Anticipating Tomatoes

April 16, 2011 at 3:33 pm 2 comments

The first fava bean plants poked through the soil this week during that amazing all-night rain party on Wednesday. My body and soul breathed a sigh of relief at the release that a thunderstorm brings. So this weekend, I am completely energized!

This afternoon I spent with my ex-neighbor, digging in aged chicken manure to the other half of her ex-garden plot. (Yes, my new neighbor is letting me garden it in exchange for veggies).  Susie and I were discussing layout for what was to come and it occurred to me, “It’s the middle of April – time to get the Walls o’ Water out and start warming the soil for the tomatoes.”

Yes, you really can plant earlier with some kind of set-up that keeps the warm-season plants warm. In fact, they are sort of like a terrarium, moist and warm inside, which tomatoes, peppers and eggplants just love. Best of all, you can build your own.

First, start saving plastic milk jugs and water bottles. When you have at least five or six, make a cage where you intend to plant the tomatoes. Place the  jugs, filled with water, on the inside perimeter of the cage. Wrap heavy-duty plastic around the outside of the cage, more than one layer if you have enough, and make sure that you can secure the top, yet open it easily. Binder clips and clothes pins often work well. Secure the top closed for now and let it sit for a week or two. This set-up will insulate the inside and help heat the ground up more quickly. The filled water jugs will help moderate our fluctuations in temperature.

By May 1, I will be out planting my tomato starts. I’m going to set out a small tomato in the middle of the “Walls” and keep an eye on the temperatures. If it’s going to be very sunny and warm during the day, I will open the top a little by folding back the edges, just to let some fresh air in and keep the little plants from frying. Then, in the evening, I’ll come along and close them back up again to keep them toasty during the still chilly nights.

It’s a boon to get a jump on the season and have tomatoes before everyone else. You should try it!

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Entry filed under: Gardening.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dani Greer  |  May 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I already have tomatoes on several of my plants!

    Reply
  • 2. The Butternut Hunter  |  May 4, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I just got a couple of tomato plants from someone in Calhan who has a greenhouse. They are beautiful, healthy specimens. Makes me think it’s time to get new lights in the grow bench.

    Reply

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