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Old 21-03-2010, 02:57 PM posted to rec.gardens.edible
Dan Musicant Dan Musicant is offline
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Mar 2010
Posts: 28
Default Tomatoes - Ace versus Early Girl versus ?

On Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:29:43 -0700, Billy

:In article ,
: Dan Musicant wrote:
: On Fri, 19 Mar 2010 15:13:26 -0700, Billy
: wrote:
: ry Farming Early Girl is recommended.
: :
: The thing about dry farming them is this:
: My soil is pretty heavily clay. I dig a trench that's about 2 feet deep,
: around 30 inches wide and around 10 feet long. I stop digging when I
: encounter standing water. Once I get that deep it's not only hard to get
: more mud out, it just doesn't seem to make sense because I'm seeing a
: pool of water. I don't know if it's at all feasible to get down to 3
: feet depth. Never tried beyond about 2 feet.
: So, although I hear that tomatoes are deep rooted and can send roots
: down up to 6 feet, I figure mine aren't going to be able to get down
: below 2 feet. They could maybe get into the clay soil, but there
: wouldn't be much point, because my compost rich soil stops at about 2
: feet. Thus, I figure their wouldn't be much point in their sending roots
: down further just for water that wouldn't be wresting nutrients out of
: sourrounding soil. If I don't water, the compost won't continue to
: deteriorate and give up nutrients. My compost looks better this year,
: but there's still a lot of potential nutrients that won't be available
: to the roots unless there's a certain level of moisture in the soil.
: This is why I water some, usually once a week, what I figure will get
: all the soil wet down to the 2 foot level. That's been my thinking, far
: from scientific.
: Dan
: Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net
an, just a suggestion, but I would add 10 cu.ft. of sand to your bed,
lus whatever amendments, like 1 lb. rock phosphate, 5 lb of chicken
:manure, 5 - 10% compost (2 - 5 cu.ft.). Mix it in well, and then Never
:dig that bed again. In the future, add amendments to the surface
manure, rock phosphate, wood ash) and keep the bed covered with mulch
I prefer alfalfa because it gives me a twofer, mulch and nitrogen).
:How common manures measure up
:Manure Chicken Alfalfa Fish Emulsion
:N 1.1 3 5
:P .80 .1 1
:K .50 2 1
:For more see Http://
:If you get out to the coast, take a garbage bag and grab some seaweed
:too. Now is a good time to do tat because once the storms are over, the
:beaches get cleaned for tourist season, and there won't be any seaweed
:until next fall.
:Keep the beds covered in mulch, except for when you want to warm the
:soil around the plants. If there isn't a plant, keep the bed covered.
:The reason for this is soil structure, which gets destroyed every time
:it gets dug up. The insects and the microbes will do your tilling for
:you as long as you keep them fed, and the bed will develope mycorrhiza
:which will work symbiotically with your plants to feed them.
:If you have weed problems, pull them or put newspaper over them and
:cover with mulch.
:When your plants are young, check the soil with your finger to see if
:the top inch is dry, before you water. It sounds like once your tomatoes
:are established, they will be able to find their own water (no salt
:water intrusion I hope).
:Once the tomatoes start flowering, hold off on any future nitrogen
:additions as given food and water, the vines will prefer to vegetate
:than set fruit, which will reduce your crop.
:Once the vines are up off the ground, you may want to try some clear
lastic ground cover around them to warm the soil. I find it interferes
:with watering, so I'm only going to cover half the soil around my
:tomatoes. In your case, you may not need to water at all.
:Good luck and have a happy equinox. Kinda looks like barbecue weather.

Thanks for these ideas! I'll try to work with them in the future.
There's one other factor that will have to be worked out to implement
your suggestions:

There's a rather large ( ! ) plum tree (yellow plums) that's just north
of the tomato plot. The long rectangular tomato bed points almost
directly at the trunk of that tree, and the tree limbs overhand about
25% of the tomato bed. I've been here around 25 years and the tree has
grown and the last ~5 years, the tomatoes closest to the tree were doing
very poorly. The last 2-3 years I've experimented with putting barriers
in the soil to keep out the plum tree's roots from the tomato plot, and
pretty successfully last year. Last year I put compressed wood ~1/4"
boards down, about 2 feet deep. I treated one side with wood
preservative. The trench is open right now, so I could replace them, and
maybe I should, but my intention at the moment is to just leave them in
there and see how the crop does this year. At the worst, the last 1-2 of
the 6 plants will suffer, but I'll still get an OK crop.

If I adopt a strategy of not digging a trench yearly, I'll either have
to execute my plan of removing the tree (a big job!), or put down a
barrier that wouldn't require almost yearly replacement.


Email: dmusicant at pacbell dot net