Tomatoes in Southern California: Feb-2014
Spring is just coming up in another month. Last frost date here is Saint Patty's Day. Have my seedling tomatoes at 4" for the first planting.
Garden is 155 X 40. Area for tomatoes is 20 X 30. 3 Beds are 30' in length @ 32" wide. Plants are in cages (32" X 40") with 2 per cage planted on the 40" diagonal. My planting beds are sequential with
Bed 1: planting Early Season
Bed 2: planting Mid-Season
Bed 3: planting Late-Season
My seedling starting dates usually are
Bed 1: Mid January
Bed 2: Late February
Bed 3: March
My transplanting dates usually are
Bed 1: Mid March
Bed 2: Mid April
Bed 3: Early May (1st week)
Part of the deal is the late varieties take 95-115 days from setting out to mature. Thus, March transplants are harvested in June/July and May's in September through November.
The entire garden is irrigated by a drip system. The garden has 4 zones with in-line programmable controllers on each zone. I use drip tubing not tape. The emitters are at 9" intervals. I usually string several lines on a single bed to ensure a uniform plume of moisture sub-soil. I mulch with alfalfa that is too poor as feed for the horses. I rototill each winter and add the appropriate level of admixtures to ensure ph and NPK levels. I also will add micro-nutrients from time to time. I remove the previous season's litter before rototilling.
I rotate so no crop sees the same area within 3 years running.
AS I have horses my main addition of organic matter each season consists of pulling from a large stock of well-rotted mix of barn waste (box-stall bedding, horse do-do & pee, and alfalfa). I will use some Chicken manure and chemical fertilizers as well.
I will judiciously incorporate pesticides and fungicides to protect my harvest. I am constantly monitoring insect/fungus problems as best I can. I have aphids, white flies, and an annoying type of beetle. To control populations I rotate chemicals. I use permethrins and malathion. Ever since So Cal sprayed Malathion to suppress the fruit fly with no consequences I disdain the popular culture notion that all chemical pest control is tantamount to using DDT.
I have tried soaps and oils but do not get sufficient results from that.
I was a teen in the 60s but I am not fearful of SCIENCE (no hippie delusions).
Being a native Californian I am constantly bombarded with fads. I have no fear of science although I respect what the title can hide given the outrageous lack of ethics possessed by corporations. This cuts both ways as corporate culture is no less strong in the Organic fad than in the non Organic method.
I have a small number of friends who support my efforts and share my enthusiasm for land use in agriculture. It is hard to find rational folk here. The suburban population of California contains more misguided Kooks per square mile than most areas in the US I imagine.
'What is a Kook?' Says you.
Well . . . as a research scientist with a terminal degree in Psychology from the University of California and formally declared breadths in Neuroscience and Quantitative Methodology, I am qualified to judge. A nut is a nut Says I! Unlike mars I never 'feel like a nut' most of the time I don't . . . although empathizing with others sometimes makes it seem so.
I am thinking of setting out my tomato plants late February as our weather here is rather unseasonably warm. So I'm pushing the transplanting date by a little less than a month.
What says ye'all?
Feedback and commentary (constructive please) is appreciated. I am in the INland EMpire.