Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Tomato Patch



O Wise One and I have alternated several days now in and out of the tomato patch. The tomatoes are off to a good start, all 54 of them. We did not lose even one plant. Now that they were established it was time to put the rings of wire around them. We took turns laying straw mulch around each plant and in the walk ways. This should help to keep the roots cool, retain water and suppress weeds. Each plant is planted 3 foot from it's neighbor which should be plenty room to grow and still allow for picking and airflow.  Each is encased in a 8 foot tall wire  ring to support the plant itself and protect it from being broken by deer or wind. Throughout the season we will continue to tie up and support branches as they become weighted with fruit. 

This year as always we have the open pollinated heirloom Brandywine and the open pollinated heirloom Oxheart. Both are large indeterminate and the Oxheart has a traditional leaf while the Brandywine is a potato leafed variety. 

You can find my tutorial for how I personally plant my tomatoes HERE


As we add straw mulch and rings we also sparingly apply rabbit manure around the base of each plant on top of the straw. As it rains through out the season this will melt down into the straw giving the plant nourishment.  We also remove any suckers and take off the bottom three leaves so that there are no leaves touching the straw or the soil. 


I also like to train my tomatoes with a double crown. You can see the plant in the picture above that it V's at the top. The left stem of that V is the original main stalk of the tomato. The right stem is a single sucker that I have allowed to grow along side the main stalk thus giving me eventually two strong stalks coming from my vine. I do this when my plant is about 18 inches to 2 foot tall. I remove all other suckers below  and above that .   


Here is another example. The stem on the left is the main stalk and the one on the right a sucker that will eventually become a second main stalk.


As my tomatoes grow I continually remove as many suckers as I can get around to and try to keep my plants tied to the cages because I don't want the wind whipping them around and breaking them. I also use the ties to help keep the vine contained in the ring and upright until large enough that it will remain that way and fill out the ring. 

I tie my tomatoes with none other than cut up panty hose. Yes I am the last woman on the planet that still wears panty hose or so my daughters tell me. 



My plants are already blooming and setting fruit which is a good sign and we are now able to sit back and monitor for garden pests, remove suckers and keep them watered from here on out. We are glad to get the heavy work of strawing and ringing done and behind us. As the July heat moves into the region we hope to move beyond the initial heavy planting and more into a maintenance and harvest cycle atleast with the tomatoes. 


The plants themselves look healthy and dark green with no sign of disease at this point. They have those nice thick and stocky stems for support which is what we like to see and no sign of fungal issues. We should be well on our way to a successful tomato crop God willing.

How many tomatoes did you plant this year?


Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter

15 comments:

  1. Wow! That's a lot of maters. Your garden is beautiful as always.

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  2. We set out 70+ plants and lost one. I'm taking some suckers and rooting them and will set them out and see if they produce. I have some extra space so I figure "Why not?" I'm trying a weave instead of cages this year as I have a lot more plants and don't have the wire and can't buy it to make cages.

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  3. Your staking method is impressive. I found the magic of bunny poop years ago when my daughter had a wonderful 4H project named Honey Bunny. By the way, your daughters are wrong. You are not the last woman to wear panty hose/ stockings. It looks much more classy.

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    1. Ditto on the hose! Remember the movie Steel Magnolias when Dolly Parton said she hadn't left home with lycra on them thighs in 30 years because she was raised right. I don't wear dresses without hose. My daughters both hate hose : )

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  4. I planted around 60 tomato plants this year.. and I still have probably a half dozen more I need to get in the ground still. I dont have a very large space to plant them in so I plant them about 2 ft apart in 2 rows about 2 ft apart.. then move out about 3 ft and do the double row again. They're tight but I do what I must.. This year I planted the 3 double rows apart from each other.. Last year late blight got to one row and it infected the other two super fast.. Im hoping this way it'll keep them far enough apart it wont affect the others if they get hit by it again..
    I make all of my tomato products I use to cook with, so loads of tomatoes is what I plant the most of.

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  5. Wow! 54 plants and all fertilized with rabbit manure . . . you are going to have a bumper crop. Happy canning and Happy 4th of July!
    Steve

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    1. That's my hope! Lots of tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, ketchup and pizza sauce to go into jars : )

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  6. Your tomato plants look healthy. I couldn't imagine having 54 plants.

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    1. It is work! Lots of holes to dig, stakes to drive, hay to mulch and wires to erect. Not to mention watering, removing suckers, tying up and picking. We do love our tomatoes though!

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  7. Not even near as many as you. Maybe 20. And, most all got leaf miner that I didn't pay attention to until to late for many of them. I have about 10 plants left that are still producing. I planted lemon oxheart last year. And, even though I only got 2 or 3 tomatoes from each they were delicious, especially if you like really tart tasting fruit.

    My two Brandywines from last year didn't even flower. Beautiful plants but no fruit. I don't think we are situated very well for heirloom varieties but I keep trying. The following have failed over a couple of years: Rutgers, Brandywine & Homestead. The following are doing ok: German Cherry, Reinstaldt(sp?) Grape & an heirloom Celebrity.

    Your plants look lovely & I really like the cages.

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    1. We are fortunately to generally have good luck with tomatoes. The only problem we face sometimes is when we have lots of cool summer weather and they don't set fruit well. That is very rarely though. Most years we produce more than we can eat and can .

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  8. I have 40 plants, and I still wear pantyhose!

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    1. See there are at the least 3 of us still wearing them hose.

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  9. wow allot of work-in my younger years I used to plant around 50 tomatoes-to can everything possible with tomatoes-I just recently started growing heirlooms and always forget about pinching off the suckers

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    1. They still produce with the suckers there! I think they concentrate on making less leaves and more fruit when you remove them though!

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