Organic Gardening

Tomato Tales

TOMATO TALES
by Mike Schmitt
 
1. Tomatoes must have at least 6 hours of direct sunlight and preferably 8 per day.
 
2. Tomatoes will not set blooms unless nighttime temperatures drop to at least 70 degrees. (Don Lambert)
 
3. You should not put the plants in the ground until your soil temperature is consistently above 60 degrees. That would normally be sometime after the 2nd week in March but could be later. (Marie Tedei)
 
4. Tomatoes are the only plant I know of that will sprout roots along their stems if you dig a deep hole and cover up the stems. These additional roots will help feed the plant.
 
5. One method of planting them that works well is to cut most of the leaves and stems off the main trunk and just leave a 4 or 5 leaves at the top. Then plant them in a trench with the top portion sticking up out of the ground. This gives them many more roots to help feed the plant. I typically just plant them in a very deep hole and have not tried the trench method.
 
6. If you want to try to extend your crop of tomatoes later into the summer, place shade cloth over them starting in early to mid June, depending upon when the hot temperatures really get kickin. (Sic). (TOFGA conference.)
 
7. In my planting hole, I use diamnotaneceous earth, worm castings, soft rock phosphate, horticultural corn meal, and a little Epson salt. I put this at the bottom of the hole place the plant on top of it and also sprinkle a little on top of the root ball.
 
8. I then sprinkle horticultural corn meal on the surface of the soil as an anti-fungal agent and water the plant in with water, liquid seaweed, compost tea, apple cider vinegar, & molasses.
 
9. The main disease problem we have in the Dallas area is called early blight or fusarium wilt. It is caused by fungal spores in the soil that splash up on your plant leaves either when it rains or when you water. There is no way to totally obliterate this disease. We can only slow it down. Don Lambert of Gardener's in community development uses this method to slow it down. After the plant is in the ground, he places a section of newspaper on the ground on all 4 sides of the plant to keep the soil born fungus from splashing on the plant. He then keeps a very heavy concentration of straw in the cages to further impede the fungus and to be used as a mulch.
 
10. When you get the disease if you really want to battle it, Get a pair of sharp scissors, a large plastic zip lock bag, & make some cornmeal tea. You can make cornmeal tea by putting cornmeal in a sock and allowing it to soak in declorinated water.  Go to your plants and being very careful cut off the infected limbs from the main trunk. Dip and swish the scissors in the tea as you work. Try to not let the infected material touch your healthy material and immediately place them in your plastic bag so the spores do not spread. Do not compost this material. Put it in the trash. After you are through, take some unused cornmeal tea and spray the plants down with it. Another organic antifungal product you can use is garlic tea or potassium bicarbonate.
 

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