Why are my tomato plants dropping their blossoms?

When the temperature outside is 92°F or hotter, the tomatoes will drop their flowers (blossoms) and will not set any fruit. This is called Tomato Blossom Drop and is normal for a tomato to do. Basically they self-abort their blossoms. Why? Because they want to survive. They will continue to produce new blossoms and once the temperatures is BELOW 92°F, they will start to set fruit from the blossoms.

What can we do to prevent blossom drop? Nothing. We really are at the hands of mother nature. The funny thing is once they do pollinate (tomatoes are self-pollinating and wind-pollinated and don’t need pollinators) and they produce baby fruit, they do fine when it’s hot-it’s just while they are trying to set fruit that the temperature is critical. There is also a low temperature where they will drop the blossoms, but we don’t have to worry about that here.

Last year we had 3 months of intense heat with everyday being 92°F or warmer and the blossom just couldn’t set fruit. Finally when the monsoons came mid-August (which is one month later than normal), and it cooled down, they were able to set their fruit. Luckily for us we had a long fall and were able to harvest before we got a freeze. So don’t despair, they will set fruit from their blossoms when the time is right. Hopefully the monsoons will come in July. So for now, just surrender and chill out (if you can).

Row cover protects tomato plants and more

Here is what my garden looks like right now. Just about everything is covered with a material called row cover (also called Remay). My tomato cages are covered from top to bottom with it. This acts as a physical barrier to keep a bug called the beet leafhopper from biting them and transferring a disease called Curly Top Virus (CTV). I’ll take it off my tomatoes when the monsoons arrive.  The bug leaves when the monsoons come.

I also put row cover over my other veggie transplants while they adjust to the heat and wind when I transplant them into the garden. And I put it over other veggies that I plant by seeds like beans, cucumber and corn. I just plant the seeds in the ground and put a sheet of row cover over them tacking it down with rocks so the wind doesn’t blow it away-but don’t make it too tight.  Give the plants some room to grow under it. When the seeds germinate, row cover keeps the birds from eating the sprouts and I don’t have to replant seeds as often. Plus you can water right through it. Row cover comes in 3 weights. A heavy weight (1.0) for fall-winter, a mid-weight for summer (.5) and a light weight (.3) which does not work well here because of the winds-it rips easily. I use a mid-weight in the summer in my garden.

So basically I use row cover in the beginning of the growing season on almost everything. You can get it at most nurseries.  And you won’t have to keep it on all summer. Once your corn and beans grow up about 4 inches, and your transplants adjust to outdoor growing and the bugs leave, you can take it off and enjoy watching your garden grow. Another plus is it gives some protection against hail. Great stuff. I highly recommend it to be a more successful gardener.

Planting, planting planting!!

last year’s garden-2016. Looking forward to another great garden year in 2017.

I haven’t written in a while as the planting season has been upon us. Now that the danger of a freeze is basically over (never say never tho) I’ve been busy first weeding the vegetable garden and now planting the veggie garden. Most everything will be in by end of this week.

New shade garden-an arbor covered with shade cloth and new lettuce covered with row cover. Also peas in background and Fava beans on right in front

In addition to part of my garden being an Italian garden, I just finished up a new shade garden. I have a semi-shady area where a shed and juniper shade early in the day but I needed shade from the intense sun in the afternoons. I put shade cloth from Home Depot, over the top of an arbor to shade some late season cool crops still in the ground like peas and Fava beans. Also planted some heat tolerant lettuces under row cover yesterday.

TOMATOES: 54 were transplanted in on June 5th in wall of waters (WOWs). Many of them are now peeking out of the WOWs and they need to be taken off.  I put row cover around the cages and over the top (acts as a physical barrier) to keep the dreaded beet leafhopper from the plants.

LETTUCE: Last night I planted some heat tolerant lettuce and Violetta pak choi in the new shade garden.

ARTICHOKE: More of an ornamental here but so beautiful.  Transplanted yesterday.

BEANS-Borlotti-Lamon: An Italian variety of a dry bean. Pre-started the seeds inside. Coming up now and will be ready to transplant this week. Pole variety.

BEANS: Emerite-pole variety of a French haricot bean. Pick when pencil thin.

RUNNER BEANS-pole beans-Painted Lady and a Chartreuse leaf variety of Scarlet Runner. Beautiful flowers and you can eat the beans when young or save for dry bean recipes like soups.

PEPPERS: I wait to plant peppers till June 1 till it really warms up and we are now in the 50’s at nite so all peppers will go in this week under row cover. Varieties include: Shishito, Jimmy Nardello, Caribbean Seasoning, Poblano (for chile relleno), Pasilla (for mole sauce), Aji Amarillo Grande, and Baby Aji Amarilla both from Peru.

EGGPLANTS: ‘Fairy Tale’ variety. Will go in with peppers this week under row cover.

CHARD/KALE: Lacinato, Vates Curly varieties of kale and Argentata chard. I have baby plants to put in this week. Coulda, shoulda already be in the ground but not enough time.

FLOWERS: Many flowers by seed-Cosmos, Zinnias, Nasturtiums, Asylum, morning glories, different sunflowers. Calendula and Marigolds are transplants.

SUMMER SQUASH: Costata Romanesco zucchini, Bennings Green Tint patty pan. Seeds went in the ground last week. A few popping up under the row cover.

WINTER SQUASH: Butternut Rogosa Violina “Gioia”. Seeds in the ground today.

GIANT PUMPKIN: This time I put seeds in the ground instead of pre-growing them. Not up yet.

CORN: Glass Gem INDIAN CORN. Not in yet. Hopefully this week.

ONIONS/LEEKS-transplants going in this week. Very late going in-will see how they do.

BEETS-Chiogga variety. Seeds went in this week. Will get fall harvest from them.

CARROTS: Atomic Red and Cosmic Purple went in this week for fall harvest.

CUCUMBERS: Seeds going in this week around teepees to grow up. Varieties include: EATING:Poona Kheera. PICKLING: Parisian (cornichon), Boothsby Blonde (Bread n butters), and Russian Pickling (dill).

STILL TO COME THIS WEEK: I’m going to try a short season variety of Sweet potatoes called Beauregard (90 days t0 harvest). Getting slips of it in mail.

 

 

Tomatoes started!

Tomato seeds planted March 24. Germinated 4 days later. Picture taken April 2 at 9 days old.

It has begun!

I’m going back to the Santa Fe Farmers Market this summer with my tomatoes! I have a lot of new unusual tomatoes started as well as my stable of wonderful favorites for the public.

Pictured above, the baby tomato seeds are inside the house under lights and keep warm on a germination heat mat set at 85°F. They will be transplanted this week into 2 inch pots and later this month they will be transplanted again into 4 inch pots and then finally transplanted outside in the garden in May. Plus I will take some of the plants to the Farmers Market at end of April/May to sell.

Italian Vegetable Garden

Always looking for something interesting to grow in my garden, I’ve decided to put in an Italian vegetable garden section inside my main vegetable garden. When I started looking at vegetables to grow, I noticed I already had a fair amount of vegetable seeds from Italy that I always grow but they were always interspersed with other veggies. Now they (and more Italian vegetables) will be grouped together to form this new section. It isn’t a permanent section, just something I’m putting together this year and it is just part of a larger array of vegetables I grow. It was fun selecting vegetables from Italy that I like and could group together. By doing this, it has opened me up to all kinds of new varieties to possibly grow. Here is my list:

2017 ITALIAN GARDEN

Cool Season Vegetables
Fava bean-Precoce Violetto
Onion-Red of Florence
Fennel-Mantovano
Rapini-Cima di rapa Quarantina Riccia di Sarno
Kale-Nero di Toscana
Radicchio-Rosa treviso sel Svelta
Beet-Chiogga
Chard-Argentata

Warm Season Vegetables
Bean-Borlotti Lamon
Butternut squash-Rogosa Violina “Gioia”
Zucchini-Costata Romanesco
Zucchini-Zuchetta Rugosa Friulana
Tomato-Costoluto Fiorentino
Tomato-Costoluto Romanesco
Tomato-Pantano Romanesco
Eggplant-Prosperosa
Sweet pepper-Jimmy Nardello

Vegetables for the Table-Tomato Lady 2017 favorites

Here are my favorite vegetables going into the 2017 growing season. I may not have room for all these in the gardening but these are my favorites as of right now

VEGETABLES FOR THE TABLE-TOMATO LADY’S FAVORITES

HEIRLOOM TOMATOES

SAUCE TOMATOES
Goldman’s Italian American-85D
San Marzano

DRYING TOMATOES
Principe Borghese
Any cherry tomato

CHERRY TOMATOES
Sungold*
Green Grape
Black Cherry
Pink Bumblebee
Purple Bumblebee
Artisan Blush Tiger

EARLY TOMATOES-52-65 days
Matina
Stupice
Sungold (cherry)*
Glacier
Siberian
Fireworks

MID-SEASON-65-78 days
Bella Rosa*-very firm even when ripe
Marmande
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Black and Brown Boar
Paul Robeson
Costoluto Genevese
Juane Flamme

LATE-SEASON-80 days +
Porkchop
Big Zac*
Pantano Romanesco
Purple Cherokee-purple tomato
Paul Robeson-dark tomato
Indigo Apple or Indigo Rose
Lucky Cross

*denotes hybrid tomato

BEANS
Rattlesnake-pole
Emerite-french filet-pole
Romano-Italian pole or bush
Tarbais-dry pole bean for French cassoulet

BEETS
Cylindra
Touchstone Gold
Detroit Red
Chiogga-beautiful red with white stripes inside

CARROTS
Cosmic Purple
Atomic Red
Scarlet Nantes-orange sweet
Chantenay Red-orange very sweet

CHARD
Ruby Red-gorgeous red/good flavor
Argentata-white stem-favorite in Italy-very cold hardy

CUCUMBERS
EATING
Poona Kheera-best tasting ever
Lemon cucumber-never bitter

PICKLING
Boothsby Blonde-Bread and Butter pickles
Parisian-Cornichon pickles
Russian Pickling-Dill pickles
Mini Whites-sweet pickles

EGGPLANT
Rosa Bianca-big eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
Fairytale-small, sauté or BBQ

PEPPER
Jimmy Nardello-red thin skin pepper for sautéing-SWEET
Shishito-Japanese small green pepper-saute-serve for tapas-NOT HOT
Poblano-use for chile relleno/MILDLY HOT

SQUASH
Winter Squash
Sweet Meat
Butternut-will not attract squash bugs
Galeux D’ Eyesines

Summer Squash
Costata Romanesco-zucchini-Favorite of Deborah Madison also
Bennings Green Tint-patty pan

 

TOMATO GROWING 101 CLASS

Ok folks, the Tomato Lady (that’s me) has decided to teach a comprehensive course for all the tomato lovers who want to be successful at growing their own tomatoes here in the greater Santa Fe area. Interested? Read on.

TOMATO GROWING 101-Season Long Course

Do you want to learn how to grow great heirloom tomatoes organically from start to finish? Think of the money you can save by learning to grow your own heirloom tomatoes from seed. Plus you can try new varieties that are not sold in the nurseries.

These hands-on classes will emphasis learning how to grow tomatoes successfully throughout the whole season. Participants will learn how to grow tomatoes from their seeds, what starting mix to use, what soil to transplant in, how to handle the delicate seedlings when transplanting up, how to produce sturdy plants. Lighting systems will be discussed and your seedlings will stay under lights at my farm under my care until time to plant outside when you will take your plants home to plant outside in your garden.

All planting materials, seeds, soil, amendments and pots supplied while growing them at the farm. Class participants will get a workbook with printed material added at each class to help them be successful throughout the growing season. Students will get experience with actual planting to gain confidence and will come back to learn how to prune them, how to identify diseases and pests and how to control them.

Participants must sign up for all classes at once. Course payable at signup for a total of $150. Class size is limited-10 students max. This takes a commitment. No partial classes.

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To register for the class is an easy two-step process:

1. Fill out the CONTACT FORM below and hit the submit button. Then to pay:

2. TO PAY: click the PAY PAL button (below the contact form). You don’t need to have a paypal account.  They will process credit cards too.

Step 1: Fill out this CONTACT FORM:

Step 2: TO PAY: Purchase all 7 classes for $150 here

Buy Now Button
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HERE IS A PDF OF THE SCHEDULE BELOW. PUT THIS SCHEDULE IN YOUR CALENDAR AND PRINT IT SO YOUR DON’T FORGET!

tomato-growing-101-class-schedule

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REVIEW CLASS SCHEDULE

Section 1
HANDS-ON LEARNING OF HOW TO START TOMATO SEEDS/CARING OF THE YOUNG SEEDLINGS AND TRANSPLANTING UP/PREPARING SOIL IN GARDEN

Class 1    
Wednesday, March 22nd—10am to 12 noon

Learn how and why to plant tomato seeds/how to pick your varieties, what soil medium to use, learn about germination troubles and how to avoid them/plant your seeds

Class 2
Wednesday, April 5th—10 am to 12 noon

Transplanting up to 2” pots/changing the type of soil, adding amendments for great growth and how to deal with transplant shock and learning how to maintain your plants.

Class 3
Wednesday, April 19th—10 am to 12 noon

Learn about transplanting up to the next stage of growth-up to 4” pots, how to transplant to get the best sturdiest stems, additional amendments you can use and how to maintain your plants.

Section 2
LEARN HOW TO TRANSPLANT THE TOMATO PLANTS OUTSIDE IN THE GARDEN /LEARNING ABOUT SOIL AMENDMENTS/TAKING YOUR PLANTS HOME

Class 4
Wednesday, May 10th—10 am to 12 noon

Participants will learn how to transplant their tomato plants out in the garden, how to prepare planting hole and what amendments to add when planting for better growth of tomatoes. Discussion and demo of how to use wall-of-waters and how to set them up properly. After learning how to do all this, students will take home their plants to be planted in their own gardens.

Section 3
THEY’RE IN THE GROUND, NOW WHAT?
THE NEXT STEPS FOR TOMATO GROWING SUCCESS

Class 5    
Wednesday, June 7th—10 am to 12 noon 

Participants will learn how and when to remove wall of waters, how to control leafhoppers, learn about tomato cages-what works and doesn’t work, saving water by mulching, using organic fertilizers, using row cover as protection.

Class 6    
Wednesday, July 12— 10 am to 12 noon

Trimming and pruning your tomato plants, the pros and cons of sucker control and how to remove them. Learn to make compost tea. Identifying beginning problems, which organic fungicides and insecticides to use as the season goes on if needed.

Section 4
MAINTAINING YOUR PLANTS-PRUNING TECHNIQUES, IDENTIFYING AND CONTROLLING DISEASES AND PESTS AND HARVESTING

Class 7
Wednesday, August 9th—10 am to 12 noon

Participants will learn how to maintain their plants, pruning techniques,      harvest techniques, identify tomato diseases and pests and how to control them organically.