Yesterday I visited a geothermal greenhouse to see the progress of the plants inside. These tomatoes, 5 different varieties if I remember correctly, were planted back in the first week of April. They’re easily 3 times the size of my own tomatoes that are growing outdoors.
We’ve got half a bed of tomatoes in the garden that needed twine to train them to grow vertically. The tomatoes are planted 9 inches apart and alternate which direction they will be trained to grow. Growing them this way ensures they will get adequate light and space when trimmed properly.
Our average last day of frost has passed for the spring and we are full on in garden mode. Today we pruned up a mess of the tomatoes we started from seeds and have begun transplanting them into the garden. The next week is going to be busy for us
They get pruned fairly heavily before transplanting, here are some pictures before and after pruning. When transplanting they go as deep as possible, each of those root hairs on the stem will become a new root to feed the plant and fruit.
All these were started in sand and sawdust and will be grown in the same custom soil mix. We will be putting more tomatoes in our native soil later.
Here is another plant before and after pruning. Look at that root system in the last picture.
Today we noticed a phosphorus deficiency in some of our seedlings. A phosphate deficiency manifests itself in a tomato with the underside of the leaf being a purple color and the top side of the leaf being the normal green. Here is an example.
The underside of each leaf in these seedlings were all showing the same symptoms
We weren’t in the garden for about 4 days and I missed the signs of horn worms until they had done some serious damage. We went through our plants and plucked off any horn worm caterpillars we spotted. They’re in a canned chicken can on top of a 2 gallon bucket in the picture below.
After removing all of them we were able to see I mixed up a batch of BT and sprayed all the plants. The next day I went out and found ones that we had missed dead and hanging from plants.
We installed the twine for the last few tomato plants out in the garden. Here is how we did it.
The tomatoes are transplanted into our little Mittleider in garden green house. Recently we started the process of growing vertically to maximize the space and production of tomatoes. In the picture below you will see the heavy square baling twine we use to grow vertically.
All the tomatoes are grown in one row with 9 inches of space between them. The twine is tied off at the bottom on a wire attached to our t-posts. The wire runs the length of the grow box and is 3 1/2″ above the grow box. At the top of the t-posts are two more heavy gauge wires running the length of the grow beds. We then alternate every other tomato plant and use a releasing knot to train the tomatoes to grow away from one another and maximize space. This ensure they get maximum air and sunlight. In this picture below you can see the “V” pattern formed with the twine. You’ll also notice extra twine hanging from the top. This allows me to lower the plant as we pick all the tomatoes from the bottom and the plant has grown all the way to that top wire. And if you do your part they will grow that tall.
In the bottom picture you see where the twine is tied to the bottom heavy gauge wire. If you tie the twine to the tomato plant you risk damaging it in two ways. As the tomato grows the stem is going to get thicker. If your twine is tied to it you risk the chance of strangling the tomato. Additionally, if you’re tied off at the plant you risk damaging or even pulling out the tomato if something or someone pulls on the twine.
When wrapping the twine It’s important to wrap the twine around the plant and not the plant around the twine. By doing the later you risk damaging your tomato plant. Also, as you wrap towards the top take extra care not to damage or break off the growing rip, also known as the terminal bud. Doing so I’ll stop the growth of your plant. I stop sever inches short of the terminal bud to ensure that the twine doesn’t damage it.
You can also grow other crops vertically such as crooked neck squash, eggplants, cucumbers and even melons. We will have posts on growing the vertically in the future.
These tomatoes are being grown vertically as part of the Mittlieder Gardening Method in Kidder, MO. They’re pruned and wound around heavy bailing twine to maximize the sunlight and air to the plants while making it easy to harvest. No wire cages to fight here! The 2×4 is just over 7 feet from the ground. Some of those tomato plants are 10 feet tall.
This week I’ve been attending a Mittleider gardening course and have had the opportunity see the system implemented and learn so much. I will have many more Mittleider posts in the future as I convert my traditional garden to a Mittlieder