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How I plant tomatoes using egg shells

The 2015 gardening season will be my ninth, which is absolutely crazy to me. Every year I learn something new and every year gardening, just like farming, presents its own set of Google-worthy problems. Keeping in mind that I’m still a garden newb compared to most of the world, I wanted to present a few tomato planting tips.

Part of my 2014 tomato crop.

Tomatoes. Some people have no problems with them and other people (like me) are fighting new battles every year. Thankfully, I’ve been able to find some strategies that really helped last season and I raked in my best tomato crop ever.

Last year I raised my own plants from seeds but this year time got away from me and I purchased 48 plants from the local greenhouse.

All winter long I save chicken egg shells. I dry them out, crush them in the food processor and store them in an old Folgers container. I put about one small scoop into each deep hole before placing the plant in the garden. I’ve read this is helps give tomatoes calcium and prevents blossom end rot. But I’ve also read this is an old tale and has no scientific assurances. All I know is that it seems to help my tomatoes and it gives me something productive to do with all the egg shells. Recycling!

Egg shells drying

Egg shells drying

Tomatoes need to be planted deep. Deeper than you would think. I mound dirt all the way up to the bottom set of leaves and immediately soak the plants with water. Tomato cages or whatever form of stability you plan to use should be implemented at the time of planting before it’s really needed. I’ve waited to put cages on until the plants are older and larger and it is quite the hassle.

Disease has been my largest tomato hurdle. I’ve had problems with the leaves and the fruit. We’ve tried spraying all sorts of gasoline-smelling chemicals that don’t really seem to touch some problems. The best remedy I’ve found has been weed control. Another is to keep the foliage from being splashed with dirt when watering. To kill two birds with one stone, I lay down paper feed sacks and newspapers and cover them with straw. Another method I’ve read about is to only water using soaker hoses (which I don’t do) and only water in the morning (which I do do). If you water at night it promotes fungal issues.

Feed sacks going down by tomatoes.

Feed sacks going down by tomatoes.

Tomatoes "mulched" with feed sack/newspapers topped with straw.

Tomatoes “mulched” with feed sack/newspapers topped with straw.

As the plants grow, I also try to keep them pruned leaving only the top branches. The plants end up looking more like little trees than bushes.

To further reduce chances of disease and pests, I burn all problem plants and try to plant tomatoes in different parts of the garden every year. This year, I’ve got the 48 plants in three different spots. That way if a problem hits one side of the garden, at least I will have the other!

Hope these tomato tips help you! Feel free to share any tomato or general gardening knowledge you have. One of the main things I’ve learned about gardening is that I will never know it all. Happy gardening!

Categories: Food and gardening on the farm

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My name is Ginia Oehlschlager and I'm a small-town gal from Missouri. Join me as I document my crazy life on the farm with my husband and four kids. I'm always looking for frugal, simple ways to live the life God set before me. Where faith, family and fun come together on the farm.

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