My mom’s vegetable garden is in her side yard along the tree line at the east side of an big open area. Several times in the past 40 or so years we have moved the garden further out into the yard and away from the trees. Of course, the trees just keep growing. Most of the vegetables do OK now, except the tomatoes. They really need more light.
Plus the garden has a phosphate problem – there is way too much in the soil. Someone went overboard at some point and phosphate doesn’t go away very fast. Phosphate stimulates blooming and fruiting. Too much phosphate is causing Mom’s tomatoes to put too much energy into fruiting before the plant can handle it. They loose their leaves and die mid-season. Plants that don’t fruit do very well – lettuce, kale, spinach, herbs, root vegetables, peas and beans. The ones that are affected are the cucurbits (squashes and cucumbers) and the solanaceae (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant). This year I’ll take a soil sample for testing and see what’s up now – it’s been about 5 years since I tested it last.
I’m planning to plant the cucumbers, peppers, and eggplants in the sunniest spot and see how they do. They’ll be way over on the south side. Usually I put them on the other side of the garden, so I look forward to seeing how they do here.
And the tomatoes I plan to give a whole new bed. I’m planning to dig a narrow 6 foot long bed in a very sunny area of the yard. On the diagram, I drew the bed right next to the main garden, but it may end up further away. I’m going to use an approach that worked really well last year in my yard. I dug up the lawn in a 1 by 6-foot area. I then piled on a good 3 inches of composted cow manure from a local farm. I dug that into the soil and planted tomato seedlings about 10 inches apart. I supported them with a trellis. In my yard the deer didn’t damage the plants, but in my mother’s yard I won’t risk that. I’ll put up a 5 foot deer fence – just a temporary sort of fence with metal t-posts and black plastic netting. I’ll position the new garden in an area where my mother can water it easily. I am looking forward to trying this. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to grow healthy tomato plants in my mom’s yard.