The Tomato Machine- How to grow tomatoes in Clark County, Washington. (Video included)
Growing an abundant crop of tomatoes can be challenging for many gardeners in our area - and especially given this Spring's unusually cool and wet weather. Tomato plants love heat and it's optimal to have at least 70 degree days with moderate temperatures at night. Does it sound almost impossible to grow tomatoes in Clark County, Washington? It's not, if you have the secret weapon, "The Tomato Machine."
Michael Stucky, owner of Millennium Farms in Ridgefield, starts growing his tomato plants as early as mid-March, way before the locals suggestion, "to plant the garden once the snow is off of Silverstar Mountain." While, we don't plant our tomato plants in March, we do adapt part of Stucky's tomato growing magic into our own garden. Each June, we create our own version of Stucky's, "The Tomato Machine." Our homemade contraption helps ensure healthy lush tomato plants that are capable of producing plenty of ripe tomatoes in late summer and early fall.
Normally, we plant all Heirloom tomato plants, but because of this year's weather challenges, we planted three popular tomato varieties known for producing well in our region, which is Zone 6. Early Girl, as the name implies, doesn't require a long season, plus it's a good slicing tomato. Stupice is favored for it's hardiness and early yield, but especially for it's sweet flavor, speaking of which, so is the Super Sweet 100, an easy to grow cherry tomato that produces long strands of yummy flavored fruits.
Keys to ensuring a timely harvest include trimming off the lower third branches on each plant and burying it about a 1/3 of the way down - placing red plastic at the base of the plant(s) - and also by sprinkling an organic fertilizer and lime (dolomite) at the bottom of each planting hole. Naturally, of course, your real secret weapon is, "The Tomato Machine."
Recently, in an "Exploring Clark County, Washington with Mac and Me" segment, we filmed one of our "Tomato Machine" creations to share with you. Hope you enjoy it!