Tomatoes like to be planted in rich soil with a PH of 6 to 6.8 or slightly on the acidic side. Neutral is 7.
Tomatoes prefer regular feeding once the fruit sets, but too much too early in the season will grow a large plant with fewer tomatoes.
Calcium is very important to tomatoes to prevent blossom end rot. Perhaps magnesium is more important, as it needs to be present to allow the tomato to take up the calcium. Magnesium sulphate or Epsom Salts in the soil helps. I use an alfalfa tea which has epsom salts added. I alternate between the alfalfa tea and an organic tomato fertilizer during the fruiting season.
A list of tomatoes available this year:
- Big Beef – indeterminate, beefsteak type, 10-12 oz, red fruit
- Biltmore – determinate, medium, 8-10 oz, reddish purple fruit
- Black Cherry – indeterminate, cherry, 1-2 oz, black, purple fruit
- Black Krim – indeterminate, beefsteak type, 8 -10 oz, reddish purple
- Brandywine – indeterminate, beefsteak, 9-16 oz, Pink fruit
- Celebrity – determinate, medium, 8 oz, red
- Cherry Falls – determinate/trailing, cherry, 1 oz, red fruit
- Chocolate Stripe – indeterminate, beefsteak, 3-4 in, mahogany stripe
- Early Girl – indeterminate, medium, 4-6 oz, red
- Early Girl Bush – determinate, medium, 4-6 oz, red
- Flamme – indeterminate, medium, 3-4 oz, orange or persimmon
- Gold Nugget, determinate, cherry, 1 oz, deep yellow
- Healthkick Roma, determinate, roma, 4-8 oz, red
- Heirloom Genuwine, beefsteak, 12 – 15 oz, pink, cross between Brandywine and Big Dwarf
- Heirloom Perfect Flame, medium, 3-4 oz, red, cross between Juane Flamme and Peron
- Juliet, indeterminate, cherry, 1-2 oz, red fruit
- Lemon Boy, indeterminate, medium, 8 oz, yellow
- Moneymaker, indeterminate, medium, 7-8 oz, red
- Oregon spring, determinate, medium, 5 oz, red
- Patio, determinate, cherry, 2 oz plus, red
- Red Grape, indeterminate, cherry, .75 oz, red
- Roma, determinate, roma, 3-4 oz, red
- Super Fantastic, medium, 10 oz, red
- Sweet 100, indeterminate, cherry, 1 oz, red
- Taxi, determinate, medium, 4-6 oz, yellow
- Tumbler, determinate/trailing, cherry, 1oz, red
I have grown most of these with the exception of a couple of new ones such as the heirloom crosses. My preference is the ones with the most acid. My grand kids love any and all of the cherry varieties.
Veggie garden and planting by the moon signs
If I read my moon phase calendar correctly the new moon for March is the 8th and the full moon is the 23rd. Keep these dates in mind when reading the following information.
Planting by moon signs in its simplest form is to plant vegetables that bear crops above ground in the light of the moon, that is from the day after the moon is new to the day before it is full. At the new moon, the lunar gravity pulls water up, and causes the seeds to swell and burst. This factor, coupled with the increasing moonlight creates balanced root and leaf growth. This is the best time for planting above ground annual crops that produce their seeds outside the fruit. Examples are lettuce, spinach, celery, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Cucumbers like this phase also, even though they are an exception to that rule.
In the second quarter the gravitational pull is less, but the moonlight is strong, creating strong leaf growth. It is generally a good time for planting, especially two days before the full moon. The types of crops that prefer the second quarter are annuals that produce above ground, but their seeds form inside the fruit, such as beans, melons, peas, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
Likewise plant vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark of the moon, that is from the day after the full moon to the day before it is new again. After the full moon, as the moon wanes, the energy is drawing down. The gravitation pull is high, creating more moisture in the soil, but the moonlight is decreasing, putting energy into the roots. This is a favorable time for planting root crops, including beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, and peanuts. It is also good for perennials, biennials, bulbs and transplanting because of the active root growth.
In the fourth quarter there is decreased gravitational pull and moonlight, and it is considered a resting period. This is also the best time to cultivate, harvest, transplant and prune.
A lot of this information is on the internet. The theory seems logical and can’t hurt. I will admit to not always following it exactly. Sometimes I plant when I have time here at the Nursery. I do have friends and customers who follow it always.
At the Organic Soil Amendment Seminar, Mr. Sayed recommended the use of Neem oil as an organic fungicide and insecticide.
He recommended 100% concentrate cold pressed Neem. Several sources were discussed but low and behold we have a source right here on Gabriola! Our own Nature Spirit Earth Market carries a 16 oz bottle. I have given a general recipe for making your own spray from concentrate below but do check the instructions on the container.
Uses for Neem Oil
Neem oil can be used to treat a number of garden ailments, including:
- Insects: Neem oil kills or repels many harmful insects and mites, including aphids, whiteflies, snails, nematodes, mealybugs, cabbage worms, gnats, moths, cockroaches, flies, termites, mosquitoes, and scale. It kills some bugs outright, attacks the larvae of others, and repels plant munchers with its bitter taste.
- Fungus: Neem oil is also effective in preventing fungal diseases such as black spot, anthracnose, rust, and mildew.
- Disease: As if that wasn’t enough, neem oil also battles viruses that can harm plants.
Advantages of Neem Oil
Neem oil is a popular choice in organic gardens because it is:
- Nontoxic: As long as it isn’t sprayed directly on them, neem oil is nontoxic to beneficial garden insects such as predatory wasps, honeybees, earthworms, ants, spiders, ladybugs, and adult butterflies. Neem oil is considered nontoxic to humans, birds, and other animals as well (see below) and can be used on fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants.
- Organic: Neem oil is plant based and easily available from organically grown neem trees.
- Biodegradable: Neem oil breaks down quickly and leaves no lasting residue.
Like everything, less is more. Perhaps my thoughts are an abundance of caution but remember this. Neem works on chewing and sucking insects which is why it is non-toxic to beneficial insects. Let’s remember that those beautiful butterflies come from a leaf chewing caterpillar. So use where necessary. Do not overuse.
More caution. Here again. Let’s keep it off the blossoms wherever possible. I have not encountered this caution anywhere else. It just seems to be common sense to me. The blossoms are where the bees are. Perhaps the experts will think I am being a bit paranoid but we at Wheelbarrel will only use when necessary and will take care not to spray directly on the blossoms.
How To Apply Neem Oil
Here are the general directions for making your own spray from Neem oil concentrate.
Use a high quality, organic, cold pressed oil
Ingredients: 1 tsp Neem Oil concentrate
1/3 tsp insecticidal soap or other detergent
1 litre of warm water
Method: Mix the water with the soap first. Slowly add the Neem Oil mixing vigorously. Put in your sprayer. Shake or agitate frequently while spraying. Use within 8 hours. If you have some left over discard. Neem oil breaks down after 8 hours.
When spraying pay attention to the undersides of leaves where insects like to hide and drench the soil. This won’t hurt the soil and will get rid of fungus gnats or other insects that hide in soil.
Neem oil concentrate should be stored in the fridge, not in the heat. It will thicken in the fridge but bring back to a more usable viscosity by floating the container in slightly warm water before mixing your next batch. I understand that a bottle of concentrate should be good for about a year. Here again, check the instructions on the container.
Regular shoppers here will know that we carry Orgunique which is an organic fertilizer. This past year we have been exploring and learning about organic soil amendments. We are now carrying Earth Boost from Bio Fert. Bio Fert and Orgunique are different arms of the company.
A very knowledgeable representative from the Company is coming to give a seminar regarding organics amendments and fertilizer in early June.
The exact date is yet to be determined. Education is good both for you as our customers and for us.