Outside Savannah, GA, is where you’ll find my 35 year old vegetable garden. I grow in 22 rows that are about 100 feet long each. The soil pH in my garden varies from 6.5 to 7.5. My wife and I grow a lot of produce – we can some of it and we give lots of it away. We do our biggest planting on Good Friday – that’s when we plant almost everything except for the potatoes. This year I grew a lot of tomato plants, including 60 Better Boys, 30 Early Girls, and 30 Rutgers – they have all done great.
My 60 Better Boys are taking up 2 rows. The rows are about 3 feet wide, with about 3 feet between each row, as always. If you move 3 rows down you will find the row of 30 Early Girls, and move down 3 more rows to find the row of 30 Rutgers.
I prepared the soil with a tractor, making the planting rows about 4 inches high. The allows my drip water hose to water the plants and not the alleys between rows. For the tomatoes I applied 5-10-15 fertilizer at planting time, less than a handful in each hole. I applied about 1 cup of water at planting time for each plant. When the plants were about knee-high I set a 3 legged cage for each one, and scratched in another handful of 5-10-15. We weeded the rows by hand as we went along.
When each plant began to outgrow the 3 legged cage, I applied one of my custom wire cages made from field wire. These are 48 inches high, with a 28 inch diameter. I drive in a T post for each one to guard against the wind blowing the cages over.
I monitor the plants closely to determine when they need water. I dig down in the dirt about 3 inches – if the soil is dry at that depth, I run the drip hose overnight. We don’t water again until the soil is dry again at 3 inches deep.
When we started gardening 35 years ago, blossom end rot was very bad. We have worked to maintain the soil pH between 6.5 and 7.5, and now we very seldom see any blossom end rot. I do start spraying calcium nitrate when I see the first bloom. This year I sprayed 3 times – I just follow the directions on the bag.
I also spray colloidal silver on the plants and ground to control any diseases before they appear on the plants and fruit. I mix 1 pint of colloidal silver 10 ppm to 2.5 gallons of water. Each batch also has 2 teaspoons of a simple, safe soap. I spray this mixture 3 times a week. I spray silver on everything in the garden.
We will have fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving dinner again this year. If cold temperatures ever come to us before Thanksgiving arrives, I cover some tomato plants with black plastic, making sure that the plastic doesn’t touch the plants. If you let the black plastic touch the plants, you will probably get some damage.
This is the method we use to get tomato slices that completely cover a slice of bread. I hope this information is helpful for others out there who are trying to grow tomatoes in our area.
Thanks to Gerald C. for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest. We have over $1,500 in prizes lined up for the current writing contest, with more to come. Here is a list of the current pot of prizes:
– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $380 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $279 value
– 1 year of free membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $240 value
– A copy of The Summer of Survival Complete Collection from Life Changes Be Ready, a $127 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $60 each
– The complete 2014 Grow Your Own Food Summit interview series, a $47 value
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $42 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $40 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $32 each