Spring is coming and if you are like many Americans one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to eat right. And if you are again like most Americans you found out that eating right is both difficult and expensive.
This post is to help you get a start on overcoming the “expensive” in a poco a poco fashion.
One way to guarantee a healthy item on your plate is to grow your own vegetables. And that too can fall into the category of difficult, but one plant is easy to grow, and it is coincidentally, one of the few vegetables Americans find least offensive…the tomato.
So let’s get you started on your journey to the new you…let’s help you grow some nice juicy round tomatoes to put on that cheeseburger or into that lettuce salad.
(You guys know what I mean. Don’t look away. A bowl of lettuce with a boatload of dressing is a salad, right? No. At least add the tomato, okay?)
To make it even easier, we’ll do this the quick and dirty way – you don’t need a garden, or garden tools, you just need a container and some tomato seeds or tomato seedlings, some potting soil if you live in the South where the Earth is red clay, a place that gets some sunlight and maybe a few stakes – and even a No.2 pencil or an old Bic pen can serve for that at first.
A milk jug with the top cut off and some holes in the bottom will work but hey, blow the buck and go to your local Dollar store and buy a flower pot. If you are a big spender, blow another two bucks on a bag of decorative rocks or glass “stones” and get a bag of plant starter.
If your local dollar store does not carry them, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, and so will. You don’t need to go to a gardening center. You are not Lancelot “Capability” Brown (or Bloody Stupid Johnson) so all you really need are the basic basics.
Pour the decorative rock into the bottom of the pot.
Mix the potting soil in with plant starter and use it to fill the pot up to about an inch below the lip.
Scoop out just enough dirt to plant your seedling’s root ball. Or your seed.
Cover the ball with the dirt mix you scooped out.
Add just enough water to visually dampen the soil.
Make a mark on a calender somewhere. Mark ever three days and write – water tomato plant.
As the plant grows support it by gently tying loops of string around the stem and to your stakes.
And you’re done.
WANT TO PLAY AT BEING A PROFESSIONAL?
Now if you want to go more professional…and pretend your Chauncey Gardiner or whatever and wear biballs and a silly straw hat and gloves then try the next level up.
Begin with purchased 20-in. plastic pots and saucers.
Cut out a piece of window screen to fit the bottom of the pot.
Add your river rock.
Add soil and tomato plant.
Next dissolve magnesium sulfate (epsom salt) crystals into water, along with several tablespoons of calcitic lime, and poured a gallon of the solution into each pot.
Seven days later add more of the same with a ratio of 20-20 to get the plants moving again.
You want to provide the tomatoes with the calcium and magnesium they will need later, so you need to thoroughly blend1 cup of dolomitic limestone into each 40-quart bag of potting mix.
Then stir in a half cup of iron and trace elements. You can buy this in the form of a product called Perk.
Next store the mixture in covered buckets to allow it to mellow out a bit.
You can also add a potting mix. I found this recipe online.
4 cups of soy meal and 2 cups of blood meal for nitrogen; 3 cups of bone meal for phosphorous; 2 cups of kelp meal and 4 cups of greensand for potassium.
The inventor of this mix says to add 2 cups to each 40-quart bag of potting mix. We improve the potting mix in two stages because the dolomitic limestone can prematurely activate the nitrogen.
Next as the plants grow, trim the leaves from the stem and add more of the enriched soil mix until the pot is filled. This practice helps build root mass along the stem as it is buried, which is similar to laying the stem in a trench.
Then you need to cage your plants to protect them. You can place a cylinder cage made of window screen mesh around each plant.
This helps protect them from tomato plant eating insects.
This second method is a lot of work but probably will lead to a larger crop and then you can always give away or sell the excess to the unwitting.
You won’t be lying when you claim the tomatoes are organic and even, Gods help us, “Artisanal”.
But if you are just looking to garnish the MickeyD’s, I’d go with the Dollar Store materials and the basic technique.