May 10, 2011

Temperature Tips on Tomato Tuesday

 I'd like to thank my sister-in-law for coming up with the clever alliteration. My apologies if you are one of those "read out loud" types as I imagine you now have spit on your screen courtesy of today's tomato title...I'm on a roll, somebody stop me.

Tomatoes are one of the most popular plants to grow, but also the most finicky....sigh
Fear not! For it is my hope that in a few short months we will be sharing salsa recipes, munching on caprese salad, and watching "Fried Green Tomatoes" whilst stuffing our faces guessed it!

Generally speaking, tomato plants do well with a range of 50 degrees F to 80 degrees F.
In the Pacific Northwest, our evenings are still dipping below 50 degrees,  so our tomatoes aren't quite ready for the garden.

Growing tomatoes in containers is the easiest way to solve this dilemma. You can leave your tomato plant outside during the day and bring it in at night. Just make sure to bring the plant in at night as soil in your container tends to be cooler than in your garden.

So what happens if you already planted your tomatoes in your garden? What most likely will happen is your tomato plant will not bear fruit. When a tomato plant is exposed to colder temperatures,  the blossoms drop off of the vine before they are able to be pollinated. 

You can however stage an intervention and protect your harvest from temperatures below 50 degrees by implementing the following techniques. If you have been following my blog, you know the drill. 
  • Hot Kaps you can leave these around the base of your tomato plant until temperatures warm up.
  • Automater trays: I have not used these before and I've read mixed reviews. The purpose of them is to keep the soil warm, evenly distribute water and fertilizer to the roots, and prevent weeds from growing around the plant. If you have used these before, please share your thoughts!
  • Water walls (Wall-o-water): See this post from Suburban Hobby Farmer on Water Walls. I have used these before, I did notice a difference!
  • Cloches/hoop house: using a large cloche combined with a layer of mulch can increase your soil temperature by 10 degrees! 
My blogging buddy at Cohocton River Rock Minifarm said that these are also called hoop houses, or low houses.

Get ready for some terrifically, tasty, tender, tomatoes!
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