Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tomato Tuesday!

Just popped out into the garden, in the rain, mind you, to take a few photos of my gorgeous tomato plants.  I know, I got the big head about them, but in the past, my tomato crop has been less than satisfying.  There was that year when I planted 24 plants, and got two tomatoes.  That was sad.

Growing vegetables in containers is so much easier when you have a little shade to help them along--especially in Texas!
I keep telling everyone that here, the dirt is magic.  To tell the truth, I'm not so sure it's the dirt that's magic, but the shade coming from my 80-year old pecan trees.  I tell you what, anybody in Texas that reads that vegetables need FULL sun should just FORGET it!  Here, where the sun is scalding and brutal, we need some shade. Not dark as night shade, of course, but dappled, partial day, shade.

Happy pepper plant growing in container

Happy Japanese eggplant growing in container.  Behind is a bell pepper.

The plants are pushed close together.  They help shade each other and make their own little micro-climate. AND putting them up on the wooden pallet helps keep the snails from crawling up into them.

I use a variety of containers for the vegetables---galvanized tubs, plastic recycled nursery pots, bought pots made of terra cotta or plastic
I said this was about tomatoes, and here they are!

An heirloom Cherokee Purple tomato is loosely tied to a trellis made from a section of cattle panel.  The cattle panel trellis is supported by a long aluminum pole on each end and a shorter piece of rebar in the middle. 

I have two tomatoes in this raised bed, an eggplant in the middle, and an old awning on one end for shade.

Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomato in raised bed with eggplant, cherry, grape tomatoes and Big Jim pepper
The Cherokee purple tomato is already huge, and loaded with blooms and a few green tomatoes.  We'll probably have to extend this huge cage, or do some selective trimming of the side shoots.

These cherry tomatoes are yummy!  We've already picked a few and eagerly await the rest.  I'm trying the Chocolate Cherry tomatoes again this year.

grape tomatoes
Husband Rudy is a Tomato Fiend, and eats them raw, in salads, cooked in Pasta Pomodoro sauce, made into ratatouille and gazpacho and mixed into eggplant stew--you get the idea.  I love tomatoes, but find as I get older, the acid in them really bothers me.  I'm always on the lookout for a low-acid tomato.  I usually don't have problems with most cherry tomatoes.

Lots of local stores still have tomato plants, so why not buy a few and try growing your own this year?  Put some in a pot, put some in a flower bed.  Just keep them watered and give them a bit of organic plant food, use compost for mulch to help keep the soil cool, and give them a bit of shade.  The advantage to gardening in containers is that you can move them around if you need to.

Happy digging!

bobbi c.

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