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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tomato tying

This morning my husband will be helping me tie up the tomatoes.  Grandma is watching the boys!

I decided to tie up the tomatoes this year after last year's nightmare - the soggy wet conditions didn't bode well for tomatoes that flopped all over the ground.  The slugs would take a bite of each one, making it useless for market, and unless you were canning that day they ended up in the compost.  If a slug didn't get to it, the wet ground would cause rot.  Those tiny tomato cages that are used in backyard gardens (mine too) just don't work well on the giant heirloom tomato plants grown at the farm.  These plants get huge and need much more support.  There is another way, I've read...

So... I borrowed a couple dozen fence posts from the farmers where I rent the land, and bought 3 dozen more.  Got them in the ground last week after heavy rains, and today we're ready to start the lowest row of tying.  I'm going to try the "Florida Weave" system.  (Below is an image I borrowed).  You start when the tomatoes are a foot or two tall, and get them roped in.  I'm doing every 4th plant, not every 2 like the image below.  The rope on both sides holds them up.  Every couple of weeks, as the tomatoes grow taller, you rope another line.  The ropes will eventually go all the way to the top of the fence posts.  The heirloom tomatoes grow so tall they will be spilling over the top.  This not only keeps them off the ground & safe, but makes picking them so much easier.

So that's what I'm doing today with my nearly 300 tomato plants.  Then, weeding around the bases and mulching with a thick layer of straw.  I've been trying to find straw to purchase for a few weeks now.  Finally bought some yesterday!  I may put down a layer of newspaper (soy-based ink) under the straw first.  If it works right, I shouldn't have to weed the tomatoes again this year!!!  Plus the mulch keeps the moisture in when conditions get dry.

I hope the ground has dried out enough to till today.  It's been raining so much for the past few weeks that tilling doesn't get done as often as it needs to.  The cucumber & melon areas are lost amongst the giant weeds.  Hopefully I can get rid of the giant weeds today!

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