44 tomatoes planted today!

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Phew! What a day. Three of my friends came over this morning and all together we planted 44 tomato plants from 8:30-12:30! What a bunch of busy beavers! Janet started out the morning before the others came and screened all my vermicompost and filled three-5 gallon containers. Then Lava showed up and Janet and her put in all my amendments in each hole (I had previously dug out most of the holes and Bob Z came by yesterday and finished digging them for me-another great friend)! Then today, I could barely keep ahead of the girls, me setting out plants, making sure each plant had a drip to it, name tags, map of all the tomatoes, providing stakes and wall of waters while Lava planted them and Mernie and Janet followed up behind putting the wall of waters on all of them. Then we all had other things to do and off we all went.  A wonderful day to plant- not too windy and not too hot-it was overcast! A huge thanks to Lava, Mernie and Janet for helping me today and to Bob for helping me yesterday-would of taken me days to get that far. It takes a village to do this much! Mucho gracias!

Americorp students help plant tomatoes

Today I had some AmeriCorps students help plant some of my tomatoes. I think we planted about 25 of them. What a great bunch of young adults giving service. In case you didn’t know AmeriCorps is like the Peace Corps  (only here in America) where people join and give their time and energy for one year to help communities and farms and learn many skills on their journeys. I explained how I plant tomatoes and  gave them some handouts to take home explaining the process. I hope they take back this information to their communities and share their new tomato growing skills! My only regret is I didn’t get a picture of them before they left! A big thanks to all of you who helped today!

Started planting tomatoes May 11


I started transplanting tomatoes into the new garden section. My friend Tom, and I got 15 of them in the soil-all ready to go. We added to each hole: more compost, yum-yum mix, mycorrhizal fungi (for root growth), worm castings, epsom salts (for many blossoms), and dry milk (adds calcium to avoid blossom rend rot later). And this year to (hopefully) conserve on water usage, I’m trying silicon gel granules and some volcanic ash, both of which will keep water longer around the plant root zone.  All this stuff is mixed up with some of the existing soil in the hole.  Then we put the tomato plants in (and if they are rootbound, open the roots up a little), made a well around each one and water each hole several times to get the soil wet. Then I go back a third time and water in some Superthrive and seaweed fertilizer (helps with plant transplant shock). Afterwards I put a drip line around each plant and then put a wall-of-water around each of them to keep them warm at night because just when we think we are out of the woods weatherwise, it gets cold again.

To keep the wall-of-waters from collapsing when the wind gets blowing hard, I put some bamboo stakes inside the walls as shown in the second picture. Overkill? Maybe. But I will get some fantastic tomatoes during the season. I still need to put the main drip hose (1/2 inch size) around the perimeter of the patch and connect each individual drip line to it but I can hand water every other day for now till I get to it. Planting is the hands on intensive part-later it will be a breeze watching them grow..

Tomorrow-May 16, Amy Hetager, from Home Grown New Mexico, is coming with her students from Americorp to plant some more tomatoes. No shortage here-still got 55+ tomatoes to put in the ground!

When Will I Plant Tomatoes?

I think I’m going to start planting tomatoes by the weekend.  I won’t get all of them in but this will be the EARLIEST I have ever planted here in Santa Fe. I checked the weather for the next 10 days and no freezing weather is projected. Of course it’s always a crap shoot here in NM but I think the odds might be in our favor this year. I will still put them in wall of waters (WOWs) because they grow so much faster in them than without them and if we get a freeze, they offer lots of protection.  But I will hold off on the eggplants and peppers for a little while longer cause they want HEAT. I checked the weather for the next 10 days and no freezing weather is projected. I’m not recommending anyone plant before our last freeze date of May 15th, just letting you know what I’m thinking. Unbelievably beautiful weather-so different then last year’s-no wind, no freezing weather-just fabulous! Time to spend lots of time in the vegetable garden!

Tomatoes are doing excellent in Wall of Waters

tomatoes coming out of wall of waters

All of my tomatoes that are in Wall of Waters are kicking ass right now, many of them outgrowing the Wall of Waters  (WOW) and needing me to take the WOW off. The 2 tomatoes that didn’t have Wall of Waters (I ran out) are struggling, even under row cover for protection. It is amazing to me how good the tomatoes do inside those wall of waters and how poorly they do without them. The Wall of Waters act like little greenhouses and are worth every dollar they cost. As a result almost all of my tomatoes have a great head start on the season. I know I’ve talked about them before, but they are worth a mention again. If you want to be really successful with tomatoes, I think you must get these and use them when you first transplant.

My tomatoes are in!

55 tomatoes planted May 15th!

Each year I grow a lot of tomatoes, and I need a lot of tomatoes, what with being ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Santa Fe Farmers Market later this summer. This year is no exception. Some friends of mine, Mernie and Lynne and Elodie and myself planted 55 tomatoes yesterday! And we did it in record time. I know some time was saved with the drip system in and the holes pre-dug but still it seemed to go faster this year. We acted like a smooth, oiled machine! Mernie and I went around and put all the amendments in the holes first, then I brought out the tomatoes and Mernie and I planted them while Elodie and Lynne followed behind putting up the wall of waters and then watered the plants with Seaweed and Thrive. Afterwards, I took them all to lunch as a GREAT BIG THANK YOU! I’m going to owe them a lot of tomatoes! I still have about a dozen more tomatoes to plant (front blank bed) but need to provide more drip line for them. What a relief-I almost feel like I’m back on track in the garden! Almost..

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