Thursday, May 31, 2007

You Say Tomato. . .

OK. The lettuce is out. We've got tons in the fridge which we've been feasting on all week. So now the tomatoes are in. . .

24 plants total counting those we put in containers. And I've got seedlings to spare still. I suspect we planted them a little too close together, but I haven't the discipline yet to plant less. Instead I want to give every seedling its fighting chance for fear I won't have anything to show for it in the end. With experience I suppose I'll develop the ability to put the plants' needs ahead of my own!

Anyway, we tried a technique recommended to us by the Mister's uncle. We stripped each seedling of its lower leaves, then submerged most of the stem in the soil, and rather than pointed downwards, we curved the stem sidewards. The result is a rather short tomato plant.

However, by burying the majority of the stripped stem, you're encouraging roots to sprout from the nodes of the removed leaves. By orienting the stem sidewards the plant is also given a more stable root foundation which should help it later when it's (fingers crossed) laden with plump, juicy, beautiful tomatoes. We shall see. One important thing to remember is which direction you orient your stem. If you find yourself staking the tomatoes later in the season you don't want to wind up puncturing your plant. We oriented them all in the same direction and even staked them now to be doubly sure.

Here's what we planted...

Roma Plum Tomatoes from seeds I saved last year.
Cuor di Bue from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. An Italian red that's great for sauces.
Ferris Wheel from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. A pink heirloom with a "fantastic, sweet flavor."
Green Zebra from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. "Sweet with a sharp bite."

As an aside, we used organic soil, then tossed in a few bags of manure/hummus for good measure. The red stuff you're seeing is cayenne. This has proven to be an effective pest deterrent.


Marc said...

It looks like you are off to a great start with your tomatoes! I agree that burying the plant deeper to encourage more root growth is a good thing.

I am looking forward to following along with your progress!

seedling said...

Hi Marc,

Thanks for the encouragement. Stop by again for updates!

Anthony said...

I planted my tomatoes just as close as yours. I have 18 plants that are snug in a 3 foot by 12 foot raised bed. I'm hoping by pruning the vines and using tall stakes will make up for the lack of spacing. Good luck to us!

Ladyseashells said...

Thanks for the tomato tips. So cayenne doesn't burn the leaves of the plant. Im interested to try it.

seedling said...


I'm relieved to hear that I'm not the only one trying to squeeze as much out of my garden plot as possible. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Lady Seashells-

So far I haven't had any trouble with the cayenne affecting the leaves. However, I do my best to only dust the soil.