More Tomato Woes Factors

A green Beefsteak tomato in a Bluebird Gardens deck pot.

A green Beefsteak tomato in a Bluebird Gardens deck pot.

More Tomato Woes Factors

Summer is a time when local farms sometimes share their extra produce, assuming conditions have been good for growing. This year, record hot and humid conditions have made tomato growing challenging.

In addition, two other factors have contributed to the challenge of growing tomatoes.

Proper Fertilizer

Tomato plants taller than their growers usually means tomato plants may be getting too much nitrogen fertilizer. Nitrogen encourages the green growth that spurs plants to unnatural heights.A balanced plant meal requires nitrogen for growth, phosphorous for moving energy through the plant, and potassium for stress tolerance.  Our Ozark soil can provide nitrogen but the other two fertilizer elements usually need a boost. 

Soil testing through a local University of Missouri Extension office will help determine what is missing. A test costs $14 and includes not only what is in your soil but what you need to do to amend it.

Even Watering

The other delicate part of raising tomatoes is watering. Tomato roots in open ground can grow to 5 feet deep. Tomatoes even grown in containers prefer to be evenly moist so with temperatures, and humidity, either at record levels or varying widely requires careful monitoring.

I have sunken plastic bottles with holes in pots keeping my tomatoes company so that I can better keep the roots moist. I also use a paint stick propped into the side and moved over an inch to check how wet the soil is before I water.


How to Pick Blackberries

There are so many fruits available in summer from cherries to watermelon. One of my favorites are so tempting, little dark berries at the tips of arching shrubs available in north America mid-summer. Little does one realize how thorny these plants can be!

Blackberries grow in almost all continents, a plant so flexible it has adopted to a wide range of climates. Regardless of where you are planning to pick them, make sure you are:

  • Wearing a thick pair of pants to catch thorns before they hit skin.
  • Boots if you're walking into a blackberry patch after a rain. Some plants grow shoots that can't be seen above soil but you sure can feel them when you step on them.
  • Don't wear a long sleeve shirt, it will just get caught in thorns.
  • Gloves are optional but if you do wear them, select a pair with good finger dexterity.

When picking, go slowly and focus on berries at the ends, away from thorns. Some berries look ripe but may not be so make sure you have good lighting on the plants.

Worth the effort?

You bet!