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My husband retired February 2012 and I followed in the fall. We(me) grew two tomato plants last year--1 a full sized tomato and the other a patio variety. The patio one did not do well, but the other one was great. We didn't buy tomatoes once it starting producing. Don't know the variety but was medium sized and good to eat. This year we are growing Better Boys. At first I had decided it was just too much trouble, but then my husband decided he wanted to grow some. So we were late getting the plants and just today put in the raised garden. Tomorrow we will finish it, add some compost and plant the tomatoes along with Marigolds as I read on web that it helps against insects. Last year I didn't realize that I was to expect those ugly looking worms until I had some damage, but then I got them with my old-fashioned tweezers and soapy water. We are trying to do as many things as we can in our life naturally so there will be no dusting or spraying with chemicals. It worked last year so we'll do it again this year. I've got my FlowerTone, eggshells, will start saving coffee grounds, but will have to get fireplace ashes from elsewhere as we have one of those fake ones with gas. I do grill out so I could get ashes there, but I add lighter fuel every time I grill so I doubt those would be good for them, although, that burns off. Does it burn all the way off? We don't taste it in the food and by the time the ashes are grey I can't smell it. I'd love to be able to use them but don't want to damage the plants. What other kinds of flowers, plants, or herbs keeps bad insects and those awful worms away and invites the good insects? What can I do, as a novice gardener, to get the most out of our two tomato plants. Will be in direct sun all day. Drip system for watering them any good?
 

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ok yes a drip system works great for tomatoes, to help keep the worms gone you could get some nematodes and spray them in the garden space, they are natural and only attack soft bodied grubs/worms,I would also look for some above ground good bugs such as praying mantis to hang out in your garden.charcoal ash totally depends on the type of charcoal burned if it is bad or not. wood charcoal is good but coal from the ground is bad, best to avoid using any ash from briquets. But if you have an out door fire pit for those sit around and be social with friends and you burn wood in it that is ok just make sure nobody throws any thing plastic/styro foam in the fire or it will contaminate the garden if you use it. Are you going to try other veggies such as lettuce?
 

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yes a soaker hose will work well also,with tomatoes you need to keep the water off the leaves and upper part of the tomato plant to prevent molds,blight, etc.
 
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