June 12th, 2015 – Williamson County Weekend Gardener
After noticing the first tomatoes of the season forming over the weekend, I thought it would be a good time to share some Tomato wisdom; and since I have none — I’m sharing highlights from an article in Gardening Channel. But first, more of your garden photos:
Linda G of Williamson County sent along these fantastic backyard photos! Keep sending in your photos! We’ll continue featuring photos of great gardens, landscapes, and planters we find all over Williamson County. If you’ve got something you’re really proud of, please send a photo(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your first name, last initial, and your city. We’ve love to feature you!
Now for some Tomato talk. This week, we’re sharing some highlights from a recent article by Jodie Perry in Gardening Channel called The 7 Deadly Sins of Tomato Growing & How To Avoid Them.
Jodie writes in her article that Tomatoes are among the most popular plants for home gardeners because they’re relatively easy to grow. I agree, but she addressed a number of problems I’ve experienced many times so I thought it would be good to share her solutions with you.
Blossom End Rot
To avoid end rot, Jodie suggests mulch to even out the water supply to the plant. While end rot is not a problem I’ve experienced, I always mulch my Tomatoes — partly because they like wet feet and mulch helps retain water, and partly because I don’t like it when the fruit touch the ground.
Tomatoes love phosphorous. My grandfather used to say, “Tomatoes are prosperous on phosphorous.” And phosphorous becomes more readily available to the Tomato plants at higher soil temperatures. This is why you’ll often see larger-scale Tomato farms put black plastic on the ground and plant through it. The plastic warms the soil, releasing important nutrients to the Tomato.
This happens to me all the time, but I never knew the name for it. And while I never understood what caused it, Jodie raises a central theme in her article that I’m really going to take to heart. I typically try to get Tomatoes in the ground as soon as weather seems to allow it, but Jodie argues planting Tomatoes too soon can cause all sorts of problems. Planting sooner doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get a faster yield, and it may actually do some bad things to your Tomato plants and, subsequently, your harvest.
Who hasn’t had this happen? Especially on the larger Tomato varieties. Jodie says this is where consistent watering helps. Growth cracks form when the fruit grows too rapidly, such as when water becomes available after a dry period. I’m totally guilty of this.
This is another problem I haven’t really experienced much. But if you’re seeing sunscald on your Tomatoes, Jodie says giving your plants some shade should solve that problem. It’s like getting a sunburn, and since there is no such thing as sunscreen for Tomatoes, shade is the only answer.
Soil Rot is one of those things my grandfather taught me about way back as a little kid tinkering in the garden. That’s probably where I learned to put straw down around Tomatoes. Mulch is the best way to avoid this, for sure. And since it provides a host of other benefits, it’s a real must with Tomatoes.
Virtually every Tomato plant you buy at a garden center is a highly-disease-resistant hybrid, but if you’re growing heirloom Tomatoes issues with fungi can be more prevalent. If you’ve got a favorite variety that’s done really well for you here in Williamson County, I’d love to hear about it — and as the season bears those bright red beauties, send along photos to email@example.com — and don’t forget to include your first name, last initial, and the city where you live.
Williamson County is in USDA Hardiness Zone 7a (0 – 5 degrees)
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
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