Category Archives: Tomatoes

Tomatoes: Up To Their Necks In Dirt

Finally got the tomatoes in today.  I buy plants from Weesie’s in Montague, Michigan.  They do a great job with starting my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants for me so I don’t have to worry about it.

One neat trick I’ve learned about tomatoes is to plant them up to their necks in the dirt.  I use a similar method with eggplant and pepper transplants; but the entire stem of the tomato plant will grow roots if given the opportunity.  Because of that, I’ve learned that planting them that way makes a much stronger plant.  I put some pictures for examples below, you can click on each to get a better view.

I always start with a hole that I fill with compost.  Usually go down about a foot, and the hole is a bit over a foot wide.hole for compost - compressed

Next I take my plant and trim all but the very top set of leaves off.  I use my fingernails, but if I don’t have nails I use the scissors that come with my Swiss army knife.  Depending on how long the stem is, I either dig straight down into the compost and place the root ball in the bottom; or else I lay the plant at a slant with the root ball below the surface of the soil a few inches.    The example below shows a small stick i used to lean the tip of the plant on so it will grow straight up.

after trim3 - compressed

After setting the plant where I want it, I cover all but the top set of leaves with soil.  I let the leaves protrude from the surface a bit to allow room for the next and last step, the cutworm collar.   I also water thoroughly at this point… and I’ll water again after the cutworm collar is in place.after trim5 - compressed

If you’ve ever transplanted something in the garden only to find it lying on the ground next to its stem a day or two later; you’ve been the victim of a cutworm’s naughty deed.  These little buggers hide just beneath the soil, and if you find a plant that’s been whacked, it’s likely you can unearth the culprit very near the stem of the plant if you notice the damage quickly enough.  I’ve had this happen once, and since then I’ve always protected tomato, pepper, and eggplant transplants with cutworm collars.

I make cutworm collars from a small paper drinking cups.  I cut the bottom out, then slide it over the plant so the leaves are just barely sitting over the top of the cup.  I make sure the cup is anchored in the soil by pushing it in about a half inch or so, then I take some soil and sprinkle a little bit into the cup.  After that I water again, and I fill the cup so when it drains the soil holds the cup in place.  This is especially important on windy days.

cutworm collar2 - compressed

OK, done!  Now to repeat the process for the remaining plants.  These days I get fewer tomato plants and space them a little farther apart.  I’m down to 6 plants now, and I space them about 2 “giant steps” apart.  I grow a few different varieties for the fun of it.  This year it’s Cherokee purple (one of my all time favorites), red cherry, red grape, Roma, and an heirloom variety called Stupice.

I’ve also been planting marigolds near tomatoes for some time.  Marigolds help the tomatoes stay strong and the flowers are good for attracting bees.  Another thing I’ve been playing with is planting a few onion sets near the tomato plants.  Since I’ve been doing that I have had very little disease or even tomato worm problems.

Nothing beats a garden fresh tomato.  Can hardly wait!!

 

Diggin’ Them Crazy Taters

The potato vines are long dead, but I marked where they lived so I could remember where to dig.  Last several years I’ve been planting Adirondack Red and Adirondack Blue potatoes.  They are truly beautiful tubers both inside and out; and packed with more anti-oxidants than potatoes with white innards.  And of course, nothing beats the flavor of freshly dug potatoes.  These came out of the garden yesterday; I diced them up peels and all and fried them in butter.

Adirondack red & blueAlso made a scramble with chopped Swiss chard, onions, mushrooms, peppers and tomatoes; then topped it with cheese.  Onions, mushrooms, and peppers were store-bought; all the other veggies were picked this morning from the garden.   Well OK, all except the potatoes, that picking was yesterday.

Scramble supplies