Maintaining productivity of tomatoes in high tunnels
I grow tomatoes organically in high tunnels. The tomatoes are grown in the ground, irrigated using drip, trellised on a string and with the exception of the cherries, fully suckered.
The plants do great through mid-August, but start to run out of gas and productivity falls significantly in September. I am looking for options to ensure better soil fertility so that the plants can maintain high production through September.
My soil is a sandy loam, I fertilize with Kreher's 5-4-3 (a poultry compost product), and amend with an approved compost and peat before transplanting, but haven't done supplemental feeding during the season. This season, I am considering adding some feathermeal when prepping the house to get some additional delayed N into the ground.
Any suggestions for improving fertility to keep the plants at high production through September?
I'll expand a little upon what I am doing with the high tunnel tomatoes. I'm in Central NY, Zone 5 andI grow tomatoes for several CSAs, my farmstand, and a farmers market. They are grown in a 30X96 high tunnel. I usually grow 6-12 varieties in the tunnel. Varieties I grow include: JetStar, Black Prince, Arkansas Traveler, Big Beef, Black Cherry, Rave, Amish Paste, Dafel, Estiva, Sungold, Suncherry, Yellow Pear, San Marzano, and a few others. The tomatoes are planted in two row beds with 16" between the plants and 16" between the rows in each bed and ~42" between beds. The plants are mulched with straw, a drip line is run for each row of plants and during the warm weather months irrigated 2X a week. A DIG controller runs the drip irrigation.
I rotate the planting between 3 high tunnels. Tomatoes are grown in a tunnel for two years before moving to another tunnel. In the off years, cucumbers and cantaloupe, eggplant and peppers and salad greens are grown in the tunnels.
I have considered fertigation with Neptune's Harvest or equvalent, but haven't pursued it because of concerns with plugging. I fertigated for one season with Worm-Ade, http://www.organicsoilamendment.com/P... ,using a Chemilizer and injecting into the drip lines at a 1:100 ratio, but didn't see any significant change in plant performance. But this may be due to starting too late in the season.
If anyone has experience growing high tunnel tomatoes in a certified organic environment and has cracked the code to extended season productiivity, I'd really like to know what has worked for you.