Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tomatoes and Basil

I planted tomatoes and basil today. Spring is really here! Yay!

I started three varieties of tomato plants by seed in early March, first under growing lights in the basement, and more recently in the greenhouse. These plants had been growing in 4" pots. They were nearly root bound and had grown to an enthusiastic 24" tall. They were beginning to bloom---it was high time to move outdoors.

I removed the straw mulch from the beds, which I had laid in November before it snowed. I set the mulch aside on a tarp while I loosened the soil by hand with my Japanese gardening tool. Then I added a layer of sifted compost and got some help to pound in tall support stakes. Installing the stakes before planting helps avoid damaging roots later in the summer. The stakes seem huge now, but will support many pounds of fruit in due course.

It's a good idea to plant tomatoes deeply in the soil, even a little deeper than they were in their small containers. I alternated tomatoes and basil in the beds (they are companion plants) and gave them plenty of breathing room which will help avoid blight. Remember to rotate crops---tomatoes should not be planted in the same beds as last year.

Finally, I mulched again with a thick layer of straw and gave it a quick drink of water (we've had plenty of rain). Mulching helps keep the soil warm on chilly nights, holds in moisture on hot days, and keeps down the weeds. Of course, I was finished when I realized that I might have also planted some dill or parsley in these beds. Tomorrow.....

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