Fourth Week of July
I’ve been somewhat angry at my garden this year. It snowed nearly every week in May, we had several huge windstorms, and it’s been unseasonably cool. The weather feels about a month behind. I figured out that my video camcorder can take pictures, so I finally took some!
Here is my East Garden: vining tomatoes on the left, peas in the middle, broccoli and pumpkins on the right.
This is the West Garden: tomatoes on the left, peppers and dill on the right.
This is my second year. I did double my garden heights this year, but last year I did just 6″ and had success. I did lay down my tomato plants. I picked off the bottom leaves, dug a trench, and covered them with dirt–leaving just a leafy tip up. The tip righted itself within a week or so, and then I grew it up the vine. To keep it manageable, I pruned mine as they grew, only allowing one main vine. This year I’ve allowed my vining tomatoes to have 3-4 vines each. It’s a lot of work, but it keeps them from going crazy all over. Also, with cherry tomatoes we had SO MANY that I planted less this year.
One thing I’ve done this year which has helped TREMENDOUSLY is fertilize. Okay, I know some naturalists feel it’s “drugs” for plants, but I look at it like vitamin supplements. If you’re against fertilizer, you may try some natural methods. I’ve heard that compost tea is wonderful. My cousin and a friend created a concoction that included beer. My cousin keeps all her eggshells, lets them dry and then soaks them in water. After a day or two, she pours the water on her peppers and tomatoes.
I actually have some concoctions that I’ll post. I’ve meant to do it as part of my “Advanced Gardening” section.
Finally, the last thing you might be struggling with is water. I honestly don’t know how much water tomatoes need. I’ve heard everything from water once per week to “they need LOTS of water.” I feel like Mel’s mix doesn’t hold water as well as the dirt here would (we have clay). So my neighbors swear by hilling their tomatoes (planting them in mounds of dirt) and watering only once per week. I think my tomatoes would die if I did this. Water retention seemed to be more of a problem with only 6″–it could evaporate quickly (especially last summer when we had over 12 days of 100 degrees or hotter). And as you can see, my gardens are surrounded by gravel. The gravel gets so hot I can’t stand on it in bare feet.
A solution to this could be mulching–a nice thick layer of something to keep the water in, and cool the plants. I also watched a show that said tomatoes don’t like to “put on” fruit when temps are high, and you should “rinse” your plants at night, as it cools. It helps them cool off more. Probably not a problem for you where you live. But huge here in the desert. Good luck!
PS If you want I can make you an author and you can upload photos and track your garden here!
I just came across your posts, and thought I’d say hi. I have a square foot garden too, and am just getting started. Yours looks great! How long have you been doing this for? I have had mixed results . . . my tomatoes aren’t doing as well as I expected, and my snow peas didn’t get as tall as yours. Do six inches of soil work for you (I know you built some beds up to twice their height, but I don’t have the same problem as you do, so I just wanted to know if you think that six inches is enough to grow tomatoes in).