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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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

Heritage Day Festival with Papa

Sunday was a beautiful day for a festival. It was a wonderful day to meet and greet new people and the Bluegrass music from the Missouri Ozarks was amazing! What more could you ask from the day?

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My Miss Sunshine was a wonderful helper.

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Gardening questions included “How do you change the color of hydrangeas?”, “Why did my strawberry plants die?”and “You can grow lettuce during the hot summer months?” I plan to address these questions in future posts.

The booth was a stunning success. Heirloom Tomato and Hot/Sweet Pepper transplants in addition to potted June bearing Strawberry plants, Annual Phlox and Hollyhocks were for sale.

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The lettuce bowls with Oak Leaf, Amish Deer Tongue and Red Romaine lettuces with edible Pansy’s were well received.

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Sweet Peas on the vine, Bachelor’s Buttons and Snowball Hydrangeas complimented the booth receiving surprised and rave reviews. People in this area are not familiar with cultivated Sweet Peas and were pleased with their knockout colors and fragrance.

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Thanks again for visiting the world of Papa’s Gardens.

Papa

 

 

See you Sunday!

Sunday, June 5, I will have a vendor space during the Baker Creek* monthly Heritage Days festival.

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I will be selling tomato and hot/ sweet pepper transplants. In addition I will have potted June bearing strawberry plants, Hollyhocks, Annual Phlox and Lettuce bowls for sale.

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I will be featuring my Sweet Peas as cut flowers. They are colorful and fragrant.These may be purchased by the stem or in a bouquet.

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Come on out and say “Hey”.

Papa

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*Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., 2278 Baker Creek Road, Mansfield, MO 65704

Festival hours: 10AM to 7PM

 

Seed Saving Garden? What’s That? Part 4

There is no more popular vegetable than the tomato. The seed is easy to save and well worth while!

  • Tomato: self pollinating

Inserted stigma: the female part of the flower is encased inside the anther    cone in the center of the flower.

-10 – 20 feet between varieties

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–Most tomato varieties have this blossom structure.

–Blossom bag around cluster if garden is small and isolation distances cannot    be met.

–10 plants for sufficient seed quantities

–Seeds are viable 4 – 6 years

Exposed stigma: the female part of the flower is outside the anther cone in the    center of the flower.

-20 – 50 feet between varieties

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–Potato leaf and black/purple varieties have this blossom structure.

–Blossom bag around cluster if garden is small and isolation distances cannot  be met.

–10 plants for sufficient seed quantities

–Seeds are viable 4 – 6 years

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  • Make sure to label your bagged tomato fruit when removing bag to identify your seed savers.
  • Remember, bags may be removed with evidence of small developing tomato fruit.

Harvest when fruit is fully colored and ripe. Make sure you harvest fruit that comes from healthy plants and fruit (disease free).

Fermentation of tomato seed is required prior to drying. Fermentation removes the gel coat around each seed. The gel coat may inhibit germination.

Crush tomato fruit into a jar or bowl. Add a small amount of water to the pulp.

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Allow pulp to ferment for 2-4 days (2 days if 80°-95° (F), 4 days if below 80° (F)).

Tomato seed saving3Strain mixture to remove the pulp and fermented material.

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Place the moist seeds on a labeled paper plate and allow to dry for 2 weeks.

Tomato seed saving1Scrape seed off of the paper plate and place in a labeled paper envelope (place envelope in a freezer zip lock bag) or small glass jar. Place saved seed in a cool, dark and dry place or your freezer.

Saving tomato seed is easily accomplished and low tech. Plus, the saved seed will last for many years.

Papa

Succession Planting for Success!!

It is amazing how many times I hear of someone’s lack of success for certain crops. When you “put all your eggs in one basket” and only plant one time, that is often the basis for disappointment. If you do several small plantings a week to 10 days apart you have a much better chance for meeting your expectations. Succession planting will fulfill your idea of a good garden!!

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There are several strategies that maximize your efforts. You will be astounded when you see how much produce you can get from small areas.

  • Two or more crops in succession: After one crop is harvested, another is planted in the same space. The length of the growing season, climate, and crop selection are important issues.
    • For example, a cool season spring crop (such as Irish potatoes) could be followed by a heat-loving summer crop (bush beans). The beans require less fertilizer and supply free nitrogen to the soil. The  bush beans are not bothered by the potential diseases of the potatoes.
    • Likewise, garden peas ( a legume) could be planted in cooler  weather, followed by tomatoes or squash.
  • Same crop, successive plantings: Several smaller plantings are made at timed intervals, rather than all at once. The plants mature at different dates, providing a continuous harvest over an extended period.
    • Lettuce, spinach and other greens are common crops for this method. The beauty of this approach eliminates the overwhelming effect of too much produce at one time.
      • There are many lettuce types from which to choose:
        • Looseleaf, Butterhead, Cos (romaine), Buttercrunch, Batavian, Heading and Chinese. Some of the Looseleaf and Romaine types may be grown in warmer/hotter temperatures.
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  • Same crop, different dates of maturity: Planting different varieties (for example broccoli or tomato) that come to harvest at successively later dates.
    • Calabrese Green Sprouting broccoli matures 10 – 14 days earlier than Waltham 29 broccoli.
    • Stupice tomato starts to fruit in 55 days, Roma tomato 70 days and Black Krim tomato 85 days. Plus Stupice and Roma are much smaller plants which can be planted in front of the taller Black Krim.

Using one or all of these methods will give you a greater chance for success in your gardening endeavors. Enjoy your new opportunities!

Papa

Early blight on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant. Can it be subdued?

Alternaria solani is the fungus causing Early Blight. Spring brings the rain, wind, and insects traveling from plant to plant plus a hidden visitor of Alternaria solani spores. Overhead irrigation, tools, infected seed and working in the garden when wet also support spore dispersal and growth. Rain splashing from the soil, carry these spores to your plants.

Spores enter the plant through leaf surfaces or wounded plant material. The fungus spores can linger, producing many “seasons” of infection and take advantage of the hot, wet weather of late summer.

Early Blight is favored by warm temperatures and extended periods of leaf wetness from frequent rain, fog, or dew. Warm, humid  temperatures of 75-86 degrees increase the likelihood of infection.

Once the spores have “attacked”, infections have occurred and become the most important source of new spore production and rapid spread of the blight. Lesions generally appear quickly under warm, moist conditions on older foliage and are usually visible within 5-7 days after infection.

Early blight can develop quickly mid- to late season and is more severe when plants are stressed by poor nutrition, drought, other diseases, or pests.

What are the symptoms?

  • Dark spots will start showing on the older leaves of your tomatoes, potatoes, Bell pepper, hot pepper and eggplant.
  • These spots will look like concentric rings.
  • Tissue surrounding these brown spots will turn yellow (a yellow halo)
  • Spots enlarge becoming leathery, merge and leaves start to hang withered or fall off.
  • Younger leaves will start showing black spots as well as the stems.
  • As the leaves fall, the fruit has no shading and succumb to sunscald. This will also cause reduced fruiting as there is less leafing for photosynthesis.
  • Infected fruit have dark, sunken, leathery spots near the stem end. Both green and ripe fruit are affected.

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  • Tomatoes will rot from the stem to the inside of the fruit.
  • Tubers of the potato vine develop dark specks resulting in a corky potato.

What can be done to stop this blight?

  • Apply mulch (black plastic, straw, newspaper, biodegradable weed barrier)  to protect the plant from spore splashing from the soil onto lower leaves. Remember early blight is a soil borne disease.
  • Provide plenty of space between the plants. Good air flow will help keep the plants dry.
  • Pick off affected/infected leaves and remove them from the garden, bagged; dispose with household garbage. Burning is equally effective.
  • Wash your hands and/or gloves when you finish in the blighted area.
  • Change your clothes to reduce further spore dispersal.
  • Wash/disinfect any tools used in the blighted area.
  •  Use a biofungicide spray: Bacillus subtilis,  (Serenade® MAX) and Bacillus pumilis (Sonata®) with compost tea. Read label for application.
  •  Copper products, hydrogen peroxide, and potassium bicarbonate can be used against early blight . Read the label for application.
  • Garlic, neem oil and seaweed extract have also been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of early blight disease on tomatoes. Spray and apply as label directs.
  • Do not work in the garden when it is wet after rain, morning dew or fog.
  • Use drip irrigation as this will keep the plants dry.
  • Rotate your tomatoes, potatoes, Bell and hot peppers and eggplant every three to four years with small grains (wheat, barley, rye, oats, sorghum), corn and legumes (peanuts, peas, cowpeas, green beans, long beans, runner beans, fava beans, soybeans, Southern peas, sugar snap peas). If you are limited on space consider container and vertical gardening giving your soil time to regain its health and decrease the spore population.
  • Amend your soil with compost during late fall as it supports microorganisms that contribute to biological control in the soil.
  • Early blight survives from season to season in or on the leaves, stalk and fruit from diseased plants.  Remove diseased plants or destroy them immediately after harvest.(Bag or burn)
  • Nightshade and horsenettle  serve as alternative hosts for the disease. Remove them from your garden area.
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  • Tomato stakes and cages should be disinfected (hydrogen peroxide or diluted bleach solution) and rinsed prior to storage. All dried plant material must be removed, bagged or burned.
  • Be alert to weather changes.
  • Become a plant detective. Get out to the garden daily and observe for any changes. You won’t be sorry as you are on the watch for disease. Removing leaves at the first sign of infection will slow the spread of Early Blight.
  • Do not compost any diseased plant material.
  • Do not save seed from diseased fruit as Early Blight survives within them.

Are there Early Blight “resistant” tomato varieties? More like partially resistant.

  • Mountain Pride
  • Mountain Supreme
  • Mountain Gold
  • Mountain Fresh
  • Mountain Belle
  • Mountain Fresh Plus
  • Aunt Jenny’s Purple
  • Big Rainbow
  • Black Plum
  • Juliet
  • Legend
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Old Brooks
  • Tigerella (AKA Mr. Stripey)
  • Tommy Toes

What is a good strategy for potatoes?

  • Choose resistant varieties such as long season as they are usually more resistant – Certified seed potatoes.
  • Choose a short season variety, plant early and harvest before Early Blight invades.
  • Separate your potatoes from your tomatoes to decrease cross infection.
  • Give wider spacing to access better drying and air flow.
  • Be aware of the moisture in the soil. Do not over water.

Yes, Early Blight can be subdued if you are vigilant.

Papa