Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Growing Like Gangbusters

Wow, I have been SO delinquent in my postings!  Now it's time to catch up.  Over the next few days, I'll be doing lots of shorter entries.

Things have been growing like crazy.  This is the rainiest spring I can remember.  I've lived in the South most of my life, and I never recall having a monsoon season before this year.  Even though I would like some more sun, my garden seems to be quite happy with this arrangement.  The bonus is that I haven't had to water all season. 

The tomatoes are happy, happy campers.  So far, I am not seeing any fungus problems that can happen when plants stay wet, so that is great news.  The plants are covered with little yellow blossoms and quite a few baby tomatoes, that you can see in the photo on the left.  

One thing to stay on top of as things start to grow is the support of the plants.  The right hand photo shows my preferred method of support.  The most important thing is to start with a really strong cage.  The plants get really heavy, especially when they have lots of fruit, and a weak cage can fall over.  I like to use this hook and loop material to tie the plants to the cage as they grow.  It doesn't cut into the plant, like string.  Strips of nylon stockings are also good.

Good luck with your own planting.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Upside Down

A friend gave me a little gift.  It's one of those contraptions for growing things upside down.   Since I have a nice raised bed, it's not the kind of thing I would have thought to get myself, but I'm going to give it a go.  

I had already planted all of my heirloom tomatoes, so I got an Early Girl hybrid from a local plant nursery.  My thinking is that this process could be a little stressful for the plant, so maybe a hardy plant would have the best chance.  The plant I started with was fairly tall, so I pinched off the bottom sets of leaves and left the bushy top sticking out the bottom.  The rest I filled with a potting mix.  

Normally, I wouldn't grow a tomato in potting soil, but I think my red clay-based garden soil would be way too heavy for the apparatus.  

I have two real concerns with this set up.  For one, the bag is really heavy once it's filled with soil and watered in.  I have it hanging on a post with my other tomato plants in the garden.  The post is bending quite a bit, and I worry if it can support the weight of the whole thing as it grows and produces fruit.  The other major concern is watering.  If we have a very dry summer and that poor plant relies on me to water it by hand, that could be it's demise.  My raised beds have a hose that runs through them with little sprinkler heads attached, so all I have to do is turn them on and off at a hose by the back door.  Easy.  If it's consistently dry, I can put them on a timer.  If I have to make a separate trip out there with a watering can....well, that might not happen.  It's hard to predict one's level of lethargy in the middle of summer in the Deep South.  100 degree days and 98% humidity can take it out of you.  But I'll try to keep it going. 

Good luck little tomato.   

Good luck with your own gardens this year!