Garden 2014: Our Best Tomato Harvest Yet
Tomatoes haven’t always been the most successful plants in our garden. Yes, there are factors that are not within our control, like the weather but a lot of attention goes a long way with tomatoes. They aren’t like some plants where you can just let them go wild and they are the better for it. Tomatoes crave attention. This past season, I made the tomatoes into my own little pet project. I was determined to have a big and healthy haul and I can say that it was our best season yet. Our goal is to grow and perfect a canning process that is suitable for the type of sauce Andrew makes for his pizza.
Varieties we planted in 2013
Things we learned from last year
- Don’t water the seed starts too often and don’t use peet pots. I know some people like them, but they didn’t work for us. They make it hard to tell if the starts needed to be watered because the outside of the pot looked dry, but they were still wet inside. This resulted in hardly any of our tomato plants making to planting time, and the ones that did were really small but I decided to put them in the ground anyways. But with that said, these few that we did plant ended up being the hardiest and last ones to succumb to disease.
- Don’t be afraid to pinch and prune judiciously! This was the first year that I really pruned with a really heavy hand and tried my best to keep each tomato plant to one terminal stem, and this is going to sound crazy, but even if a secondary stem was already sprouting tomatoes, I cut it off! I trimmed away any shoots that grew below the lowest fruit bearing stem. Tomatoes put a lot of energy into growing new stems and leaves, which takes energy away from fruit production. I was rewarded come harvest time with the biggest crop of tomatoes yet. Also, pruning allows air to circulate through the bed which helps to keep disease at bay.
- Follow the tried and true methods of staking. I’m done with trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to tomato staking. I don’t know why I fought it so hard year after year. Just tie them to a stake already!
Planting in 2014
Only San Marzano paste tomatoes for us this year, so Andrew can work on his sauce! Seed start date: April 12th (6-8 weeks before planting date)
Have you had much success growing tomatoes? What are your secrets to tomato success? Would love to hear them!Tags: Country Living, Food, Garden, Sustainability