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Sunday, May 27, 2012

2 of 2: Planting a Tomato Disease Barrier Raised Bed Garden

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Planting a Tomato Disease Barrier Raised Bed Garden
(Part 2 of 2)

The concept of a Disease Barrier Raised Bed Garden is based on facts.
  • Create a barrier to prevent soil splash and disease spore splash
  • Mulch to maintain moisture and tomato plant health
  • Fertilize and compost key nutrients for healthy plant development
  • Prune to manage airflow and decrease plant density that supports disease spread
  • Spray with 'the most' organic spray when needed to fight disease that is don't go so organic your plants die out.
These concepts will be part of a 6 part video I do on my disease barrier raised bed garden over this growing season.  I am presenting the blog version first. Before you get started this idea is designed for plants that will stay in your garden for most of the season like tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplants, zukes, cukes and squashes. It isn't useful for lettuces, greens, radishes and other quick growing vegetables.

Part 1 showed you how to build  a Tomato Disease Barrier Raised Bed Garden. This is a basic planting guide.

Step One: Layout Your Plants

A raised bed will allow you to plant earlier in the season because the soil warms more quickly than an earth garden bed. It will also allow you to plant you vegetables more closely together because the earth around your vegetables stays loose. There is no foot traffic to compact the soil. The vegetables roots can grow downward and compete less for space. That being said, you also need to make sure you don't over-crowd your tomato plants because air circulation is necessary for disease management.

Tomatoes in a raised bed can manage well with 2 -3 feet of space between them. The closer you put them together, the  more you need to prune and manage them. Use the lower end if you want to prune less and worry less about air circulation. You can fit 6 to 8 tomatoes in a raised bed that measures 4 feet by 8 feet.

6 Tomatoes in a Raised Bed - The Rusted Garden
8 Tomatoes in a Raised Bed - The Rusted Garden

Step Two: Clear and Cut a Planting Hole

Clear out a space by moving the mulch and puncture or tear the plastic. Loosen the soil and plant to a depth of about 1/3 the size of the tomato.

Planting a Tomato in a Raised Bed - The Rusted Garden
Planting a Tomato in a Raised Bed : Gary Pilarchik
Plant to a Depth of 1/3 the Tomato - The Rusted Garden

Step Four: Fill the Planting Hole and Replace the Mulch

I filled the hole in around my tomato with some prepared soil. You can fill the hole with whatever you would like.

Fill the Hole - The Rusted Garden
Close the Plastic - The Rusted Garden
Replace the Mulch: Gary Pilarchik

 Step Five: Stake and Label Your Tomatoes

Place the stakes in the ground. You aren't going to tie the plant off to the post until they grow. I use the post as a way to label my tomatoes. You will forget. A tip is to write the name 2 or 3x's on the the post. The sun will fade marker and ink.

This is going to be my prize poundage tomato garden.  I am going for 1-2 pound tomatoes and hope for a record breaker.

I planted:
  • 2 'Aussie' Heirlooms (I got my 2 pounder off this variety last year)
  • 2 'Brandywine Suddath's Strain' Heirloom
  • 1 'Mexico' Heirloom
  • 1 'Mortgage Lifter' Heirloom
  • 1 'Black Plum' Heirloom (cherry)
  • 1 'Yellow Pear' Heirloom (cherry)

As the tomatoes grow, I will blog more about managing the plants and raised bed.  Good Growing!

Stake and Label Your Tomatoes - The Rusted Garden
Label the Stakes in 2 places (notice the top) - The Rusted Garden

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