Post Hole Digger And Dry Farming Tomatoes This Season

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This year I'll be trying an experiment in a portion of my tomato garden. Instead of double digging the whole patch, I'll simply use a post hole digger and dig down about two and a half foot deep where each plant will be placed. When I replace the soil, it will be nice and lose to this depth. This should allow the roots to deep! I will also give dry farming a try using Early Girl tomatoes which I understand lend themselves very well to this practice. Dry farming is said to cut size and yield a bit but gives the fruit a tremendous flavor as well as texture. I will use 6 -8 plants for this experiment. Has anyone else ever practiced or had any experience with dry farming? Any advice will indeed be helpful :)
Rich from PA
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On Wed, 6 Apr 2011 10:26:44 -0400, White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

Digging with a hand powered post hole digger to that depth is a lot of hard labor, especially if you hit large rocks or clay... and I see no point to your experiment, tomato plant roots need to be encouraged to grow laterally, not deeply. If you feel you need better soil and want a little extra depth after normal tilling plant in a built up mound of extra rich top soil. But tilling to about 12" is more than adequate for a vegetable garden, and certainly for tomatoes which are not a root crop. And since roots take the path of least resistance I think all you'll accomplish by planting tomatoes in a deep narrow hole is have rootbound plants. http://www.soilandhealth.org/01aglibrary/010137veg.roots/010137ch26.html
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Hi Brooklyn :) The post hole digger I have will dig to that depth in less than 5 minutes a hole. It also digs an 8" diameter hole. Most of the roots on plants I pulled from past seasons ever exceeded more than about 6" so hopefully they won't become root bound. The reason I call it an experiment is because this test will only be done on a very small portion of my plants as I stated, 6-8 plants. My research also shows that dry farming lends itself extremely well to clay soil which I have. The clay holds moisture and by withholding some water, you force the roots to go deeper and also your not washing nutrients from the soil near as much as normal watering.
Rich
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On Apr 6, 8:40 am, White snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

Looking for more comments on "dry farming". Water is so ****ing expensive here (So Cal coastal) that if I can save a little...! (Of course I do not water heavily after blooms appear; interested in how the "dry farming" concept would apply to my area (which is basically a desert, turned into a megalopolis (sp?) by imported water.
HB
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On 4/6/2011 7:32 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

When I lived in Central Texas, I had the best gardens ever once I figured out drip irrigation. It did take a couple of years for me to get smart.) I bought commercial farm "drip tape" with built-in emitters and i built a manifold for it using rigid plastic conduit (because it is UV stabilized and white PVC pipe is not.) It used very little water, and the water did not get on the foliage. I was even able to grow beets and broccoli and other cool-season crops in the 100+ degree summers.
Now I live in Minnesota and have a much smaller garden, and I haven't figured out how to deal with the short growing seasons, marauding rabbits, and herbicide drift from the neighbors. Hot dry weather and bermudagrass were easy. ;-)
-Bob
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Hi Bob :) They figure the average veggie garden needs an inch or so of water each week. 2 1/2 gallons of water per plant is roughly that much needed inch. I put a rain gauge in my garden which helps me calculate how much water to give my plants each week. Last season I used soaker hoses but not again! My crop was great but since I'm on a water meter, my water and sewer bill was very high. This season I will be using an empty gallon milk jug and watering each plant by hand. Since I'm interested in experimenting with dry farming, this will give me much better control as to how much water each plant will get. The section of garden I plan to dry farm, will get less than 1/2 inch of water a week after the fruit sets. But then again mother nature also plays a big role in this. We could get a storm that dumps a huge amount of water on the garden in a very short period of time!
Rich
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On 4/6/2011 9:25 PM, EVP MAN wrote:

I think this might be the same brand drip hose that I used (but probably not the same company I ordered from) <http://www.wateryourlandscape.com/dripirrigation/products/driptape
I ran about eight or ten 100' lengths in parallel all at the same time easily from a water faucet -- and that's with a 15 psi pressure regulator followed by a valve to adjust the flow rate and give a working pressure of about 8 psi. It uses much less water than soaker hoses, and it delivers about the same amount of water from one end of the row to the other. Soaker hoses dump most of the water at the head end of the row, and the far end gets starved.
-Bob
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Higgs Boson wrote:

What would be your average annual rainfall? Is it very seasonal or spread throughout the year?
David
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Here in my area of PA, we get an average of 41" a year. I have read that dry farming lends itself well to any area that gets 20" or more precipitation yearly.
Rich
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EVP MAN wrote:

That rainfall seems rather on the high side of dry land farming, I would expect that if you can save water for dry spells and mulch heavily in summer you wouldn't have to take any special measures. My rainfall is not much more than that (about 46" PA) and the district was used for dairying and I can run very high stocking rates for horses. Why are you going to this trouble?
David
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Hi David, Dry farming or withholding water is said to give you a tomato with much better texture and superior flavor. It won't be any trouble at all for me as it's only an experiment I'm going to try using 6-8 plants. The rest of my patch will be watered as normal :)
Rich
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EVP MAN wrote:

I suspect that is from growing them with limited water and the hole is not important.
D
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Dry farming is entirely new to me David but from what I understand, a deep planting hole with lose soil forces the roots to go deep in search of ground moisture. This is said to give a better root system for the plant to absorb nutrients. I have also read that a clay or clay loam soil lends itself better to dry farming than does a sandy soil. The clay simply retains more moisture for a longer period of time. There are some areas where chefs seek out dry farmed tomatoes because of the taste. They also sell for a much higher price which in part is due to the lower yield I would suspect.
Rich
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White_Noise snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (EVP MAN) wrote:

And smaller size of the tomatoes. That's not a criticism. It's just a way to concentrate flavor.
And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together. - Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels
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- Billy
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I think this is a good idea. Tomatoes give off arial roots just above the soil. If after planting the tomatoe plant and letting it establish, you then fill in so that the arial roots are covered then this is said to produce heavier crops
--
ZeroZero

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15" and very seasonal. Used to be you could tell when it was spring, because the tumble weeds would be in bloom. Semi-arid is the descriptor. Without desicating Ownes Valley (see: <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owens_Valley> and the movie China Town), and the Colorado River there would be a very much smaller Los Angeles. Presently, sufficient water is being diverted from the Sacramento River to degrade the environment so that people in simi-arid southern California can grow lawns, fill swimming pools, and hose-off their sidewalks.
"The best fertilizer is the gardener's shadow." - Anon
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EVP MAN wrote:

I sometimes grow tall spindly tomato seedlings (when I start them too early and they outgrow my lights) and I just set them really deep -- basically in a 5 or 6 inch post hole deep enough that only to top 2 sets of leaves are above ground. It works pretty well. The plants root all along the submerged stem. Putting the plants sideways in a trench (so the roots aren't so deep) might work better.
Bob
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Rich, Lets us know how your experiment goes.
You maybe interested in some other areas of taste improvement that are getting more attention lately.
http://njfarmfresh.rutgers.edu/documents/CanSoilFertilityImproveTomatoFlavor.pdf
http://www.growingformarket.com/articles/Improve-tomato-flavor
http://www.seaagri.com/docs/tomato_taste_trial_rutgers.pdf
good luck
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Gunner wrote:

Stop encouraging him... I'd rather SEE some documentation that the webtv troll actually gardens than his constant inane gum flapping.
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I usually don't respond to Don Rickles aka Brooklyn's insults but YES, I do have a small 500 sq. ft. garden in the back yard of the home I own which by the way is paid for and situated in a beautiful college town of central PA. As far as web tv goes, I'm on the msn one plan. Web tv is in my den and a $2600 Gateway computer resides in my family room :) Now just a few simple questions for you if you care to answer. I'll keep them very basic so even you might understand them!
1. How old are you? 2. Do you rent or own? 3. How large is your garden or do you plant in containers like I used to do when I was somewhat poor?
Don't get me wrong. There is certainly nothing wrong with being poor BUT it's sure damn unhandy........LOL
4. Are you any relation to Don Rickles OR are you just a Don Rickles wanna be? 5. Is our current US president your idol? If so, WHY???
Rich
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