Prepping for Tomatoes Before Christmas

I have had great success pushing the season outdoors by planting tomatoes on the vernal equinox and reaping ripe fruit before Christmas Day. This year is no different although it has been a struggle to do so.

This is what we started with: a sodden, compacted, clay lawn with poor drainage around the house foundation.

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I started by preparing to improved the drainage while also building more garden beds.

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This process took a while as there was lots of soil to move. Simultaneously I was making a cubic metre of compost where one of the garden beds would go.  Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.25.12 PM

The hot compost we make takes about 30 days to mature.

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I had a helper for part of the job.

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Finally ready by September 21st, the vernal equinox, to put in the tomatoes.  Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.26.34 PM

I had some plastic sheets that our new ceiling insulation came wrapped in. I used it to suppress some of the grass before cutting it to an X and then skimming the turf.

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As the soil was severely compacted, I forked it to help with aeration. These will be no dig garden beds once established.

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I always plant my seedlings with a litre or more of compost. Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.27.12 PM

Fold back the plastic…

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.27.20 PM

…and cover with mulch. Mind you, the plastic will only be in place for this one growing season. After the sod is killed and the tomatoes have done their dash, I will remove the plastic, fork the bed again, add compost, and then just treat it as a no dig garden bed.

Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.27.27 PM

These first six plants are Early Girl. They will bear ripe fruit around the 10th – 15th of December.

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The next six plants are Money Maker. I have good luck with them as a consistent, heavy cropper and relatively good a resisting plant diseases.

 Screen shot 2014-09-23 at 5.27.48 PM

Peace, Estwing

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