My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tomato Planting

Well I took out that bed of brassicas that weren't doing much and fed them and the weeds to the chickens. I think a big part of the problem was the bed was too dry and I didn't realize it. I decided to plant my 8 Amish Paste tomatoes here.  To help with watering I bury this olla (unglazed clay pot, about 2.5 gallons, I think) in the middle of the tomato circle. You then fill it with water and the water seeps out the sides of the pots over a few days. I would love to have a lot more of these, but I only have one. Since this bed will hold two large tomato cages, I put the olla on the end of the bed that gets the hot afternoon sun and dries out the worst.

claypot waterer

What to do for the other tomato circle? I had a 12" clay pot and found a stick that would exactly fit the drain hole to act as a plug. After adding some sulfer and potash to the bed and some rotted horse manure, I dug the olla and claypot into their positions.

tomato cages with clay pot waterers

I then set up the tomato cages and pounded in some rebar to stake them. This is very important, a few years ago I didn't do this, thinking that burying the bottom six inches of the wire would be enough and a bad summer storm took both cages over, doing a lot of damage to the crop.  My cages are concrete reinforcing wire with 6x6 inch openings, so I can get my arm to the center for picking. The cages are sized to fit into a 4x4 ft square. I plant four large size tomato plants on each one. In other years with slow, cool springs I can then wrap plastic around the cage to keep the plants warmer. In hot summers I drape shade cloth or even old white sheets over the sunny side to help prevent blossom drop in the heat. I will put scrap lumber or flat rocks over the tops of the clay pots to keep out mosquitoes and rats. I did get the tomatoes planted, but by then it was dark so no picture.

Another hint for growing melons of any kind. I don't do this with the clay pots because they would just get really crusty with the fertilizer salts, but I sometimes bury a 1 gallon pot in the middle of where I plant melon seeds and always run the hose into the pot. Then if I need to feed the plant I'll fill the pot with manure or compost, adding in blood meal, potash or kelp meal. That way every time I water the melons are getting a nutrition boost.


  1. Hi Mary, I have seen those olla's before and I would like a couple too but haven't broke down and spent the money yet! I have been hand watering some with water from my rain barrel and some from the hose. We have clay soil. Happy Gardening! Nancy at Cozy Thyme Cottage

  2. Wow, I really love your set-up for planting tomatoes. We plant a ton of tomato plants and I'm always looking for ideas. Thanks!