My tomatoes — most of them indeterminate heirloom varieties — endured cool temperatures during much of June. Then, throughout late June and early July, they were bombarded with record rainfall, ghastly heat, and oppressive humidity — the very conditions that lead to blight (as indicated by yellowed or browned foliage).
But my plants are free of blight. The foliage is as green as the Schwinn banana-seat bicycle my parents gave me for my 9th birthday.
In other words, the foliage is screamin’-green.
I think the following factors have attributed to the good health of the plants:
Next, the beds are topped with a thick layer of mulch. Mulch, which in this case is weed-free straw, helps the soil to retain moisture. Furthermore, during a heavy rain, the mulch keeps water — and potential fungal spores – from bouncing off the soil and splashing onto the lower leaves.
And finally, I remove suckers from the vines. Suckers burden the plants with excess foliage. Too much lushness promotes the shady, wet conditions that inevitably lead to problems (like fungal diseases). If you need a refresher course on sucker-identification, please take a moment to be read this post from 2012: De-Suckering My Tomatoes.
As you can see, the vines have reached the top of their wooden trellis. I like the trellis better than cages, because the vines remain within easy reach. Suckers — and any problems, should they arise — are in plain view. Fruit, of course, is in plain view, too.
My theory: Pollinating insects, such as honey bees, have an easier time finding tomato flowers when the vines are grown on a tall trellis. Again, this is theory, not fact. But it sounds reasonable, yes?
Update: Thanks to reader Beverly, I now know that tomatoes do not require insects for pollination. Wind — or a breeze — or anything that shakes the flowers — will cause pollen from the anthers to contact the stigma.
Well. I hope you’ll talk about your tomato plants in the comments field below. Feel free to brag, just as I did. Probably you are already harvesting fruit, and you grew your plants on level ground, in wire cages, without mulch and without removing a single sucker.
What do I know?
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