Warm the soil with black plastic
sheeting, cold frames and individual plastic cloches; some gardeners even go so
far as to construct elaborate plastic houses around their entire tomato beds.
Remember, these beauties would rather be in far warmer climes, anything that
will serve to trap and retain heat will benefit tomatoes, unless of course its
one of those dodgy devices filled with water that are just as apt to collapse
and decapitate your young plants.
& Disease Control. The
good news is that while most of the nation has tomato hornworms to deal with,
such pests are generally not a problem in our area. Should you be treated to
such a truly impressive vision, dispatch the pests by picking and feeding them
to the birds.
bad news is late tomato blight, Phytophthora
infestans, also spelled
HEARTBREAK. This fungus creates dark brown or black spots first affecting stems
and leaves and quickly spreading throughout the entire plant reducing it to a
foul, gunky mess. The fungal spores present in the soil are transferred to the
plant when rain or irrigation splashes the plant. A mulch and a staking method
that encourages good air circulation will greatly help gardeners avoid this
these spores persist in the soil for many years it is important that you do not
plant tomatoes (or other members of the Solanaceae
family) in a previously infected spot.
After several years of frustrating losses to blight I have had great luck with
a mulch of chamomile clippings. Chamomile has many anti-fungal properties,
indeed a weak chamomile tea is said to protect young seedlings from damping
When frost is imminent, pick all fully
developed green fruit and store in a cool but not cold room (the enzyme that
ripens tomatoes stops working at temperatures below 55° F). Some people suggest
wrapping tomatoes individually in newspapers to hasten ripening, as this traps
the ethylene gas produced by the fruit.
I find that I have better success—and fewer rotting tomatoes to clean
up—when I can keep my eye on the fruit. If all goes well, the stored fruit will
ripen over the following six weeks, by which time I’m thinking squash, kale and
other hardy winter vegetables and summer’s warmth and bounty is but a pleasant