.
- Prevent cutworms by putting a makeshift collar aound the base of your plant. Old deli/sour cream/cottage cheese/yogurt containers work well as do strips of cardboard. Anything to make a collar around the stem. Cutworms like to eat the stems.
- Tomatoes like to snack on a mixture of  1/2 can of beer (cheers to the other 1/2!), 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup baby shampoo, 1/2 cup liquid fertilizer, 1/2 cup molasses. Add 1/2 of this mixture to a 5 gallon bucket. Apply to the ground area of your tomato plants (and your whole garden!) Apply every three weeks. Thank you Jerry Baker. :)
- Stake or cage your tomatoes that need support.
- Mulch greatly keeps in the moisture.  

I will update you with any other tips I have!

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