Its been a very warm week but I managed to get out in the vegetable garden to do a bit of weeding. I also had a new task to do. My tomato plants have really grown since they were planted. Some of them were not planted until the end of June but they seem to have caught up with the earlier plantings. Before going away on holiday I had to figure out a good way to mulch the tomatoes. After all, I was leaving my daughter to water the plants and with a half-acre garden its a bit much to ask. I knew the containers would take priority when it came to watering. How could I keep the tomatoes in this new garden alive? We were only gone for five days but the temperatures soared and it was close to 90F while we were gone.I tried not to worry but you know what its like when you have seen the plants grow right from the first leaf. They are like your babies.
Luckily this garden received one watering in our five day absense.When I moved a bit of straw back upon our return, the soil was still very damp. The straw and newspaper mulch has allowed us to only water once each week and even then it’s not much. Using straw is not only a good mulch but has helped us conserve water. The tomatoes are healthy and thriving.
The only problem with laying down a few inches of mulch is my plant tags with the names of the different varieties are hard to see. Not seeing them means they will be easily stepped on. So I knew I had to improve the way the plants were labelled. I cut strips out of an empty yogurt container and used a one-hole punch to make a hole at one end. I grabbed a few twist ties, some string and a trusty permanent marker and off I went.
There I was on my hands and knees looking for the old plant tags. Some were bent and hard to find. I felt like I was looking for buried treasure. Once I found the old tag, I copied the name of the tomato on to the new tag and attached it to an upper part of the plant. As you can see, I have tomatoes already forming and I need to think about starting to isolate some blooms for seed collecting. If you look at the top photo again, you will see the organza bag over a set of unopened flowers. This prevents bees from adding any pollen to the already self pollinated flowers when they open. Labelling the tomatoes properly is crucial to proper seed collecting. No one wants to get a tomato they didn’t order. I collect seeds all summer for a seed bank.
Learning how to preserve heirloom species of tomatoes is fun. It takes little time but has big rewards. After all, even though I collect the seeds I still get to eat the tomatoes. Most of the tomatoes were properly labelled today. As the plants grow I may have to adjust the tags but it is easier than crawling on the ground looking for them.