Saturday, May 22, 2010

Tomatoes and Mulching; Companion Planting; RIP: Upside Down Tomato

I've gone around the various gardening blogs.  There are two things you would typically find that I have not yet talked about: composting and mulching.  Today, I'll talk about mulching.  Basically, that's adding stuff on your top soil either for aesthetics (like when you landscape and add colored pebbles) or for additional nutrients (like when you mulch with wood bark or fallen leaves).    Since I don't have an aesthetic bone in my body, it'll be for pure soil nutrition.  My example today will be my potted tomatoes.

If you look closely, you will not see the soil in either pot.  Instead you would find half decomposed leaves (dark brown to black) and grass cuttings that are still green.  You would also observe that the "soil" level in the pots are very low.  Why so?  Well, I read that it's good to bury the stem of tomato plants because the stem will then grow roots.  That means you'd want to plant your tomato as low as possible in the pot.  Then you can just gradually add soil as your plant grows.  In my case, I figured I'd top of the pot with mulch.  They'll turn into soil at some point anyway and it makes my soil rich too.   Besides, we have more than enough grass growing in our yard to provide an unlimited supply of mulch.   Will it work?  Only time will tell.

By the way, the leaves on the tomato on the right picture seem to be diseased with some white streaks.  I can't quite figure out what to do with those.  I've sprayed the plant with soap solution several times but I haven't seen any improvement.  I hope it lives!

Still with the two plants, if you look at the left one very closely, you'll see a limp plant beside the tomato.  What is it?  It's a half dead cinnamon basil.  It's there because I read that basil is the perfect companion plant for tomatoes.  It allegedly makes the tomato fruits more tasty.  Well I guess I'll have to plant another cinnamon basil beside it.  The right tomato plant has a Japanese Mint as a companion simply because I've read that mint repels insects.  Well, I'm not sure about that give the condition of that tomato (white streaks and all).

Finally, I've lost both my upside down tomatoes.  The first one I suspect was attacked by a cat trying to climb the tree where I hung the pot.   I wasn't able to save it.  The second one (the one in the bottle) died either because it fell prey to my pruning instinct (never recovered) or my tilling the soil instinct (I may have uprooted it).  Either way, it's dead.  Tsk.  So now my hopes of eating backyard grown tomatoes are pinned on the three remaining ones.  That's just in the short term though.  I've thrown several batches of tomato seeds in various pots and most of them have germinated already.    All they need to do is to survive another 120 days.  Sigh. 


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