We kicked off last weekend with our first sale at the Palisades Farmer's Market and this week starts the first time we'll be at the Nyack Farmer's market. It was a wonderful turnout and, as usual, the perks of having a stand is that we meet so many new people in the community as well as seeing familiar faces and friends. As always, our tomatoes are the most popular selling seedling. Well, our seedlings are really plants when you see how big and healthy they are. We often get questions on the best way of growing them.
One of the reasons we plant our plants in Cowpots (made of cow manure from Connecticut dairy farmers) is that it's not only sustainable, but it allows for minimal root disturbance when transplanting - usually an added form of stress for the plant. It's worth the extra expense. Other "biodegradable pots" made of peat or coir, in our experience do not break down easily and you'll often find that they are somewhat still intact when you pull that plant out of the ground in the fall. Not a good sign. Cowpots, as long as you water them heavily at the start, will easily break down and simultaneously give your plant a boost of nitrogen for growing from the manure. Neat huh!
The other thing to realize about tomatoes is that you want a plant that has an extensive network of roots. The more roots the better and stronger your plant because a) the plant will have better drought tolerance and b) better access to soil nutrients. This concept applies to all things that you grow. What is especially interesting about the tomato are all the "hairs" that you see on the stem. These have the potential to become roots so the deeper you plant and cover those hairs with soil the more roots will establish. Neat, huh!
We suggest removing the bottom 2 tiers of branches and leaves and plant to the hilt of the next level. If your soil is not optimal when you dig down deep i.e. you hit sub soil which is clay-like or sandy, your other option is to plant the tomato sideways. Initially the plant appears to be sideways and tilted on the ground but no worries, they plant will go towards the sun and straighten up.
Tomatoes like water and as mentioned, if you are planting in Cowpots, water heavily the first week to start the breakdown process. Avoid watering directly on the leaves if possible. This helps prevent diseases like blight splashing up onto the leaves and prevents leaf sunburn. One thing we do recommend is not just watering the small area around your newly planted tomato, but the entire bed around the plant. If you just provide water to a small localized area around the plant, the roots (yes, it comes back to the roots) have no incentive to grow longer since all the water is in close proximity. So even though it feels like you're watering bare soil, you are indeed providing water for that nearby tomato and encouraging its roots to grow long and seek out nutrients and minerals further away from its location.
We'll be at the Nyack Farmers Market Thursdays on May 12th, 19th and 26th from 8AM - 2PM and again at the cozy and comfortable Palisades Farmers Market Saturdays on May 14th, 21st and 28th from 9AM - 1PM. We have 27 varieties of tomatoes but much much more! Heirloom, unusual and hard to find seedlings are what we love growing. Everything is organically grown and have been amended with nutrient dense growing techniques for the healthiest plants in the universe. Come visit us this month!