Well the garden show is finished.
What a success it was. The tomato contest recipes were a big hit and a great addition the event. But this is not the end of the fun!
Nope, Scott is taking these recipes on the road with him. These recipes are going bi-coastal! That’s right SippitySup, TomatoMania, and your recipes from “Sea to Shining Sea”!
He’ll be in Lothian, MD, May 8–10, and in Litchfeild, CT, May 15–17. If you are in the neighborhood. Pop in say “hello” and stock up.
But as you know I was at the Garden Show too! In fact here is photgraphic proof! Me with the winning recipe cards.
It gave me a really good chance to get to know the contest winning recipes. Which is a good thing because starting next Monday I am going to be making each one of the winning entries. I can’t decide whether I should go alphabetical by blog name, or just pick randomly. What do you think?
But just because Scott and his seedlings are jet-setting off to New England that does not mean he has forgotten you or your tomatoes.
Noooo, he’s nothing if not “supportive”! GREG HENRY
Support Your Local Tomato
They get big quickly don’t they?
With the weather warming and days getting longer your tomatoes are getting all the signals that say GROW! And that’s what we want this time of the season.
As that happens your job becomes more important. Here’s the challenge. Keep stems and ripening tomatoes off the ground, where they are subject to insect infestation, hungry critters, fungal diseases and your big feet! But these plants can be eight feet tall you say? Yes, that’s the challenge.
If left to their own devices in your garden tomato plants would spread out over the ground and take up way too much valuable space. Developing fruit will be more likely to be lying on the ground, prone to the problems mentioned above, and also unprotected from the sun’s rays amidst the sprawling stems and foliage. Staking keeps the plant in a relative column, thus saving space. It will also concentrate the leaf cover, providing shade for the developing fruit.
What makes a great cage, trellis or stake? Anything that will stand up under the weight of a big, rangy, indeterminate tomato at the end of the season!
Tomato “cages” are the norm. You know, the three footers made of light metal. That’s great for a start, and for some of the determinates, especially where the growing season is short. But if your tomato season is a long one you’ll need more height and stability. With many varieties you’re going to have a very big plant after a few short months.
A thick lodgepole pine stake, the kind used for trees, is a good bet. But what you use isn’t important. Larger cages, towers, spirals and trellises all work. I’m a bamboo stake
gardener and I add more as the plant grows. At the end of the summer season
I’ll often have a single plant attached to six or more stakes. Just hold it up!
Be creative. Existing fences are a great “stake” and spreading out your plant in espalier style is a smart move. How about the 4 x 4s on the corners of that new arbor you just built? Mature climbers like roses or bougainvillea can support a rangy cherry tomato. Ouch. The arch over the path in the backyard? A tomato could grow there.
Carefully tie the plant to its support with soft plastic tape or torn up old t‑shirts; anything
that won’t cut into the stems. My grandmother used old stockings or strips of old t‑shirts. Velcro ties are becoming more popular and they work great!
Start early, tying the main stem up every foot or so. If you make pinching your strategy, you can ease some of your staking woes, as less mass (leaves and stems) means a more manageable plant.
Keep at it. It’s BIG job.