Sunday, June 17, 2012
Only two things that money can't buy- and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes. -John Denver
If you are wondering why store bought tomatoes taste horrible, read this:
But I warn you this is a quote from the introduction: "In the chilling words of Douglas Mollory, South Florida's tomato fields are "ground zero for modern-day slavery." Mollory is not talking about virtual slavery, or near slavery or slaverylike conditions, but real slavery."
I mean sorry- I know you came here to read tomato watering tips but to say this book was eye opening is really an understatement. People working in the fields are sprayed directly with pesticides! On their person! Where is the humanity? Check the book out if you want to find out more and also find out why store tomatoes taste horrible. I'll leave it at that.
Tomato Problem: Birds are eating your tomatoes.
Solution 1. Pick your tomatoes just before the are ripe and let them ripen inside. A few days inside will not hurt the taste. Birds seem to have acquired a palate for tomatoes the day before you are going to pick them. They like them better a little green. Nothing worse than seeing a Brandywine you were about to pick yesterday destroyed because you waited a day. I have been there.
Solution 2. Cover your plants in bird netting. Bird netting can be a bit of a pain because it gets tangled up in everything but it does the job. I also read in Mother Earth News that you can use old lace curtains and they won't get so tangled. Once I find some vintage lace curtains at the thrift store, I will test it out for you.
Solution 3. Plant some yellow or orange tomatoes. This is totally unscientific but the birds leave our non-red tomato varieties alone.
Tomato Tip 2. When you see a tomato has been pecked by birds or partially eaten by bugs, remove it from your plant or it will just attract more bugs.
Tomato Tip 3. If your plant has a fungal disease or spider mites (you can see little webs), you can use neem oil. Neem oil is a common organic pesticide and can be found in most nurseries and even big box stores. The sooner you catch it and treat it- the better. The part of the plant that was affected won't produce but that plant's new growth can provide you with fresh tomatoes.
Tomato Tip 4. If you find you can not save the plant- pull it up before it spreads to your others. You will want to be careful if you put it in your compost pile- the pile needs to get hot enough to kill any disease. If you are not so exact with your compost- it is better to burn the plant or dispose of it another way. You don't want next year's sweet homemade compost to be carrying disease.