I have a confession, last year’s tomato crop was horrible. It was terrible. The combination of putting underdeveloped seedlings out too early, not providing them the right nutrients, and erratic weather patterns resulted in a pathetic amount of tomatoes.
This year I vowed it would be different. I have been doing the following and it seems to be working.
1. Better Fertilization and Quality Soil
To start off with I am using Fox Farms organic soils and fertilizers. It’s has all the good stuff like bat guano and earth castings.
2. Timing and Patience
I started the seedlings under lights just like last year. But this year, I gradually put them into larger containers until they were in 3.0 gallon containers. I would pull them at night when the temperatures would drop and then bring them back into the sunshine in the morning.
3. Adding Dolomite or hydrated lime to my containers. Lime regulates the PH in the soil and it also helps control blossom end rot. It was actually extremely difficult to find in the stores. I ended up finding it in a Tractor supply store.
4. Earth Trainer
The Earth Trainer is homemade self watering container for two tomato plants. At first I was skeptical so I just made one for my San Marzano and Tiger Like, Black Krim and Green Sausage were in extra large containers and Constoluto Genovese was put directly into the garden bed.
The Earth trainer allows you to self water without getting the tomatoes leaves wet (a big no-no), it also keeps weeds and hopefully predators at bay. It’s also a more efficient way to keep the water the plants with limited waste. After a couple rounds at the hardware store and some battles with a power tool we had our own Earth Trainer. The self watering system is extremely easy. The plants have grown tremendously and they are producing more fruit the other plants combined.