On this week’s episode, Travis has the complete guide to planting tomatoes in the garden. The first step to preparing the garden for planting tomatoes is to set up the drip irrigation. Travis went ahead and laid the mainline tubing down the day before planting to allow the newly laid tape to stretch out and lay flat. He ran four rows of drip tape for not just tomatoes, but eggplants and peppers as well. Once the drip irrigation system is set up, then we allow water to fill the tape to ensure we get accurate planting where the drip emitters lay along the rows. With the drip emitters laying every 12 inches which allow a good indication for spacing if you prefer to plant every other emitter for two-foot spacing or every third emitter for three-foot spacing. Travis prefers to plant tomatoes in the seed starting trays to get more productive plants for growing in the garden. When planting tomatoes, they require some form of support to keep the plants growing upright. With the indeterminate tomatoes, Travis is planting with tomato cages on a three-foot spacing to allow plenty of room for growth all season long. While planting determinate tomatoes on two-foot spacing with stakes and twine to use the Florida Weave Trellis technique. When planting, Travis likes to apply a little pelleted gypsum at the base of the plant to help with preventing blossom end rot from destroying the tomato plants. After adding the gypsum, we plant the transplants real deep to allow the roots to form out from the stems and provide an anchor for the plant. Once, the plants have started growing and get a little taller then Travis will add the tomato cages to the indeterminate tomatoes. To add the tomato cages you simply put it square around the plant and push into the ground. When using the Florida weave technique we need T-post, wooden stakes, and twine. Travis starts by adding the T-post to each end of the row and one T-post in the middle of the row. Next, he will add the wooden stakes between the T-post and every plant. As the plants grow, Travis will add the twine to provide plenty of support for the heavy yields of fruits in the vegetable garden.
The best time to harvest tomatoes is once you have reached the end of the growing season, which is typically late summer. When tomatoes have reached there full mature green stage, you know they are ready to pick. If you watch the bottom of the larger tomatoes, typically that is where it begins to ripen as well. You can also test the firmness of the tomato by lightly squeezing it. After, all tomatoes have been harvested it is very important to remove the plants and clean the area to avoid pests and diseases from taking over the garden. To properly remove the tomato cages after harvesting, Travis takes his pruning shears and cuts the stems around 10 inches above the soil to allow him to pull the cages out of the ground. For tomatoes that were on the Florida weave trellis, he simply uses his knife to cut the twine, and remove the T-post/wooden stakes. Then, Travis will remove the tomato plants by the root mass and place them in a burn pile. We place the plants in a burn pile in order to kill off all the fungal spores and insect eggs that remain on the plants after harvesting to ensure they do not cause any future pest and disease issues in the garden.