Time-tested methods we've used to speed-up the fruit and increase yields.
Above is one of our Tomato Machines. This cherry tomato plant was planted in mid-March
and filled the 7 foot tall tomato cage in 7 weeks. According to local 'experts' you shouldn't plant until 'the
snow is off Silverstar Mtn.', and 'if you wait your plants will easily catch up to those planted (so-called) too early'.
I'd say it was a sure bet that a plant planted in June could never catch up to one started, properly planted as
we suggest, much earlier!
Put a drip water line where you will plant your plants. Never let your leaves
get wet (other than rain).
Put down plastic mulch where you'll plant. We use a 3-4 foot wide sheet of red
or black impermeable plastic mulch (see our Fertilizer/Supplies page). Bury the edges in the soil - it'll trap more heat
for the roots, plus the red color makes the tomato yield about 1/3 more fruit and the protected soil will have a much more
stable moisture content to help minimize fruit cracking.
Cut through the mulch to make the hole. At the bottom
of the hole put about a cup of sweet lime (dolomite) and about a cup of fertilizer (we use a killer fertilizer - see our Fertilizer/Supplies
page) and then cover with a half inch of dirt. For tomatoes only: strip off the bottom 2/3 of branches and plant the plant
just below the lowest remaining branches. For all other plants keep the same planting depth as they came in the pot.
DOUBLE THE GROWTH RATE OF YOUR PLANTS DO THIS: We cannot more highly recommend Kozy Coats to eliminate frost worries and speed
up your plants growth by an amazing amount. (See our Fertilizer/Supplies page for great info on Kozy Coats and how to set
them up.) After filling and setting up the Kozy Coat, place your cage outside and around the Kozy Coat and wrap the sides
and top of the cage with a clear plastic or saran wrap and poke ventilation and watering holes in the sides. If you have a
conical type cage, turn it upside down and wrap from the top, little ring to the bottom large ring. If necessary with the
conical cages, poke additional ventilation holes should the opening at the top not be enough. Wrap a couple of times
and secure the wraps with scotch tape to keep the wind from undoing the wraps. In a pinch, you can substitute 2 liter soda
pop bottles full of water with the cap replaced, but the Kozy Coats provide a lot more heat. Stand back and watch the explosive
growth: by keeping the roots warm at night, from the water heated up by the sun and the heat, trapped by the wrap and released
at night, YOU'VE JUST DOUBLED THE GROWTH RATE OF YOUR PLANT. Soak the root area with Vitamin B (anti-stress) solution
which is a concentrated liquid you can buy from most nurseries. Add more fertilizer to your tomates either by foliar feeding
them or by putting more fertilizer around the plant and watering that in.
Take the clear plastic wrap off when
the plant fills the cage. If you have the conical cages, place a second one right side up so it looks like an hourglass and
wire them together. If you have the square cages, place another one on top of the first, feeding the pins of the new one into
the holes at the top of the corners of the bottom one.
Make a map of the varieties you've planted so you'll
know which ones you'll really want next year.
How to DOUBLE
OR MORE Your Vegetables
With a Great, Cheap Hoophouse
Start with a wood-framed raised bed, ideally
10’ by however long you want it. Drive 30" rebar 24" into earth inside the corners of the frame and pairs
(one on each side on the inside) every 3’ down the sides. Join two 10’ sticks of 3/4" thin PVC pipe with
a T connector and place the pipes over the rebar. Do the same for the other end of the bed and join the interior hoops with
the "+" connectors. Place and cut another pipe to connect the pipe connections. Go to Rain or Shine and get their
24’ wide greenhouse plastic but get at least 4’ extra at each end, for an additional 8' total in addition
to the length of your hoophouse, so you can roll together the ends at night and secure with clamps. Staple the plastic
to the sides of the wood frame and open the ends during the day and close them up at night. Populate the interior of the hoophouse,
just on top fof the soil next to the plants, with as many bottles, milk jugs, Kozy Kotes, etc. of water as you can. Still
use wrapped cages inside the hoophouse. Vegetables go Boom!
If you don't want your beds to be that wide, you
can just use 2x4's to make the long sides and use stakes to secure them to the ground and then put in the rebar in the
corners and every three feet down the sides. You then have plenty of room to work around your beds and still hugely multiply
what you'll harvest from those same beds! Take off the skin in the late fall and save it for the next weason. Thde best
way we've found for attaching the skin to the side wood is to use 1x2's and wrap them from the bottom edge of each
long side of the plastic until they are the same heighth as the side wood and then screw them into the side wood pieces. IT
WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE NOT JUST IN YOUR PRODUCTION BUT HOW MUCH MORE TIME YOU WILL WANT TO BE WITH YOUR PLANTS - especially
on rainy days!
Laying Down or Going Straight Down?
From time to time you may read or hear about 'laying
down' your tomato plants instead of planting them straight down in the soil. The only problem they don't tell you
is that it's a sure way to get your tomatoes to crack and split the following season. You want the roots to go straight
down as fast as you can to allow the plant find a stable mositure source 4 or 5 feet down, unlike the hugely variable mositure
levels at the surface. By using raised beds, and using the wrapped cage technique above, your roots will be just as warm if
not warmer and, with adding sweet lime when you plant, you've done all you can to prevent fruit cracking and that dreaded
brown spot on the fruit bottom, blossom end rot. We use a post hole digger to expedite and simplify our planting of the thousands
of tomatoes we grow each year in the field - just one or two strokes of the digger and it's done! If you have really rocky
soil, where you might think you can't go down, Mother Nature is suggesting to you to definitely use raised beds.