The Ten Dollar Hole
I've mentioned before that I dig $10 holes for my $3 tomato plants. Here's what I mean:
The pots that the tomatoes come in are usually 4 inch pots, square or round. The hole I dig for that tomato plant is usually about 8 inches in diameter and 10 to 12 inches deep. I use a shovel like the one pictured to dig this ten dollar hole.
Into each hole goes these items: a cracked egg, a Tablespoon of pickling lime (or hydrated construction lime), a Tablespoon of Epsom Salts, and a small hand trowel full of organic fertilizer**. Then a half shovel full of compost goes in the hole. This fills the hole halfway.
The tomato plant is set as if the hole was that shallow to begin with and regular dirt is filled around the plant. I do leave the refilled area a bit lower than the surrounding soil level to allow water to collect around the plant. Everything that tomato needs for the season is now already there. Once the plant establishes itself, the roots will continue to go deeper. By the time the roots hit the treasure trove of nutrients, it will be old enough to handle it and already be well on it's way to setting fruit. It can then use the boost in nutrition to continue to grow.
I had a whiz-bang tomato harvest last year and I used this technique for every single plant.
Be sure to mulch the plants right away to keep the weeds out.
Use METAL tomato cages, stakes, trellises. Why? I'm so glad you asked. When I was a young gardener, one of my projects was to identify ways to make my tomatoes grow bigger and healthier. I planted some plants with wooden stakes and some plants with metal stakes. The tomato plants with metal stakes always out-produced the plants using wooden stakes. Same garden, same fertilizer. There's some rumbling hype about Electroculture right now. I'm not disagreeing with it. The lengths and expense that people are going to is out of my budget and time constraints. There's a whole lot to be said about Electroculture. The plants will do better with metal supports over wooden supports. I don't think the rusted steel hurts the plants with their iron content either.
I plant my roses with an old penny and a steel nail; but that's another article.
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