[UPDATE: See what I did this year.]Last year I struggled with my tomatoes. Don’t get me wrong, they produced a TON of fruit, but they were very floppy. I think the problems began when I planted them a couple weeks before going on vacation. They grew a bit out of control while we were gone. I should have pinched them back at that point, but I felt bad about doing such things to my first official all-my-own tomato plants.
Also it doesn’t help that that veggie bed is VERY rocky. Hubby and I have done a LOT to improve our yard, and I can’t tell you how many giant pieces of asphalt and concrete we dug up from whatever the previous owners apparently used as fill dirt (as well as an old gutter, a bazillion beer cans and bottles, a pack of green marbles we still find marbles from, and a door frame, plus more). So wen I bought tomato cages and other various supports to help out the very rapdily growing tomato plants, I couldn’t get them in the dirt very far without having to damage the plant a lot. Everywhere I tried to put a cage in, one prong would hit something, I’d try to dig it up, not find it, one leg of the cage would have a crazy unstable angle – it was a losing battle. More than once the tomatoes blew over in a wind storm. They ended up in tomato cages, tied to tomato cages, tomato cages tied together, tied to bamboo garden supports, then also tied to iron shepherd’s hooks and the bamboo parts of some old tiki torches that came with the house. Untangling THAT at the end of the year was fun.
So I’m trying to figure out a better support system for the tomatoes this year. My current plan was to use some trellises I got at a really good price at the end of the season. Just sort of tie the plants to the trellis as needed for support. I was hoping this might also give me room for more plants. Another option is these tomato towers from Gurney’s. I have a catalog with a $25 off when you spend $50 coupon, so I could get the towers and some other stuff. I’ve heard that they work pretty well and are good for small spaces, I’d just have to keep up with pinching off bits that got out of control. A third option in these tomato thingies from Lowe’s. They’re a bit cheaper than the Gurney’s towers and are (according to the website) in stock at the Lowe’s near my home, so I wouldn’t have to worry about shipping. They take up a bit more space, but that might mean I wouldn’t have to stay on top of pinching off suckers etc. I can also still use trellises for additional support as needed. What do you think is the best option?
A few additional plans for the 2009 garden:
- Plant some flowers in the veg garden for pollination (and beautification!) and to help keep away hornworms, aphids, and rabbits: zinnias (will start from seed outdoors), marigolds (will buy plants), and chamomile (will buy plants).
- Put those peppers a little closer together!
- Work in lettuces when its cool enough (have some lettuce and some impulse buy radish seeds in there now).
- Try beans on one of the trellises – impulse buy seeds!
- Mulch this year – it should help keep the weeds down a bit (though they weren’t too awful last year).