Hurray! I planted my tomatoes today. I have been expecting to do it for 2 weeks, but the 5-day forecasts kept throwing nightly temps in the 40's. And it did, indeed, get down to about 45 here just 3 nights ago. But with the extended forecast staying above 55 for the next ten days, I decided to go for it today.
First, I put down reflective red plastic. It maximizes the light frequency tomatoes use best. Plus it makes a good weed suppression cover. Notice there are 2 tomato beds. The bed between them his half monarda (the bees love it, which provides great pollination) and half cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, and radicchio). Then I selected my best seedlings.
Second, I dug 10" deep holes to set the seedlings down as far as I could. For those of you not so familiar with tomatoes, they develop roots from all buried stem. That helps a lot. It also keeps the early rootball well insulated from temperature and moisture fluctuations. I mixed the dug out soil with good slow-release organic fertilizer. I mix my own from 2 types and the final ratio is about 9-6-6. Too much nitrogen means lots of foliage and not many fruits!
Third, I staked the seedlings in the center, put on the cages (22" diameter by 5' high remesh), and separately staked the cages. I love the remesh cages. They have 6" openings so it is easy to harvest the tomatoes, they are very sturdy, and they seem to last forever. Mine are about 15 years old and going strong. I gave them 2 good deep waterings (the soil was dry).
Here is a closeup of one of the seedlings. Even buried 10" deep, they are 8" above the surface. I usually plant about Tax Day, but like I said, the weather was fluctuating a lot this month. I usually use Wall O' Waters to protect them, but they really are a pain to set up and fill and I decided not to do that this year. But the stems are solid, the weather looks good, and they should be off and growing quickly.
I plan to foliar feed the plants more often this year. That means spraying a liquid fertilizer directly on the leaves. They can absorb it through the leaves and what runs down the stem gets into the soil around the roots.
I think I will celebrate tonight with a steak, some home-grown asparagus, and a home-grown salad. And some wine. And "snacks" for dessert...
Do you like my placemat? I eat dinner on a TV tray while watching my favorite shows... Science, Nature, and Cooking.