Our field tomatoes usually don't go in until the end of May, but have been known to wait until early June if the weather is difficult. We even had one season where we couldn't plant any in our fields until June 20 (yes, the farmers were a bit stressed that season). This year, we had a few plant dates with our earliest going into our Southwest field because it drains better than all of the others.
|southwest field, tomatoes on the right|
Tomatoes like warmth and we like the heat gain we get with bare soil earlier in the season. Once we get to July, that heat gain isn't so important and the soil splash protection is.
|Rows cultivated, area around the plants weeded and the plants are pruned - now for straw mulch!|
|Ah.. A farmer selfie after tomatoes in the east are mulched.|
We've been investing in collapsible square cages over the last few years and find that they match our labor requirements and farm tendencies better than other methods. We use the stake and weave method in the high tunnels and we have another trellis method for one smaller field variety. We have been moving away from the round cages we created from woven wire fencing and only have 50 or so that use those cages now.
|2016 was not so friendly for our tomato mulching/caging efforts|
|2016 post weeding session|
We also simplified our life by removing the plant sales component (except for direct pre-orders) and reducing the number of varieties to about 20 as opposed to the 30+ in prior years. We made a few changes in our bed-prep procedures that seemed to speed things up AND we had two returning workers this year.
Oh, and yes, the weather was friendlier this time.