It's Tomato Time!

By now you should be starting to see some bounty from you tomato plantings. Hopefully you planted them with the recommend soil, Bumper Crop. Now it is time to start feeding those plants and taking the necessary care so you have plenty to harvest all summer long. 

Because tomatoes can grow quite large, they need plenty of nutrients; plan on supplemental feeding every two or three weeks with either a compost tea or Gardner and Bloome Tomato and Vegetable fertilizer. All organic is the way to go with anything you are going to eat. 

Warming and discouraging insect pests: If you put row covers over your plants at the beginning of the season to discourage pests, now is probably the time to take them off. You want to remove them when the blossoms appear or when daytime temperatures reach 85 consistently. 

Mulching is also shown to help keep the soil warm and keep weeds and pests away. Using either a nice soil product like Black Forest, or weed free straw or compost will make a large difference in your bounty.

Pruning: Optional for determinate tomatoes, pruning is highly recommended for indeterminate varieties, particularly if you grown them on a trellis or stake. Don't do any pruning until the plant has been growing in the garden for a week or so. From then on, remove all suckers - the nonflowering stems that grow between the main stem and the leaf crotches. Pruning directs the growth to a single main stem. Repeat the process once a week. 

Harvesting; As the fall frost date approaches, remove the bottom leaves, flowers and any fruits that will not ripen before the end of the growing season. These are the small, solid green, hard-as-a-rock ones. Removing this material helps direct all the energy of the plant toward ripening the rest of the fruits. The best tomatoes are vine ripened, but don't leave them on the vine too long. Pick the fruit when the skin of the tomato yields slightly to finger pressure. You can extend the ripening season through light frosts by draping the trellis with a sheet of frost cloth and closing the ends with clothespins. 
      Before the hard frost, pick any tomatoes that show a light yellowing at the shoulders. Most will ripen indoors. Don't toss out the green ones! Either fry them up as Fried Green Tomatoes, or pickle them.