Sunday, June 9, 2013

Square Foot/Vertical Gardening: Tomatoes

Square Foot/Vertical Gardening: Tomatoes

Square Foot/Vertical Gardening: Tomatoes
For my friends and neighbors that I tend to thoroughly confuse when I teach classes, this post is for you. I even have pictures.  Please ignore the ugly, unamended clay "soil", and any weeds that may be showing. They are for scientific purposes....

When I garden, I do it very space saving, it's just a good habit.  And, when done properly, I have less weeding in addition to lots more food.  So, my tomatoes are grown close together.  I can do this and have ginormous plants because I trellis them, and I root them in a way that allows them to have the space they need in the ground.

So, here is how it works:

First I install a trellis.  Mine is not fancy, it's just metal fencing attached to the green metal stakes.  It lasts for ages, and I can move it as I rotate my crops.

After I Install the trellis, I dig trenches every 24" on one side of it.  The trench starts about an inch from the trellis, and goes out away from it.  I use drip line, and I make sure there is an emitter over the trench.

Before I plant the tomato, I have to do a little pruning.  The picture above is before pruning.

I will remove all but the top three to four branches (if it is a smaller plant leave just the top two).  Discard these branches so that they don't cause any diseases from lying on the ground.  Tomatoes will root along any part of the plant that contacts the soil.  So I will now have a much longer stem to bury, and that will create massive root growth for the plant.

I lay the plant in the trench so that the leafy top is close to the trellis, and the root ball is at the opposite end.  I bury all of that stem that I exposed by removing the branches.  Curve the stem gently up, be careful not to make it a sharp angle that breaks.

I have the tomatoes all in on that first side.  Now, I do the other side of the trellis.  Alternate the tomato plants so that they are no directly across from each other! 

When you are done, you will have one tomato plant every 12" across the trellis, but they each have a 24" space for roots.  As they grow, you simply use twine or whatever is handy (old pieces of panty hose work great) to tie the main stem and the branches to the trellis.  No more green arms from picking!

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