Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our Raised Tomato Garden Bed

They say that tomato plants that are planted early produce more, and higher-quality, tomatoes. You are supposed to get them into the ground by Mid-April. Mine have been moved from a seedling pot, to a 4 inch pot, to a 6 inch pot and now to their permanent home.... Hopefully that will count as being the ground in time.

We started of with some high-quality heirlom plants.  The leaves are deep green, and the stem is be sturdy enough to support the plant strongly. They are about as wide as they are tall and the roots were white and healthy when I removed the plant from the pot.

We picked this area of the yard because it receives the most direct full sun for at least eight hours of the day.  Since tomato plants prefer a fertile, well-drained soil that has high organic matter content we had to completely dig out the bed, riding it of the Tennessee Red Clay. We replaced it with a 2-23inch layer of compost, some chicken manure and a mixture of potting soil and top soil.

Our plants are planted about 1 to 12 and 18 feet apart. That is a little closer than the recommended 18 to 24 inches. I am just going to have to keep them trimmed at the sides and let them spread out to the front and rear of the plants. I plant to do this by pruning the plants back to either one or two main stems by pinching off the suckers (or side shoots) that grow where a leaf attaches to the main stem. Hopefully this will train the plant to take full advantage of our limited space.  I planted them a bout 3 inches deeper than they were growing in their containers, burying some of the steam and a  touch of leafy portions. We are using tomato cages instead of stakes to support the plants. 

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