Tomatoes – Better Late!!!

It has been my experience, tomatoes planted late are far superior to early or standard planted. As the temperatures start to cool down, you get better flower set and consequently better fruit.

I prefer to cage my tomatoes for better foliage cover to reduce the chance of sun-scald. Heirloom tomatoes have superior taste and texture. However, the plants can exceed the size of the cage!! Next year I plan to grow the plants on 5 foot centers to allow for easier harvesting and increased air circulation.

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BTW, the plant to the left of Papa is a variety called Granny Cantrell. This beloved heirloom has quite a following. The plant to the right is Daniel’s, which produces very large pink red fruit and appears to be well suited for our Missouri Ozarks climate.

The above variety has the unusual name of “1884”. The plant was discovered after a flood in West Virginia in 1884. This beauty weighs in at 1 pound 10 ounces. BLT sandwiches are written all over it!!!!

Kellog’s Breakfast is the name of this bright yellow/orange sweet confection. Boasting a good balance of sweetness and acidity with few seeds make Kellog’s Breakfast a highly desirable choice.

The expanded list of tomatoes grown are:

  • 1884 – large pink/red beefsteak
  • Black Prince – small purple/red 2-3 oz
  • Black from Tula – medium red/purple, meaty/few seeds
  • Coyne – red Roma type, large 4-8 oz
  • Daniel’s – large pink/red beefsteak, many over a pound
  • German Johnson – medium pink/red beefsteak, one of the parents of Branywine
  • Granny Cantrell – medium/large pink/red beefsteak, plants are huge!
  • Hannah – medium/large, pink/red oxheart, meaty, few seeds
  • Hazelfield Farm – pink/red, medium beefsteak, well adapted to hot/humid
  • Kellog’s Breakfast – large yellow/orange beefsteak, sweet and meaty
  • Mary Robinson German Bicolor – large, red/yellow, beefsteak
  • Omar’s Lebanese – large pink/red, may exceed 3 pounds
  • Pineapple – large, yellow/red, very sweet and juicy
  • Pink Boar – pink with green streaks, small 3-4 oz
  • Rutgers – small, orange/red old fashioned for canning, juicing
  • San Marzano Lungo #2 – 3-4 0z Roma type for sauce and paste

It never ceases to amaze me, how traditional tomato eaters are about the color of their tomatoes. As one man said to me “If it ain’t red, I ain’t going to eat it”. However, when they try the different colored tomatoes, they often change their mind.

For the Ozarks, start your tomato seeds the second week of May and plant your seedlings the first of July. Your tomatoes will start coming in by late August through October. BTW, for you market gardeners, late tomatoes command a higher price by late September/October due to limited supply.

Plant late, I promise you, you will not be disappointed!

Papa

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The Amazing Tomato Hornworm

My old nemesis the Tomato Hornworm is back! They certainly are an impressive creature!

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When the Five Spotted Hawk (Manduca quinquemaculata) moth finds a tomato plant, it will lay one or several eggs on the tomato plant. When the eggs hatch, the little caterpillar will eat its egg case and starts to eat like crazy! The caterpillar will molt several times until it becomes mature and ready to burrow in the ground and metamorphize into a chrysalis. By late spring the chrysalis will open and a new moth appears in late spring/early summer. Finally the cycle starts all over again.

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It is incredible how fast an almost mature caterpillar can strip a tomato plant. I recommend removing the worms by hand. Usually the creatures are found alone hiding amongst the damage. Beware, there color is a great camouflage! Check out the size of this critter!!

BTW, here is another indicator of their escapades. Giant worm poop!!!

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You have to admit, they are amazing!!!!!!

Papa

Green Beans VS Japanese Beetles, Beetles Win!

Last year green beans were out of the question due to a plague of Japanese beetles. This year started out, pretty much the same. I am determined to get a good crop of green beans. To accomplish this feat, I have to get rid of the dreaded Japanese beetles by mid July.

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Just look at the damage they do!!

I decided to try Japanese beetle traps.  (If you need traps, I can recommend these over on Amazon.com: Japanese Beetle Trap.) The trap consists of two plastic rectangles (holes punched and slotted), pheromone lure, plastic bags and a twist tie. I have made a modification to the collection bag by cutting off the bottom of the bag and suspending the trap in a 5 gallon bucket filled with one to two gallons of soapy water.

The beetles are lured to the pheromone, fall into the bag and drop to the soapy water.

A large tomato cage was used to suspend the trap above the soapy water. I use dish soap vs dish detergent. The soap bio-degrades and is friendly to the environment.

If I used just the bags, I would easily go through three to four bags per day. What a waste! You can use the same bag over and over again. The bucket is emptied once a day. The soapy water kills the beetles within minutes. I toss the dead beetles out in an out of the way place to break down and compost on their own.

The two traps have easily killed thousands of Japanese beetles. YES!!!!!!! I am already seeing a difference. There seems to be fewer beetles.

Papa

PS: Green Beans VS Japanese Beetles, Beetles Win!

Spring has Sprung! A Month Early!

Garden peas and sugar snap peas were planted  a week ago! They should be up in about a week.

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Bachelor Buttons, Shasta Daisy, Pansies, Snap Dragons, Marigolds, Foxglove and other flower seed were planted in cell trays. Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower were started as well.

Tomato and Pepper seed will be planted tomorrow.  Full production has started in earnest!

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Flowers have started to bloom. The Crocus and jonquils are showing their lovely blooms!

Watch for more gardening goodies!!!

Papa

Tomato Cuttings Made Easy!

You desire to grow some late tomatoes, but you didn’t start more seed. What do you do?

Take an old shallow container, drill holes in the bottom and root tomato cuttings in vermiculite and water. It’s actually pretty simple. Tomato plants are actually very tough.

Find a container that will hold coarse vermiculite and water ( a plastic dishpan works great!!). Drill several 3/8 inch holes in the bottom of the container. By the way, you may use a large shallow nursery pot as well. Now place about 3 to 4 inches of coarse vermiculite in the container. Water the vermiculite to supply moisture to the cuttings. Allow excess water to drain prior to taking cuttings.P1040429

Carefully take cuttings from desired tomato plants using garden pruners. I have found, the larger the cutting, the easier to root! Place the cuttings in the moistened vermiculite about 3 inches apart. I place my rooting container in the shade to maintain proper hydration of the new cuttings. Usually it takes 10 to 14 days for proper rooting.

You may notice raised bumps or even small roots starting on the stem. These cuttings are the easiest to root.

Look at the results after just 10 days.

Now it is time to pot up your rooted cuttings in large containers to use for transplant in 10 days.

Water the newly potted cuttings and place in a lightly shaded area. Gradually move the pots into more sun light. Plant the potted plants as you would any transplant.

This an easy, effective way to start large, quick growing tomato plants.

Enjoy!

Papa

 

Heat Resistant Dahlias!!!

Absolutely amazing! 110° (F) heat and my dahlias are thriving. Originally from Mexico, dahlias can take it to a sultry 120° (F). These two heirloom seed varieties (Double flowered & Cactus flowered) will grow to a height of 6 feet.

From this:

To this!!

I love the colors and shapes. Check out this collage!

These beauties will be great for cut flowers. Make sure you have 15 to 18 inches of stem. Immerse the flower stems in 160° (F) water until water cools off. Place the flowers in new water with a floral preservative and they will last for 4 – 6 days. I hope to have enough to sell by mid-August.

Zinnias are up next to sell in the Fall. Florists love the bright colors when you can’t get them!

See you soon!

Papa