First - events:
Sunday July 1 - I will be on Niki Jabbour's radio show The Weekend Gardener (from Nova Scotia) answering tomato questions between 11-11:30. You can listen live at the link.
Sunday July 8 - I will be participating in A Southern Season cooking school focusing on tomatoes, with Alex Hitt of Peregrine Farms and Marilyn Markel. These are really fun events and you can find more info and register here.
Zely and Ritz tomato dinners - Here is the info circulated in a recent email
As we are now reaching the heat of the summer we are beginning to harvest TOMATOES!
Take out your calendars, look at these dates and then let us know which dinners you wish to attend. If you are a relatively new diner at Zely & Ritz, then you should know that the Tomato Dinners we serve each summer are generally sold out and are spectaculary delicious, informatinve and great fun for everyone.
Tomato Dinner # 1 - Wednesday, July 18th
Tomato Dinner # 2 - Tuesday, July 24th
Tomato Dinner # 3 - Thursday, July 26th
Tomato Dinner # 4 - Wednesday, August 1st
Tomato Dinner # 5 - Tuesday, August 7th
Tomato Dinner # 6 - Thursday, August 9th
Finally - Tomatopalooza - the 10th Anniversary event! We are having a planning meeting this coming weekend, and will be communicating much more info/details about the event, which will be held on Saturday, July 28 in Efland, NC. Watch this space for more!
OK - the heat! Wow - I don't think I've ever seen a forecast like the one that describes the upcoming week. For gardeners, it means taking some extra attention and care, but is not as dire as it sounds (unless you are not around for the week and your garden is not being tended!). It really is all about water. And if you got a late start and your tomatoes have yet to set fruit, the coming period will not be good for fruit set.
Here's what I am doing - watering each morning at around 8-9 AM - watering deeply (each container gets water to the point that it starts to come out the bottom) - and watering at the base of the plant. I water everything - all of my flowers, the big garden - paying close attention to beets and greens and beans in addition to the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Then around 1-2 PM, I will venture out and see how things are going - if the soil seems to be getting dry and the plants beginning to show real stress (wilting), I am spot watering the pots - and not lingering long to see what may be ripening....just a dash out there to make the rounds with the hose. When the sun starts to go down and some shade starts appearing, I do another check to see if the plants have sufficient moisture to make it to the next morning....if not, a bit more spot watering.
What you probably should avoid is getting the foliage on tomatoes, peppers and eggplant wet - hence the bottom watering. The problem with fruit-laden tomatoes suffering long dry spells (severe wilting) is the promotion of blossom end rot on the unripe fruit - the black, sunken region that really does render the fruit inedible (though OK for seed saving).
What this coming hot spell may also promote in some of your gardens is the onset of more systemic disease such as Fusarium and Bacterial Wilt (whole branches of the plant going bright yellow - Fusarium - or brown - Bacterial - and wilting). Fusarium isn't necessarily a death knell for the plant - I've had a few this year with only one stem affected, and the rest of the plant fine. Bacterial Wilt is death for the plant, though - and any plants that are infected should be removed (and the foliage NOT composted).
If anyone has concerns and questions, email me and I will get you an answer as quickly as I can.
Whew....off to the Raleigh Farmers market to seek out melons and berries!
...by the way, we are just starting to pick some ripe tomatoes...the really big fellas will probably start coming by July 10 or so. But we should be awash in Mexico Midgets and Sungolds within the week!
AND.....Tomatoville was down for about 24 hours - it is back up and working fine.