24K Heirloom Tomatoes & Friends


Once you have selected the support system that is right for you, you will know your final space requirements. Then you make a final till so the soil will be easy to work with when you plant.

Before you plant, you need to decide how you will fight and suppress weeds. There are many choices. Black or red plastic, or hay, tall grass. I used cut, tall grass. It is so much better than anything I have ever used and I have used them all. We let our field grass grow very tall. Before it goes to seed, we cut it and place it around the tomatoes. It is like a carpet. Almost nothing grows under it and it is very pleasant to look at before and after it dries. Again, it is not perfect, but if you can get it, it is the best choice.

If you don't have tall grass available, you have to chose between plastic and hay or straw. I don't recommend plastic. It is ugly and weeds grow under it. The weeds rise and make the plastic look like Jiffy Pop after it pops. If you decide to use plastic, place the plastic over each row and staple it down securely. It is not pretty, but you can cover it with grass clippings or hay for aesthetics. If you don't use a weed suppressant of one kind or another, you will be constantly at war with the weeds, a war you never win. Hay is tricky, and some weeds will grow especially if you don't use enough. But it is more pleasant to look at and is healthier for your garden because you can till it in at the end of the season. But be very careful that you use hay without seeds. If your hay has seeds, you will be in living hell!! Salt pond hay from Canada is supposed to have no seeds. Be careful!


Once your drip irrigation lines are in place, use a spacer to mark the plant hole locations, (If you are using plastic, cut an X in each location with box cutters.) Then you are ready to place the plants in the holes. Plant them deep as you can, the deeper the better. Don't worry about burying the plants. They only really need the top leaves exposed. They will grow much stronger and happier if their stems are deep and secure underground. Once placed, gently surround the stem with the soil left over from making the hole, and gently compress it and place the plant marker in the ground.

You can, but don't have to place the tomato cage around the plants when you plant them. They won't need support for a while. It is nice to watch them grow without them while you can. But don't wait too long. You want to make sure you can place the cages around the plants without hitting the roots or breaking any leaves or branches. And make sure your markers or labels are tied to the outside of the cages where they are easy to read.

Next: Watering Methods >>>