Escondido, CA
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Mostly cloudy

Time to plant tomatoes

Now is the time to get those tomato plants in the ground for that great taste that only home grown can provide.   There are many different varieties to chose from with new ones being offered every year. The most important aspect is to get them into the ground ASAP.

Soil preparation can really enhance your chances of a bumper harvest.  All soils benefit from the addition of compost, well-aged and not fresh manure.  If going organic, use a small amount, a cup of chicken manure, mixed in well with the native soil along with compost.  The non-organic choice of fertilizer would be ¼ cup of triple 14 or similar fertilizer.  The perfect blend would have a planting hole one foot square, then adding an equal amount of compost to the pile of soil that came out of the hole, add the chicken manure, and a cup of gypsum.  Why gypsum, gypsum is made from calcium, sulfur, and water, all naturally occurring elements.  The calcium helps to prevent “blossom end rot” where the bottom of the tomato turns black.  The other contributing factor of blossom end rot is too much water or uneven watering.  Tomatoes are deep rooted, so build a basin to allow the water to penetrate at least 12” and add 3” to 4” of mulch on top of the soil.

When planting the tomato, remove the leaves on the lower half of the stem and bury that part of the stem with no leaves.  The buried portion of the stem will develop roots and result in a much stronger and faster plant.  You will notice that the stem will be much thicker and stronger than if you did not burry part of the stem.  Fill the basin with water twice and then do not  water for a month, unless it turns really hot.

If those nasty green worms show up, there is a natural way to control them.  A natural bacteria, Baccilis thngeriensis, will paralyze the digestive tract of the worm and it dies.  The really great aspect of using this is that the birds can eat the worm and the BT will have no effect on the birds.  This product is available in many of the big box stores as well as some of our local vendors.

Be sure to stake your plants as they grow, do not wait until they need to be pulled up to the stake.

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