Success with growing tomatoes
I am real excited about growing tomatoes this year. Yes, excited – even after the cold, wet spring we’ve had. Why? Well, I have a couple of items to give the plants as good a chance as any at growing successfully and being productive.
Take a look at the top photo while I explain what you’re looking at.
Last year, my husband Bill and I started up a new bed on the south side of our little greenhouse. We grew winter squash and pumpkins in the bed and they did quite well there. Since I’m careful to rotate my crops each year, I knew I couldn’t grow any veggies in the same family there this year. Why not grow tomatoes?
A few weeks ago, I covered the bed with a bunch of shredded leaves and compost. This afternoon, I carefully loosened the soil with a spading fork and placed a long soaker hose over the top of the bed.
The next step was to cover the bed with red plastic mulch. I got the mulch from Gardens Alive! and it is called “Turbo-Tomato!” mulch. Tomatoes like their soil nice and toasty and the color of this plastic increases the soil temperature. I pinned down the mulch.
Next, we set up two sheets of concrete-reinforcing wire and set them in place by using some metal conduit as upright stakes. My plan was to grow the tomatoes along the wire just like I did last year because it worked really well. Once that was in place, I cut 3 “X’s” in the mulch so I could plant 3 tomato seedlings as an experiment.
Ordinarily, I don’t set my tomato seedlings out into the garden until the end of May or in early June, but I’ve been wanting to try out the “Kozy Coats” that Gardens Alive! also sells.
You are probably familiar with “Walls O’ Water,” which are water-holding cylinders of plastic that are placed around a tomato plant to keep them warm and insulated so they won’t get frosted on any chilly nights. I have to admit that I’ve never tried them but what really caught my attention about these Kozy Coats is that they are made with a heavy-duty red plastic. According to the literature on Gardens Alive’s web site, “the red color… enhances the ripening process to increase production.” I thought that was definitely worth testing.
Okay, back to the story: I planted the tomato seedlings (see 2nd photo) and surrounded each one with a Kozy Coat (3rd photo). This is about 3 weeks ahead of time so I’m anxious to see how they do. And who knows? Maybe I’ll get to be the first one on my block with the first ripe tomatoes! I’ll keep you posted on how they’re doing. And for now, the rest of the tomato seedlings will remain in the greenhouse because I’m not brave enough to set them outside this early without some type of protection!