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Planting tomatoes in 2011

Tomato transplantsTomato planting day is one of my favorite annual events, but it's also fraught with a lot of second guessing.  Last year, I had very good luck spacing my tomatoes further apart (which meant setting out fewer of them --- 21 instead of 37) and pruning them heavily, so this year I'll be continuing that trend.  I slipped 22 of the heftiest transplants I've ever grown into the ground on Monday, watering them in well to make up for the scorching heat.

Early blight on a tomato leafEvery year, I grow fewer slicers and tommy-toes and more romas.  In 2010, I was down to 8 non-romas, and this year I only put in 5, which feels like very few until I remind myself that they only need to keep us in fresh tomatoes over the summer.  I had planned to put in 6 non-romas, but our delicious Japanese Black Trifele seems to have carried blight spores in its seeds, so I quickly culled all of the affected plants.  That gave me space to upgrade to 17 romas in hopes of socking away even more sauce, dried tomatoes, and ketchup for the winter. 

I put most of our tomatoes in one long, new bed running along the south side of the chicken pasture.  This is the very sunniest spot in the garden, and I figure I can use the fence (with some extra posts) to train the tomatoes upright and keep them drier than ever Kill mulchbefore.  In our very wet climate, dry is what tomatoes crave, and we love them enough to give them prime real estate in the garden.  I had actually hoped to make the bed a little longer, but two solid months of wet, wet, wet has reduced me to scraping away at the last remnants of horse manure compost, so the new tomato bed ended rather abruptly when the manure gave out.  If nature smiles on us and we're able to drive the truck out this week, I'll add another ten feet of tomato bed and throw in some more roma seeds to increase our planting --- maybe this winter we'll have enough dried tomatoes that they don't have to be a once a month treat?

To learn more about the whys and hows of kill mulches, check out our 99 cent ebook (Weekend Homesteader: May.)


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The 7-Day forecast says thunderstorms, thunderstorms, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain so I'm going to try and get my transplants out today before it starts.

It sounds like you have a great plan for your toms. Good luck this year!

Everett

Comment by Everett Tue May 10 08:25:50 2011
I know what you mean --- nowadays, a 30% chance of rain for every day this week equates to "dry"... Good luck with your garden too!
Comment by anna Tue May 10 09:16:35 2011
Why throw in more seed when you can clone them in a glass of water?
Comment by Errol Tue May 10 12:07:18 2011
That does make a lot more sense! Glad you chimed in. Now that Mark got me another truckload of manure (yum!) I've got space to expand. :-)
Comment by anna Tue May 10 13:10:32 2011

You can even clone them right in the garden and save a step. I just pop off a piece the size of a sweet potato slip and plant it with at least 6" of the stem under the soil (and a couple leaves showing). They start out wilty and sad and suddenly a new plant pops up.

I loved this blog post -- sounds so familiar!

Comment by Eliza @ Appalachian Feet Wed May 11 09:02:54 2011
Good point! Sounds like I shouldn't be as concerned about only having 22 tomato plants in the ground as I thought. :-)
Comment by anna Wed May 11 10:53:25 2011

One very unique homestead, $1,500 per acre, the opportunity of a lifetime