Last season I put out eight different varieties of tomatoes all hybrids.
Jet Star won hands down as far as production and a very nice slicing
tomato that we enjoyed. This season I plan to have a few Jet Star
plants again as well as other hybrids and also some heirlooms. Last
year I pruned all my plants to one main stem and also used stakes which
I was very happy with. I averaged about 25 nice tomatoes per plant. I
fertilized with Jobes tomato spikes and also Miracle grow for tomatoes.
After doing some research I found out that a large scale produce grower
also here in PA plants thousands of Jet Star tomatoes every year. I did
notice as the season wore on that my tomatoes did get a bit smaller
compared to the earlier fruits. I blame this on too much watering. I
would water every other day by laying a garden hose at the base of each
plant and water for around three minutes each. I think by watering so
often that I washed much of the fertilizer away. As a newbie to
gardening I did make a few mistakes last season which I hope to correct
this year! I'll be growing many more veggies this year instead of just
tomatoes. Won't be long until I'll be starting my plants from seed
indoors. April 1 for me here in our area. The weather is getting nice
now and I'm really getting the urge to play in the dirt or as Bill would
perhaps say: putter in the garden :)
As Charlie Underlog often recites,"There are no gardening mistakes, only
experiments." -- Janet Kilburn Phillips. A damn good observation that
seems to have become a cottage industry with everyone quoting it, but
Ms. Phillips seems to be unfamiliar with chemical fertilizers.
Real gardeners grow soil as well as plants. Jobes tomato spikes and
Miracle Grow aren't healthy for your soil and they are a MISTAKE. It's
cheaper and more eco-friendly to get ORGANIC fish emulsion (the seas
have been polluted too: copper, lead, mercury, arsenic, PCBs, and PBDEs)
or manure for your plants. Don't even have to dig it in. Sprinkle it
around your plants or side dress with it (18 lb/100 sq.ft., chicken
manure). Don't water until the top inch of the soil is dry. Over feeding
will encourage the plant to vegetate, instead of setting and maturing
Most gardeners think of plants as only taking up nutrients through root
systems and feeding the leaves. Few realize that a great deal of the
energy that results from photosynthesis in the leaves is actually used
by plants to produce
chemicals they secrete through their roots. These secretions are known
as exudates. A good analogy is perspiration, a human's exudate.
Root exudates are in the form of carbohydrates (including sugars) and
proteins. Amazingly, their presence wakes up, attracts, and grows
specific beneficial bacteria and fungi living in the soil that subsist
on these exudates and the_ cellular material sloughed off as the plant's
root tips grow. All this secretion of_ exudates and sloughing-off of
cells takes place in the rhizosphere, a zone immediately around the
roots, extending out about a tenth of an inch, or a couple of
millimeters (1 millimeter = 1/25 inch). The rhizosphere, which can
look_ like a jelly or jam under the electron microscope, contains a
constantly changing mix of soil organisms, including bacteria, fungi,
nematodes, protozoa, and_ even larger organisms. All this "life"
competes for the exudates in the rhizosphere, or its water or mineral
At the bottom of the soil food web are bacteria and fungi, which are
attracted to and consume plant root exudates. In turn, they attract and
are eaten _by bigger microbes, specifically nematodes and protozoa
(remember the _amoebae, paramecia, flagellates, and ciliates you should
have studied in biology?), who eat bacteria and fungi (primarily for
carbon) to fuel their metabolic_ functions. Anything they don't need is
excreted as wastes, which plant roots are _readily able to absorb as
nutrients. How convenient that this production of_ plant nutrients takes
place right in the rhizosphere, the site of root-nutrient_ absorption.
At the center of any viable soil food web are plants. Plants control the
food_ web for their own benefit, an amazing fact that is too little
understood and_ surely not appreciated by gardeners who are constantly
interfering with Nature's system. Studies indicate that individual
plants can control the numbers_ and the different kinds of fungi and
bacteria attracted to the rhizosphere by the exudates they produce.
During different times of the growing season, populations of rhizosphere
bacteria and fungi wax and wane, depending on the nutrient needs of the
plant and the exudates it produces.
Soil bacteria and fungi are like small bags of fertilizer, retaining in
their_ bodies nitrogen and other nutrients they gain from root exudates
and other _organic matter (such as those sloughed-off root-tip cells).
Carrying on the _analogy, soil protozoa and nematodes act as "fertilizer
spreaders" by releasing ,_the nutrients locked up in the bacteria and
fungi "fertilizer bags." The nematodes and protozoa in the soil come
along and eat the bacteria and fungi in the,_ rhizosphere. They digest
what they need to survive and excrete excess carbon_ and other nutrients
Left to their own devices, then, plants produce exudates that attract
fungi_ and bacteria (and, ultimately, nematodes and protozoa); their
survival depends on the interplay between these microbes. It is a
completely natural system, the very same one that has fueled plants
since they evolved. Soil life provides the nutrients needed for plant
life, and plants initiate and fuel the cycle_ by producing exudates.
Teaming with Microbes: A Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web
Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Petrochemicals are the reason that we are in the Middle East today.
They kill top soil (a vanishing commodity in the world), pollute our
drinking water, and create hugh "dead zones" in the ocean. The more
petrochemical fertilizer that is used, the less organic material is in
the soil, and the more petrochemical fertilizer that will be needed to
maintain productivity levels. Petrochemical fertilizers are salts that
will kill off a portion of the microbes that support plants, or all of
them. If a person is going to be use petrochemicals, they might just as
well jump in their Hummer, and drive down to the supermarket to buy
My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while
learning to see things from the plant's point of view.
Thanks for the synopsis Billy. Just came in from garden cleanup and
Ijeilu 6:03 James Asher Feet In The Soil Dance & DJ
MPEG audio file 1996
On soil stuff a url
Bill Garden in shade zone 5 S Jersey USA
On Tue, 16 Mar 2010 15:33:07 -0400, Bill who putters
This is a hell of a good cd, Bill....everything on on it, IMO. Just
pulled it up for a little desk dancing while reading, though the
dancing will win out!
Another good link, Bill, and I thankee.
Here's an OT link for the great unwashed and true believers....enjoy
your dreams, all. Dmitry Orlov comes to mind. He has written some
good essays that include gardening in ... uhhh... circumstances that
may be paralleling ours.
Just had to get this link in...might inspire some folks to cover a
little sod with lasagna gardens and give the grannies summit to do.
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