Fresh tomatoes that can survive a truck ride to Idaho have the texture and flavor of a racquet ball. To my way of thinking, a few garden grown tomatoes are worth extra effort even if they can only be enjoyed for a few weeks in August and September.
In the middle of May I bought some gallon sized tomato plants and nestled each one into a gadget called a Wall-of-Water.
The plastic collar has vertical columns that are filled with water to hold in heat and keep out cold and wind.
They work okay, unless you don’t put them on level ground or mound dirt around the base. Then they choose to topple onto the baby plants late in the evening when you are in your high heels. Your attempts to right the situation results in ruined nylons (more about them later) and muddy party shoes.
When frost is predicted you gather the top around the plant. On sunny afternoons the collar is opened to disperse heat. (Lots of hands on stuff so don’t try this with an acre of plants).
Yesterday I noticed the plants were straining to crawl out of their little greenhouses so I went to step two.
I pulled off the Wall of Waters and stuck a stake in the dirt about three inches from each plant (you can use about any kind of 1x1 pole about five feet long).
Now I got out those ruined panty hose. I know enclosing your legs in stockings is old school. But around here we get so few chances to see sunlight that, out of courtesy, most ladies wear nylons with dresses to protect others from the glare of legs the color of mayonnaise. Anyway, I cut up the hose into two-to-three inch wide strips and used them to tie the plants to the stakes in several places.
The last part of the process (I told you this was labor intensive)is to prune the plants so there is just one main stem. As the plants grow, new shoots form where the branches attach to the stem. These little suckers have to be pulled off when they are two-to-four inches long. I grasp them with a thumb and forefinger and pull outward and downward. New ties and pruning need to happen about every ten days. IF I can maintain this procedure and the weather co-operates I will get less tomatoes, but huge ones that are ripe long before the first frost. More later.