tomato plants, compost and polliwogs

This year I’ve been a little more obsessive than usual about the tomatoes. I need to determine for myself what’s possible. Will disease set in even if I take every precaution that I’m aware of? We’ll see.

So far (and I hate to jinx things, but we have blogs to run) the plants might be the best I’ve ever grown. But it hasn’t been just plopping in the seedlings and watching them grow. Here are some of the precautions I’ve taken in my quest:

Religiously trimming the bottom branches to avoid soil contact.
Weekly foliage spray of aerated worm tea.
Foliar spraying of fish emulsion every couple of weeks.
Foliar spraying of Epsom salt every couple of weeks.
Foliar spraying of aspirin every couple of weeks.
Never wetting the plants in the evening on purpose.
And daily trimming of every branch that shows spots of any kind.

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A little unhinged, isn’t it? But it keeps me happy and it’s interesting, so I won’t make excuses for the obsession.

Also this year I’m going to try topping the plants that have reached the tops of the cages before they bend over and break on their own.

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I have a feeling that weather has generally been a boon here. If the drenching that we got in June was happening now, all bets are off. It’s been warm and dry for more than a month, and that’s a big deal. When weather’s not on your side, guess who loses? Ask my cucumber plants if you’re confused.

Being that it was near 90° again, we went swimming in the pond. Well, I didn’t go swimming. I collected compost materials. Seaweed, algae and for some odd reason, a lot of dead tadpoles. A neighbor brought over buckets of them that she found swimming in her pool cover a month or so ago. She didn’t want to kill them so I said she could dump them in the pond.

Not sure why so many died, but I was excited to nab the plump little nitrogen sources. My daughter wasn’t too thrilled, and took this picture…

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I was really pleased to give the compost piles a boost.

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14 thoughts on “tomato plants, compost and polliwogs

  1. Sorry about the dead polliwogs, but you are soooo right. Put that into the compost for sure! They probably died because they were not acclimated. Just like aquarium fish, it is necessary to ease them into their new habitat by mixing a bit of new water with their old water every day until they are 100% new water; then dump them in. They’re a lot like garden tomatoes grown inside first — you have to harden them off before you plant or they’ll die.

    ‘Unhinged.’ Tee hee!! My mom friends and I call that micro-managing or helicopter parenting. You are fortunate to have the spare time — which I don’t. It’s why I do it nature’s way as much as possible, so I can get maximum yield without putting a lot in. Your method is indeed working!! Don’t change it. (Though I still think the no-till method would make yours even better.)

    Have you ever tried building up the soil around the base of the tomato stalk as well as pinching the bottom branches? Layering organic matter (clippings, compost, shredded newsprint) around the stalk as they grow upward has results in more rooting, a/k/a/ longer taproots, sturdier plant. I don’t cage but about 4 feet and the tops grow over the cage by as much as another 4 feet without ‘tipping.’ Though still a jumbled mess by anyone’s standard, they are prolific producers — without supplemental watering. I must say I can’t wait to try your cage idea next year. You inspire me, Dan.

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    • Haha, well we’re mutually inspired then Shannon. I love getting the benefit of all of your knowledge! I’d never thought of building soil up around the tomato stalks, but it makes great sense. And you’re right, there are so many ways to accomplish the same goal in gardening. I remember how difficult it was to get everything done in the garden when I was working 40 hours a week. I didn’t have time for all this nonsense then.

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  2. Great pics Dan! Wow that is done spraying regime! No wonder mine got blight. It is so humid here in summer perfect for all those fungal nasties. Must try spraying with Epsom salts .. What’s the dilution? Poor little tadpoles. I wonder why they died! Keep collecting that awesome stuff for your compost 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know Julie, I feel a little crazy doing all that, but what the heck. The Epsom salts are more for helping to keep the tomato plants green and helping to set fruit. I figure that really healthy plants will be less likely to get hung up by fungal diseases and such, so that’s the reasoning. I use 1 tablespoon per gallon of water, or if it’s going to rain soon, just scratch in a tablespoon around the base of the plant.

      So far I haven’t seen any bad effects, but I don’t think I’d do it more than once every couple of weeks. Isn’t it fun to plan the defeat of evil diseases? 🙂

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  3. Pingback: tomato plants, compost and polliwogs | vegetablurb | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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