Mari's Dirty Fingers

A Newbie's Garden Experiment

Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and more Tomatoes

on May 1, 2013

We weren’t very successful with tomatoes in the school garden last year.  Only 2 tomato plants  were planted; one cherry and one beefsteak.  The cherry tomatoes produced okay but the teacher did not cage them and they spread all over the garden box and onto the path.  We lost many fruit to pill bugs, slugs, and rot.  The beefsteak was very productive but it had a little 2 feet tall tomato cage that did little to support it.  Unfortunately,  some parents picked most of the tomatoes before they could fully ripen or be harvested by the students for their salads.

Tomatoes in reused/upcycled pots for our garden fundraiser.

Tomatoes in reused/upcycled pots for our garden fundraiser.

We’re off to a much better start this year.  Students started tomato seeds in February and March.  We used a few in our garden and the rest will be sold to raise funds for garden equipment.  Some of the varieties started: Black Plum, Juliet Hybrid, Persimmon, Large Red Cherry, Sweet 100, Brandywine, and Fox Cherry. We are  trying a variety of different plant supports this year.

For the Black Plum we are using a trellis.  

  • Tomato info: indeterminate tomato (continues to produce fruit throughout the growing season) grows 4-6 feet and produces brown/black plum sized fruit good for salads and drying.
  • The trellis is made from a metal EMT conduit frame and nylon garden netting.  Here is a good Trellis How To by Brian Sell at Living Well Now.  We made ours in a similar manner.
We are using twine and pruning to train this tomato to grow up the trellis.

We are using twine and pruning to train this tomato to grow up the trellis.

For the Large Red Cherry we are also using a trellis.  Tomato info: indeterminate tomato that grows about 8 feet tall with small cherry shaped fruit used fresh in salads.

For the Sweet 100 we are using a tepee.

  • Tomato info:  indeterminate tomato grows 4-6 feet and produces small cherry shaped fruit good eaten fresh and in salads.
  • The tepee is made out of four 6 feet tall bamboo poles tied together with twine at one end.
Tomato teepee. Students will add twine around the legs as tomato grows.

Tomato teepee. Students will add twine around the legs as tomato grows.

For the Persimmon we are going to use a remesh cage.

  • Tomato info:  indeterminate tomato that grows 4-6 feet and produces large yellow orange fruit good fresh, for slicing, canning, and in salads.
  • Here is an excellent Remesh Cage How To video by Emily at My Square Foot Garden.  We followed her instructions to make ours.
Remesh cage in action.

Remesh cage in action.

The school garden is accessible through the open parking lot during the hours the school is in operation.  I’m sure the  parents probably think, “Where’s the harm in taking just one tomato.”  The thing is, our school has close to 800 students.  It only takes a small percentage of their parents taking ONE veggie each to empty those boxes.  I’m going to have students make “Do not Pick” signs, or something along those lines.  If the parents see the signs in their children’s handwriting they may resist the temptation.

Please leave suggestions for the wording of the signs.  Something to the point but not rude. We’re not at the rude stage yet.

Advertisements

2 responses to “Tomatoes, Tomatoes, and more Tomatoes

  1. Thanks for the links to the tutorials! Signs….how about “All food reserved for student gardeners (or tiny people, little children, adorable kids..) . Thanks for not picking!”

    • marislunch says:

      Thanks for the great suggestion. Our neighborhood is 99% Hispanic and a significant number of the parents are non-English speakers. I don’t speak a grammatically correct Spanish and my vocabulary is limited. I struggle with the correct/proper translation for our signs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: