For the past four days my blog has been acting squirrelly and I have not been able to either log in or post as it sent them all to draft! But I am back!
We had a nice long shower today and I went outside to see that almost all of my staked tomatoes were almost on the ground! I had staked them and and tied them with soft cotton string about a week and a half ago, well all of them had grown about a foot in that time and the weight of the leaves after the rain had dragged them down significantly. So I re-tied them farther up the stakes and there doesn't seem to be any damage. They all have flowers so it is time for stage three of fertilizing. When I grow tomatoes I fertilize in stages. when I start them off as seeds I do nothing, when I plant them in the ground I mix compost in the hole that is the first stage, second stage is mounding very broken down compost around the base of the plant when they are about a foot high. I top that with newspaper bedding that has been used by my guinea pigs. You could also use bedding and straw from any animal that is a vegan. They have to be vegan or it will not be good for your plants, and chicken leavings can burn your plants so beware of that. If you do not have small pets you could use chopped up leaves, commercial mulch (dye free), or just shredded newspaper. What you are looking for is a mulch effect that will hold in moisture, help block weeds, and keep your compost in one place until it is all used. Once the plants start putting on flowers you need to add some nitrogen back into the soil, green compost is good for this. Weed the beds and mound the weeds up at the bottom of your plants cover with compost, don't put it on the stem or it might burn but try to get it close without touching. Or just use compost by itself just remember to cover with a mulch like substance. Some books advocate for what is called side dressing a treatment of fertilizer about four to six inches away from the stem in a circle around the plants. I have forced planting in my beds so this wouldn't really work. I also have herbs and such in between my tomatoes for pest repellent. So along with forced planting I do forced fertilizing. After your plants put on fruits you will want to cut back on your nitrogen to force the plants to concentrate on fruit production. This is also the time when you will want to pinch of the suckers in between the branches (if needed my next post will be on pruning) on your plant and re-stake as needed. Don't let your fruits touch the ground even if it is just a plastic bag between the fruit and ground it is better than nothing! This garden is a test to see what works right I also have a bed of black prince tomatoes and I have much less tomatoes planted in that one. I am using three different trellis systems to test which one of those I like to. I also have peas growing in tomato cages and the cages are working a lot better for peas than they are for tomatoes! Some of my tomatoes have gotten chest high already though so I am pretty sure I just don't have the right size cage. The peas that I tried to grow up the 2x4 corner post for the one day green house we are building would not use the post as an anchor! They fell to the ground every time even if I hand wrapped them gently myself. I am guessing they do not enjoy the size of the post. I also got some grow through supports that look like a round grate on three sticks. No recommended unless you are growing very small plants. Everything I have put them on has over grown them in a week. I am thinking of moving them to the squash and zucchini since the are low growing mounding varieties. I will report back on how that works out! This garden is a trail and error to see what works so I can adjust accordingly next year.