If there is one thing my co-worker, Woody and I agree on and anticipate each year, it is the taste and satisfaction of a big fat, homegrown tomato! Usually he has an abundance of maters and is always very generous with his crop. However this year is different, he has brought me NONE! I thought maybe I had been cut off! Maybe I had insulted his wardrobe on a rough Monday or he found out I backed into his truck! Come to find out he just doesn't have any yet. Whew!

Last year I struggled to get enough tomatoes, so this year I went crazy planting them, hoping at least half would survive and be fruitful. Not only did they survive but they have been VERY fruitful, unlike the rest of Tri-cities, who seem to be struggling with their plants. I asked on Facebook how everyone's tomato plants were doing in this heat and 90% of the people responded the same, "horrible." The answer was very similar amongst them all, either they had green tomatoes that weren't turning color or their plants were full of flowers but not producing fruit.

I wanted to know why, so I did some research, and the answer is simple... The heat! Not only has it been really hot but it has been consecutively really hot and the plants just can't take it. They will flower plenty, but the flowers will often fall off, they might possibly blossom into a tomato but they struggle to ripen when it is too hot.

A few tips and pointers to getting your tomatoes ripe:

Do not fertilize when the heat is extreme. Mulch can help moderate the soil so spreading a layer down could be helpful. Avoid overwatering, a deep soak is better than watering a little everyday. Keep your tomato bed free from weeds, you don't want your plants to have to compete for nutrients and moisture. Pick your tomatoes when they are orange and bring them into the shade or into the house to ripen. Once the temperature cools off your tomato plants will be revived and the flowers will set fruit again! Good luck with your garden and if you end up with no ripe maters, call me, I got very lucky and have plenty!

Janis Clardy



270 Degrees of Lightning