Tuesday, June 3, 2008

To train or trail, that is the question...

I'm currently engaged in an experiment. I love experiments, particularly if they provide worthwhile information.

This year's experiment involves a whole helluva lot of tomatoes.

The Players:

In the front bed (the study avoidance bed) we have 11 tomatoes growing in 10+ hours of sun. They're growing East-West so the sun moves over the row fairly evenly. On one side is a 5' privacy hedge which acts as a sort of windbreak. All of these tomatoes are staked or caged. They're growing in a foot of loosened soil, which includes some Okie red clay, as well as plenty of manure, homemade compost, mushroom compost, old leaves, and pine needles for acidity - the soil here is pretty alkaline. Three of the 11 are from transplants. The rest are from seed.

In the back (the original bed) we have 17 tomatoes that are currently growing sans stakes! Stake-free, baby! I imagine this is like a tomato going bra-less, which has got to be much better! This bed gets only around 6 hours of sun and on the corners it gets less than that. It's growing in the same soil mix with the addition of 5 pounds of raw coffee to the entire row (25' x 5') for extra acidity. One of the tomatoes is a volunteer, so she's a lovely surprise. The rest were all grown from seeds except for three cherry tomatoes.

I may still buy a few cages for these tomatoes, but I really want to see what will happen. My old Rodale's says that unstaked tomatoes can grow up to 20 FEET LONG and produce like monsters, too, although they're more prone to disease. The folks over at Tomato Casual seem to think it's a foregone conclusion that tomatoes must be kept off the ground. I used to think that too, until a happy accident at my parents' place. They had some Cherokee Purples (which is a fabulous, truly wonderful tomato, especially when combined with orange habanero to make a beautiful salsa...but I digress)...anyway, these Purples decided no silly cage was going to hold them in - DON'T FENCE ME IN, MAN! - so they threw their cages down on the ground and went hog wild. Three plants grew to an enormous size and made my parents all sorts of tomatoes, buckets and buckets and buckets. Plus there were plenty of volunteers, too, because I guess there's no way to get all the tomatoes and some rotted in place.

If this experiment doesn't result in Massive Tomato Funk then my main concern will probably be space. There are also about 20 peppers growing back there (including the volunteers), a volunteer squash, two volunteer sunflowers, and some okra. It's a full house but I think I'm going to let them duke it out. Or I might stake a few of the Opalkas (I really want lots of tomatoes for canning) and let the rest of them have a go at it... I'll keep ya posted.


And in other news, last night I cleaned up the broccoli and cabbage beds. I pulled up several to compost and make room for the cukes and zukes. I decided to dry most of the cabbage and broccoli leaves as recommended by Sharon to grind into powder (#2 under Summer). She said to add it to bread, but I'm thinking I'll probably add it to soups, stews, and casseroles. If I ever make bread again - which I really want to, but I feel like I suck at it, then I might add it. Green bread sounds cool. I usually use all of my eggshells, which she also recommended for additional calcium, in the garden.

1 comment:

Hausfrau said...

Personally, if I go an hour without a bra I am in PAIN. Fence me in, please!

Have you ever read Solviva? The author (Anna Edey) had an indoor tomato in her greenhouse that was HUGE, and several years old.