Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Happiest Tomatoes This Side of Italy

My husband Robert and I have been in the Tomato Zone for the past four days. He planted the seeds on March 15, and the three varieties he has nurtured so devotedly were ready to go into the ground.
Our varieties are Super Marzano for saucing, Sungolds for munching, and Tiffens for slicing. (We love the Super Marzanos; the other two are this year's experiments.)

Because Robert is such a fine gardener, I cast myself in the role of willing apprentice, and did whatever he instructed during our plant out. He loved that, obviously, and I learned a bunch.

So here is how it went!

All three of our varieties are "indeterminate", meaning they are vines and the plants will get really big. They need a support system, and Robert came up with a beauty (with help from the internet). The first post is going in here, and of course he is using a level.
Do please note the cut off rubber boots, now garden clogs. A practical man is my husband.

He is also quite exacting. Here he is measuring and marking exactly where the holes for the plants will be dug, down the center line he has stretched with twine.

The humble apprentice is here at work.
The soil is like chocolate cake mix...fluffy, rich, and yummy.

Once the holes are dug, Robert adds a large handful of comfrey leaves to each one. Comfrey will provide potassium to the plants...for a little article from Organic Gardening on why this is such a good idea, read here.
He added a little organic bone meal, too, for stem strength.

Here is a nice Tiffen, ready to go. Note the potato like leaves...of course you know that tomatoes and potatoes are kissin' cousins in the Solanaceae family.

This is actually one of the Marzanos going in...and it is saying, "Ahhhhh......" because its roots are going to be bathed in this....

There on the left, Black Gold itself. Compost from last year's weeding, grass clippings, and also innumerable buckets of kitchen scraps. (Never in 28 years of marriage have I had a disposal.)

It is The Good Stuff.

Oh yes, yes, yes!

A fine and subtle cultural point here: Robert snips off the bottom leaves that might have direct contact with the soil, so that they can't get diseased and threaten our happy plants with illness.
I tell him he thinks like a plant and that that is a high compliment.

The compost is watered in...I don't have a picture of the water supply, but this being Robert's garden, you know it is not just plain water.
He has a stock tank with a piece of glass over the top...so the water is warmed by the sun. He's added some liquid seaweed to it too. This is gravity fed by hose to my waiting 5 gallon bucket down by the beds. (Our garden is on a slope.)
Do please note the bent coffee can which makes a perfect waterer.

Once all the plants are in, this magic weaving of the twine inbetween the plants will support them and keep them upright. More twine is added as the plants gain height.

Presenting The Tomato Plantation of 2009......! 48 plants in all...

Next up?

Japanese eggplant and two kinds of peppers...and then the basil....corn, beans, squash, and melons....

What a great time of year!!!!!

20 comments :

Raspberry said...

What a beautiful garden!

Marty52 said...

Oh, be still my heart... such a gorgeous garden! And all those yummy tomatoes... yum!

Vicki W said...

I see a lot of canning and freezing in your future! I thought Chris planted a lot of tomatoes (10), I guess I was wrong! Now that I've determined that I am allergic to them, cooked or raw, I have 2 summer weekends freed from making tomato sauce and soup!

Deb H said...

Wow! I learned a lot, now if only tomatoes could grow here! I do miss garden fresh tomatoes. I'll have to get some the end of August when we go to Orcas Island!

verobirdie said...

Can I borrow your husband for a couple of hours? I've got about 15 tomatoes to plant...
Your welcome too. :-)

Threadspider said...

Now that, my friend, is a masterclass in tomato growing. May your tomatoes (and friends) flourish.

Melissa Haren said...

Aren't homegrown tomatoes the best? We put our garden in a few weeks ago. Of course that means covering and uncovering because of the chilly nights. And our tomatoes are not nearly THAT big!

Kay said...

I grew up doing this, and you guys are GOOD ! (I now hate gardening with a passion.)
Glad to see your camera is ok again.

Daffycat said...

Oh Lord, the salsa that could be produced with 48 tomato plants...

Gorgeous garden!

Debra said...

Apparently Robert takes his gardening as seriously as you take your quilting. What a match!

lei said...

I simply MUST ask: "What do you do with all those vegetables and herbs?" The total crop must be a marketful!

EMBELLISHER said...

How fantastic, that's a little tutorial for planting tomatoes.I have to save it for future use when I cease to live in an apartment and have my own vegetable patch and compost pit etc.

Shogun said...

This is a great posting as I love gardening, veggies, and especially organic gardening of veggies!

Where I live, we are just on the edge of the last frost date. It's nice to see your gardens farther along than mine.

You make me want to expand my vegetable garden, oh wait, we just did - but we should expand it more!

Shogun

Jean said...

Excellent!!! Except we usually put in around 60-70 plants! The tutorial was helpful though... I usually just let them sprawl since there are so many... but maybe I will just have to use his method of the weaving... that would be a "big" help! Now I need to see if we have any old wire fence posts. I'm thinking we may have some old rebar that would work!
Thank your hubby! Oh, and you did a great job Ms. Apprentice! Hmmmm, maybe there could be a "show" in this! LoL

Possibilities, Etc. said...

I'm glad your camera is back!! What a great activity - now we can look forward to the canning phase later. I'll come visit and watch. Robert is adjusting well to retirement, it seems.

Willa said...

I have to get my maters in the ground..They are still in the little pots.. woe is me.. I have eggplant too! I did stripey tomatoes.. but all in a residential neighborhood. Hope the golfers don't eat my little veggies!

Plays with Needles said...

I learned so much from this post! Boy, Robert must really love his garden -- it didn't look like he was distracted once by his cute assistant !

Would he consider starting his own blog? For those of us who know nothing -- like how to make "black gold", the best way of making your own garden clogs, getting the dirt to be so loamy...I also had never heard of those other varieties of tomatoes -- so I'm proclaiming myself woefully tomato-ignorant...blog please, Robert??

Barbara C said...

It looks like Robert is part artist, and part engineer. You garden always looks so beautiful (and big). Thanks for the inside scoop on your tomato production.

amy milne said...

Your gardening reports are just as colorful and mesmerizing as you quilting ones, Allie! So organized and neat.

a

KT said...

Yes, Robert - a blog would help so many people! what a service...

Fascinating about the comfrey - had no idea!

Can't wait to get up there and start canning all this!