Saturday, July 19, 2008

The end of the line

Hey, what do you know, if you spend some time gardening, you get some ideas for your garden blog.

I took advantage of the sub-90 morning temperature to get out and check on the back 40.

Visiting the tomatoes, I was faced with the annual conundrum.

As you may know, once temperatures get consistently above 90 in the daytime and above 70 at night, tomatoes tend to stop blossoming or drop their blossoms before they set fruit. Here in Central Texas and other hot climates, that means that by mid-July, we're pretty much done seeing any tiny new green tomatoes. And this year, with a string of 100-degree days in early, we've been pretty done for a while.

What to do? You can keep watering the scraggly things in hopes that they'll still be healthy enough to start fruiting again when it cools off. You can chop them off at the kneecaps to make them put out new young sprouts and hope those produce fruit later. Or you can plant fresh seedlings, either grown from seed or rooted from suckers taken off the mature plants.

I've tried just about all of these and never had much success, yet I've still had trouble bringing myself to make the obvious choice. Not so this year.

Thanks for the memories and mouth ulcers, Brandywine, Persimmon and Black Krim. The compost pile thanks you for the greenery.

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Blogger Sarah said...

I am sorry that your tomatos are done :( I have been reading your tomato posts with more than a little jealousy for the last few months eagerly anticipating my first ripe tomato (which I finally got this weekend). What are you going to put into the box in their place? Or are you going to plant some more tomato seedlings? I hope you are keeping cool. I did not realize how hot it was there right now…...yikes

July 21, 2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Ah, the circle of life -- now I'm jealous of all the tomatoes in your immediate future.

I'm thinking planting winter squash in that bed. I've already got a butternut going elsewhere, so maybe I'll try acorn. Or possibly pumpkins.

July 21, 2008 9:24 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

It is decision making time isn't it. I've already pulled several but have left the Big Beef as they keep putting on one or two a week, of course they are smaller than earlier. I, like you, have tried all the ways for fall tomatoes and with mixed results. Now I just buy new ones and start anew. I suggest cauliflower for the bed. Slow starting in this heat but I usually have heads to pick in early Dec. I'll keep checking in to see how it's going.

July 24, 2008 11:56 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Bob, I can't stand cauliflower, but I love broccoli -- have you had similar luck starting it this early? I've usually planted broccoli in October or November, but I'd love to get an earlier crop going. Some shade cloth over the empty bed would probably help.

I'm going to go seed/plant shopping this weekend and see what there is to see.

July 25, 2008 10:58 AM  
Blogger CeeCee said...

Kelly, I wandered over here from Garden Punks and Future House Farm. Funny, they are in Pennsylvania and California and I am west of Austin near Dripping Springs. Small world.

I am going to expand my garden once the weather cools. I'm wondering what sort of irrigation method you use on your raised beds? I'm considering having them, but worried about water consumption and evaporation. We live on a hill and the wind blows all year round.

My tomatoes (Heat Wave) are still producing flowers/fruit. They have a terrible, terrible case of leaf curl, but it seems to be from the heat we've been experiencing since mid-May. They've done wonderfully, despite the ugliness.

Grated pie crust--cool! Maybe try Crisco instead of lard and butter.

July 26, 2008 8:13 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...


Check out my post on my irrigation system. It's ultimately just soaker hoses, which I tried after finding that drip irrigation didn't really do the job for my growing mix in our hot summer. However, I'm still not sure I'm watering enough.

I'll make a note on the Heat Waves and give them a try next year.

August 4, 2008 8:15 AM  

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