7-19-05 Fruits of Summer

In This Issue:

  1. Summer splendor
  2. Summer Sale
  3. Gardenerd tip of the month

1. Summer splendor

I took some time off from writing this newsletter to get married, and came back to find my garden flourishing! It’s amazing to see how things can change over two weeks. Tomato plants were towering over my head, potatoes – just planted before I left – had shot up foliage two feet tall, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash had been very, very, very busy while I was gone. Does anyone need some zucchini?! I’ve got plenty!

It wouldn’t be summer without these glorious herbs, vegetables and fruits sprawling all over the garden. Pumpkins, butternut squash, melons, strawberries, leeks, cucumbers, and most importantly basil all represent summer to me. Every year, I eagerly anticipate the first ripe tomato, hoping that the basil will have grown big enough for me to pick some tender leaves and carry them home like new-found buried treasure to make the quintessential summer fare: The Caprese sandwich. I could live on Caprese alone, and almost do, throughout the hot summer months when just the thought of turning on the oven to cook makes me sweat. It’s simple: sliced tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil, a little salt and pepper and olive oil on some crusty Italian bread, and you’ve got heaven on a plate. For you carb conscious folk, lose the bread and make a salad with the aforementioned ingredients, and belly up to a bowl of summer goodness that will send your soul straight to Tuscany.

Whether you have a full-blown garden or just some pots on the porch, no garden should be without tomatoes and basil. Both can be grown in containers and require very little space (just one square foot each). It may be a little late for this year, but check out the Gardenerd tip of the month for info on how to get your share of summer’s bountiful tomato offerings. Enjoy!

2. Summer Sale
There is still time to take advantage of the summer sale at Cafepress.com. Been wishing for a new gardening shirt or journal (this month’s featured product). Here’s your link to Cafepress:

LINK: http://www.cafepress.com/gardenerd

3. Gardenerd tip of the month

Tomatoes – In just about any publication about gardening you will read the same thing over and over: If you can only grow one thing, grow tomatoes. There is nothing more satisfying than homegrown tomatoes, especially if you have access to some of the over 400 varieties out there. Here are some basic tips to get going:

Plants: Pick short stalky plants rather than long, leggy plants (leave that to the super models). That ensures the seedlings have gotten enough light in their early growth.

Soil: Tomatoes like acidic soil. Condition the soil with compost, coffee grounds and fertilizer specific to acid-loving plants.

Planting: Here’s the trick, and one that might not be intuitive — pinch off all the lower leaves of the plant. Dig a hole about twice as deep as the height of the root ball. Throw a handful of Epsom salts in the bottom of the hole (this prevents blossom end rot) and place the plant in the hole. Bury it gently and water it in. The deeper you plant the better. Why? Because deep roots make better plants. Tomatoes thrive this way.

Watering: This is where most people go terribly wrong. Tomatoes don’t need much water. Trust me on this one. Experts say water once a week until the plant starts setting fruit, then cut back to once every 10 days (unless you have very sandy soil and live in a hot area). No more than once a week! I can’t tell you how many sad little plants I’ve killed from over-watering.

One more watering tip:
Fish emulsion! Kelp emulsion! Tomatoes love them. Get your hands on some at your local nursery and give your plants a good soak once a week with this mineral-rich byproduct of the sea. It may not smell like nectar of the gods, but your tomatoes will thank you for it. Be sure to document your own growing tips, test trials and progress in you Gardenerd journal from year to year. You’ll be glad you did.

Below is wonderful website that no tomato lover should be without. It’s a little bare bones, but be sure to get on their mailing list for notices about upcoming plant sales in the spring. Don’t miss out!

Link: https://www.facebook.com/TomatomaniaHQ/

Keep your eyes peeled for more news and gardening advice from the Gardenerd. Until next time, happy gardening!