I’ve been very pleased with my tomatoes this year. I haven’t actually been able to produce decent tomatoes in any kind of quantity until now. I haven’t, in the past few years, made the commitment to work on them consistently. Of course, this is all referencing my time as an independent. Back on the farm, the commitment to work on the tomatoes consistently was made for me, and that work produced killer results. (And, as for quantity, seventy-five plants will definitely produce.) This year I planted my usual two plants (full sun space is very limited at my house), both heirloom varieties. One of them is a Cherokee Purple, which I have grown before, and the other is a Granny Cantrell, which is new to me.
I did it right this year. For each plant I dug a two foot square hole, eighteen inches deep. I amended my nasty clay soil with lots of organic matter, and some expanded shale for drainage. The Cherokee was already large, so I was able to plant it all the way to the bottom of its hole. The Granny Cantrell was only big enough to plant about a foot deep. In case you didn’t know you could do this, you can. Tomatoes, like most vines, are more than happy to put new roots off any part of the stem that touches the soil. This quality lets you plant them deep, and as a result they will have deep roots which are much more drought tolerant. I also have watered regularly this year, and I use the method my father taught me. The hose is turned on to a mere trickle, and I set it at the base of each plant for anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes depending on how the soil feels. This method lets the water get deep into the soil instead of just running off the top.
The results of my hard work are now becoming evident. I have already harvested more than my last five crops combined, and the vines are covered with future goodness. As an added bonus, this Granny Cantrell, which I just bought on a lark, is kickin’ out some HUGE fruits. A caveat to the huge fruits- the bigger they are, the more important it is keep the soil evenly moist. Dry followed by wet will produce rapid bursts in fruit growth, resulting in cracking in some cases. The bigger the tomato, the bigger the burst. I went out of town for a few days (no water), and then there was a rain storm, and I have never seen tomato splitting like the Granny Cantrells had.
I think Cherokee Purple is still my favorite flavor, but both have been delicious.