Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tomato Stakes, Blight, and Anticipation...

The first year I had my garden I used tomato cages to prop up my plants. They worked but they are hard to store and easily get twisted if you hit a stone or something while installing them. They are also a bit cumbersome to put around a plant if you wait too long. In spite of my best efforts I usually broke off multiple leaves.

Last year I used Velcro plant ties to tie my tomatoes to the movable fencing in my garden. It worked very well, maybe too well. Not only did the fencing hold the tomato plants security in place it also provided seating for the squirrels to dine on my tomatoes.

This year the fencing was occupied by peas when I planted my tomatoes. The fencing was also in the same bed as the tomatoes were last year. I truly believe in crop rotation. It is better for the soil and the plants. Rotation is becoming even more important here in the northeast since late blight is on the rise. It can devastate tomato and potato crops. Think Irish potato famine. Mike McGrath recommends a compost tea sprayed on in the morning as a preventative precaution. The over all recommendation is to removing any affected plants double bagged and trashed it. There is also a call to report any blight to your local exchange so they can track the disease. This is nasty stuff in the plant world. (Tomato/potato disease warning: late blight is here! http://www.wtopnews.com/?sid=1714789&nid=47 )

With that said, this year’s tomatoes were grown from seed and are located in a different raised bed to help decrease the chances of infection. I’m staking them to keep them off the ground to help… and as painful as it is I’m taking out one or two to keep good air flow around them. On a recent cable segment by Merrifield Garden Center I heard a recommendation for a Rainbow Tomato Spirals for tomato plants. I was skeptical if a single metal pole would work. I picked up a few to see. They were easy to install. I was able to gently guide the plants around the spiral. I was able to do ti without breaking any leaves off and they are surprisingly sturdy. I have occasionally have to cokes the new growth to continue up the spiral with very little effort.

Now I just wait for that tasty summer treat of fresh vine ripen tomatoes right out of the garden.

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