Dear harvesters and home gardeners,
It's not too late if you want to start some tomatoes! I didn't think we would be able to, so I had given up my treasured hope that we would ... it was too expensive, blah blah.
Then I decided to ask around at the local grocery stores, in their bakery departments, for buckets. They give them away free, most places. It can be tricky to hit them on a day or time when they have empty ones, but it's worth swinging by every so often, or giving the bakery line a call, or leaving your name and number with them if they are so willing (all the local bakeries know me now!).
I picked up five 5-gallon size buckets and brought them home and hosed the frosting remnants off.
I dragged them out to the CSA with me when I was going out to do some work for my work-share, and purchased some topsoil mixed half-and-half with rich, black compost. The farmer charged me two dollars per five gallon bucket. Cheaper and nicer than the alternative, which is organic bagged dirt at the home improvement stores or gardening stores - not a bad option, either, if you can find good soil!
Mr H drilled holes in the bottoms of the buckets for me so we'd have appropriate drainage.
On Saturday at the farmer's market, I purchased five (organically raised) tomato plants at the cost of $2.50 each from our CSA, as well as a banana pepper plant and some basil plants. I will be picking up more tomato plants today.
I haven't settled on how we'll deal with staking, yet, but I wanted to get these pictures up in case you wanted to (cheaply) start some of your own plants! This is an affordable, fun way for us to get tomatoes all summer, and much more cost-effective than buying store-bought or even market tomatoes, which are always inferior in flavor!! The plants I am picking up next are Amish Paste tomatoes, which are a good canning/freezing tomato. These that you see here are various cherries, slicing, and an indigo blue tomato!
Each bucket of tomatoes set me back a total of $4.50 apiece; so if I get at least one pound per plant, I'll have fully recouped my cost!
If you are planning to garden on a patio or in a small space as well, I could suggest Vertical Vegetables and Fruit as some excellent reading material!
Look for more to come on tomatoes!