Searching for a More Productive Method of Growing Tomatoes

Posted by @profesora on
Tomatoes are a prized commodity for me because I annually can 10 to 12 gallons of salsa in various degrees of spiciness.

For the last 25 years, I have been blessed with locally grown tomatoes that I did not grow. In the early 90s a local farmer allowed me to pick my own for $9 a bushel, which I did for three weekends in a row. Later, a farming family of some of my students donated the tomatoes I needed because salsa making was a very popular project in the classroom in September. There were many grandchildren in that family that attended my classes for over five years, and I always received free tomatoes during that time.

Later I bought tomatoes from the grandfather for several summers. He charged me $8 for a five-gallon bucket of firm tomatoes. As I said, I was blessed.

Early this millennium, a friend's stay-at-home husband volunteered to grow 50 tomato plants for my needs. That summer was hot and dry, but I had a lot of leftover tomatoes, including the 100-plus pounds that I donated to the local harvest food bank.

As I indicated, I had been blessed. However, I needed to try growing my own. For the past two years the results were at best mediocre. I needed to do some research and become innovative about growing a lot of tomatoes for my annual needs.

I knew that tomatoes originated in South America. Further inquiry gave me the most important piece of information: the foothills of the Andes Mountains. I spent my youth in the Amazon Valley, and I was familiar with the geology of the Andes, so I knew what I needed to grow tomatoes successfully: gravelly rich soil, providing instant drainage, lots of sun, and rain three to four times a week.

My back lot is sunny and used to be a gravel pit, part of the Glacier lake where I live. It, fits the sunny and gravelly requirements, but it does not have rich soil. I do have rich compost that I use every time I pot any plant. I certainly cannot make rain, but I do have a well and a garden hose that I can use three or four times a week. I also have a large supply of large pots, two-gallon and three-gallon size.

I wanted the pot to sit on the ground and drain instantly, so I cut off the bottom of the pot about one inch from the sides. I set the bottomless pot on the ground and placed about two inches of rich compost into it. I used tomato plants that were already 14 to 16 inches tall, and I removed most of the leaves, leaving only the very top with leaves. I placed the plant in the pot and filled the pot with compost within two inches of the rim of the pot. The final touch was to water it well every day for the first week. Afterwards, I watered three to four days a week. A friend gave me a box of Miracle-Gro for tomatoes in late May, and I used it in June after planting them, and again in July.

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I was not prepared for the speed with which the plants grew and for the number of stems most of the plants produced. Staking became a difficult job and I still have staking to do. Some plants have performed beyond my expectations.

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Next year I will plant all of my tomatoes using this method, and I will be prepared to stake all plants in a timely manner.

Comments and discussion:
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
matoes by ViviansTreasures Aug 8, 2015 7:32 AM 0
You have been blessed by pirl Aug 6, 2015 5:33 PM 3
Thank you! by crittergarden Aug 6, 2015 3:28 PM 3
Salsa Recipe? by Meredith79 Aug 6, 2015 3:00 PM 1
check into dry farming by kylaluaz Aug 6, 2015 2:13 PM 6
Tomatoes by mundoaztecaaolcom Aug 6, 2015 1:14 PM 1

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