I considered not doing one at all this year, but when the season rolled around and people started talking about garden plans, I couldn't help myself. The garden will be planted, but on a small scale.
This is my learning year.
Yesterday I attended a workshop on growing heirloom tomatoes and I learned so much. Lots of new techniques to try. I had planned on planting 6 tomato plants, but after the class, 4 more heirloom varieties will be added to make a total of 10. The heirloom varieties are wonderful for shorter season gardens since many of them originate in places like Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Germany, where the weather can be chilly. Some have growing rates as short as 55-60 days!
Here are some of the tomato-growing tips I learned in the class:
***plant tomato plants to the depth of half the length of the stem to encourage a strong stem and plant
***if the temps are 80-90 degrees, water deeply every 5-6 days. over 100 degrees, every 4 days.
***tomatoes are heavy feeders and they require fertilization once per month
***planting tomatoes next to basil makes for tastier fruit.
***after a hail storm you can encourage the plant to grow by taking a broom as gently brushing the tops of the plants for a few minutes over a few days.
***if you use a sprinkler to water your tomatoes, water in the morning. tomatoes don't like water droplets on their leaves and AM watering helps them to dry up quicker.
***try to avoid letting tomato plants droop to the ground since that is where they will pick up diseases.
***after labor day you can cut your watering to once a week to encourage the plants to ripen the fruit quickly before a freeze comes.
***right before the last freeze you can pull the entire plant up out of the ground--roots and all--and hang it upside down from a hook in a shed or basement. you will be picking vine-ripened tomatoes through thanksgiving.
Well, this is pretty much my tomato plan. Last year I think I harvested no more than 15 tomatoes from 12 plants. Not good! This year I hope to be canning like crazy and even giving some away.
We will see!