Thursday, July 9, 2015


Oh my darlin'! Clementines. Mine.
I attended a class on how to grow tomatoes. It was free, taught by an agricultural extension agent in Cumberland County,  and lasted all afternoon.  A half day class?. Can you really lecture about growing tomatoes for 3 hours? Shine yeah! Here's what I learned about growing tomatoes in Southeastern NC:

1. Plant Clementine, Juliette, Mountain Magic, Mountain anything for success. They will grow here and make fruit that makes it to maturity.

2. Calcium. The kind used in hydroponic agriculture, bought online, and sprayed on the leaves of plants. If you just are not into this, and I'm not…

3. …fertilize generously throughout the season. Tomatoes are heavy feeders requiring generous supplements to continue producing and to stay healthy. It will help prevent blossom end rot which is heartbreaking.

4. Water. Almost as important as fertilizer because it is the vehicle by which the plant gets the fertilizer that prevents blossom end rot.

5. If you are going to water by wetting the leaves, DO IT IN THE MORNING. Give the plants a fighting chance by allowing them to dry out during the day.

6. Mulch. Generously. To prevent the wet-dry cycle that stresses the plants. Tomatoes are sensitive ya know.

7. Do not overplant. Crowding leads to poor air circulation which leads to air borne diseases.

8. Watch for stink bugs and stink bug's nasty cousin is the tomato hornworm. They are the dementors of tomatoes.

9. Know that you can pick tomatoes when they change from dark green to light green, yellow or pinkish. They will ripen, safely, on your windowsill and still taste great.

10. Heat, humidity and our long growing season causes almost all tomatoes to die off in late July and early August. It happens to the best gardeners. Pick suckers in early July, put them in water, let them root and then them late July or early August for a Fall harvest of tomatoes.

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