Monsoons are here!! Free your tomatoes!

Some of my new dwarf tomatoes-about 3′ tall, loaded with blossoms and some tomatoes and looking good!


Now that I’ve had 3 days with some rain and lots more in the forecast, and no leafhoppers in sight, I decided to free the tomatoes. If you still see leafhoppers in your garden, I’d wait a few more days. And of course some of you have already taken the row cover off but I like to err on the side of caution.

Now that they are free, I placed straw over the ground around the tomatoes so no dirt shows. This is done to keep the Early Blight fungal spores from getting on the lower leaves from overhead watering or even the rain. I noticed two tomato plants had Early Blight starting so I immediately cut off the yellowing leaves on the bottom, and trimmed all lower branches, making sure no leaves touch the dirt or straw. I disinfect my trimmers between trimming plants with 10% bleach-about 2 tablespoons in a container big enough to put my hand and the trimmers inside it since I’m reaching in around the leaves and it is contagious between plants.

Tomorrow I will spray all the tomatoes with Serenade, a biological fungicide that will help prevent Early Blight. Sure looks good to see the tomatoes instead of row cover! Finally I can see my garden grow!

Pictures of Planting Tomatoes Outside

Well it’s time to plant tomatoes! Finally! This cold and windy weather is going to take us almost up to the average first frost free date and the tomatoes inside are chomping to get out in the world! I will still use ‘Wall of Waters’ on all of the tomatoes that are not too tall as the nights are still very cool for a tomato. Here are some pictures of how I  transplant tomato plants outside.

First I harden them off outside for about 4 days or longer if I can wait that long! I put them outside for an hour or two each day and increase their outside time each day. Start getting them use to our harsh conditions they will have to endure.

Next after I dig the hole, I add some yum-yum mix (a handful), a tablespoon of powder milk, a tablespoon of epsom salts, a shovelful or two of aged compost (or bagged compost) and a small handful of mushroom compost (not too much-its high in salts). Then I mix it up with some of the soil I dug out.

In addition, new for this year, I am adding a small handful of humate and a tablespoon of bone meal (for lots of flowers) and some worm castings. I will mix this in with the above amendments.

Next I take off any lower leaves, especially if the plant has become leggy and place it deep in the hole with the amendments and backfill with the  amended dirt. If it is really tall, plant it on it’s side. It will develop roots on the stem either way.

Notice how deep it was planted. Here I make a ‘well’ around each plant and place my drip line tightly around the new plant (not shown).

Fill the well several times–one time with Seaweed and ‘Thrive’ in a bucket. DO NOT use a regular fertilizer like Fish Emulsion at this time. Wait till the plant acclimates. Later as the plant grows, after I remove the wall of waters (when the tomato plant peeks out over the top of them), I will loosen the drip line inside the well to water more of the root zone as the plant grows.

To put my wall of water on the plant, I place a 5 gallon bucket inverted over the plant. Then put the wall of waters over it-do this part in the morning so the water has time to heat up the cells that will give off the heat at night back to the tomato. Fill up the ‘cells’ with water and remove the bucket. Be sure to pull the handle up on the bucket when you first put the wall of waters over it or you’ll have a hell of a time removing the bucket.

I place a few bamboo sticks inside to hold it up should a big gust of wind come up. I also tie another bamboo stick next to the tomato plant and loosely tie up the plant with a twistie tie so it doesn’t fall down. Remove the wall of waters when the plant outgrows it. Here is how the plant looks in the wall of waters. Ok now I get to multiply this times 64 plants…

Related post: Secrets to planting tomatoes