You Say ‘Tomato,’ I Say ‘They’re Planted!’

Baker Creek Heirloom SeedsLife is busy lately, putting a crimp in my gardening vibe.  I’ve been fitting things in here and there, but long for an uninterrupted day to catch up on a few projects.  I started to worry that I’d never get the tomatoes into the earth.

Timing is everything when it comes to planting. April is prime seed-starting season in our neck of the woods so I needed to get to it. This week I did!

Once again, I started my crop in a pair of City Pickers. Much like the Earth Box, but double the size, the City Picker is an all-in-one planting system. Further, the boxes are portable, so they can roll from place to place for maximum sun.

My friend Doug, a nurseryman at a local garden center, gave me half a dozen Baker Creek heirloom tomato seeds a few months back. He received two sets of seeds from the Baker Creek rep and generously passed on one of the sets to me. I am one lucky gardener.

Of course I’m a stress case now, because the pressure is on. Will they sprout? Will they grow big and tall?  Will the squirrels, birds, rats, mice, snails, etc., let them be? The seeds sat on my desk for several months, full of promise and potential.  Now they’re out in the real world, no longer abstract. Grow babies, grow.

You say ‘tomato;’ I say ‘please grow.’ I’m thinking of changing the name of my blog to ‘The Worried Gardener.‘ What do you think?

City Picker Tomato Collage

Here are the steps for planting your City Picker:

1. Assemble as shown
2. Fill with potting mix (not potting soil) to about two inches below top
3. Add a thin layer of Dolomite (Agricultural Lime)
4. Create a two-inch trench down the center of the planter.
5. Add 3 cups of organic fertilizer.
6. Mound with dirt.
7. Plant
8. Cover with plastic mulch
9. Stake your tomatoes early. After a couple of hot days, you’ll turn your back and they’ll have grown like weeds.

City Picker: Grow Tomatoes on your Porch, Patio or Deck

City Picker

A few years back, a friend raved about an Earth Box, a self-contained planting system for vegetables.  I’m not sure if they were hard to come by at the time, but I never stumbled across one in any of the garden centers I frequent, or I simply didn’t take the time to look.

Our raised beads spread out across the back of our house in past years, but they were too close together making it challenging to get around them without getting your foot caught between them.  When we refurbished our back yard this winter, we widened the path in front of the beds, to make room for our summer pumpkin vines.  We added gravel, since part of that area isn’t easily plant-able due to pipes, irrigation shut off valves, the electric box, etc.  It was a great place for a chair in the cooler months, with the sun reflecting heat off the side of the house.  Hoping to capture that trapped heat for our tomatoes this summer, I went looking for an Earth Box.  What I found instead was a City Picker, virtually identical in every way, but almost double in width.

City Picker’s are perfect for urban gardeners, since they are a fully contained system in a portable box.  The planting box comes with casters, a ventilation tray, a watering tube and plastic mulch.  You can roll it around your patio or deck to maximize sun, while at the same time containing the mess.  No need to worry about watering your downstairs neighbor!

Here is our setup:

1.5 CU FT. Organic Potting Mix

Dolomite Lime and Fertilizer

Fully assembled City Picker

Fill with potting mix to about two inches below the top
Add a thin layer of Dolomite

Organic Fertilizer:
Make a two-inch trough in the center of the box
Add three cups of organic fertilizer

Mound Potting Mix:
Cover fertilizer with mix, about one inch above the box

Plastic Mulch:
Cover with the elasticized plastic mulch
Clip in place with the enclosed binder clips

Cut Holes in Plastic Mulch:
Cut a hole for the irrigation pipe
Cut additional holes and plant seeds/seedlings

Ready to Grow

I’ve provided links for the Earth Box and the City Picker for feature comparisons.  Please let me know if you’ve tried one in the past, or if you plan to set one up this season.