Yesterday we went LIVE on the Heifer International Facebook page to discuss the Heifer Village and Urban Farm, planting tomatoes and soil composition.
The Heifer Urban Farm is located right behind the Heifer Village in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas. This 3-acre farm includes a community garden, beehives, two greenhouses and a lot of livestock. Because our learning centers are based on our program work, the urban farm employs the same style of farming as our Heifer USA programs.
Spring is in full swing and we already have a lot of food growing, but it does not go to waste. Just in the first two weeks of April, our urban farm has produced over 400 pounds of food that was donated to the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance.
If you missed the live video, here are a few top tomato tips for your spring planting:
Tomato Tip: The type of tomato shown in the photo above is of an heirloom variety called "Early Girl." This plant is considered a grafted tomato because it has a strong root system which helps it stay disease resistant. When deciding what type of tomato you want to plant, consider how disease resistant it is for your area.
Part of the farm is a 96-foot greenhouse that we can use all year long by controlling the temperature, humidity and sunlight exposure. This spring, we’ve used it to house tomato seedlings until they are ready to be planted. Our farmers in the Heifer USA program also use the greenhouse to incubate their spring seedlings as well.
Tomato Tip: Tomatoes love nitrogen! When choosing a compost for your tomato plants, make sure you pick one that is high in nitrogen so your plant stay healthy and strong. At the Urban Farm, we use certified organic seedlings and compost.
In Arkansas, it is currently a good time of year to plant tomatoes. If it is not as warm in your area, the safe rule of thumb is mid-April. To ensure your tomato plant's root system uses its energy to grow its roots into the ground instead of flowering, make sure that you pull off a few of the bottom stems and any flower buds that you see when you plant. You can also plant the tomato to the bottom of the first stem.
Tomato Tip: During the day, do not top water your tomato plants. It is better to water from the base of the plant and not the foliage.
Our second greenhouse is called a high tunnel. A high tunnel is another type of greenhouse that you can use throughout the year by planting directly in the ground. In this high tunnel greenhouse, we use a tube irrigation system for tomatoes. This slow drip watering process is better for the plant and for water conservation.
To see more live videos from the farm, follow us on Facebook right here!