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Tomato Growing Information for

"Succession Intensive Square Foot Gardening"

 

 

 

 

The purpose of this page is to explain my planting practices for container growing.

I call it

"Succession Intensive Square Foot Gardening"

It means planting as much as you can in the smallest of plots. Learn to feed a family from the smallest of gardens. Plants are grown in compost rich soil Plus other amendments and fertilizers. You can use other soils also, which are explained below
But the part of growing tomatoes I like the best is that you can grow other plants with the tomatoes.
Some examples are: onion, carrots, beans, parsley and kale to name a few.

 

Succession:
Planting one after another with the timing being imporant. You can harvest the plants and then add a new crop for the fall.

Intensive:
Planting types of plants that have compatably rooting systems. By that I mean if your main crop is tomatoes and you plant them deep you can also plant green onions which have a shallow root system and are harvested right at the time the tomatoes begin to flower. This is when the tomatoes need an extra boost of fertilizer to feed the new fruit and the onions won't be there to suck any of it up..

Square foot gardening:
Planting in measured plots. That is, plants are spaced as close as possible but leaving ONLY enough room for each root to get nutrients without stealing for the next plant. You have to learn each plants basic root ball diameter.

 

 

 

Index

[ Finding your Container ]
[ Fertilizer ]
[ Soils ]
[ Watering ]
[ Buckets of Tomato Images ]
[ Tomato Diseases ]
[ Frost Dates ]
[ Bleach ]
[ My Navigator ]

 

 

 

 

Containers

Containers come in many sizes and materials.
Barrels cut in half, old tires(also good for warm climate plants like melons) and pails make nice containers for tomatoes. Metal containers are ok but need a plastic liner or styrofoam inside to protect the roots from getting burnt or frozen on the metal. But the size and style is up to you. Just keep in mind that tomatoes require "at least" one square foot (1ft X 1ft and a minimum of 1ft deep) of soil.

The ideal container that I use is a wood frame about three and a half square foot.
That makes it easy to reach inside for weeding.
Then I line the inside sides with 2 inch thick styrofoam sheets cut to fit.
This protects the roots from quick temperature fluctuations.
I live in North Eastern Pennsylvannia and in the spring ( April or May ) temperatures can drop into the teens over night and reach the 80's in the daylight.
The styrofoam helps to keep the plants warmer and without a quick temperature change.
This will keep the plant from getting shocked and it will produce a tomato two weeks earlier.

One more important thing , the containers must be "sterile"
You can do this by washing or rinsing the containers with
"One cup of Clorox to One gallon of Warm Water"
Use plastic gloves to prevent from getting a reaction from the bleach.
And because of the dangerous fumes, it is recommended to do this outside.

 

 

Index

 

N-P-K = Nitrogin, Phosphorus, Potassium

Always remember :
"Too much of a good thing can be just as harmful as not enough"

Nitrogen:
When you overdue nitrogen fertilizer your plants will produce tall, beautiful green plants but with little or no fruit and flowers.
If they are not getting enough nitrogen you can spray them with a commecial foliar spray or some other source of nitrogen like diluted fish emultion and highly diluted Miracle Grow.
Also add some slow release nitrogen like Bonemeal or Fish meal to feed the soil.

Phosphorus:
If you use to much it will keep your plants from absorbing manganese, zinc and iron.
It also can take up to 2 years before it is washed out of the soil.
Add Rock Phosphate to your compost in the fall to correct a deficiency.
A more immediate result comes from speading a little bonemeal around the roots of the plant.
Be careful, not to much.

Potassium:
To much of this nutrient lasts for two years also.
A deficiency of potassium can be handled by adding wood ashes, manure or kelp materials to the soil. A weekly kelp foliar spray can help this problem more immediately.

 

How to make Manure Tea

The best liquid fertilizer that you can give tomatoes is Manure Tea.

To make manure tea all that you need to do is put manure ( fresh or dried ) or rich compost in a burlap type bag.
If you don't have a tea bag ( burlap bag ), you can put it without a wrapper in your container, but it has to be filtered.
You can do this by leaving it settle and siphoning it off.
The bigger the container better. Rain barrels are perfect size but use what you have.

Leave the tea bag submerged for one to seven days.
If it looks dark or smells strong, it is best to dilute it before you use it.
When in doubt Dilute

To much is as bad as not enough

More about fertilizer in myHomemade Sterile Soil Recipebelow.

 

 

Index

 

Soils

Feed your soil and not your plants to have healthy Veggies.

Any fertile Soil will work but if you like to grow the older, less disease tolerant varieties, it is best to start with a Homemade Sterile Soil in your containers.
Sterile Soil sounds cold but it is the best way to keep the diseases at bay.
Below is an Old English Recipe that I like to use.

 

Homemade Sterile Soil Recipe:

  • 1 bushel ....Shredded Sphagnum Peat Moss
  • 1 bushel ....Domestic Vermiculite
  • 1 pound ....Dolomitic lime
  • 4 oz. .........Superphosphate
  • 8 oz. .........5-10-5 fertilizer

Water the soil everyday for the first 14 days to get everything wet and working.
How much Water? Check Here[Water]
After that start feeding the tomato plants once every two weeks with a water soluble fertilizer with a ratio: 1-2-1 or 1-2-2 .
Use a high phosphorus fertilizer to side dress the plants after blossoms start.
But don't fertilize after that,
it will cause the tomatoes to grow to quickly and cause splitting.

 

 

Index

 

Watering:

Tomatoes need one inch of water per week after there first two weeks of being transplanted.
But in smaller containers it will be a bit more, you have to judge when the ground feels dry below the surface.

In larger Gardens or Containers it goes like this:

One inch of rain water per week Equals:

  •   Water                     Size of Plot
  • ****************************************
  • 65 gal........ per 100 square feet or........ 10' X 10'
  • 32.5 gal..... per 50 square feet or............. 7' X 7'
  • 16.25 gal... per 25 square feet or............. 5' X 5'
  • 8.125 gal... per 12.5 square feet or.. 3'6" X 3'6"
  • 4.06 gal..... per 6.25 square feet or.. 2'6" X 2'6"
  • 2.03 gal..... per 3 square feet or....... 1'8" X 1'8"

 

 

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