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Old 04-15-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
bmurph44
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Default New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I'm going to till using my tractor and it's all grass, I want to just go the width of my tiller which is 44 inches.

Need advice in soil preparation....We have really nice black dirt, Central Illinois farm country. What do I till in the soil, lime, compost?

I'm only going to plant 8 tomato plants of 4 different varieties, any suggestions?

How far apart do I plant them?

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:51 AM   #2
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I just sprinkle lime and rototill it to mix it. I then strip all the leaves except the top cluster, and lay the plant in a trench about 6 nches deep put fertilizer in the bottom ( not too much ) , then cover that with dirt and then lay the plant down. Let the top stick up enough to put some sort of cutworm collar on. The plant won't be too deep and will get the warmth from the sun. You'll have a good rootsystem this way.
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:31 AM   #3
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

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I just sprinkle lime and rototill it to mix it. I then strip all the leaves except the top cluster, and lay the plant in a trench about 6 inches deep put fertilizer in the bottom ( not too much ) , then cover that with dirt and then lay the plant down. Let the top stick up enough to put some sort of cutworm collar on. The plant won't be too deep and will get the warmth from the sun. You'll have a good root system this way.
How big of plants should I get and when can I plant them?

What kind of fertilizer should I use to put in the bottom when planting?
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Old 04-15-2012, 10:47 AM   #4
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

Well I don't know when for you; but here in Massachusetts Memorial Day weekend is the tradional time. Antytime after your last frost date. If you use plastic or roofing paper, etc around them you might get away with a week or two earlier. As far as fertilizer- you can use any vegetable garden fertilizer, but they also sell specially formulated stuff for tomatoes, too. Also, it's a good idea to put your stakes in at the same time so that you know where the roots are. Hope this helps. OH, and plant size won't matter that much. I don't think you'll be able to buy anything too big early in the season. I wouldn't get anything too big. Wherever you're buying them will help you. probably more than i can.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:00 AM   #5
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I'm in St. Louis and planting them today. If 8 plants freeze, you aren't going to lose much money on small plants. I have 6' stakes for the plants and they wind up outgrowing those. Maybe just put straw on the ground and let them go where they want. And plant enough for the deer. The WILL find them.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:45 AM   #6
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I am planting mine 1' 11'' on center. I have 48 to plant. This is typically too early to plant them in my area since the last frost date is today, and there is a 10% of a frost after that date. Recommended date here is 15-30 days after the last frost date. But the 10 day forecast looks very warm so I am planting 16 today. 16 more next weekend, and another 16 the following weekend.

First determine what type you growing. Determinant or indeterminate. Indeterminate can grow vines all over the place. I have created 5 ft cages for mine and I am planting in a double row. ::::::: So about 2ft side to side and along the row. You can also put stakes in keep them up off the ground as they grow. It is best to put the stakes in now so you disturb the roots later.

Determinate types grow a much more contained bush like plant, but are mostly grown by commercial groweres who are growing large areas. They grow for limited time and are done. Indeterminates will keep creating new tomatoes all summer until the first frost.

I am also using the trench method, but my tomatoes are about 18 inches high. If you get good complact plants that were grown in a nursery/greenhouse they can be planted upright in your planting hole. They should be watered several times the first couple days to minimize transplant shock. I water them in the first time with 1/2 strength miracle grow.

As far as soil additions, you could add some compost, or peat moss, or other organic matter.

I like to surround mine with about 3 layers of newspaper covered with grass clippings, compost, or mulch. This keeps weeds from growing, and keeps dirt off of the plants/fruit which can lead to some diseases.

Good Luck!
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

Thanks everybody for the advice......I couldn't do my garden today because my 37 year old JD 300 with the tiller wouldn't start and I ended up working on that all day. Need to find a starter for it tomorrow.
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Old 04-15-2012, 09:16 PM   #8
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I start my own plants about the middle of March and plant outside about the middle of May. Have good luck with Roma. I set up a drip irrigation hose and use tomato cages. Expect them to be about four feet tall and you should get at least about 3-4 pounds per plant. All my plants will be dead by the middle of August because of some fungus. I don't bother trying to control it. A mulch helps to keep the spores from splashing onto the leaves. I'll fertilize a couple times per season as well. Liquid or granules.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

Here are the first 16 tomatoes I planted Sunday.



I have 32 more to plant, and I want to pick up a couple from the store to try some other varieties.

My cages are made from heavy fence wire that they use in reinforcing contrete slabs. The cages are 5 foot high and come in the size that are 19 to 23 inches in diameter. Mainly they are are different sizes so i can stack them 3 inside each other to save space. The holes in the fence are 6in square so it is easy to reach in and work/harvest.

Good luck on yours.
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Old 04-17-2012, 03:21 PM   #10
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Default Re: New garden, new gardener...Tomatoes only

I think I just wasted half a day putting in the garden.
Dirt is so dry, whenever you dug a hole, it just blew away. Didn't see any 'worms' either.
Put in a tomatoe plant, sunk it a good foot down into some cold earth. It's left over from last year. Got a couple blossoms on it already. Got 2 more in the house, one is 4 ft high.
Pepper plant (last years) went in too. We'll see what comes of it. No promises.
Added corn, raddish, beet, carrot, cucumber, winter squash and pumpkin.
Don't remember planting a rock crop last year, but there sure are alot of them this year.
Weatherman promising rain this weekend, so still time to set up the water barrels under the gutters.
Yup. Saved some seed incase I have to do a second planting.
Still got the snow plow and blower on the tractors.
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