Demo Continues in the Garden

Part of getting the garden ready for fall/winter is moving out the plants that are ‘done’ for the summer.  Most of the plants do great through spring and start to struggle as the heat gets turned up in the AZ oven.

Some of them do fine and even thrive.

The squash and zucchini are struggling quite a bit.  Even after being heavily watered in the morning they are wilting in the afternoon heat.  The two zucchini that I pulled in this morning were big, but they looked like they were from the land of misfit toys.  I’ll add a picture later if I get a chance, but I think you get the idea.

misfit squash

In any case, the tomatoes performed valiantly.  They produced decent amounts of extremely tasty fruit.  I don’t think I can eat a taco now with just regular tomatoes.  They were awesome.  But… no new blossoms and the last fruit to mature were getting smaller by the minute.  The vines looked pathetic and were a tangled mass that had become a haven for a variety of little bugs.  They were done.  I ripped them all out this morning except for one in the back.  It actually had three decent sized tomatoes on it, so it gets a reprieve until those ripen up.  One more batch of tacos!

One of the things I did this year with the tomatoes was follow the concept of the “tomato jungle”.  It has a lot of benefits including increased shade to the plants, but I found it very difficult to get to the fruit and I think I might have had better production if there had been a little more air flow around the plants.  I think I’ll follow a more traditional square foot gardening technique next year, single vine, and definitely a different support system.

In any case, they were a success… and now we’ve got a spot that will be a great place to put the first fall/winter starts… come September.  In the meantime, I’ll bury it in a couple of inches of mulch to maintain the healthy soil that is there.

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11 Responses to Demo Continues in the Garden

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Greetings Mr. Jones! Next year (remember, in gardening and farming, there’s always next year; ) you’ll get more fruit if you keep picking as they ripen. I harvest mine as soon as they’re uniformly red (w/ no green bits anymore). If you allow them to fully ripen on the vine – and a lot of plants are like this – they’ll say “I’ve set seed, mission accomplished!” and stop flowering. And, I couldn’t agree with you more, there’s NOTHING to compare with the flavour of homegrown tomatoes (or homegrown anything, for that matter: ) Cheers, Deb

    • I was pretty good about that for the most part. I find if I leave them too long the birds may get them first. They took a really long time to ripen the first fruits. That’s one of the reasons I was going to go with more of the SFG technique and do the single vine. These things just got out of control! They went over the six foot wall, out into the common area, they were everywhere, and then ended up falling over in the wind. Everything tastes better from the garden. That’s why I’m expanding for fall. Mwahahahaha!

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        After rereading that first bit, got me wondering if you pruned (ruthlessly: ) once your vines started to sucker? Over the years, I’ve noticed that the fruit starts to ripen as soon as the Tomato Hormworm starts to munch. Pruning out the suckers that come at every leaf junction seems to have the same effect; that, and the fact that the plant spends all of its energy on flower and fruit production instead of greenery. (You will also have a MUCH easier time finding what you’re looking for: )
        Also, when planting out tomatoes, bury them as deep as you can, with only the tip-top bunch of leaves showing. By nipping off all the leaves that will be below grade, roots will form all along the stem and your plants will thank you for it.
        Oh, and that bit about picking young really applies to zucchini/summer squash. Pick early and often, unless you want them for stuffing (or football; ) that is…

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        What sort of tomato were you growing? Our Roma (Italian paste type) tomatoes are good for eating, canning and cooking. With all of that ravelling, how much light are these guys getting? Full sun is best. Sorry, perhaps if I’d looked at more of your previous posts/photos perhaps there’d be less (dumb?) questions… Although you’re in Arizona and we’re in Southern Ontario, @6pm EST we’re at 29*C/84.2*F (+ humidity feels like 39*C/102.2*F just ‘WAY too hot for my liking):

      • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

        *Apparently wrote “ravelling”, should’ve been “travelling”

      • These were Delicious Tomatoes and Atkinson Tomatoes, both were REALLY good. These were in a place where they got full sun for part of the day and partial shade for the afternoon. Tomatoes are really a spring time crop or fall crop in AZ because of the intensity of the sun. These actually survived a long time. My planting calendar actually recommends a 50% shade cloth, but the afternoon shade seemed to be enough. This has been a really rough summer. We had over a week of 110. Ouch!

  2. Hi There. Gosh, I can’t believe you are preparing for winter already. That means our winter must be nearly over. I really need to get a wiggle on and finish all my winter tasks before it is too late.
    Enjoy what remains of your summer.
    Cheers Sarah : o )

    • Well, we have a lot of hot ahead of us still. One year about 10-12 years ago it was actually 100 degrees the weekend before Thanksgiving. Ouch! But really this is our main growing season for veggies in the Valley of the Sun. September 1st is the day! I’ve got lots to prepare, and build… I’m expanding! Yeah!

  3. Caleb says:

    This is just a suggestion, and is purely due to my curiosity, (because in New Hampshire we never have problems with tomato plants six feet tall.) (That would make the local papers.)

    Keep that one surviving plant as an experiment. If it is in the wrong place, cut it back and transplant it. Dump a lot of manure around it. Cut off leggy branches, and encourage suckers towards the base. You might see the plant regenerate and produce a second crop, right into November.

    I wonder what the guys who grow tomatoes in Greenhouses do. They have no fears of frost.

    What is the life-expectancy of a tomato plant?

    This far north we can occasionally get a frost around Labor Day, and our chief problem is getting tomatoes ripe. Many ruthlessly remove every flower in mid-August, so the plant will put all its energy into its fruit.

    The summer 18 months after the Volcano Pinatubo blew convinced me volcanic ash and SO2 weaken the power of sunlight, because that summer didn’t seem all that cold, but my tomatoes simply wouldn’t ripen. Every plant was loaded, and manure made the growth vigorous, but even in early September I had only managed to extract eight red tomatoes from the vines, (and some were tiny cherry tomatoes.) Then an early frost came, killing all the plants, but I had plucked heaps of fruit and desperately loaded every window sill in my house with green tomatoes, hoping they would ripen. Around a third of them did, and the rest taxed my good wife’s patience, for the house had a funny smell to it.

    I hope your wife if as good as mine is. Although wives like the fresh produce, it is not always the easiest thing to be married to a mad gardener.

    • Fortunately, my wife is very patient. Which is why she came up with like two dozen recipes for zucchini and squash. Hahaha! From what I’ve read the single vine technique is supposed to help them ripen faster. From what I’ve seen in the greenhouses (and we actually have the big Euro Fresh ones here in AZ they train them up a string. They don’t last forever and from what I understand production falls off with age. I didn’t have any manure, so I put a bunch of composted mulch around the remaining plant. I’ll trim it up tomorrow morning and see if I can keep it going. If it makes it to November I’ll be pretty impressed. Most of them, including that one, just weren’t looking too good.

      • Caleb says:

        Thanks. Keep me informed. We never get to see our tomatoes get all that old. They are always growing like crazy when the frost cuts them down.

        one year, (1975?) I was living right on the water on the coast of Maine, and managed to keep an eggplant protected from frost right into November. However the days got so short and the sun was so low it just sat there and didn’t grow at all.

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