Sunday, September 20, 2009

tomatoes -- a big big FAILURE!!

The tomatoes have been very disappointing. We have had some cherry tomoatoes, a bunch more are about to get ripe, and the other day I found a couple red non-cherry tomatoes. I was very very excited -- I hadn't seen them at all as they were ripening so I was totally surprised. I have a bunch of gorgeous huge green tomatoes but they are refusing to ripen.

The summer the last month or so has been very gray and cloudy, and often rainy. The days often are just in the 70s, and the evenings in the 50s. THat is one part of the problem with my tomatoes. But it's not entirely to blame -- after all, other people in Los Alamos have grown tomatoes this summer.

Despite my hoophouse, my garden is just not in the best spot. I think people with good tomatoes around here have their plants in a warmer "microclimate" -- south slope, south facing, against a wall, that kind of thing. Our house just doesn't offer up a lot of good options. When I put up the hoophouse, I was thinking of last summer, when the tomato plants just needed a little teeny bit more help. But this summer has been more difficult.

I don't have a whole lot to work with in our yard. We don't have much of a south facing area. There are a ton of pine trees. The house towers 20 feet over the backyard.

Anyways, I have a plan for next year now. The hoophouse was great for cucumbers and beans and squash and even pretty good for the chiles. So I'll use it for non-tomato plants.

The front yard is now a lot sunnier. The neighors chopped down the huge Siberian Elm (it's super invasive) and that has resulted in new area opening up that is south facing and gets a good bit of sunshine. We also chopped down our Russian Olives which were not doing well and are also invasive around here. Although they were not invasive in our yard -- they never really took off. So now the front yard is sunnier and hotter. We will put in new trees, but this gives me some options in terms of tomato gardens.

So I'm going to put in a raised bed or two for the tomatoes. I want to make it so I can set a mini-hoophouse covering over the beds to protect the plants and give them some extra heat. You know something about 3 feet tall, nothing huge like in the backyard. It will also help in controlling ants which have historically been a problem with growing stuff in the front of the house. (When the ground is kept dry from rain, you can spread diatomaceous earth out to kill the ants).

It's disappointing about the tomatoes. I keep trying to tell John that Cucumbers are the new tomato, but he doesn't believe me. And it's true, it's not just quite the same in a Caprese sandwich.

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