Rain, Rain, Go Away

Come Again on the Weekday (When I have to work)!

Another day of rain yesterday and some overnight has left a very soggy backyard.  The vegetables in the raised beds don’t mind a bit and are thriving.  I have flower bulbs to plant, but will wait until the ground dries out a bit.  I may get them started in pots if the rain continues.  I will need to re-apply the insecticidal soap after the rain to keep the pests off of the beans, as they are getting chewed on.

Growing Organic Tomatoes

Organic Roma Tomatoes
These tomatoes were grown organically in a raised garden bed.

Tomatoes can be started from seed (be sure to choose an organic or heirloom variety) or plants can be purchased from local nurseries that specialize in organic gardening.

In order to produce an abundant crop, tomato plants should be planted in soil that consists of a rich organic mix of composted material and is well drained.  Tomato plants require plenty of sun (at least 5 hours per day).  Plants should be watered well at the base of plant to keep moisture off of the leaves which can contribute to late blight.

Plants should be set out well after the danger of frost and when soil temperatures are above 50 degrees F.  Plant the roots deep, firmly packing soil up to the bottom of the first leaf of the plant.  You may want to protect the plants by placing empty gallon size milk jugs with the bottom removed over the plant until it is well established.

As plants mature, they require support to keep the tomatoes off the ground.  Tomato cages or stakes can be used for this purpose.

There are some common pests and problems that can harm tomato plants.  Here are some tips on how to treat this problems organically:

Tomato Hornworms and Other Insects

Plant Borage as a companion plant near tomatoes to prevent pests from eating leaves and harming or infecting other vegetables such as eggplant, peppers, and potatoes.  Worms and eggs can be removed by hand from the leaves and stems of the plants. Insecticidal soaps can be applied and are an effective method to rid plants of aphids and other harmful insects.  Many gardeners release lady bugs in their garden, which are a predator to aphids.

Blossom End Rot and Other Diseases

Soil may be lacking calcium. Spray with seaweed extract and keep moisture content of the soil even by covering with a layer of mulch. Row covers can be used to protect plants from cool weather temps.  Keeping the soil built up with compost, dried blood, or fish emulsion will prevent diseases that are due to lack of nitrogen or phosphorus.

Sparse Crop

If plants have grown tall and spindly and are producing very little fruit, pinch off the suckers (growth between the stems).  If they have plenty of blossoms, but are not producing, they have not have been pollinated. Use a Q-tip to brush pollen from one blossom onto the others.

Planting a variety of organic tomato plants will produce an abundance of tomatoes throughout the growing season.  Following these tips will allow for a harvest of healthy, wonderfully delicious tomatoes that the whole family can enjoy in salsas, sauces, or fresh from the vine.  Seeds from this year’s crop can be saved to plant next season for another year of plump juicy tomatoes.

To get started growing organic tomatoes, check out these books by organic gardening experts: