EarlÂs Hole Method of Growing Tomatoes
Items from Walmart type garden center, 40 lb. bags of Composted Peat Humus, 40 lb. bags of Composted Cow Manure, Epson Salt and Bonemeal and Espoma Tomato-toneÂ® 4-7-10 fertilizer or equivalent .
In raised beds, after tilling, I dig good sized holes about 2 feet across, scattering the soil around the hole. Then to each hole I add Â½ bag of the peat humus, 1/4 bag of the manure, then I scatter about the hole a handful each of Epson salts, Bonemeal and Espoma. Then I use a spade fork to mix the formula VERY well some inches beyond the depth and width of the original hole. If plants are indeterminate they should be planted at least 4 feet apart.
I then, using my hands, I make a hole in the center of this mixture and plant the seedlings. If seedlings are tall I strip off the leaves except for the top few inches, and lay it at an angle or on its side in the hole and cover up to the leaves. Then I form a 4 inch deep water holding basin [a crater] about 1 1/2 feet across and around the plant, then mulch the plants and bed with straw or grass clippings, then water. Last I spread a handful of granular fertilizer such as Espoma Tomato-toneÂ® 4-7-10 on top of the mulch around the plants so it will leach into soil over time and feed the outer roots for they grow wide and deep. I use concrete wire cages 18-20 inches across and anchor them with rebar driven deep next to the cage. When I have to water, if I donÂt get rain in 7-10 days, I stick an open ended hose at the base of the plants and give them a couple gallons.
Never over water. The plantÂs leaves will tell you theyÂre thirsty by drooping a bit. As the plants grow, to help prevent leaf disease, trim any branches that droop and touch the mulch.
During late summer if I think they need it I'll give each plant a couple gallons of fish emulsion or what ever liquid type I have. And if you have leaf problems, get started early using Daconil as soon as you plant, even saturate the mulch around the base as well as top and bottom of leaves.
I can't say this is the best way to do it, but it works for me.