Plants of all kinds are pretty good at growing on their own with not much help from us if you know what their natural conditions would be. Granted you might get 10% less yield if you don't treat them nicely but its just not worth the 200% more effort.
Stick them in cheap compost indoors and keep moist with an atomiser spray until they germinate. Wait until they are about 3 inches high, then cut out with a spoon and wham in any old plant pot. When they are 15cm tall, feed 'em with cheap tomato food. When they are 25cm tall, yank them out of the pot, poke a 6' bamboo stick 12" into the ground and throw the plant in a hole at the front. Water daily. Tie to pole every so often. Tomatoes done.
Only consideration is don't grow them in the same place every year or they'll get diseased (technically rotate your crops) and make sure its in a very sunny bit.
Make your own compost as well for planting out. I just throw all my veg waste in a black bin and leave it for a year. Anything goes in except for tea bags and meats and plastics.
I spend about 3 hours a year on tomatoes and get literally 30-40kg using this method (street value here for same quality is around £480).
Get your seeds here (the last respectable seed shop): http://www.realseeds.co.uk/
One more important side-note though:
Make sure to give your tomatoes some kind of roof, if it rains a lot in your location. As said in the posting, "late blight" not only loves water, it loves water on the leaves, that is where the fungi grow. So make sure, to save your tomatoes from direct rain and you will be a lot happier.
We have about 60 different varieties waiting for may to come, to be planted outside.
Good general advice though.
Apart from oregano and lavender which instantly snuff it the moment I'm involved.
:) "Tried" that too :D
I've taken a 2-year sabbatical from all things muddy. Let's see how things go the next time. Fresh eyes and less anxiety!
That was last year. Same this year (without nearly downing toadstools).
This year has been dismal so far :S because of the cruddy weather.
In fact, in the UK to a certain extent it's not so much how far North you are, but how far East. I have a friend about "level" with me but on the West of the country and he struggles with his garden. We tend to avoid a lot of the worst weather over here ;D
Good! Anecdata or not, that's going to be my new excuse! :P
In the North it really depends on your garden. I have friends in Sheffield with protected terrace house gardens, who grow nearly as easily as me, but my folks with a mildly exposed small holding have a chore getting them providing as many tomatoes as I do - but they won't get a green house.
(I had to climb up a tree to get ours back)
Mine was more expensive than a replacement greenhouse, BUT the plastic was much tougher.
(not affiliated in any way, was the first result in google)
You can put the plastics in, if you are prepared to fish them out afterwards. (Unless you are worried about chemicals in the plastics.)
What's wrong with teabags?
Depends on the brand, but the big UK brands (like PG) use some kind of plastic in the bags which doesn't compost.
Teabags (twinings every day :) tend to not degrade quickly resulting in tea bags blown all over the garden.
But if you're busy, have a go at chillis: no blight, no splitting, they tolerate under- and over-watering and poor soil, and there are a huge variety available (including some great-looking ornamentals). They have a much longer fruiting period so you're not overwhelmed by huge numbers of chillis at the same time.
If you put them on a sunny windowsill in winter they will survive and keep flowering and fruiting over winter (probably dont need to bother if you live somewhere like Southern California). You'll need to start using fertilizer if you do this.
You can just dry a chilli you like from the supermarket and use the seeds from that: germination rates are near 100%. Then once you're hooked, buy esoteric varieties on the internet.
Highly recommended to any hacker in Cambridge or nearby who has a sunny balcony and even vaguely likes tomatoes.
* Basic gardening is not hard
* Fancy equipment is no substitution for practice & experience
All of the equipment (and money) he mentioned did little to impact the problems faced when growing tomatoes; he still struggled with the common diseases (why do courses like that not teach about such things!!). Also, why are they handing round seeds with no sensible advice on flavour, treatment and scale! Aren't they supposed to be experts?
Some tomato basics:
* Tomatoes are great, they generally need very little attention and will fruit under even the worst gardener. BUT initially they do need a very small amount of daily attention!
* They grow bigger than you expect. BUT if you only give it a common garden cane to grow up this will help limit its growth :)
* General advice for all vegetable growing: plant in stages. And spend time picking your varieties depending on the time they fruit. I generally plant seeds once every fortnight during the early part of the year, to make sure everything doesn't crop at once! It seems this "love apple" totally failed to give this basic, and obvious, advice.
It depresses me how many hacks are around selling these gardening courses, when the reality is that it's simple to just get out there and have a go. First year round it won't work so well - but within 4 or 5 years you'll be a dab hand. I recommend trying lettuce as a first attempt - you can plant it straight out in the garden, it grows really quickly, requires minimal attention, and is basically impossible to get wrong (just don't plant the whole pack at once :D). In fact, pretty much anything you can plant out in rows and grows close to the ground will be easy to tend.
Most seed packets come with solid instructions to get the best from your plants, so don't neglect reading them. Oh, another helpful tip is to learn how to dig over & fertilise a garden properly , as well as the basics of crop rotation - this will do a lot of improving your success rate.
To finish with an analogy; what "love apple" seem to be advising here, is similar to a non-programmer sitting down with the fresh install of Rails and reading a single page "How To" on "Cloning Amazon in three weeks".
I'll attest to that. We had a garden last summer for the first time in my life and we planted about 30 tomato plants. We started them in trays, transferred them into turned-and-fertilized ground when they were about 5 inches tall, watered them regularly, fertilized them occasionally, spent an hour or two weeding each week, and pinched off the suckers from time to time.
That's pretty much it - and they produced an impressive outpouring of the most delicious ripe tomatoes. That was during a brutally hot summer with hardly any rain (and the rain we did get was torrential).
Granted, we got lucky with the tomatoes, but not everything turned out as well. The carrots were tasty but small, and we didn't get any squash, peas or Brussels sprouts. However, the herbs did great, and we got lots of golden beets, onions, leeks and scallions (we froze the latter at the end of the season and we're still eating them). We got some cucumber but not as many as I would have liked.
Our first batch of lettuce was completely clearcut by local bunnies, but our second and third batches were much more successful. We even planted mustard greens and Russian kale in early August, and we enjoyed them right up to mid-December when we got a hard frost and a heavy snowfall.
One of the highlights of our summer was the period when everything aligned and we were able to enjoy salads composed entirely of stuff from our garden (plus dressing).
I'm already looking forward to gardening again this year. I learned a few things (the hard way) last year and hope to learn plenty more in future.
Not surprising, those are amongst the hardest to get right in my experience.
Peas are a pain - you do need good trellis work for them, and to spend time securing the shoots. I still struggle with carrots, if you figure out any tricks let me know! :D
I suggest trying courgettes; they are a little easier than squash to get good results.
> One of the highlights of our summer was the period when everything aligned
I keep meaning to find time to build an app to track that sort of thing. It's my one pain point because I am a useless planner :P and so it is often more luck that judgement when thins come together.
Personally, with peas, I just plant short ones (28" vines) on 1" spacing, do a lot of them, and let them self support in a mass. Then, part way into the summer, I infill a few squash plants amongst the peas. The peas die off, the squash takes over, and everything is happy.
Tomato tip: make sure you understand the difference between determinate and indeterminate plants before you buy. Determinate plants fruit all over the bush at one time, and then pretty much die. Indeterminate are more like vines and keep fruiting sporadically over the entire season.
You'll be sad if you are expecting a long tomato season from one or two plants but accidentally buy a determinate plant.
Semi-related, if your climate is warm enough for Jalapeños...those plants just never die. I abused and neglected mine all winter (South Carolina, so never freezing temps) and the poor little plant kept producing fruit. I hardly watered it, never fertilized and it lived in a pot outside. Despite that, it's still happily trucking along ready for the summer :)
Buy a book and read it. This one:
This is the only gardening book i own. People keep buying me new trendy ones etc endorsed by celebrity morons but they usually end up being re-gifted.
This is good for anywhere in the world as well even though it primarily targets northern hemisphere.
Decades of advice, concisely compiled. Its the SICP of gardening.
Books are good too, but nothing beats getting out in the garden and watching an experienced gardener do the real thing.
I've tried plane terra cotta pots in the past any during the height of summer they dry out too quickly. Glazed pots are much better but also more expensive.
Also try this: http://www.instructables.com/id/VERTICAL-VEGETABLES-quotGrow... - great use of wall space, and brilliant for lettuce and herbs.
Last year with little experience other than always having gardens as a kid, I planted about a dozen tomato plants, as well as others, and all did quite well in the grand scheme of things.
I too had the late blight—again nothing I was ever taught to deal with. Turns out it is mostly overwatering and moist foliage. I'll keep better watch next time.
Also have to say—I did all this planting in a little 20x20' plot right outside our startup's office (with permission from the land owners). Every day I got to go outside and garden, do a little physical labor, get some sun, and produce something. As a programmer, it was both cathartic and relaxing and allowed me time to think and time to process. I think I was happier and more motivated the entire time, and along with the harvested tomatoes, was well worth the time put in.
My biggest problems were neighbors who were a bit too into "sharing culture"—in other words, they stole my tomatoes. Oh well, we still had plenty, so maybe they were right.
I've had mixed results with their tomatoes, mostly for not following their tried and true approach to nurturing your green leafed friends.
This year due to a great pepper plant I bought last year, I've been growing an abundant number of seedlings of assorted types. I plan on following the best practices from Love Apple for tomatoes, but will also look into nurturing the remaining plants.
The one thing I've found in raising your own plants from seeds is how much literature is dedicated to interacting with your seedlings.
I enjoy my time when I can work at home and interact with my seedlings.
If in the south bay and interested in some tomatoes or peppers, feel free to ping me. <username> at gmail.
I don't know if this is only due to simply loud and/or harsh noises (I didn't check classical) or whether it's only applicable to this variety, but since I can't be attentive as I should be all the time, they worked as a wonderful babysitter.
Metal is cooler though :)
Thanks for the suggestion!
* Exotic Blue Green
* Black Cherry
* Indigo Rose
It's interesting how much the flavor varies from year to year, and from grower to grower. Sometimes I find a favorite variety to be blah the next, and vice versa. But I guess I've got to find a source for Orange Russian 117.
You can get the stuff he mentioned from Love Apple Farms. They're in Ben Lomond (down 17 I think)
They are in Alameda and announce a date in fall.
It's a very nice compliment to sitting my ass in an office chair 6 hours a day.
Some people have already mentioned chilis as a good crop to grow along with tomatoes. Might as well grow cilantro too and you're halfway to a decent salsa (buy the onions, they ripen at a different time of year).
I also like to grow basil alongside my tomatoes. You can buy a nursery plant for the same cost as buying fresh basil for cooking from the grocery store, and the basil plant will produce all summer long. Sweet basil is great for pestos, margherita sandwiches and pizzas, and marinara sauce. Thai basil (which tastes of anise) is great for curries.
On the whole, I find that growing my own herbs gives me the most bang for the buck. It's still worth it to grow tomatoes since there's no way you can match the taste of a home-grown one.
It's great, I get a nice diversion and a load of fresh veg. Any extra I end up with will either go to friends and family, or if they're happy with it a local food bank.
Chillis are a pain. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
salad crops are good starters and you can just throw them in a tray on a sunny window sill as well.
Wouldn't bother with onions as its cheaper to buy. Try leeks if you have some space instead (let some flower as well as they look pretty cool).
Enjoy and don't get discouraged by disasters. I've been doing it for 20 years and still manage to ruin something every year!
:( Tell me about it! Neither did tomatoes, nor did Bell peppers/Capsicum, nor did those Courgettes, neither did the marrows, sugar snap peas... oh sugar!
I am going to find a safe, dark place, and crawl into foetal position!
>> I've been doing it for 20 years and still manage to ruin something every year!
+1 Hope springs eternal. Thanks.
Never give up :)
Picking varieties that are known to work will with your climate will largely eliminate the need for the fish head-egg shell-aspirin voodoo. Though if you're into those things, feel free. Gardening is better if you experiment and enjoy yourself as most journeys are.
Was the only place I could find, but seems to be run by a passionate tomato ninja, and checkout was relatively painless.
I initially suspected the title was a metaphor of some sort, and almost stopped reading. Very glad I didn't - you've inspired me to give it a try! :)
It really is a perfect relief to 8 - 10 hours on a job in front of pair of monitors.
And it really tastes great. I am not able to buy this nearly tasteless round-red-water called tomatoes at the supermarket anymore. ;-)
Of course you can walk into a nursery and come out of it with $2K in equipment, but it's not really needed. You may get say 1.25 lbs more per plant more but...you can plant more and work much less. Tomato plants are resilient and there should be no drama when growing them. Plant them in stages, tie them to the "net," water them, remove the grass and maybe spray them with pesticide. That's all folks!