Posted by: locaphile | May 28, 2011

Tough Times for Tomatoes

Green House Tomatoes

Hanging Bucket Tomatoes

I get quite excited about our tomatoes.  I start them from seed, prick them out, pot them on, harden them off, plant them out, thin the lower leaves, watch their every flower and then we pick and really enjoy the fruit.  My average plant out date for the past several years has been May 15th.  It is already two weeks later this year and it still feels that it might be too early and too cool to put them out.  I have already planted the ones that will summer in the greenhouse and they are looking quite fine.  The two plants that I planted in leaky buckets to hang somewhere outside are flowering profusely.

Tomatoes Hardening Off

Outside,  planting bins are full of home-made growing medium and a new fertiliser mixture.  I found that the manure I have used for the past couple of years produced far too much leafy growth so the tomatoes are on a restricted diet this year: garden compost, composted bark mulch and perlite to lighten the mix up a bit.  I am also avoiding using peat moss this year as it is a non-renewable resource. Hopefully the composted bark mulch will retain enough water to keep everything growing.

I found a new recipe for Homemade Tomato Feed on the internet that sounds promising.  Apparently tomatoes like a formulation of 1 part nitrogen (N) to 2-3 parts phosphorus (P) to 1 part potassium (K).  For each plant the formulation calls for a cup of fish meal (N10-P6-K0), one cup of bone meal (N4-P21-K trace), one cup of wood ashes (N0-P1-K7), one teaspoon of epsom salts (magnesium and sulfur) and one tablespoon of horticultural lime (calcium).  I found Fish Bone Meal (N5-P16-K0) at the Coop in Pitt Meadowsm – not quite the same balance as called for in the recipe but it seemed close enough.  Happily our wood stove provided the ashes.  I am curious to see how the tomato plants will grow this year – see my April blog “Tomatoes for 2011” for photos of last year’s harvest.

Getting Ready to Plant Out Under the Eaves

Too Cool For Cucumbers - and Pumpkins and Zucchinis, Late May 2011

The spider webs of garden twine are in place to support the plants under the eaves.  Everything is ready but the weather.  I am starting to harden off the plants in the hope that we will warm up sometime this week.  I know that it isn’t in the forecast but this is getting silly.

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