Cyclone Rake Blog: June 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Tasty Tomato Tips

A home vegetable garden produces a cornucopia of colorful, nutritious, ultra-fresh vegetables through the summer. Tomatoes are summer’s most popular vegetable, and here are some tips that can help both seasoned tomato growers and newbie gardeners pick the fullest flavors from your plants.

Avoid Blossom End Rot

This spring brought plenty of rain to most gardens. That might change this summer – especially if El Nino gives way to La Nina. And droughty conditions can bring on blossom end rot, one of the most common challenges of garden tomatoes.

Fortunately, blossom end rot can be avoided through maintaining proper soil and water conditions. First, be sure your soil pH is in the neutral range; for tomatoes, about a handful of ground limestone mixed into the soil at planting keeps most soils at the right pH. Second, avoid using high-nitrogen fertilizers, especially during plant growth. The plants might look beautiful – but too much nitrogen factors into blossom end rot. Third, keep your plants evenly and consistently watered through the summer. You may not be able to control the spring rains; careful summer watering will help keep blossom end rot at bay.

The controls for blossom end rot – proper soil fertility, appropriate fertilizer and consistent water – are all good to maintaining tomato plant health. Healthy plants are some of your best guards against pests and diseases.

Try a New Variety

Many gardeners rely on old favorites for tomatoes – plants grown from seeds they saved and started, or purchasing plants from the local farm market or garden center. Expand your tomato patch with later plantings or varieties that will mature later.

If you don’t have room in the garden for a new or later-maturing variety, try container-grown tomatoes on in full-sun garden bed or on a patio. This can be an easy way to keep cherry and grape tomatoes nearby your kitchen for easy pickings. Of course, there’s one danger: tomatoes on the patio might be picked and eaten before they ever make it inside!

Our NEW EarthBox Garden System is the easy way to get started! 
It includes everything to get you up and growing your tomatoes and other vegetables quickly and easily — just about anywhere. 

Disease resistance is another reason to try new varieties. Varieties that are resistant to blight, mildew and other common diseases of tomatoes can help move your plants to harvest and can also lessen the need for disease controls.

Out of the Refrigerator

You can keep whole tomatoes out of the refrigerator after harvest. In fact, tomatoes store best at room temperatures. For a list of storage tips for tomatoes and other vegetables, check out this free resource from the University of Maryland:

photo credit: veni, vidi, mangiai via photopin (license)
photo credit: Another basket of Happy Cat tomatoes via photopin (license)