Sunday, April 13, 2014

Dr. Tomato brings his science to Windham gardeners - By Michelle Libby

Last Wednesday night gardeners gathered at Windham High School to learn from one of the best organic gardeners, David O’Connor, who calls himself Dr. Tomato. The event was sponsored by Blue Seal Feeds on Main Street in Windham and the Windham Community Garden. 

He started with what every garden needs, light, moisture, soil and nutrients and then went on to talk about more specific needs of gardens and what actually makes a gardener organic. 

Of the thirty or so people in attendance, all had some type of gardening experience, but everyone was able to leave with some new knowledge. 

“All soil has a biological component,” he said. Using compost in the fall is important to give soil the nutrients it needs. 

“A plant cannot tell where they get nutrients from,” he said. The plant will take from the soil what it needs regardless if it came from a bottle or from cow manure or alpaca manure. Some gardeners use 10-10-10 fertilizer and it works for them, but not every plant needs that combination of nutrients.
“My job is to try to take away a little of the gray areas,” he said. Some things are positives for a garden can turn into huge negatives for the environment, Dr. Tomato said. Even when a product says it’s organic, it doesn’t always mean it’s organic. Some garden items are naturally occurring, but may not be the best choice. Some synthetic products have a lower carbon footprint than naturally occurring nutrients. “It’s not perfectly black and white,” he said. 

Sometimes farmers need pesticides or sprays because of climate change and the need for a sellable crop.
When starting a garden, the first thing to do is have a soil test. The pH of the soil should be between six and seven. Planting shouldn’t start until after the soil is a minimum of 55 degrees, generally around Memorial Day or the first week of June. 

For those who like to container garden, having a pro-mix that stays light and fluffy is the way to go. Plants need 15 essential micro-nutrients, according to O’Connor. He highly recommends fertilizer for hydroponic gardening. 

Another way to protect a garden from certain diseases is to water in the morning or when the leaves can dry. The worst time of day is evening and night. A great way to take care of the issue of when to water is to put a dropper hose in the garden and set it with a timer. Fifteen minutes is a good amount of time to water. 

The Windham Community Garden works together to keep an organic garden and they have open garden plots available for this year. 

For more on Dr. Tomato, visit

Dr Tomato loves organic gardening, and even if you think you do, you are probably doing it wrong! Dr. Tomato says that everything you use to grow your garden will kill you, so stop using it. Dr. Tomato is a big flamer. That is why he loves gardening. He will also talk above you

An evening will Dr. Tomato will teach you everything you thought you knew about organic gardening, or at least everything I thought I knew. Dr. Tomato’s forte, the science of growing.

No comments:

Post a Comment