Saturday, April 30, 2011

Tomato update

This is my first time to grow tomatoes in pots. I've been planting them in various places around the garden for years and have decided that I would like to use the space for other things and give the soil a rest from the nightshades. For the last couple of years we've been buying tomato starts at Sunshine Gardens spring sale, this year I sent my daughter Autumn Sage to do the buying as I was at the "It's My Park Day" and devoted spouse at CAMN. She bought 12 plants, 8 are in pots, 4 on the side of the house in the greens-garden along with 3 eggplant and half a dozen basil.


Brandywine was the first to fruit this spring. I filled the base of each pot with my own compost, then added a mixture of organic potting soil and Texas Organic Compost, and topped 'em with Dark wood Organic Mulch.

Cherokee Purple

I stripped the bottom leaves and scrapped up the stem with my fingernail then spiraled them into the pots leaving only the top leaves above the soil. I've used the "trough" method that I learned in the Master Gardener Class for the past two years and wholeheartedly believe that this method is the best for shallow Central Texas soil. I also sprinkled organic plant fertilizer at the time of planting then spritzed the leaves with Alaska Fish Emulsion.

Cherokee Purple is my favorite tomato for taste and overall beauty! We've got 2 plants going this year.

First Ladies

Growing tomatoes is a joy and something I didn't think I'd ever get into...I mean I liked tomatoes and all but didn't get hooked until I had my first bumper crop and ate fresh heirlooms with basil, mozzarella/Tillamook cheddar, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh cracked pepper daily for I can't wait 'til July!

Garden Peach

The biggest frustration I've had over the years is with bottom rot...last year I was vigilant and kept the watering regulated, that was the key! The other problem is of course the nasty stink bug, which after seeing the damage, I got tough and started popping them in the early morning.

Japanese Black Trifle

I've put fresh compost on the top once since planting and have tried to hit them with the Fish Emulsion every 10 days to 2 weeks. With them bunched together I'm reminded of my cannery days in Alaska...P.U. I don't have any of the companion plants nearby but so far, no real pests to be concerned with, save a few leaf miners. Of course, the sparrows and wasps seem to be hanging around for a free meal, so thank you to them!

Eva Purple Bell

Except for the Purple Cherokee and, Green Stripe all the varieties are new to me this year...good going Autumn Sage, I'd have been more conservative in the selection process...gotten some Roma's and more cherry tomatoes.

Golden Cherokee

I should also mention that I pinched off the first set of flowers on each plant to encourage root growth, I forgot to pinch off the first new leaves after planting to encourage branching...but I never seem to remember all of the tricks...oh well.

Tomato Island

Green Gage (cherry tomato), Chocolate Stripe, Dona and Carmello are the plants on the side of the house, they don't seem to do so well because they have less light, but this morning I noticed that they all had fruit, and no pests. They haven't gotten the daily care that the Island gets and they are smashed between the fig and pomegranate trees that have now leafed out. The poor little 'maters don't have much we'll see how that turns out.

It's overcast today and we've got a 40% chance of rain, which we desperately need...this has been one super dry April and the pots require more water than plants in the ground, but I'll have trays under all the plants soon. I plan on filling the trays with water to help keep the roots cool through the hottest of days...yet to come!

Happy Gardening!


Marc O. said...

I like your new focus and descriptive headline. I feel like that's where my blog (and garden) have gone, too. Can't wait to see all the updates.

ConsciousGardener said...

Thanks Marc. I had hoped to meet you at Lucindas last night but my bread took longer to bake than I'd planned, and when Randy (of Horselips, Horsesense Blog) drove up...there were too many people and the tour was we drove back to my place, toured my garden and had a few more beers. I'm not a fan of crowds...

catmint said...

I'm impressed cheryl, at your organization and dedication. I've got a few tomato, they just seed themselves then it's a race to see who will get them first when they ripen, probably it will be birds. cheers, catmint