Thursday, May 30, 2013
Got Compost: FRESH TOMATOES - Enjoy the fruits of your labor!: Homegrown tomatoes VS store bought varieties – there’s just no contest. We make due with lower quality supermarket specials when necessary...
Friday, May 17, 2013
Homegrown tomatoes VS store bought varieties – there’s just no contest. We make due with lower quality supermarket specials when necessary but come spring and summer, we have no excuse to settle for less.
Temps are perfect for tomato planting now, so let’s get growing!
- Check local garden centers for a selection of tomato transplants. If you have a certain tomato in mind and are unable to find seedlings, check out the seed dept. for heirloom and specialty types. Growing from seed will lengthen the process, so unless you just have to just have that "Darby Pink-Yellow Striped" Heirloom variety, you’re better off planting a reliable ‘Early Girl’ transplant.
- Now that you have your tomato seedlings in hand, it’s time to plant! Choose a site that gets full sun and has soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Tomatoes need plenty of warmth to taste their best - give growing plants protection from cool breezes with a windbreak of trees, a garden wall or a vine-covered trellis.
- Plants need a healthy foundation, so make sure to amend the soil with plenty of compost. Tomatoes need soil rich in organic matter, and the best, most affordable method of increasing soil organic matter is through a good application of compost.
- Harden off seedlings, whether store-bought or homegrown, and move them to the garden when nighttime temperatures remain above 50 degrees F.
- Dig a hole the size of a basketball for each plant. Add a shovelful of compost to each hole.
- Set the plants 12 to 18 inches apart depending on variety (see the seed packet or plant label). Plant them deeply - up to the fourth branch from the top - to encourage new root development.
- Place a paper collar around each plant to deter cutworms, and cover the plants with cloches or floating row covers to protect them from insects and cool temperatures.
- Remove the covers when the weather has warmed, mulch the soil and install any supports the plants will need as they grow.
- Make sure plants get between one and two inches of water every two weeks after transplanting; after the first flowers appear; when the fruits reach the size of golf balls and when you spot the first ripe tomato.
- And finally - pick tomatoes when their color is glossy and even, and their texture midway between soft and firm.
We don’t have to tell you what to do next, do we? Enjoy your tasty tomatoes fresh from the garden, as the 'T' in a BLT or as a fresh topping for homemade pizza.
Need compost for your garden? Contact one of our helpful Field Reps at 805.925.2771
Check out USCC's #MillionTomatoes compost campaign