I will eventually do an overview of all my categories from my tally sidebar. Some I will break up. Some I will combine. The overviews will help me remember what the heck happened in 2009 without me having to go back through all the posts. So I will know when I planted and know if it worked or I should do it later or earlier. I'll know what pests were annoying or not.
This ought to have been a very bad year for tomatoes, but it wasn't for me. It was just shortened. In the past I've had trouble growing tomatoes. For big beefsteak tomatoes I might get three from a plant. For smaller slicing tomatoes maybe 7. Some of these might rot before picking due to blossom end rot. Cherries would give me more, but still wouldn't be very prolific.
This year I decided to make changes to help get a real harvest. I made the following changes:
- Double dug the beds to about 20" deep adding 3" of compost into the bottom layer.
- Changed my amendments to: 1 c bone meal, 1 c powdered egg shells (the ones that were just crushed didn't work as well), 1 c Azomite, 1 c organic 5-3-3. These were mixed into the bottom of the planting hole and dug deeply in.
- Planted Ground Control marigolds for nematode control behind every other plant
- Took one foot of growing space away from the tomatoes and planted carrots (May 14th) in that spot which grew all summer long in the shade of the peppers and tomatoes. Used to have a 2'x3' spot, now each had a 2'x2' spot.
These changes worked amazingly well. The tomatoes were a jungle and not just scraggly plants. They produced well. I only had the Sungold F2s in the ground the others were in pots. Their 5 gallon pails were amended exactly the same. They grew fairly well too, but not as vigorously as the Sungolds.
The plants were put in much earlier than I usually do due to some out of town scheduling issues. This worked well this year because our May weather wasn't any worse than our weird June record cold and damp weather.
- April 3rd sowed seed in soil blocks - put on heating mat
- April 23rd potted up into newspaper pots
- April 24th first hour of sun outside (25th 3 hours, 26th five hours)
- April 30th planted in the ground with a remay row cover
- July 14th Alice (Sungold F2) gave the first ripe tomato of the season
- August 10th first Market Miracle (only large one I have) tomato ripens
- September 9th last of the tomato plants removed from the garden due to late blight
My note to self says tomatoes only need four weeks inside before they start outgrowing their newspaper pots and need to get outside. I'm a firm believer that letting a plant get a little root bound (even in a newspaper pot) is bad for them. They do best if their growth is never slowed down.
I had a few problems with the tomatoes this year. The foremost one was late blight. It took over the whole NorthEast. I still got plenty of tomatoes, but when the stems were getting infected I had to pull the plants to keep the spores from spreading. The second worst was the cold wet weather. I'm sure the plants were slowed down by our cold June. I had some horn worms. I killed a few myself and the wasps took care of the rest. This year they were hard to find. When there is little foliage on the plant hornworms are easy to spot, but in a jungle it is impossible. Aphids were more prevalent this year, but they didn't get out of control. The lacewings and lady bugs eventually caught up with them. The flea beetles took their toll, but since the plants grew so well the damage wasn't too destructive. Blossom end rot wasn't too bad this year. Black Moor was the worst off. I also lost a couple of Market Miracles and Alianas.
Production for me was pretty good. Tomatoes tend not to like my garden and depending upon where they are planted lack of sun, but this year was my best.
- Market Miracle 7.5lbs average per plant, beautiful round unblemished tomatoes
- Sungold F2 6.4lbs average per plant, the best two were saved for next year
- Black Moor 5.5lbs
- Black Cherry 4.2lbs
- Chocolate Cherry 4.0lbs
- Early Ssubakus Aliana 3.4lbs (very sweet but tasteless)
I love Market Miracle. It was the first beefsteak that did well in my garden, probably due to all the amendments they got and it was in a pot away from my nematodes. I will grow this next year. I've saved seed. In addition I'll grow at least one of the two Sungold F3 seeds I saved this year - Gabrielle (red) and Emma (orange). I saved Chocolate Cherry since I liked it a tad better than Black Cherry, but was wondering if they were exactly the same plant or not. I couldn't tell a difference. I'll probably grow it too.
Next year I'd like to add Moskvich and Cherokee Purple if I can get them without $5 shipping. I should have just bought one Moskvich tomato this summer to save seed, but didn't even think of it.
Things I would like to change next year. I hated keeping the pots watered. My in ground plants can handle a week without me, but the pots need watering everyday. I had a friend give me an old timer, and I poked some holes in an old hose, but that system was just waiting to fail. If I do it again, I need to get some real irrigation equipment.
I should not plant basil behind the tomatoes. They get no sun and die. The basil needs to be on the edges of the bed maybe or somewhere else.