Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amazon Launch and a Great Deal from GardenLife!

Wow - this is huge!  As if getting your 2013 Tomato Growing Guide ~ Calendar isn't enough, my good friends at GardenLife  are sweetening the deal!  Purchase your calendar on Amazon between October 1 and October 15 and we'll send you a special coupon code for $10.00 off one order of GardenLife's Mighty 'Matos! 

Amazing Grafted Tomatoes!

It's been hot here...really hot.  Temperatures soared into the high 90s and sometimes up to105 degrees for four weeks straight.  The tomatoes really took a beating.  In spite of the shade cloth I put over the plants, some tomatoes were sunburned. In some areas, the shadecloth was too close to the plants and with diminished air circulation, the plants became very susceptible to spider mites.  Sadly, most of my tomato growing for this season came to a screeching halt much earlier than anticipated.

It's not all sad news, though.  Because, this year I decided to see what all the chatter about grafted tomatoes was about.  I had heard great things but wanted to see for myself.  And boy, am I glad I did!  The plants have performed better than I could have imagined. 

I took this photo yesterday.  In two of my garden beds I planted only grafted tomatoes. Those plants are still incredibly lush and full of  fruit and flowers.  I harvested eight tomatoes from Big Zac and three from Pineapple!  If  I wasn't convinced before that grafted plants are absolutely fabulous (I was) then I certainly am now!

Grafted tomatoes allow us to grow heirloom varieties that have been carefully grafted onto incredibly strong rootstock without having to worry about soil born disease.  The huge root systems allow the plants to take up more water and nutrition resulting in larger, more productive plants.  The grafts are more tolerant of  cooler and warmer temperatures, so they can have longer growing seasons.

Planting grafted tomatoes is not quite the same as conventionally grown tomatoes. It's important to understand the differences between these plants to grow them properly and enjoy the benefits of the graft.  In Spring, I will definitely hold classes spefically addressing how to successfully grow grafted tomatoes.

I purchased all of my grafted tomatoes for this season from GardenLife.  They ship the Mighty 'Matos in three packs in the Spring, but the time to order will soon be here! They will offer about 37  varieties of tomatoes and  I cannot wait to order mine! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Oh No...Blossom End Rot!

Blossom end rot is an unsightly disorder common to tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.  It can occur at any stage in the development of the fruit, but most often is seen early in the season when fruit are one third to one half full size. Blossom End Rot appears at the blossom end of the fruit. It begins with a small, water-soaked area at the bottom of the fruit that enlarges and darkens rapidly as the fruit develops. Ultimately, the spot can get so large that it covers half of the fruit. These rotten areas eventually dry out and become black and leathery.

Blossom End Rot (BER) does not spread from plant to plant or from fruit to fruit.  It is of a physiological nature so fungicides and insecticides cannot prevent or control it. Blossom End Rot often occurs under certain environmental conditions when there are cool nights and warm days.  The range in temperature affects the uptake of water and calcium by the developing fruit, and it’s the deficiency in calcium that results in the rotting.

Some varieties of tomatoes are more susceptible to Blossom End Rot than others. When purchasing tomato seedlings be sure to read the labels that accompany the plants. They may tell you if that particular variety is resistant to BER.  To help prevent Blossom End Rot from occurring in your plants add crumbled chicken eggshells to the planting hole along with your other amendments.  Once planted, try to be sure to keep watering even and consistent. In addition, using organic soil amendments and fertilizer will be helpful.  They don’t contain as much salt, which decreases the availability of calcium to the plants.
Blossom End Rot, while not being very pretty, is not dangerous to consume. You can certainly cut off the affected part of the tomato and eat the rest. There’s no need to waste an otherwise delicious tomato. So, enjoy your tomatoes – even the rotten ones!