"350 lbs tomato trees" --- poison free organic gardening Victoria BC
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poison free gardening, Victoria BC, 350 lbs tomato trees


 

350 lbs Tomato Trees

350 lbs. 'tomato trees'

Here is Charles H. Wilber, however faintly, on top of the ladder, with a few of his 28' - 0" tomato 'trees' - which yielded about 350 lbs of tomatoes each - all of which is an official Guinness Record. And he did it with nothing out of the ordinary - not even fertilizers. Just compost, mulch and consistent watering. That's all.

Now one would think that if Charles can do this, we can do this too. Well - not quite. It's much too cool hereabouts. Charles grows his record tomatoes in the brooding heat and sweltering summer nights of Alabama - which is seventh heaven for tomatoes. Our summers are much too short and too cool in comparison, and our summer nights, although great for a good night's sleep, are downright and leaf shivering chilly, as far as the tomatoes are concerned.

But, and nevertheless, we can grow wonderfully tall and richly abundant tomato shrubs here as well. I've done the same things that Charles does - but not as extensively mind you - and have grown dense 6' - 0 tall tomato shrubs which yielded about 75 lbs of tomatoes each. In fact, they were so dense and densely laden with fruit that I had to stake the cages to keep them from falling over.

I've used compost - but only in the planting hole, whereas Charles does that too - and then goes on and spreads a 1/2 inch layer of compost over 4' - 0 all around the plant. Charles also warns against compost made with chicken manure; it's too rich and will burn the plants. Indeed, he warns against any compost richer than a 0.5/ 0.5/ 0.5 nitrogen, phorphorus and potash content.

I've used mulch around the tomato plants as well, but only as the weeds grew and were sheared when tall enough. So, since I started out with bare ground, and then slowly built up a layer of mulch with the sheared weeds, I had a 4" layer of mulch only by the middle of the season.

Charles starts out right away, as soon as his seedlings are planted, with a dense 4" inch layer of mulch, which consists of 4" thick slabs taken from bales of (purchased) compressed wheat straw. This mulch also covers 4' feet in all directions around his tomato plants. I think this is important, as the roots can spread far and wide and right up to the surface under a dense mulch. And if this happens early, you'll have extremely vigorous tomato shrubs.
350 lbs tomato trees

He also uses, as I did, wire cages made from concrete reinforcing mesh with 6" x 6" holes, which are great for reaching in to gather tomatoes. He, though, has to stack a whole bunch of them on top of each other to accommodate his tomato 'trees'. But I think 10' - 0 high tomato shrubs are possible here as well - or one can just let them spill over the wire cage and cascade down again.

Consistent watering is also a very important factor as it keeps the tomato plants from shutting down every time the soil dries out. He also uses drip irrigation from permanent perforated pipes. This is important in two ways; it conserves a lot of water while keeping the soil nicely moist, and it keeps the leaves and stems of the tomato plants dry, which avoids a lot of problems.

Charles uses "Better Boy" tomatoes, an indeterminate variety with 72 days to maturity (from transplanting). And while this may be a good choice here as well, "Oregon Eleven", "Salt Spring Sunrise" and "Stupice" are tomatoes with 60 - 65 days to maturity, which were bred for our coastal climate and perform well here. "Stupice" was actually bred in Czechoslovakia as a cold tolerant tomato, and is a high-yielding tomato with a wonderful low acid flavour, which does well here. West Coast Seeds, in Delta BC, and Island Seeds Co, here in Victoria (744 - 3677) specialize in seeds for our local climate.

He also saves the seed from all double blossom tomatoes, and uses them exclusively to grow his own seedlings. The tomatoes must be over ripe for fully matured seeds. Seeds then need to be rinsed and dried quickly out of the sun, on newspaper or paper towel, and stored in a cool dry place.

All of this is explained in greater detail in his book "How to Grow World Record Tomatoes", Charles H. Wilber, published 1999 by Acres U.S.A. [ www.acresusa.com ], which publishes the biggest and best monthly organic gardening magazine, plus many great organic gardening books which cannot be found anywhere else. The above pictures were scanned from the cover of his book, hence the poor quality.



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