29 March 2007

Tomater Growin

The photo is Larkspur coming up from the plants I let go to seed last summer.

Carson Borovetz Greenhouses on North Street in Muskogee is open and tomato plants are 3 for a dollar. I bought Jet Star this year because Pete Carson said they were the best seller of all the kinds he grows.

I will confess to being a person who likes to know a lot of stuff. A few years ago in the vegetable section of Lowe's I was looking at tomato plants. As is my custom, I asked the women there what kinds of tomato plants they were buying.

The shortest of them, a woman who looked like she had planted many gardens in her life, looked up at me and said, "Don't you know nuthin?"

I skipped a breath, blinked and thought of all those years I attended college and sat in offices and what a waste all of it would seem in her eyes.

It is easy for me to confess ignorance so I did just that. With that same gruffness, she told me to buy an Arkansas Traveler tomato and to plant it twice as deep as it was in the pot. But, to be sure to pinch or cut off the stems that would be buried in the hole.

Without thinking, I said, "Really?" You can't imagine the scowl that was reflected back to me. "Stupid," was all she said before she launched into more detailed and useful directions.

So, without criticism or comment, I freely pass on to you the wisdom I received that day.

My little 3-pack of tomatoes have had their lower leaves pinched off and each has been moved into a 6-inch deep pot with bagged, sterile soil. From there they will be moved into 8-inch deep pots while we are waiting for the end of April to arrive. At planting time, I will pinch off the lowest leaves or side branches and plant the tomato deeper than the depth of the pot.

Mesonet reports that soil temperatures in Muskogee area are mid-60s so you could put them out now but tomatoes will just sit there if they do not like the cold soil. In pots they will grow. They can be taken outside every day and brought in at night (my method) or grown in a greenhouse, cold frame or other protected environment.
Pete Carson also recommends composted chicken litter from Earth Smart which he sells.
My grandmother would have told you the same thing - only chicken poo makes successful tomato growing. She probably would have thought that people who didn't know about chicken compost for tomatoes were stupid.

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