Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Finally Red Tomatoes
For each of the past two years, we have lost our tomatoes to late blight. The weather here is a large factor in the problem. Hot humid air is common here during August. Thunder storms are frequent and valley fog forms most nights. These factors combine to keep the plant foliage wet all day and blight thrives in dampness. This year has been different. The drought kept things dry. I was careful to direct the carried water to the base of the plants. Now we are getting generous amounts of rainfall and a seemingly ever present breeze dries things out.
Italian Goliath is the variety in the top picture. Goliath seems like a misnomer because the tomatoes do not look like giants. They are a paste tomato with the flesh concentrated in a wide thick layer just under the skin. Considering their type, the size is impressive.
We started these plants from seed and we have tried to be diligent about their care. Grass clippings covered the soil as soon as the plants were placed in the ground. Avoiding soil splash on the leaves seems to limit wilt. Suckers were removed as they appeared. The plants have been kept trained to the stake. In theory the growth will continue forever but cold nights will shut these tropical plants down.
Ferline is the name of this variety. They have been bred to have some disease resistance. Last year they showed no resistance to the wilt but we gave them a second chance. The tomatoes are tasty. The plants look healthy. We plan to plant them again next year.
Good air circulation seems to be a key to growing healthy tomatoes. We inter planted broccoli to use our space effectively while widely spacing the tomatoes. That seems to help. It is BLT season here with lettuce and tomatoes from the garden and Fakin Bacon from the health food store.