Monday, May 18, 2009

Tomatoes in a nutshell, er, in an eggshell.

Gardening and teaching. I could make a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the two. I had a random thought today that teaching and gardening are similar in that we choose and match the techniques that work for our students or for our soil and plant choices. Last year I did a little research on growing tomatoes. I found loads and loads of ideas, many of which were ridiculously difficult. Typical of my style, I chose the pieces that I could easily incorporate into my own routine within the time limits of my own schedule and the budget limits of my own wallet.

Last year I worked with the soil by adding shredded newspaper under each plant to increase drainage. That meant I had to make sure the plants stayed watered well, but it helped prevent swamping when we had a lot of rain. I'll do it again.

I also added eggshells. All the other fertilizers seemed to cost $$ or be difficult to find. My soil already includes home made compost, and the tomato plants move to a different part of the plot each year. I didn't feel like I needed Miracle Grow or any other such commercial fertilizer.

Was it the weather? The newspapers? The eggshells? Could have been all or a combination of the three, but my plants outgrew the wire tomato cages so much they collapsed.

I'm going to follow the same plan this season with one exception. I have a different set of trellisses, and I'll gently tie up the plant stems with old tee-shirt rags. Last year's plants grew to 5 feet tall, and with support they may do even better.

I always have plenty of shredded papers, and I can feed newspaper through the shredder if I need more.

Eggshells? I've been collecting since before Easter. Aren't they pretty?


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6 Comments:

Blogger Eileen said...

Thanks for all the garden tips. I saw a really cool trellis on a show one day...made with a wooden frame- (like a picture frame-square) and they a wax coated string/rope made to look like a big spider web. Looked really easy to do also. Thought it might be something you like.

5/18/2009 7:20 AM  
Blogger Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'm totally using that trick--Thanks for the tip!

5/18/2009 12:04 PM  
Blogger MIT Mommy said...

You DO have lovely eggshells. I am jealous of your tomatoes. Not that I could ever grow any. I just wish I lived near you so when you have way too many you could share with me (and I'd promise to make you really, really good salsa in return).

I had a fabulous herb garden before I was married. Since then, I don't seem to have the ability to remember the plants. They don't run over and grab my leg quite the way my children do!

5/18/2009 1:32 PM  
Blogger Jane Ellis said...

The best way to support your tomato plants is with The Tomato Stake.

Easier to use than metal cages or upside down planters, stronger than bamboo and won't rot like wood stakes. The built-in twist-tie supports make tying your tomato plants easy!

5/18/2009 1:38 PM  
Blogger Angelina said...

Here in the pacific northwest we have a problem keeping calcium in the soil and that is one of the causes of blossom end rot, which my tomatoes have had. I wonder if I should do as you have with your egg shells? I just wonder how long it takes for the calcium to become available to the plant?

5/18/2009 1:57 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

I try to get my eggs in the cardboard containers. When I crack eggs, the empty shells go back in the container, then container and shells all go into the compost!

5/19/2009 12:43 AM  

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