Saturday, July 7, 2012

Tomato Growing: Six Tips for Success

1. Gardener or guest, don't ever caress, pluck, fondle, feel up, or otherwise play with a tomato plant's foliage so you can inhale its gorgeous tomato scent. That's how animals locate tomato plants: by scent. Hands off.
2. When staking, wash and dry the stakes first and then use twine, organic preferred. Don't tie it tightly and avoid twist-ties, rope, thread, cloth, clamps or rubber bands which can scar the stem or hold water and cause rot.

3. Spraying or dousing the plant with water encourages fungus and leaf yellowing. Water at the soil level, splashing as little as possible.

Big Boys, July 4th
4. Use freshly-cleaned scissors to clip away "suckers" (upstart leafy growths in the "Vs" of the tomato branches) and THEN use the scissors to clip yellowed leaves from around the bottom of the plant. Clip away only the leaves that are majority-yellow. Do this in the morning so that the scars (and resulting tomato scent) can heal by nightfall, when the raccoons and skunks prowl. Gather the cut foliage and dispose of it far away from the garden.

5. Every other day, water until the bed has standing water.

6. To rid the leaves of "tiny white winged bugs" (thrips), Method 1: Boil a pinch of tobacco in two cups of water  (it stinks) and when cooled, pour this in a circle around the affected plant. Boiling this mixture hard kills any tobacco mosaic virus the tobacco might be harboring. Method 2:  Blast the bugs off the leaves with a brief spray of water. Spray sidewise, not downward toward the soil. Once should do it. This is the only time you break Rule 3.

The tomato is ripe if it's evenly colored and releases easily from the plant. Resist the urge to leave it hanging hoping it'll be growin' a little redder or bigger; that's just asking a critter to come and get it.

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