Saturday, May 9, 2009

Healdsburg - Tomato Country!

Today my Wife had someone helping her with the baby so I was let loose in the garden. Today's priority - Tomatoes!

Last year, we had amazing tomatoes, despite not knowing very much about them. I just bought some starts at the nursery, plopped them in our planter box, turned the drip irrigation on, and voila! Massive numbers of mutant tomatoes!

This year I had big plans. I was going to raise seedlings at home in San Francisco, down in the garage, to plant at Healdsburg. I had them up to about 2 inches in height and looking very good, then yesterday I put them out before work, got home late, and the sun and wind killed them! Doh. Back to starts.

I had planted 2 from starts about a month ago, using last years methodology. They are growing like their predecessors from last year.

One of the keys to this planter box is the huge lavender plant in the background. In addition to smelling great to me, it smells great to bees, bringing pollinators to the garden. This plant is coming along nicely.

In the meantime I've been studying some on tomato planting. We had some extra land that I decided to try to plant with tomatoes. First, I had to lay an irrigation line on a timer.

Unscientifically I am using one 2 GPH emitter per plant, watering 5 minutes a day. I probably would be fine with less volume, but I didn't have lower flow emitters, which I will probably pick up so as to not overwater. One, I'll do some research - it does get very hot here though.

The path from pot to ground is thus - at least this is what I went with. Here is the start.

I snipped off all but the top branches. This is always painful for some reason. I dug a deep hole, put some fertilizer in the very bottom, and buried the plant to just below the top leaves. I dressed it a little with some more fertilizer.

Voila. Looks puny compared to what I start with by just plopping the whole start in at ground level, but the plant is supposed to be stronger and healthier this way, growing more roots, etc...

Finally I put the cages in to set all the plants up - 6 in all in the new plot. I bought some cucumbers to start here as well, but I am going to let them grow bigger indoors. I had some Zucchini starts and they were eaten up overnight. Best to let the plants get a good head start on the vermin, in the meantims I've applied some sluggo. The tomatoes don't seem to be as succulent as they don't tend to get eaten, unlike zuccini and basil. Zucchini and cucumbers are massive producers up here, but I have to keep them from being eaten while they're young.

The tomatoes should be ready in late July and produce through September. All the fruits and veggies are for our guests, so if heirloom tomatoes fresh off the vine are your speed, come up to our Sonoma County Vacation Rental - Le Tournesol (French for "The Sunflower") and feast on tomatoes with some of our areas great wines!

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