Growing tomatoes-in-a-cage has proven to be a great way to improve productivity, the sun can reach the tomatoes more evenly. You can more easily see and pick your tomatoes when they are ready. By keeping the fruit picked, it promotes more growth and has less spoilage from fruit resting on the ground.
My father had a formula for planting his tomatoes and then putting them in a cage, which I am going to share with the world. He used to get over 100 tomatoes from each tomatoe plant.
Specialty of Lyle R. Maughan
“He Loved to See Things Grow”
Yield: as many as 100 Tomatoes from one plant
Soil Prep 3 weeks in advance of planting
Dig a hole 18-24 “ deep x 18” wide Fill hole with water
Add: ¼ cup Fish Emulsion … let it soak into the ground
1 shovel-full of dry grass
1 shovel-full of compost or steer manure
1 big handful of Bone Meal
1 big handful of Super Phosphate
Add water enough to moisten (wet, but not soupy)
Then …fill hole back up with dirt
Note: It is usually best to let ground and formula sit about 3 weeks before planting tomatoes, but you can plant immediately after if time is an issue.
Plant tomatoes very deep into this prepared ground
leaving only 3 leaves showing on tomatoe plant above the ground.
(Trim off all other leaves of the plant except the top 3 leaves before putting it into the ground so the whole stem will become a root ball) This allows for a hardier plant.
The following is optional:
Dad would always sink a one gallon can or milk container with a 1” hole in one corner to the side of the tomato plant…about 4-5” away from the plant. You can do this on the day of planting or within a week or so, so the roots don't get disturbed while getting established. Filling this container with water at least weekly or more when the temperature is very hot, will allow the deep roots to get plenty of water. You still do your regular garden watering which is not so deep watering.
RL and Linda's experience speaking:
You can surround your tomatoes with black plastic fabric, or
put grass clippings or 6 inches of hay under and around the tomato plants which will help retain moisture and keep weeds down some at the same time.
Cage for Tomatoes
Place wire cage (18“ across, 5 ft tall, with 8” squares) over tomato plant and as branches grow, train them to stay within the cage for the most part.
Having the plant upright allows sun to reach all of theplant and keeps the tomatoes off the ground so less spoilage can occur.
The large squares allow you to get inside and pick the ripe tomatoes more easily.
NOTE: If you plant the tomatoes-in-a-cage about 40 inches apart, you'll have room to pick them between cages.
An Interesting Sidenote
Years ago my husband, RL, was reading in a weekly periodical our church puts out about this man's way to plant tomatoes. RL said "Hey look Linda, this man does tomatoes just like your Dad." A minute later he said "Oh, it is your Dad." The article had been submitted to the Church News by Lyle R. Maughan, so I'm not the first to publish it.
Since Dad has left this world, I wanted to make this fantastic idea and formula available for my own children and all of you who might read this and want to use it.
Recipes using garden vegetables and fruits
fertilizing your garden
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