So far, I have had no luck raising tomatoes in San Marcos Guatemala. We are at about 5000ft above sea level and thus, the weather is slightly cooler than tomatoes prefer. There are several local varieties of tomatoes, all of which grow relatively well here, but give little yield and offer very little variety in terms of types of tomatoes.
Here I have some heirloom varieties from Johnny’s Select Seeds. Because they re not localized to here and are likely adapted to the climate of Maine, which offer a shorter summer and warmer days and nights during the summer, to which tomatoes respond favorably.
Another problem with growing organic tomatoes here in the mountains is the white fly. This little insect damages the leaves of tomatoes and weakens the plant to such a point that it can no longer yield fruit.
Here is my solution. I grew my tomatoes in a 5-gallon bucket filled with topsoil and some rich compost. On top of that, I put a layer of mulch about 4 inches thick. This is to maintain even moisture and to provide slow-release organic fertilizer. On top of that, I laid a layer of plastic bags. These black bags serve to warm the soil throughout the day so the plants stay warmer at night. Also, tomatoes like evenly distributed moisture and do not like the daily soakings that accompany the rainy season. Thus, the black bags prevent the majority of water from entering and the mulch helps retain moisture and spread it evenly over all the soil.
Lastly, I fed these tomatoes with sea salt dissolved in water. Not sure of the concentration, but I used about 1 cup on this whole bucket, dissolved in a good amount of water. Sea salt contains all 92-trace minerals that are needed by both plants and humans. There is a lot to be said about sea salt. As it is more a nutrition topic (always eat sea salt and rarely or never use refined table salt), I will go into more detail about this topic in another post.
Needless to say, while there is a bit of white fly on these plants, their defenses are working perfectly and the plants are still growing beautifully and seemingly resisting the damage caused by the white fly. The control tomatoes which are planted in a basic vegetable bed are suffering from major white fly damage and are not likely going to survive for much longer.
It just goes to show that healthy plants are the best pesticide and when all trace minerals are available to the plant, the plant is strong and versatile, able to cope with stresses more easily. Furthermore, the resulting harvest of vegetables grown in mineral rich soil is also rich in highly important trace minerals, making them more nutritious to us. There are theories suggesting that the lack of minerals in our diet, caused largely by the take over of industrial chemical agriculture, is a major cause of all civilized world diseases including cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative disorders.
Lastly, I have begun mulching the tomatoes with their own clippings. Tomatoes should be pruned in order to allow them to invest more energy in fruit production, and I have been using the clippings to mulch the plants in the bucket. According to Rudolf Steiner, a master of agriculture and pioneer of biodynamic farming methods, “Tomatoes feel mot at home when they are given manure or compost that is as close as possible to the form in which it comes from the animal or other source. They prefer raw compost that hasn’t had much chance to be transformed through natural processes. … And if you were to use compost made from tomatoes plants, that is, if you were to let the tomatoes grow in their own compost, they would grow even better.”
We will see how the harvest looks.