Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Planting

The new raised beds are complete and filled with Mel’s Mix and the Memorial Day weekend is here. It’s time to finish planting and we have perfect weather, mostly sunny, warm, with the prospect of a few showers or thunderstorms. I spent Saturday and Sunday planting seeds and transplants, and erecting the tomato trellises for the new beds.All the beds were mulched with chopped straw to preserve moisture and prevent soil from splashing on the plants.

This will be my first year in a long time growing tomatoes in a raised bed. I built 8 inch beds to give me an extra inch or so, even though everyone says 6 inches is enough. This will also be my first year in a long time training tomatoes up a string trellis. I do have experience with this and used the technique in my original raised beds back in the late 80s, where I did indeed plant one tomato per square foot.

So here we go. I have a pair of Juliet tomatoes I am trying this year, variously referred to as a mini-Roma or a really big grape tomato. My neighbor planted them last year because her husband likes them. Her vines were so loaded with fruit she lost a lot to drops and birds. So I am giving them a trial this year. If they get ahead of me they will become sauce.

Juliet tomato plants

Mel suggests laying the plant vertically in the square. Here’s my “slant’ on that, a sloping hole with a deep end for the root ball and shallow toward the side of the box where the foliage will be trained up a trellis.

Slanted planting hole for tomatoes

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, and while in theory Mel’s Mix with fresh compost is the ideal growing medium, I always juice it up a little. Also, considering these are new beds, I wanted to add some microbes. In the bottom of each hole I put a couple scoops of some Dr. Earth compost which contains, besides compost, a blend of microbes and Mycorrhizae. Then I threw in about 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone, which also contains a blend of soil microbes.

Adding fertilizer to the hole

Next, insert the tomato plant and gently fill in the soil around it.

Laying tomato diagonally in hole

Tomato in place

For some overgrown transplants, this technique will not work. And for my own sorry effort at starting tomatoes from seed, the tiny plants were just put in the soil to make it on their own or not. We have a Chinese fellow in the garden who always seeds his tomatoes directly in the ground. They look a little wimpy now but by July will have caught up with everyone’s transplants.

In one day I set out 14 tomatoes, 15 peppers and 12 eggplants, filling all but 7 squares in my two beds. This in a space that last year supported only 14 tomatoes and a miniature sunflower.

Tomato planting complete

On Sunday afternoon, I got my son to help me erect the 7 foot tomato trellises made from half inch steel conduit. Still to do, I have to attach strings that run from the top crossbar to the bed, but I have plenty of time for that.

Planted beds with trellis installed

Here is the list of things transplanted this weekend or I am planning to transplant:
  • Tomato Sun Gold
  • Tomato Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Tomato Black Krim
  • Tomato Cherokee Purple
  • Tomato Big Rainbow
  • Tomato Pineapple
  • Tomato Black Cherry
  • Tomato Juliet
  • Tomato Striped Roman
  • Eggplant Dusky
  • Eggplant Ghostbusters
  • Eggplant Rosa Bianca
  • Eggplant Barbarella
  • Eggplant Fairy Tale
  • Pepper Jalapeno
  • Pepper Aconqua
  • Pepper Red Ace
  • Pepper Hungarian Wax
  • Pepper Aruba
  • Pepper Black Pearl
I also planted most of the warm weather seeded crops:
  • Pole Ben Fortex
  • Cucumber Diva
  • Cucumber Summer Dance
  • Cucumber Jackson Classic (pickling)
  • Bush Bean Provider (4 sq. now, 4 in 2 weeks)
  • Bush Bean Fresh Pick (4 sq. now, 4 in 2 weeks)
  • Patty Pan Squash Sunburst
  • Zucchini Dunja
  • Zucchini Costata Romanesco
The soil in the raised beds is certainly warm enough to encourage the germination of these warm weather vegetables as long as I keep the beds watered. Hopefully I will soon see signs that plants have taken to their new home and are actually growing.


  1. I do like the idea of tomato vines dripping in fruit. I'm missing the end of our season already. Still I guess I get to plan for the next one now - only a month or two before its time to sow seed again.

  2. It's nice that we live in two parallel worlds, 180 degrees out of sync. During dark February evenings I get to read your blog and see what is waiting for me come May.


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