Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Let's Talk Tomatoes

Heinz 1439
August 19, 2009

I think everyone growing a vegetable garden grows at least one tomato plant! Home grown tomatoes freshly picked and still warm from the sun's kisses are really a gardener's delight. They make wonderful summer sandwiches and salads as well as a wide variety of sauces. The best part is one tomato plant can easily gift you with upwards of 40 mouthwatering tomatoes! Our tomato season is just starting with lots of lovely looking fruit that will be ripening soon. I've been picking about a half pint of cherry tomatoes daily but that will soon change as the plants are heavy with fruit.

In general tomatoes are either heirloom or hybrids. Heirloom tomatoes are those that have been cultivated from seeds passed from one generation to the next so will breed true. If you save the seeds from an heirloom tomato and plant them the following year that is the variety of tomato you will get. Hybrids tomatoes are a cross between two different varieties in the attempt to gain a more desirable characteristic. If you save the seeds from hybrids you will more than likely get a tomato plant resembling more of one of the parental types that went into creating the hybrid than you will the hybrid itself. Tomatoes are further divided into slicing (eg. Beefsteak, Heinz 1439, Lemon Boys), plum or roma, pear and grape (bite sized elongated shape) and cherry (small round shape). Tomatoes are available in a wide range of colours from a dark purplish to pinky red to orangy red and all shades in between including green. Yellow and orange varieties have a higher sugar concentration so taste less acidic.

To keep your tomato plants happy be sure to use 2 tbsp epsom salt per plant when planting then sprinkle some around the base of the plant 1 tsp per food of vine biweekly. An epsom salt foliar spray will help keep your vines healthy as well. A weekly foliar spray of chamomile tea will help prevent fungus problems like early and late blight. There is a late blight that is damaging many tomato plants in the northeastern US. Blight can be recognized by small black or brown dots forming on the lower leaves of the plant. As the blight spreads the leaves will yellow. As the fungus moves up the stem more leaves will be damaged. Any damaged foliage should be removed immediately to prevent spread of the blight to other plants. Be sure to discard these damaged leaves well away from your garden. Wash your hands well to prevent spreading blight to other tomato plants. You should also avoid working on tomato vines when they are wet as this will spread any diseases present.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome


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