My family loves tomatoes and we eat a lot of them. Therefore I grow a lot of them to can. My tomato plants were started months ago and were moved to the cold frame several weeks ago to harden off and prepare for their planting out in the big garden. This year I will grow the two varieties you see in the picture above. Brandywine and Big Rainbow. Both large open pollinated heirloom varieties. Also this year we are planting Moneymaker which is a large main crop tomato and a Reisentraube which is a small plum tomato for oven roasting. I always plant a yellow pear tomato or two for the kids too. It's one of their favorite snacks. All heirloom and all from saved seeds.
See the roots starting to form along the stem of the tomato. I plant large indeterminate heirloom tomato varieties. I have seen these tomato plants hit 10 to 12 feet sometimes if I don't cut the tops out. That takes a good root system to support that large of a bush. And a sturdy tomato frame. It also takes a lot of roots to supply food and moisture to that large of a tomato plant.
So this is what works for me here in the Midwest in zone 5A. I'm in rolling hills of the glaciated plains. It's the harsh prairie in all it's glory.
First we stretch a string and space holes about every 4 to 5 feet apart along the row.
Then I break out the two additives that I always put in the bottom of my tomato planting holes. Powdered milk and epsom salt. These are for calcium and magnesium to help deter blossom end rot. In the years that I have been doing this I very seldom get fungal diseases and I also mulch my plants well which I also think makes a big difference.
In the bottom of each hole we put about a half cup powdered milk and a tablespoon epsom salt and mix it into the soil at the bottom of the hole.
As you can see the tomatoes have filled their cups but are not root bound which is exactly how we want them. Look at all those nice strong healthy white roots.
Now pinch off all the leaves that will be below ground and cover with dirt. Water well for several days and then apply a good heavy mulch and a sturdy tomato cage.
And if the good lord is willing and the creek don't rise about mid to late July they'll be looking like this.
Anyone else out there have any secrets they want to share on planting tomatoes? What works for you? What varieties do you like ?
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter