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).

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.

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.

NEW! ‘Veggie Gardening 101’ radio show starts Jan 14

I’ll be on the Santa Fe Master Gardener’s Gardening Journal radio show with host Christine Salem twice a month now. My original show gives tips and advice about what to do in a vegetable garden each month as the gardening season progresses. This assumes you have an existing vegetable garden.

We are adding a Vegetable Gardening 101 show. It seems we have many people here in Santa Fe that either have never started a garden or haven’t had success here in our challenging garden area. Many want to be successful organically growing their own food and need help on where to start. So I will take us from the beginning through planning and building a garden, creating good soil, raised beds vs in-ground beds, starting seeds, transplanting plants, varieties that grow well for beginners and even harvesting tips. This will be more basic info but even advanced gardeners might benefit from some of the tips I’ll be giving.

Go here to listen to past radio show podcasts and pick up awesome information -https://giantveggiegardener.com/radio-show/

Here’s the rundown:

SHOW #1—my regular radio show-‘Monthly Veggie Garden Tips’

Where:  airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the last Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: What to do in our gardens for each month, problems that arise and solutions

SHOW #2—my NEW radio show-‘Veggie Gardening 101′

Where: airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the 2nd Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: Beginning vegetable gardening from start to finish and everywhere in between.

Seed Catalogs/2017

catalogs-2017

My top two seed catalog picks

Even though it’s not 2017 yet, many of you are now getting your seed catalogs in for 2017 season. I just updated for 2017 my favorite seed and garden catalogs. I have many favorites besides the two above. Here they are:

GOOD SEED LIST:

THESE SEED CATALOGS/COMPANIES ARE GREAT. THEY DO NOT BUY ANY SEEDS FROM SEMINIS, A SUBSIDIARY OF MONSANTO AND ARE MY FAVORITES.

Seed Saver Exchange—As a SSE member I want to support this non-profit organization who is dedicated to CONSERVING and promoting heirloom varieties of veggies, flowers, fruits and herbs. It’s catalog is wonderful with many varieties of seeds that are hard to find or have been kept in families for generations. http://www.seedsavers.org

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds—It features beautiful pictures of many varieties of heirloom vegetables, flowers and fruits, some of which are very unusual and rare. It gives wonderful descriptions and history of where each variety originated. Check them out. www.rareseeds.com

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange– recommended by Baker Heirlooms as another good source for heirlooms. Has many hard to find vegetable seeds. http://www.southernexposure.com/

Wild Boar Farmsspecialize in fantastic OP varieties of tomatoes. wildboarfarms.com
No catalog-go online to order.

Baia Nicchia Farm—specialize in more fantastic OP varieties of tomatoes. Created the Artisan Seed Series of tomatoes in Johnny’s Seeds catalog. Support their company for certain select seeds not available anywhere else and go to Johnny’s for the rest of their Artisan tomato seeds. Support their breeding work by buying directly from them. https://store.growartisan.com/
No catalog-go online to order.

Secret Seed Cartel—specialize in unique, unusual or rare seeds of peppers and tomatoes from Europesecretseedcartel.com
No catalog-go online to order.

Wild Garden Seeds—My new go to catalog for wonderful greens and lettuce www.wildgardenseed.com/ (I use to think they sold in bulk only,  but they sell smaller quantities as well. The packet price listed on top of catalog pages)

John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds—Sells many wonderful hard to find heirloom seeds like Argentata chard and French gray shallots. http://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/

Kitazawa Seed CompanyOldest seed company in America specializing in Asian vegetable seeds. http://www.kitazawaseed.com/

Irish Eyes Garden SeedsGet your different types of potatoes here. http://irisheyesgardenseeds.com/

Native Seed/SEARCHfabulous seeds by native people in the southwest. www.nativeseeds.org/

Hudson Valley SeedThe Hudson Valley Seed Library is an amazing source for heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds and beautiful garden-themed contemporary art. http://hudsonvalleyseed.com/

Peaceful Valley (Grow Organic)—I get all my row cover and most of my growing supplies from here.www.groworganic.com

Johnny’s Selected Seeds—provides hybrid, heirloom and OP seeds, tools, information, and service. A general all-purpose catalog packed with more than just seeds. www.johnnyseeds.com

There are many other good seed companies that do not buy their seed stock from Seminis.  To see more good seed companies that may be among your favorites, go here. If your favorite seed company is not listed, call them if you are interested.

My favorite tomato for 2016!

lucky-cross1

I always plant several new varieties of tomatoes each year and the winner hands down for 2016 was:

LUCKY CROSS

lucky-cross-insideIt is a fantastic yellowish tomato with pink blush outside and inside as well. Sometimes they were more yellowish with pink overtones and sometimes more pinkish with some yellow overtones. No matter the color, it has an exceptional sweet flavor like a Brandywine. It never cracked or got diseases and was very prolific. It is a potato leaf variety. I haven’t been this excited about a tomato for a long time. It now beats my beloved Virginia Sweet tomatoes which are prone to cracks and diseases.

When I did some research on this tomato, the variety originally came from Craig LeHoullier (author of Epic Tomatoes). He stated it came from a Brandywine and an unknown bee-produced cross and had the luck to grow it out with these great attributes.  You can read the story of it from him here. No wonder I thought it tasted like a Brandywine! It is now a stable open-pollinated (OP) tomato and will grow out the same each generation. I saved some of the seeds from this beauty and will definitely grow it next season.