I’m Charlie Nardozzi and this is the Vermont Garden Journal. Any evaluation of the summer vegetable garden isn’t complete with a review of the tomato crop. So far this year, everything looks fabulous. In my garden we’ve had the right mix of warm, sunny days, dry enough conditions to keep the blights at bay, but enough rain to keep my plants growing strong. Yup, it looks like I’ll be stuck in the kitchen canning lots of tomatoes in a few weeks.
But even with my rosy prediction of a bumper tomato crop, others haven’t been as fortunate. The hot dry conditions can cause problems with the tomatoes. Let’s take a look at a few of these.
Calcium is an important nutrient for the cell walls of tomato skins. If calcium isn’t available, then the skin breaks down and you get a syndrome know as blossom end rot. This is often caused by fluctuating soil moisture conditions disrupting the uptake of calcium from the soil. The simple solution is to mulch your tomatoes well and keep the soil evenly moist. It’s best to pick off and compost rotted tomatoes. Hopefully the next round will be in better shape.
Tomatoes like the heat, but the flowers do not. Summer heat in the 90Fs will cause the flowers to drop without pollinating properly. This may result in deformed or fewer fruits. Cooler temperatures should solve the problem. Your tomatoes may also be ripening unevenly, have white spots in the flesh or yellow shoulders, all due to excessive heat. Luckily, in Vermont the heat doesn’t last long, so even if a few fruits have these problems, those that will be ripening later should not.
For this week’s tip, keep picking vegetables even if it kills you! Okra, beans, cukes, summer squash all keep producing if you harvest the fruits regularly. If you can’t use them, Fedex the veggies to family and friends, drop them off at the food shelf or even throw them in the compost pile.
Next week on the Vermont Garden Journal, I’ll be talking about new echinacea varieties. For now, I’ll be seeing you in the garden!