(Almost) Tomato Planting Time

I spent the last couple of mornings here getting the bed ready for planting tomatoes. Last year I experimented with a couple of no-dig no-till beds, and got great results. So this year I decided to expand the experiment and plant the tomatoes that way. The bed I’m working on had sweet potatoes growing last year, and had gotten a bit weedy since they were dug last fall. So the first thing I did was mow down the weeds, then I amended the soil with compost and fertilizer.

bed after amending

I’m also experimenting with using the woven weed barrier fabric on the beds, and I planted tomatoes that way last year in another bed. So the next task was to get the fabric up from that bed and move it to the one I’m planting tomatoes in this year. The fabric is in good condition, and I am guessing I can get several year’s use out of these before they wear out or fray too badly to use. And even though the mix of tomatoes I’m planting this year is a bit different than last year’s, the holes are spaced so that any variety of indeterminate tomato can be planted there. These will be a mix of small fruited types plus slicers, with paste types going in another bed.

laying out the weed barrier fabric

The next job was to roll out the corrugated cardboard I’m using along the side of the fabric to keep down weeds. The product I’m using comes on a large roll, and seems to do the job well. I put it under the edge of the fabric before securing with galvanized metal landscape staples.

rolling out corrugated cardboard

bed ready for planting

Then it was time to check the soil temperature in the bed to see if it was warm enough to start planting tomatoes. I used my trusty soil thermometer I got several years ago, but you can use any type thermometer as long as it registers in the necessary range. I like to wait until the soil temp is at least 60°F, and today it was not quite warm enough. In my experience, if you plant your tomatoes when the soil is below 60°F, they’re just going to sit there and sulk.  I’ve got the seedlings in the greenhouse and I will wait until next week to see if the soil has warmed up any before setting out the tomatoes. You can check out my Seed Starting and Planting Schedule to see what soil temps are recommended for the different vegetable crops.

taking soil temperature

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the happenings from Happy Acres!

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