Holy Hot Tomato

Which Is Faster, Heat Or Cold?… Heat, Because You Can Catch A Cold!

It was a very busy weekend at the market this last Saturday, this of course was greatly enhanced with the Car Show that was present.  Lots of fine vehicles and people from far and wide, even some old friends I’ve not seen in years.  The weather was pleasant and the smokey haze that had been quite thick earlier in the morning saw fit to disperse for the remainder of the day.  Now, of course, we’re back in the smog and the temperature  again has climbed up to the high end of the 30’s and will remain so for a few more days.  This can be quite hard on not only people but to many of our garden plants.  A gentleman noticed that the fruit on his Tomato plants did not seem to be setting.

Earlier fruit was doing well and starting to ripen but the existing blossoms were not producing and I am certain that this is due to the heat.  Temperatures of greater that 35 degrees for even a short period of time can cause significant harm to many plants such as cucumber, eggplant, green beans and even peppers who really do best in the heat, but our beloved Tomatoes do suffer greatly.  Look at the leaves of your plants they may have curled in ward, that is the plant’s response to moisture loss due to excessive heat, the leaves may also have a thickened, rubbery texture.  Then there is the pollen that is also affected, the grains of pollen become fewer and less vital therefore the flowers do not get pollenated and they do not produce fruit.  High temperatures for prolonged times can actually cause programmed cell death that can kill the entire plant, the roots  are also greatly affected and do not develop well and the taste and sugar content in the fruit is also diminished, the plant will not grow as tall and even the existing fruit can crack.  Remove the fruit from the plant as soon as it shows signs of ripening and let it finish ripening in the house, provide shade if you can using shade cloth or white cloth stretched between stakes to filter some of the hot sun in the afternoon, mulch the soil with straw and be sure to water extremely well ( 6 inches ) to keep the root system cool.   You should not fertilize at this point as it will only stress the plant further and do not over prune as this too can cause stress.  Determinant varieties such as the Roma seem to suffer less and the search is on for plants that are more tolerant to the heat as this may not be the last of our overly hot summers.  The plants will hopefully survive this hot spell and will be more productive for the fall.

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com

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