The Drought and Heat

By Jannie Vaught

The heavy drought and extreme heat have all but finished the tomatoes!

But, with daily watering and when I see them in this extremely stressed condition. It appears that they are showing me they are in need of this sooner. If you grow Heritage tomatoes Indeterminant variety they will continue to produce long after the determinant plants have given up. Start by cleaning off any old fruit, check for insect damage, and any disease. Not all the tomatoes will be ready for second fruiting.

There has been a heavy grasshopper infestation this summer and this has certainly stressed the pants with fewer leaves and heavy predation. You are going to remove 1/3 of this plant from the top down. Some re-tying and support may be needed also. I discard all trimmings as they are subject to blight and black spot. Also insect eggs. Check on the back of the leaves. They will look pitiful and sparse after you prune them, but true to tomatoes growth they will have a flush of new growth and soon flower. Make sure to leaves enough leaves for photosynthesis. Trim a little then stop and look for the balance of limbs and leaves. The growers say one month before the first frost of your zone. You be the judge of this. The sooner I get them re-conditioned the better chance I have of getting some ripe tomatoes before frost.

Now, this pruning is done and all the debris is hauled off, decide if you need to treat for any disease or heavy insect. The 1 tablespoon of Dawn dish soap per one gallon of water lightly sprayed is often all you need. I had a fellow gardener tell my about using Castile soap in water and it stopped the wasps from eating her plants. I had no idea wasps would do that. Now it is time to give them a light feed. Fish emulsion or compost teas always dilute will give them some vigor. Keep your feeding schedule going and water the same amount at the same time to keep blossom end rot away. Peppers can be trimmed also, but I find they don’t need as severe cut back as tomatoes. All the purple hull peas are finished and ready to be pulled out, and cucumber and squash plants can go to the chickens or compost pile and you can clean out the grass and weeds and tired plants left. Give the whole garden a light feed spray or a layer of compost and let it sit and re-charge for the next planting. Because the Fall into early winter garden here in zone 8a is the best.

Get your planner out and move your planting around. It will soon be time for cabbages, Brussels sprouts, kale, mustard, kohlrabi and don’t forget to prepare a bed for your fall garlic crop. And just when the heat has taken its toll, the rains will come and the fall garden will be giving you all the good growing plants.

Growing Green With Jannie