Gardening Magazine

Continuing Care for the Tomatoes

By Mwillis
Having lost one of my big tomato plants to blight last week, I'm being even more assiduous in my care for the remainder now! I have largely managed to hold back the blight by snipping off any infected foliage as soon as I spot it, but it really is a race against time. Fortunately some of the fruit is ripening now. This is "Stupice", from which I picked the first ripe fruit a couple of days ago.

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Stupice"


It looks as if "Tigerella" will be next. When ripe its fruits are usually an orangey-red color with green stripes.

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Tigerella"


You can see in both of the preceding photos how I have removed most of the leaves from the lower parts of the plants. Not only does this lessen the opportunities for blight (which is wind-borne) to settle, but also it lets more direct sunlight reach the fruits, helping them to ripen quicker. My tomato plants only get direct sunlight for about 5 hours a day, so they need all the help they can get.
Here's my "Grushkova" plant after de-leafing:

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Grushkova"


The fruits on "Primabella" have turned too, and it won't be many days before I can pick some. I have mixed feelings about this variety (which I grew last year as well): it has strong blight-resistant qualities, which is good, but the ones I have grown (admittedly only 2!) have not been prolific croppers. This year's plant was about 4 feet tall before it produced any fruit-trusses. More have appeared higher up, but for reasons of access and stability I have had to limit it to about 6' 6" tall, which means that it only has four trusses when most of my plants have 5 or 6.

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Primabella"


With the weather continuing dry and windy, with occasional sunny days, the tomato plants have been dehydrating rapidly, so I have been very careful to keep their water topped-up every day. I have also continued to feed them at least once a week with "Tomorite". Watering and feeding is important because the fruit is coming to maturity now, and lack of either will prejudice size and flavor.
Now I want to show you another ploy I have resorted to in order to help my bush tomatoes. The plants have become very straggly and they have completely collapsed under the weight of a good crop of fruit.

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Maskotka"


If the fruit sits on the surface of the shingle the air doesn't circulate round it and it gets damp and is easily accessible to slugs, so I have propped up the plants' branches on some upturned black plastic crates.

Continuing care for the Tomatoes

2 x "Maskotka", 1 x "Montello"


Continuing care for the Tomatoes

"Maskotka"


You can't see them in my photos, but behind each of the crates is a little saucer of slug-pellets. Hopefully the slugs will go for those first, before attempting to climb up the crates!
Those Maskotka and Montello tomatoes are ripening slowly but steadily, which is a good thing, because it means we don't have a shortage and we don't have a glut. The little ones like these almost all get eaten as salad tomatoes and hardly any are cooked. Later, when the bigger varieties ripen, the situation will be reversed. It won't be long now.

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