We have tomatoes! And, if you could see us all, you’d see smiling faces. We love tomatoes. When the counters are covered with them, we’re ecstatic.
This year, we built 23 new raised beds – some single and some double in height. We have tomato plants in both.
In early May, we covered two double beds with clear slitted row plastic to get the seedlings started four weeks early while starting others a few weeks later and leaving them open. Some beds were mulched with grass clippings while others were covered with black plastic. We used soaker hoses in three and watered others.
What we have found so far:
– the clear slitted row plastic certainly gave the seedlings a head start and those plants are larger. We’ll purchase another roll and cover more beds next spring.
– the plants in the double beds are bigger and more robust than the ones in the singles or planted directly in the soil at ground level. We’ll have to give that issue some thought during the winter planning months.
– the black plastic mulch made for healthier plants laden with much larger fruits so we’ll try more black plastic mulch.
– 4′ bamboo stakes will not suffice when the plants are this big and the fruit so heavy – we will invest in some large tomato cages for next season.
– we assumed the soaker hoses would make a difference, and we were right. We’ll try to figure out how to enhance that type of watering system in other parts of the garden.
We choose to not apply dangerous chemicals on our gardens or lawn so we encounter some insects but deal with them as they arrive. For instance, we had a good crop of summer squashes but ended up having to pull them out because of squash vine borer. Succession planting will be researched and definitely on the agenda for next year.
After reading several blogs and looking online, I did try ‘Vegetable Thrive.’ According to the container, it is “an all natural soil drench that improves the rooting and requires less water.” I purchased it at my local Blue Seal store. It cost $10 for 16 ounces, and you mix 5 caps with one gallon of water. I will certainly use this again next year.
We’ve eaten tomatoes in every type of sandwich and recipe you can imagine and are still relishing each and every tomato picked from the garden. I’ve frozen some for winter cooking, and my daughter has canned some for her winter recipes.
I guess you could say we have never met a home-grown heirloom tomato we didn’t love. Here’s hoping your garden is providing you with delicious produce for your dinner table.