Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tomato Strategies (part I side and back yard)

This is one of those posts where I attempt to keep my thoughts coherent. I have 10 tomato plants this year and 6 tomato growing strategies. I've said it before, tomatoes are complicated. They are pretty demanding and there are multiple philosophies about how to grow them right. I wouldn't say that any one is the right way, but like so many things they do deserve examination. The things to strive for are productivity, tasty produce, beauty and low maintenance. Another question is how much space do I have and how well will it grow here? Well, my gardening style is freestyle. I'm not worried about maintenance because I am obsessed with gardening. I like to experiment, follow rules and break them. I like to try obscure things and throw some new ideas into the mix. And that is how I grow tomatoes.

We'll start with my most neglected tomatoes. A problem I have is indecision. This makes me put things off because I cannot decide what to do. Such has been the sad fate of these 2 cherry tomatoes, super sweet, and juliet. I just planted these here 2 days ago. They are on my back porch which does not get as much light as the front in an earthbox. The earthbox is a self-watering container that is nice for a lot of plants, most actually, but not all. I had some herbs in here that weren't very happy because they liked it less moist. Anyway, these poor tomatoes might do better than they are right now.
This is my straw planting. It is a Dr Wyche. A couple years ago I did a lot of plants in strawbales. This was an excellent experiment. I learned a lot about what makes different plants happy but I also found it to be fairly high maintenance. The biggest problem with bales is that things get dried out fast. This time I cheated a little. I mixed in a little moist stuff, um what's it called? Some people actually plant disposable diapers but I have yet to take that plunge.

Now that I have taken the time to research this tomato, I am finding it likes LOTS of water and usually is not very productive. Uh oh. This might not have been a good idea for this variety. I was actually thinking about mounding up some compost around this to keep it wetter. I might do that.

One more thing. This isn't a bale. It is a metal laundry basket I got at yardsale for 50 cents that I stuffed with straw. This allowed me to shape it the way I wanted to and to include a deep pot shaped cavity in the center. I am of the philosophy to plant my tomatoes as deeply as possible. Up to the top leaves. A lot of new gardeners don't know that the stems will grow roots. You want your tomatoes to soak up as much water as possible. This tomato was 3 times as tall as it is here because 2 thirds of it is underground.
This is my centerpiece tomato for the back yard. It is planted on top of some bokashi. I am hopeful that my bokashi will greatly reduce the need to fertilize all the tomatoes that are above it. You may have noticed that all of my tomatoes are planted with other plants including marigolds and basil. You can't see it so well but I also planted leeks with these 3 tomatoes. I think if I planted them alone that they might end up being more productive, I can't really say but I've decided that a very important thing for me is beauty. I think tomatoes look prettier with flowers. However, flowers are more than pretty. They attract pollinating and pest eating insects so I grow them together.
There's so much more I could say about tomatoes and I will say more, but in my next post. Next is my front yard tomatoes. Please humor me by responding to my little survey. Thanks for reading!
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