Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomatoes: The Second Season

I saw a 6-pack of locally grown Early Girl tomato seedlings at the big box nursery yesterday, which reminded me to remind you: We get another chance at killing growing tomatoes between now and the first frosts.

Here's the secret. Use varieties that can mature a crop in a very short time. Almost anything with "Early" in its name, or "short season" in its description will be able to grow, flower, and ripen fruit in the three or four months we have before a hard freeze. If it can produce fruit in a Montana summer (both months of it), then producing fruit during fall and early winter in Phoenix should be no problem.

The supposed "first frost" date is mid-November, but with a tiny bit of protection you can keep tender plants going until we get the big freeze that almost always happens in late December or early January.

Buy them as 6-12 inch transplants in six-packs and plant them in an area that gets a bit of afternoon shade now, or provide some shade with burlap, but pick an area that will be in full sun later in the year.


El Beardo said...

Lazy, I've got a question about drip irrigation. I'm planning out the rest of my front yard behind the area planted in buffalo grass. I'm going to put in a bunch of plants and tree and plan on using a drip system to irrigate the area. The guy who installed my sprinklers put in two valves attached to a timer. One valve waters the grass and the other was to be set up for the drip system. The potential problem I have is that both the valves are the same. They are lawn genie brand, set up about six inches off the ground. This seems like a set up for sprinklers and not a drip system. Can I just simply attach a drip system off of the 2nd valve and have it work correctly? Or do I have to have a different valve that works with drip systems? The valve has a pressure regulator knob on top, but I don't know.

Lazy Gardens said...

Yes, you can use the same valves. The difference happens at the fitting coming out of the valve.

Trench for the poly tubing, bury it, and then stab holes in for connecting the drip emitters or tubing.

Plan your system so you know what needs to go where, and don't exceed the GPH of the valve. (it's pretty high).

You can run a combination of drip micro-tubing and low-flow emitters off the same 1/2 inch tube if you plan well.

Your local water company probably has a "how to plan drip" brochures. Start with 1-gallon emitters for the low water use stuff and figure out what the rest needs from there.

You can daisy-chain emitters on 1/4 inch microtube up to 15Gallons per tube (or 30 feet of drip tape).

You can get tiny shutoff valves if some plants only need watering part of the year.