How do you grow lots of healthy tomatoes? Many books, articles, and internet resources are available to answer that question. Your answer will come from the type of farming you want to do. Our goal as farmers is to enrich our soil and grow healthy produce at the same time. Because of this we chose a biodynamic method and it goes something like this.
Find a seafood restaurant or fish market with fish heads for sale cheap. Place head at bottom of hole, stand back and admire it. As the roots grow and reach deep into the soil the fish head will serve as a source of nitrogen and calcium. Albertson’s Fish Counter is a great source for fish heads @ $0.99/pound. If they don’t have them at the time you request, the head can be ordered.
Next add 4-5 crushed eggshells and two aspirin. The eggshells are natural and easily accessible sources of calcium which helps protect the fruit from blossom end rot a condition characterized by brownish-black sunken spots on the fruit. The aspirin, containing salicylic acid, has been proven to boost the plant’s immune system.
Trim off lower spent leaves at bottom of plant. Place in hole so that the dirt will come within an inch or two of the remaining leaves. If you examine the stem of a tomato you will notice hundreds of furry hairs. These are all potential roots. When you bury as much of the stem as possible, you give the plant a better chance to grow strong roots which translate into a stronger plant and more fruit. I prefer to remove the peat pot and then tear it up and use as mulch on the top of the plant. This helps the young plant get immediate root exposure to all the nutrients in the soil.
Fill in the remainder of the hole with garden soil and compost. Water deeply. This method of planting worked incredibly well. Plants were extremely healthy and big with some varieties producing up to 40 pounds of tomatoes per plant. To help with pests we interplanted with basils and borage. I didn’t see a single horn worm all summer. Once a large crop developed we did cover with bird netting. This year all tomatoes will be planted this way in our growing areas.
Each year we plant several heirloom varieties from across the globe. No matter their origin, paying close attention to the soil makes all the difference in productivity and flavor. When the fruit ripens and you are enjoying your delicious tomatoes remember that this growing method has also replenished the soil.