Did I Make a Tragic Mistake???

THatstat(9A)April 15, 2013

Morning all!

I put in a 2nd raised bed yesterday based upon Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Garden principle, including the Mel's Mix (I threw in some topsoil because it seemed too fluffy). I built a trellis per his plan (rebar, electrical conduit, nylon (I think) netting and went ahead and planted the 12 'front' squares away from the trellis.

For the tomatoes, I planted three Indeterminate 'Big Boys' and an Indeterminate 'Golden Jubilee'. I trimmed off the lower leaves from the main stalk leaving only two or three leaves at the top of the plant. I then planted the root ball at an angle in the Mel's Mix so that the main stalk angled around 30 degrees-ish towards the trellis so that I could start the weaving process as the plant grew.

My question is, did I do wrong in cutting the lower leaves off? I have never 'vined' a tomato up a trellis and it just made sense that, as the plant grows taller, you would weave the stem in and out and do the same with the leaves BUT that the lower leaves would hamper this process. I am thinking I may now have stressed my plants or otherwise done serious harm to them...

Attached is a picture of the layout.

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I would have cut the lower branches too. Ones that touch the ground (or rain splatter) introduce leaf diseases.

As for spacing I think you would get more tomatoes with one, maybe two, plants in that space.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 1:32PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You can check over on the Sq. Foot Gardening forum but it is my understanding that tomatoes are given 2 sq. feet, not one. Given the varieties you are using those 4 plants are going to turn into a giant jungle fighting for nutrients.

As far as stripping off the leaves, you can but you don't have to. But when you do remove them then you need to bury all that bare stem.

That is a very shallow bed. Especially to be so intensively planted. Even Sq. Foot Gardening methods is going to have difficulty supporting/feeding/watering all that. You really need to consider moving 2 of the tomatoes and 2 of the peppers to another bed IMO.


Here is a link that might be useful: SQ. Foot Gardening forum

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 5:27PM
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Thanks for the input. I have four squares of peppers - 2 pimentos and 2 sweet cherry and four squares of okra...I'd be willing to sacrifice some of the okra if the tomatoes need space. But its a learning experience...the way I have the plants angled, the tomatoes' roots will be bleeding down into two okra squares and a pimento and a sweet cherry pepper square. Those four plants may just need to get sacrificed for the space of the tomatoes roots.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 9:17PM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

I would leave everything be.. The plants will dig their roots in the native soil.. I think it's good to have your bed filled with plants, less bare soil, more life I'm the soil foodweb.. It looks great, keep on going my friend!


PS: maybe next time to tomatoes every couple feet. Let us knows how it goes!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 11:56PM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

"...the way I have the plants angled, the tomatoes' roots will be bleeding down into two okra squares and a pimento and a sweet cherry pepper square."

Angling the tomato plants will have NO effect on the direction the roots go. That many plants in a bed that size, the tomatoes will probably fill up every inch of the area. And as Raw_Nature says, the roots will likely grow into the native soil underneath too.

The square foot method is an interesting concept, but I think I prefer the square yard method for my tomatoes, but I do have lots of room!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 12:14AM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

Unless you keep pruning the tomatoes, I don't see how any of the peppers can fit in that space. The tomatoes will smother them. Peppers grow very well in a pot. You can try it and see how it works, but the peppers are small enough to move with little set back.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 12:58AM
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Well then, seems like I've got a 50/50 response. In the end, if the tomatoes turn out ok at the cost of the peppers, I will live. I am going to leave the bed be and let this be a lesson to me. I have only two other experiences gardening, once with a plot in native soil with warm weather crops (virtually everything was destroyed by pests or disease - didn't know I wasn't supposed to water the leaves back then and had about 10 squash/zucchini and 4 cucumbers in a 10x16 bed...powdery, downy mildewy hell) and a cool weather crop that was destroyed by a winter full of hard freezes.

So we'll see! Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 8:16AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Well then, seems like I've got a 50/50 response.

Not sure how you came to that conclusion. But as I suggested above, your best source of info will be the forum devoted to SQ Foot gardening. Learning experiences and experiments can be a good thing but why waste time and effort on methods that have already been well proven to be a waste of time?

Post your picture on that forum and see what the sq. foot experts there have to say about it.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:36AM
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Raw_Nature(5 OH)

If you keep the tomatoes in check on the trellis, I can't see them sprawling over on your peppers.. Go out in nature and observe how plants grow, the are packed in like a jungle.. Yes I understand your growing vegetables, but let's think of plants as a whole, plants are plants.. If you separated wild plants like you did in your garden, they would have more spacing than enough spacing than they do in the wild... I think your plants are fine,you spaced then nicely and you do have a trellis.. Keep them in check and you really don't have to much to lose, but a lot to learn from this.. I would even sneak in some radishes or carrots between plants... Try it out and see what you like.. Trial and error.,


    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 9:02PM
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star_stuff(Greensboro NC 7a)

Your mistake lies not with pruning the leaves (though it's unnecessary) but with the spacing and number of plants in that bed. There is definitely not enough room for all of that. Especially with indeterminate tomatoes. You'll see what we all mean in a couple of months.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2013 at 10:26PM
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I've kept my tomato plants completely trimmed, 18 inches from the soil.
Keeps area open and free from hiding pests.
I also trim my plant growth back, not allowing branches to touch each other of grow very long.
This has worked for me for many years, I will continue to do so.
Not planted in a SFG garden

    Bookmark   April 18, 2013 at 7:50PM
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