A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

 
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Kevin 2015 

Mid-June Tomato Report

June 14, 2017     
(See see below for archives)

My home tomato plants are off to a great start this year. I waited until May 27 to plant them. At that time, the weather forecast for the following ten days called for night temperatures above 50 degrees, and that proved to be correct. So, my 22 tomato plants have grown uninterrupted; no stalling from cool weather. Each one is planted in a 15-gallon container with “Gardener’s Gold” organic potting soil. I like a heavy soil, so the pots don’t blow over when they get top heavy in late season. Bone meal was added to the soil to help control blossom end rot---about one hand trowel per pot. The plants were caged and labeled. After ten days of growing, they were given a dose of “Jobe’s Organic Tomato and Vegetable” granular plant food. (Plants grown in soil “mixes” need more frequent fertilizer than those grown in mother earth.) I water every two or three days, depending on the weather. After the plants reached about 18”, I pruned off the lowest stem---air flow at the base of the plants is a good thing. After another ten days, I trimmed off any other branches that were touching the soil.

The debate wears on about whether it’s a good idea to remove the axils from indeterminate (vine) tomato plants. The axils (also called suckers or feathers) are the secondary growths at the crotch formed by the main stem and a side stem. If left alone they will later produce fruit, but some gardeners feel they should be pruned out, to force the plant into taller growth, and earlier production. This is widely believed to be true, but there are tomato experts who are detractors. Craig LeHoullier, author of “Epic Tomatoes,” for one. He says the presence of axils does not delay fruiting. Further, he claims that removal of axils hinders overall production. One thing is certain, unpruned plants require greater spacing between plants---the unpruned bushes will get huge. Some gardeners, like me, take the middle ground in this little controversy. I prune out the axils until the first fruit set, then I let them grow undisturbed for the rest of the season. I think if the results either way were clear cut there would be no argument. If we have a good tomato year, we will all have plenty, regardless of our pruning techniques. You may well wonder what large tomato farmers do? Surely, they would know if this technique worked or not. While homeowners generally prefer indeterminate (vine) tomatoes, large commercial growers grow determinate (bush) tomatoes, because they are easier for large scale production and mechanical harvest. Because of their finite growth habit, determinate tomatoes don’t benefit from axil removal. This, at least, is uncontested.

When the warm weather begins we get questions about “leaf spots” on tomatoes. There are at least several kinds of spots that are common, and a given plant may have more than one type. Spots are the first symptom of what can escalate into a serious problem. If you have had spots in the past, or if you’re worried about getting them, we suggest you spray your plants with a copper fungicide. This works best as a preventative, rather than a curative treatment. If the spots have already appeared, the fungicide may arrest the problem, but prevention is the best course of action. The label says, “Begin treatment 2 weeks before disease normally appears…” (That would be about now.) Elsewhere on the label it says, “for organic production.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I’m guardedly optimistic. Spray only the leaves, not the fruit. Always follow the instructions on the label.

On my home tomato plants, I expect the first ripe fruit by July 10 or so, if the weather doesn’t go bad. When the plants start to flower, note the weather. If it is chilly or rainy (or both), the fruit set may be affected. This means that instead of, say, ten fruits on a cluster, you might only get four. Or, the ones that do form might not be completely pollinated, resulting in misshapen fruit. (Still edible, though.) Some people swear by a spray called “Blossom Set” to assure pollination, but I’ve never used it. Others like to shake their plants, just a bit, during flowering. This helps distribute pollen. You only need to shake the plants if you think the pollination process might be in danger. But I like doing these little chores. They force you to examine the plants and watch them closely for any changes that might need to be addressed.  Every morning and again in the evening I spend about 15 minutes with them---keeping an eye on things. It’s a nice, peaceful way to start and to close out the day.

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.

 

 

 Archives  (Click on the green text for links)

 

June 2017 - Mid-June Tomato Report
June 2017 - Tomatoes----The Acid Test
April 2017 - It's Time to Plant Onions
April 2017 - Raspberries: It's time for annual pruning
March 2017 - Warning! Internet Garden Danger!
March 2017 - Tomato Talk---Shorter Varieties are Trending
March 2017 - It's Only the Start of March, but...
February 2017 - Tasty Greens and Winter Tomatoes
February 2017 - Green is Right Around the Corner
 
October 2016 - Autumn Greens, Eggplant and more
September 2016 - The Tomato Polls are Closed, the Winner is... 
September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.
August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!
July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening
July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns
June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!
June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!
May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!
May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!
April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!
April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!
March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens!
March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant
February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience
February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon
January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!
 

November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)

October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!

September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!

September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!

September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!

August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!

August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015

 

September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet

 

October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow


September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012 - My Tomato Garden
May 2012 -
Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
July 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties


September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General


Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com