The Spark
6:20 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Tomato Guru

How does one pick a bushel of tomatoes without kneeling? It depends on how they're strung up. Though he'd humbly disagree, many Harrisonburg folks think that Singers Glen farmer, Marlin Burkholder, knows all there is to know about growing tomatoes. 

Marlin's "eco"-friendly CFA is Glen Eco Farm (eco pronunced echo)  whose blog has articles and photos of all sorts of interesting things: a soft-top hen shelter, snow photos, etc .

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, the 5th annual Tomato Fest hits downtown Harrisonburg at the farmer's market pavillion.
 

Here is Marlin's tomato-staking advice:

I use a system called "Florida stake and weave". I plant the tomatoes at a  2.5 foot spacing in rows 6-8 feet apart. I place stakes midway between plants at a five foot spacing leaving two plants between stakes. When the plants are between a foot to 18 inches tall I start by tying a baler twine to the end stake and going down one side of the row, pulling the line taut and wrapping the line at each stake with the twine about ten inches to a foot above soil level. After wrapping the stake at the far end of the line I come back down the other side doing the same thing until I get back to the starting point. At roughly one week intervals I run additional strings to follow the upward growth of the plants with successive stringing about eight inches above the previous string. Some growers weave the strings back and forth around the plants so that the strings cross between plants. I find this
too much trouble and don't do it. I sometimes tie the strings together between plants on the first two stringings which achieves a similar effect
.

If things go right I will have six to eight strings on the stakes and plants six to eight feet tall. Shorter determinate varieties will typically have four or five strings and a plant height of about five feet. I should probably send you a picture yet of the Red Suns I grew one year. One can count about 20 ripe ones hanging on the vines in about a two foot space.

That was the time I picked a bushel without getting off my knees. I don't do that every year.

(webtext:  tw)

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