Tomato season is here and its officially spring!!
I love spring season, its one of my favorite seasons of the year. The weather is a perfect warmth of 72-80 degrees, which I personally love. We get way more sunny hours so that means I get keep my windows open longer and enjoy the cool crisp air of the spring season.
I also love my garden. I have been a gardener for two years and I truly love it. For many years I have always dreamed of having a vegetable garden. I believe this wish started as a child when I used to follow both of my grandmothers around in their gardens. My Grandma Juana has tons of chili growing for my grandpa (he loved his spicy food).
My grandma Juana also has fruit trees growing, and herbs. Grandma Juana still makes the best fresh juices from her guava, lemon, and, orange trees. Grandma Juana also makes the best homemade apricot jam that I have ever had. I jokingly call this grandma the original hipster. She always advocates frugal living and eating nutrient dense foods. Grandma Juana is seriously ahead of her times, or for that matter she is the trend that was meant to be our trend now.
My grandmother from my moms side of family is Selena, aka Nana. Nana lived in Baja California for a few years when I was a teenager. My grandparents both decided to retire to Mexico, therefore we often visited them in Ensenada. I loved our visits to Ensenada. Our visit with them are most memorable to me, because this is the time we truly were able to spend quality time with both of them. My grandparents both seemed in their element too. As a girl I remember following my Nana around in her backyard garden full of flower, succulents, and, fruit trees. I would watch her water her garden in silence during the early mornings or late afternoon, she was so content with her plants.
I don’t think you need to have green thumb to be good gardener. However, I just believe there needs to be a will to want to tend to your garden. For me, my garden does very well. I am shocked at this at times because I started out not having a clue what to do. Even though I grew up watching my grandmas tend to their garden with their “green thumbs”, I personally didn’t know what the secret is growing a garden. My grandmothers both speak Spanish and I speak none. Yes I know, its pretty sad.
My Grandma Juana would start to tell me in English her garden secrets but she would then venture into finishing off her garden secrets in Spanish. ( I am sure some of you reading this can relate). The important message they both taught me without spoken words is they both loved gardening. As a little girl I must have picked up on their love vibes of gardening and somehow carried that love with me. I knew I wanted to have a garden of my on in my life that I can tend to so I can have the peace and tranquility I saw in my grandmothers while they gardened.
How I learned to grow my garden
Tomato planting started for me two years ago when we bought our current home. It was a new construction build so that meant we got to build the backyard how we wanted to. I knew I wanted raised beds to grow my veggies in. We designed our backyard to have 3 raised beds. One for growing herbs only and the other two for growing vegetables and dwarf fruit tress in.
I had no clue how to grow vegetables; except for when I was watching my grandmas tend to their garden and telling me eggs shells and coffee where the trick. I knew there had to be more to tomato planting so I wanted to get it right. Every week Temecula has a farmers market on Wednesdays. I thought to myself, “this will probably be the place where someone can help me”. Off I headed to the farmers market in hopes that someone there can help me.
My Garden Guru:
I meet my tomato guru at my local farmers market. My guru has a little tent (still there by the way) of vegetables. A whole assortment of them too. I made a bee line towards him and let him know I needed some major schooling on vegetable growing. Luckily, he was very receptive to me and my eagerness to learn. He gave me his contact info and from there we became garden friends. I ended up going to his nursery where he sold me my very first batch of vegetables and fruit trees to plant in my raised beds. My guru was nice enough to tell me all his planting tricks and tips. He told me where to buy the plant food I needed and what kind of ogranic brands to look for too.
My truck was full of my very first vegetable garden plants so my little green thumb was ready to go to work. Now I must say, It was not easy learning. I killed a few plants here and there. I made many calls and visits to my guru at the farmers market for a quick recap on planting and vegetable tending. After two years, going on 3, I am a confident gardener.
Tomato Garden Must haves:
- Organic Vegetable food.
- Organic worm casting aka worm poop (I got this bag at Costco, however if you are local to Temecula, CA there is a worm guy that sells them too at the Temecula farmers market).
- Egg shells
- Coffee grounds
- Chicken Manure
- Bone Meal (not pictured here because I ran out).
- Fish Fertilizer
- B.T. this guy is for after planting. I was getting nasty ugly tomato worms so my guru told me to buy this and spray my tomato plants with it. This product will kill them if they’re already there; more importantly it will prevent them from coming back. Its considered a organic pesticide too.
I had a volunteer plant grow. If you never heard of that, it is when you have a plant randomly grow in your garden. Probably from seeds that drop from the prior years harvest. This volunteer plant is a heirloom cherry tomato plant. It looks nice and strong so I decided to pull it out of the raised bed and transplant it to a plant container.
Here I have my chicken manure and worm castings ready to use, as well as a small planting shovel.
Add the chicken manure and worm casting to the dirt and mix around.
Then dig a hole.
Next, you will add the Epsom salt, egg shells, used coffee grounds, and bone meal to the hole you created.
Addeverything to the dirt.
Mix everything you just put in the hole around. Next add the the tomato plant transplant to the center of the whole and fill it with the surrounding dirt. Make sure you dig a deep enough hole so the roots can grow nice and sturdy. Its ok if you plant a few branch deep, those branches will later be roots (this is a tip my guru told me).
Now the Plant is all planted so all you need to do is add one more big scoop of worm casting to the base of the plant and mix it around.
Another tip my guru gave me is to water your plants once a week with fish fertilizer. I just fill this bucket with water and pour some of the fish fertilizer in it, then I water my plants. Its good to water the plants with this as soon as you plant them to help give them a strong start.
Finally, it is time to add a plant stake to the middle so when the tomato plant gets taller this stake will help hold it up. Use zip ties to tie the main branch so the stake over time as it grows will help support the plant. Once you add the stake, then add a strong big tomato cage around the plant
Tomato Planting and Kombucha “scoby”
Have you ever heard of a scoby? A scoby is what people use to make Kombucha. Kombucha is a pro-biotic fermented drink. In order to make kombucha you need a scoby (click here to read more about it). I have been making Kombucha for 4 years so recently I read somewhere that people use the “scoby” as a fertilizer and the dirt loves it, as well as the plants. So I decided to add my extra scoby to the dirt mix.
I did the same process above but this time I added my scoby to the planting hole
I am really excited to see if this helps the tomato plant produce more tomatoes this year. So this is a interesting experiment for me.
Here I loosened the dirt and broke up the roots a bit. The roots tend to get root bound from being in the small container so by doing this step we are allowing the roots to be free again, therefore they will spider out later on in the dirt and establish their roots in the new dirt.
Now place the tomato plant in the planting hole and cover with dirt.
The tomato plant now has a happy new home!
Don’t forget to water it with fish fertilizer. Water the plant with fish fertilizer once a week and the plant will thank you later!
My tomato beef steak Cherokee tomato plant is all planted and ready to grow! I am so excited for this one to grow.
The Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato, known for its pink skin and rich, red flesh. Its so beautiful in salads and has a delicious fruity sweet taste to it. I love this variety of tomato. Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite variety to grow because of their color and flavor. These tomatoes come from heirloom seeds, which means they are non gmo seeds and have been passed down from generation to generation making them extra special and flavorful. Heirloom variety plants are a bit more delicate then non heirloom seed but the extra care and attention is worth it.
I hope I have inspired you to grow your own tomato plants. It can be intimidating at first, however I encourage you to reach out to people you know who garden and if you don’t know anyone then head to your local farmers market. I visit my farmers market often and I have meet a ton of vendors. I pick their brains and ask a ton of questions. They always ask me how my garden it doing. I show them pictures and they are so proud of me. I almost feel as if they want to pat my head for being a good student. So I can sense their excitement because I truly take their advice to heart.
Feel free to reach out to me anytime as well and I will do my best to help you!