Sunday, May 1, 2011

Planting Out Tomatoes

Since today was supposed to hit 70 degrees (only our second day of the year, I'll have you know!!), I decided it was time to kick the tomatoes out of the crib. Last year, the tomatoes that I planted in this deep raised bed did fairly well. I should probably have only planted 2, but 3 it is. I tried to plant the larger fruit tomatoes in this bed because I was afraid that they would tip over the 5 gallon containers I plan to plant the others in.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I ammended this bed with compost, chicken manure, slow release fertilizer, bone meal and Epsoma Garden Tone. For the tomatoes, I used additional fertilizers. I added an additional 2 Tbsp Osmocote slow release fertilizer, 3 Tbsp dolomite, 2 Tbsp additional bone meal and 3 Tbsp Espoma Tomato Tone to each planting hole. I mixed it into the soil well. Since my tomatoes were a little leggy, I planted them deep into the holes, removing the stems if need be.

The three lucky tomato plants to get the raised bed were Kellogg's Breakfast, Cherokee Purple and Pineapple.

Since the nights are still cool (lows are still in the high 30's/low 40's), I placed my tomato cage and surrounded each plant with a Wall-O-Water. These worked extremely well last year. I hope my tomatoes don't go into shock from being planted outside and they survive the cold.
I also planted up my cherry tomatoes, 1 store bought tomato and my tomatillos into 5 gallon pots. I bought 13"x12" (5 gallon) Nursery Pots. They are made from 100% recycled paper and made into a molded fiber. Yeah!

I'm experimenting with container mixtures for tomatoes. This year, I'm using Miracle Grow Potting Mix. This 2 cubic foot bag was on sale at Fred Meyer's for $7.99. It was $5 off so I snatched up 4 bags. I used 2/3 potting mix and 1/3 chicken manure in my pots. The 2 cf bag of potting soil and 1 cf bag of chicken manure was enough to fill 4 (5 gallon) pots.

To each pot, I added 3 Tbsp Osmocote slow release fertilizer, 3 Tbsp dolomite, 3 Tbsp Espoma Tomato Tone and 2 Tbsp bone meal. I mixed this in well. If anyone else has a tried and true fertilizer for container tomatoes, I'm all ears. I got one off the internet and made some changes. I hope it's not too much for my starters!

As you can see, my tomato plants were looking top heavy. The middle tomato plant is a store-bought plant. You maybe asking why did you buy a tomato plant when you grew 10 billion tomatoes from seed? It seems in my tomato excitement, I neglected to grow an early tomato. Rather than waiting until the main tomato season (since I know I'm not that patient), I elected to purchase an extra early variety. I ended up picking "Bloody Butcher". Hahaha, funny name.

The nursery tomatoes look really good. It's nice and green and healthy looking. The plant itself is way less leggy then both of my home grown ones. It's nice and stocky.

Looks can be deceiving. If you take a closer look, you can see that although the store bought tomato looks good, it is root bound (left). My tomato (right) has a better root system.
I planted up 3 tomato plants:
- Bloody Butcher
- Chocolate Cherry
- Sweet 100
I also planted my tomatillos. I'll have to remember next year to start these a little later than the tomatoes. They're fast growers and were extra leggy. I planted 3 and one fell over and broke. One looked okay and the other remaining plant got it's top leaves broken off and is in the process of trying to produce extra leaves. I decided to plant both remaining plants in one 5 gallon container to give the little guy a chance. I know it looks really pathetic, but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Again, not having grown tomatillos before, I had to do some quick research. Apparently they're planted like tomatoes. I planted them deep and broke off the branches that were in the way. Does anyone have advice on growing habits? Does it grow like a tomato or is it like a bush or vine?
Since it was getting late in the day, I decided to move these guys to the garage for the night and Wall-O-Water them tomorrow.

Go tomatoes!!!


Annie's Granny said...

I rescued my four Cherokee Purples from their buckets and put them back under the lights today, it was so cold and windy! I'll bet those two Bloody Butchers and the Pink Brandywine wish I hadn't gone ahead and planted them yesterday.

~Holly~ said...

Wicked weather eh? I brought my 4 (5 gallon) containers out from the garage and left them on my front driveway to get some sun. When I got home it was so windy. I had to rescue them. I'm glad they didn't break off in the wind. Shesh! I checked on the 3 tomatoes that I planted in the raised bed box and they seem to be alive still. They're all cozy in their "WOW". I hear Wednesday will be nice!