Where growing, making & good living come together

Experimenting in the garden: leeks & tomatoes

Posted by on Tuesday 10 August 2010 in growing | 0 comments

As I mentioned in my “lessons from our garden so far” post, this year is about experimentation in our garden. It’s our first growing season in a new place, with very different sun, light & soil conditions from anywhere I’ve grown before so it’s interesting to generally see what works and what doesn’t. I know what the books say will work and what the books say I should do, but sometimes that doesn’t mean squat ;)

There are a couple of areas where I’m experimenting a bit more specifically.

A number of respected sources recommended lopping off the top thirds of the leaves and the bottom third of the roots on transplanting. Other equally respected sources recommended transplanting them as they are and “not mutilating them”. So I decided to half-and-half my leeklings – or rather third/third/third them because I ran out of space, and had to plant the third in another spot. So my leeks experiment is:

  • some leeklings top & tailed
  • some leeklings left intact
  • some leeklings in a bed where they’ve been trampled on by the cats & my clumsy boyfriend.

I think it might be between the first two about which is more successful.

Tomatoes have been a bit of a failure this year. Long story short, I got two plants off my dad, started some of my own late then got some more equally late ones from dad – and because the most were planted late, here it is nearly the middle of August and we’ve only got two heavily fruiting plants. Sigh. Not sure if the rest will fruit enough to make them really worthwhile but I figure it’s not costing anything to keep trying – that’s kinda the first tomato experiment: whether it’s worth bothering with tomatoes if you miss the sowing window.

I have been doing a number of other completely unscientific trials with the tomatoes:

  • Potting them on from plugs – I was super-busy at the seedling time so didn’t have time to plant them all on when they were getting to a handle-able stage. I potted two on though and after a brief “what was that!?!” stall, they’re nearly double the size of their siblings which were kept in plugs for longer. Definitely something to remember for next year – plant on as soon as I can handle them no matter what.
  • Front or back – grow in the west-facing sun-porch or east-facing greenhouse? I thought the greenhouse would get more sun (from dawn until about 2pm) and more trapped heat (the greenhouse is better glazed than the flimsy porch) but currently the ones left in the porch are considerably bigger than the ones in the greenhouse. Admittedly they’re different strains so it might just be that but it’s an observation all the same. Next year I’ll test it more comprehensively.
  • Fertilising them – everyone says to use tomato feed regularly across the height of the summer and after years of experience, everyone is often right about these types of things. But me being curious me, I’d like to see what difference it makes. I think this is again something to test more thoroughly next year but for now, I’m feeding some regularly, feeding others less regularly and not feeding any at all (aside from stuff already in the general jolly fertile compost they’re growing in, and general across-the-garden fertilisers like nettle tea.). This is the least us-specific trial and I suspect a million tomato-growers over the years probably have it right but I’d like to see anyway.

Do you chop your leeks when transplanting them or leave them whole? How often do you feed your tomatoes? Have you had any experiences where your growing space flies in the face of conventional wisdom about things?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *