All New Square Foot Gardening

In just a few days that top will straighten itself up, and at the same time all the new roots will start sprouting out from the main stem. If you noticed the root system when you put the plant in the ground, depending on what size pot it was growing in, it probably had a very small rootball, perhaps only 1 or 2 inches wide, and 1 or 2 inches long. But now for the average transplant you're going to develop a 6- to 8-inch rootball along the entire length. This procedure will not take any strength from the plant, and it will not delay any of the first tomatoes you're going to harvest from that plant. In fact, because of its extra root strength and size, it will be a more vigorous grower than before.

TRAINING PLANTS UP YOUR NETTING At least once a week, gently take the new growth on your vertical crops, and carefully weave it in and out of the netting. The wide squares in the netting make it easy to reach through and guide your plants without breaking them.

Some books may advise you to dig a deep hole, and plant the tomato straight down deep so just the top leaves show, thus burying the entire stem with the idea that the roots will still sprout along the stem. This is okay, but that puts the plant quite deep in the ground and usually it's still springtime and the ground is still fairly cool. So I've found the lay-me-down method will make the plant grow much faster, because the soil at that level is warmer, by perhaps as much as 10 degrees. After the plant is heading skyward, you treat it the exact same way as any other tomato transplant. This method of lay-me-down planting also will give you more fruit

Vertical Gardening

Vines need a little direction from time to time. Gently weave a vine in and out of the trellis netting to help it keep a steady course.

because the first fruiting branch to form along the main stem will be closer to the ground allowing you more distance to the top of your vertical frame to have fruit.

Tomato Worm

If you see some of your tomato leaves are chewed up, you may have the dreaded tomato worm. Look for little black specks (the droppings from the worms), and check the surrounding leaves to find them. The worms are camouflaged but still brightly colored, large, and beautiful. Usually there are just one or two at the most. (Caution: do not pick it up. Tomato worms emit a very foul smell that will get on your hands and clothes.)

Play it safe. Get your scissors, and cut off the leaf. Put it in a paper bag, seal it, and throw it in the garbage. Tomato worms don't usually harm the tomatoes themselves, but they take strength from the plant as they eat many of the leaves. If your children are interested in a science project, you might have them come and look at the tomato horn worm and get their ears as close as they can. They can actually hear them crunching the leaves. (Be careful, the worms could jump on your head—no, I'm only kidding!)

Over the Top

What do you do when the tomato plant gets to the top of your tower, and there is still a lot of growing season left? You have two choices, depending on how many tomatoes you've picked so far and how many green ones are coming. You can either cut the top right off, stop its growth, and allow a good part of the energy to go into the existing tomatoes. Or, you can let the top continue to grow, and let it hang over the side. It will keep growing until the end of the season, which for a tomato plant is the first frost. If you want to

Organic Gardeners Composting

Organic Gardeners Composting

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