Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fertilizing the Cherry Tomato Raised Bed

The 4 Sweet Baby Girl Cherry Tomato plants that I grew in my biggest Raised Bed have finally given out. This is roughly the same time as last year that the Cherry Tomato plants died (see this blog entry)

I spent about 2 hours removing the plants and taking down the Texas Tomato Cages.

The picture below shows how the Raised Bed looked like after I had cleared everything out.

One of the reasons why my Cherry Tomato plants grow so well and produce so many tomatoes is because I replenish the soil every year. I put natural fertilizer and manure into the Raised Bed and let it compost for 4 months, so the plants have access to a lot of nutriets.

This year, I am using Alfalfa Meal as my main natural fertilizer. Last year, I used Soybean Meal. Soybean Meal is richer (N-P-K ratio of 7-2-1) than Alfalfa Meal (N-P-K ratio of 3-1-2), but costs almost 1.5 times as much. With the recession, I wanted to save a little money and used Alfalfa meal instead.

I buy my Alfalfa and Soybean Meal from Kruse Feed & Supply in La Habra, CA. A 50 lb bag of Alfalfa Meal costs about $17 from Kruse Feed & Supply. A 50 lb bag of Soybean Meal costs about $25. I typically use about a quarter of a 50 lb bag to fertilize this Raised Bed.

The picture below shows the Raised Bed with a layer of Alfalfa Meal on top of the old soil.

I put a layer of newspapers (see picture below) on top of the Alfalfa Meal to prevent weeds from sprouting.

Next, I put another layer of Alfalfa Meal on top of the newspapers.

Lastly, I put a thick layer of composted Steer Manure as the final layer. I used 10 bags of 1 cu feet composted Steer Manure. I bought the bags from Home Depot for about $1 each.

The picture below shows the final result. You can see the soil is several inches higher than before. I always put the soil up to this level every year, so you can see how much soil is "consumed" each year. I don't step on this Raised Bed, so the soil loss is not due to compaction.

October Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

Today, I was able to pick my first Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes from my second batch of Sun Gold Cherry Tomato plants.

The timing was excellent, as I had just cleared away my Sweet Baby Girl Cherry Tomato plants (See this blog entry).

This is the first time that I have tried growing Cherry Tomato plants in the Fall. I have tried before, but usually the Summers are too hot and cause my young Cherry Tomato plants too wilt. This year, we had a very mild Summer.

I started these plants from clones about 2 and 1/2 months ago (See this blog entry).

I currently have 4 Sun Gold Cherry Tomato plants growing. The picture below shows how they look today.

There are a lot of flowers and fruit on the plants. I am curious as to how long the plants will last before cold weather brings them down.