Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Late First Planting New Square Foot Raised Beds

Here in the Philadelphia area, it is customary to plant peas and onions on St. Patrick's Day, 17 March. My two new raised beds were still in the planning stage on that date. I finished constructing, mixing the planting medium and filling the beds 15 April. Too late to plant peas and onions. Not to late for tender plants if they are protected from frost.

Lowe's had these Bonnie tomato plants on sale 20 April. Besides being on sale, they were tomato varieties I wanted to plant. One thing about Bonnie plants I have learned over the last few years is that the variety you want may not be available if you wait to make your purchase later in the season. For those two reasons I purchased the following four tomato plants.

Red Beefsteak-My wife's request
Mortgage Lifter - A huge tomato with great taste
Mr. Stripey - A buttery sandwich size tomato
Tamy G Hybrid Grape Tomato- I have never grown it but will give it a try

In the past I have failed to get the newly purchased plants into the ground before they suffered damage. I tend to procrastinate. Therefore, as soon as I got these plants home from Lowe's, I prepared the grid and started planting the tomatoes.

Each tomato plant got its own one foot square. I cut an X in the center of a square. I folded back each triangular flap to form a square. I then dug down to near the bottom of the raised bed, putting the displaced growing medium on the plastic mulch near the hole.

Using my thumbnail I removed branches about 6"/ 15cm up from the bottom of the stem. Why do this? Tomatoes sprout roots along the buried stem. The extra roots add support for the fruit. Plus, the tomato will access moisture deep in the soil that doesn't dry out as readily as soil near the surface.

Next I removed the label and pot from the growing medium and tomato roots.

If the roots are dense and growing in a circular pattern, 

they must be loosened, straightened, freed from that circular pattern. If you don't, the roots will continue to grow in that same circular pattern and not stretch out for support and access to more moisture.

Place the plant into the hole, roots first, of course. The bottom branches of the plant should not touch the plastic mulch when the plant is standing straight. If they do, remove those lower branches.

Return all of the displaced growing medium into the hole around the plant and firm it down a bit. Move on to the next plant and repeat. 

Besides the tender tomatoes I also planted seeds of several varieties of lettuce and several varieties of carrots in the raised bed.

The four squares on the bottom row are each planted with four lettuce each. The two squares on the left side of the next row each has 16 carrots spaced equally.

For a continued supply of lettuce, I will plant more every two weeks until the temperature gets hot when the lettuce tends to bolt to seed. I reserved some squares for peppers and other tender plants to be added at a later date.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

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