By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter
Late summer is the backside of a great tomato season.
While the plants are still blooming and producing, the amount of tomatoes that you can harvest begins to decline.
Many gardeners, during this time, begin to slack back on their tomato garden chores.
Below is a list of important tomato garden tasks that should be done to keep the tomato season going strong.
1. Continue to water. Tomato plants need at least one inch of water a week. To maximize your watering time, only water in the morning and only water the soil. Doing this will reduce possible plant disease and will get the water where it can be used.
2. Watch out for pests. Tomato hornworms are still active during the late summer. If you find them on your plants or fruit remove them but there is one exception to this rule. If the tomato hornworm has little white capsules on its back, allow the caterpillar to remain on the plant. The white capsules are eggs of a parasitic wasp. When these eggs hatch they will release new wasps into the environment. Do not worry though, any caterpillar with these little white capsules is paralyzed and can no longer cause harm.
3. Remove fruit once it is ripe. To keep what you reap, always remove the fruit once it is ripe.
4. Remove any diseased and/or fallen tomatoes. To keep pests and plant diseases at bay, remove any diseased or fallen tomatoes once they are found.
5. Get a jump on the fall garden cleanup by removing spent determinate tomato plants. To save time, remove any spent plant material throughout the season. This will free up space for fall plantings along with reducing the chance of nematodes setting up home in your garden soil. Also, do not place these plants in the compost pile. While they are organic material, they can transfer nematodes to the compost.
Following this simple chore list will help you end your tomato garden season with more time and produce. So until we blog again, before the winds of fall blow take time to enjoy a late summer cocktail of freshly squeezed tomato juice.