After July 4, a panic fills my soul; fear that the growing season will soon come to a close. Admittedly, this year I have yet to put up the first jar of tomatoes as – again – the gardening began late due to cold weather. Last year it was too wet to plow. . . this year, too cold to start early.
Still, I can do the math. 30-60-90 means frost will be here before you know it.
Thankfully, Southerners experience two growing seasons.
Now is the time to plant late beans and squash, but most important, it is time to root tomatoes for an extended harvest.
Simply snip off a section of the plant (preferably one that already has blooms), and place the cutting in water. Seven to ten days later you have this.
Water well until the newspapers are a mushy mess and add tomato.
Add Dirt. Add MORE water. I mean enough to make a puddle. Then wait a moment and let the newspapers absorb the water.
After that, water a bit more. Think of this as the mud-pie phase.
Then walk away. There is nothing more to do. Just walk away and let the tomato do its thing. This week is the perfect time to plant tomatoes. We’re getting a bit of daily rain and the plant shouldn’t even wilt. n the beginning you may have to water every other day, but please, for love of your tomatoes, do not water tomatoes every day. Why you ask? Because they will taste like water, of course, instead of having that rich flavor we all enjoy.
Two weeks after planting your rootlings, sprinkle a bit of fertilizer around the plant, FAR away from the stalk so that you do not burn the plant. Remember, most tomatoes fail and get blossom end rot because they are receiving too much water and too little calcium. Egg shells=calcium. Too much water=unhappy gardeners.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of Mountain Memories: True Stories and Half-Truths from Appalachia. Her first book, In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes earned her a SIBA and GAYA nomination. In September of 2014, Mercer University Press will release her next book titled Farming, Friends, & Fried Bologna Sandwiches. Email her through her website at www.reneawinchester.com. She welcomes new friends on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter Here.