Tomato, Tomahto

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I sort of want to be a farmer. Not a big, millions of acres farmer, cranking out commodity crops like corn and soybeans. I want to be the kind of farmer that has a little bit of land, some delicious varietals, and booth at the local farmer’s market. You know, a yuppy farmer. *smile*

What I am is a housewife who bought a deal on one of those deal-o-day sites for a 4′ x 4′ raised bed and some transplants. When I got the deal, a wonderful man-o-the-earth type of fella installed it in our backyard. He planted two kinds of lettuces, some Swiss chard, broccoli, spinach, carrots, and radishes.  They’re doing quite well so far.

But when I envisioned a garden, what I really wanted were tomatoes. And lots of them! I love tomatoes. I love their sweetness, versatility, their cannability (ooh, canning! This is something I do not know how to do, but I imagine having loads of canned tomatoes and pickled okra in my pantry.)

Not really knowing the first thing about planting tomatoes and my assumption that they are persnickety, I asked one of the gals at my favorite produce stall in the market about how she plants hers. She said three words, “Five gallon bucket.”   Plant them in a big container, give them lots of sun, water them, don’t crowd them, let them do their thing, and she assured me that they will fruit delicious tomatoes.

So last weekend my sister, my son, and I headed to the organic nursery and then hardware store. We bought tomato plants (Amish Paste, which looks like a Roma, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, and Black Cherry, two heirloom varieties), soil, and got a few tips on planting.

They should fruit in a few months but in the mean time, with the streak of warm weather we’ve been having, they’re quite happy in their paint bucket homes. That’s my little farmer in the background.

Back Row, l to r: Amish Paste, Brandywine
Front Row, l to r: Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry

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2 responses »

  1. 5 gallon buckets. Really?? Did you do a soil mix or is that just dirt? This year we have to do all of our gardening in containers and we were just this morning talking about renting a plot at the community garden just for tomatoes.

    Do you have one plant per bucket or are you able to put a couple of plants in there? Hmmm, I am going to have to think about this one. I would love to not have to rent a plot, but I also want to do a lot of canning this year … I wonder how many 5 gallon buckets would end up in my front yard!

    Happy to see you’re blogging again.

  2. Yep, 5 gallon buckets! I got the idea from one of the gals at a farm stand we frequent. The other advice I got was from the staff at the Natural Gardener.

    They told me that the tomato plants need lots of room to properly flower and fruit, so I planted only one plant in each bucket. As for the soil, I used the Square Foot Gardening Mix from the above mentioned nursery. The content mix is five different composts, course vermiculite, and coir fiber.

    Give a couple a plants a try and see. I’m a first time tomato gardener so you probably have better experience at this than I do. However, I would love to talk to you about canning!

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