One of the advantages of being retired is that you can stay home on really hot days and not have to hear people ask, “Is it hot enough for you?” If you were asked that question this weekend, please raise your hand. Yeah, that was way too many raised hands.
Since tomatoes are the No. 1 homegrown produce, you need to know a couple of things.
When the weather is as hot as it was this past weekend, it can mean that many of those flowers on your plants may never turn into tomatoes.
When the temperatures hit 90 degrees or more and even with the bees visiting your tomato flowers, oftentimes, the flowers never get properly pollinated. If the flowers don’t get properly pollinated, then, of course, you don’t get any tomatoes.
For many years, customers would come into the store in the late summer and tell me that they had some nice tomatoes early on in the season, but now, they had only green tomatoes. I would think back, and usually, I could remember the heat wave that hit about the time that many tomato plants had produced a boatload of flowers. The heat wave created the right conditions for those tomato flowers to never got properly pollinated.
One of the things that you can do is to buy a product called Blossom Set. There are other names, but what they all do is help those flowers set fruit in hot weather.
When the temperatures rise, you take your bottle of spray and direct a mist of it at the flowers. This spray will help set the flowers and allow the tomatoes to develop. This product also works on squash and cucumbers.
A few people have told me that they have seen some small tomato hornworms on their tomato plants. This green caterpillar starts off small, but as it grows, it can strip off leaves while you watch. You can pick them off by hand, or you can use an organic insect spray to kill them.
However, if you spot one with what looks like grains of rice on its back, don’t spray that hornworm. The grains are actually a parasite that is killing the caterpillar. By letting the parasite do its job, you are increasing the numbers of future parasites that will keep the tomato hornworms in check.
The warm weather means that you probably had to water your annual flowers and your vegetable plants with a lot more water. Water can flush more of the nutrients out of the soil.
At this time of the year, you will have to shorten up the number of days between applications of fertilizer. If you are using a powder that you mix with water, you probably should be fertilizing every seven to 10 days. If you are using a granular fertilizer, you probably should be fertilizing every 10 to 14 days.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.
Tim Lamprey has worked in the lawn and garden industry for 45 years.