Thursday, July 15, 2010

Fall tomatoes are here!

Summer Veggies-Round 2
Well, the heat has finally arrived (but thanks for all the summer rain!) and your veggies may be looking a little “long in the tooth” as we say. Many of our favorite summer veggies (tomatoes and peppers for sure) have a hard time producing flowers, and consequently fruit, in the high summer heat. This is not due as much to the daytime highs as to the nighttime “lows”. When our low temp is in the upper 70’s and 80’s, the plants can’t rest overnight to produce new flower buds. Some people will cut back their existing plants and try to reflush them for fall production, but most of us plant a new fall crop to get maximum yield.
This week, we got our first shipment of fall tomatoes in and I expect to see more of those and fall peppers arriving soon. Small plants are put in now and they will grow quickly in the heat. As the plants near maturity, the heat should (hopefully) break and they can begin to flower and produce fruit for a late summer/early fall harvest. There are a few things to keep in mind when planting these fresh for fall veggies however.
First, you are planting young plants in very high temps. They will need to be irrigated regularly, until they can get some roots going. Planning mid August vacation for a week or two, maybe skip the fall plot, unless you have a reliable waterer. Using a product like liquid seaweed is a great way to kick start root growth (naturally) on small plants and don’t forget to pot down tomatoes. If you don’t know what that means, ask one of our passionate plant professionals! Some people will also make a screen to the south and west of new plants to relieve some of the late day heat. Row cover or shade cloth works great for this. ***Merrideth Tip- Harbour Freight Tools sells a small piece of shade cloth pretty cheap in their tarp section. ***
Second, varieties are more limited for fall planting. Generally, we look for quicker maturing varieties or the tried and true stuff. We often get a little flack from people that want more and more unusual varieties to try in the garden. Rest assured, we will get everything that is offered by our growers. It will be limited.
We hope to see these plants producing in late August to mid-to-late September. Still plenty of time to get a bumper crop and leave time for the real fall plantings of leaf crops such as lettuces, cabbage, broccoli, etc…
Our veggies growers usually deliver on Thursday afternoons, so check on Friday to see what arrived. Again, we order just about everything we can, so if we don’t have it, it probably isn’t out there.
Good luck and good gardens!