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All Things Michigan

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Filtering by Tag: tomatoes

Notes from the garden as the season winds down

Andrew Norton

August is 2/3s gone and school starts in less than two weeks. Where has the summer gone? Normally at this stage of summer we are enjoying a bumper crop of tomatoes. Not this year. Yeah, my favorite summer staple did not do so hot this year. There could be any of or a combination of three different reasons; the soil - too much composted cow manure, the heat - blossoms won't be pollinated when it is too hot, poor seedlings.

I redid the makeup of the soil in our raised beds this spring. I sifted out the larger rocks and added peat and composted cow manure to each bed. Perhaps I overdid it on the composted cow manure. If there is too much nitrogen in the soil tomato plants will not set fruit.

When nighttime temperatures hover around the 70s and daytime temps hit the 90s - tomato plants won't set fruit. The heat makes the pollen sterile. We had a ton of blossoms on our tomato plants when we had the one to two week stretch of daytime temps in or near 90 and nighttime temps in the 70s.

Our favorite greenhouse did not open this year due to the increased costs of propane which they use to heat the greenhouse. So we went with an untested supplier and I was not really happy with any of the plants we purchased in addition to the tomatoes. We were going to grow our own seedlings like the previous year, but time got away from us and we were too late. I won't make that mistake again.

We'll be purchasing our seeds from Park Seed once again. They have a great selection and I've been extremely pleased with the results in previous growing seasons.

Nothing in the World Like Homegrown Tomatoes

Andrew Norton

I don't mean to brag or boast, but our tomatoes this year are on pace to be the best looking ones we have ever grown. In years past I would try and see how early I could plant those buggers in the ground, but this year I waited. I think it was around the middle of May that we planted our tomatoes this year. We planted them in a raised bed consisting of top soil, compost, leaves from last fall, and topped off with composted cow manure. They have grown so large that my wife had to tie supports from the tomato branches to the tomato cages. We planted a couple of Grapette tomato plants and a few of another variety called Celebrity.

The Grapette tomatoes look like a cross between Cherry tomatoes and Roma tomatoes. They are elongated, but small and full of that wonderful tomato taste. So, I don't know if it was a combination of planting the tomatoes later in the spring and the nutritious soil or what. All I know is I will be eating a lot of tomato sandwiches and BLT's.

Is there anything quite like walking through your garden and plucking a perfectly ripe homegrown tomato and eating it right there in the garden? A wonderful sun-warmed treat that is hard to beat.

P.S. Where I come from a tomato sandwich merely consists of two slices of bread (white, wheat, who cares?), as many thick sliced tomatoes as the bread will hold, and a slathering of Miracle Whip. Oh, the memories from my childhood of picking the tomatoes from our garden with my dad and then sitting down to a feast of tomato sandwiches. Does life get much better than that?

It is Time to Plant Those Tomatoes

Andrew Norton

John Schneider has a humorous column in today's Lansing State Journal about his annual battle to plant tomatoes as early as possible. After trying this the past few years, I can relate. However, this year I capitulated and plan on planting my tomatoes this weekend. The past two years have seen an abysmal tomato crop and whether or not it was from planting too early I don't know. What I do know is that I waved the white flag of surrender this year in the hopes of producing a bumper crop for a change.

It appears that the danger of frost might be behind us with summer-esque temperatures throughout the next week or so. So, I will plant those tomatoes this weekend and try to compensate any lack of rain this summer by watering them religiously. We'll see what happens.