Despite a visit from the Japanese Beetles last week (which I removed promptly and drowned in soapy water), the Everbearing Strawberries are producing a fine, sweet crop of fruit. I have not encountered any more of the voracious pests that can easily destroy a crop overnight.
There will be fresh strawberries for our Sunday morning waffle breakfast tomorrow, along with blueberries from northern Minnesota, a treat from a co-worker. I added some of the blueberries to our morning oatmeal today, and I doubt that there are better tasting blueberries anywhere.
Unfortunately the tomatoes growing on the plant in the Topsy-Turvy upside down tomato hanger have not fared so well in their fight again blossom-end rot. Most of the tiny little tomatoes develop black ends before they get larger than my thumb. I’ve been keeping them evenly watered and it doesn’t seem to have helped much. I may try adding Tums to the water, as I’ve read that the added calcium can help against BER.
The tomato plants in the raised bed garden are very healthy looking and have not had any BER at all. I think the soil mixture that I used in the beds and in the upside down tomato hanger were from the same batch of compost, perlite, and peat, so they all got the same start.
Above is a photo of the Roma tomatoes that are growing in the raised bed garden.
Below is a photo of the Roma tomatoes that are growing in the upside down tomato hanger.
I’ll have to remember next year, that the Roma tomato plants seem to do better in the raised bed. Seems the elongated tomatoes are more prone to BER. Cherry tomatoes might be a better choice for tomato planters. Honestly though, in general I think the upside down tomato planter is a little too high maintenance for me. Tomatoes do wonderfully in raised beds, and as long as I have the room for the gardens, I don’t really see an advantage to the tomato hangers, unless there is no room for a garden. Even then, I would probably just plant them in pots.
From a distance, the upside down tomato plant looks like it is thriving. I’ve been watering every evening that it doesn’t rain. However, we had above average rainfall in June, and July has been pretty wet so far too. This evening when I was watering, I noticed that the cute little tomatoes on the upside down tomato plant all had black bottoms. Although I’ve never seen blossom end rot on such small tomatoes, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is.
Blossom end rot is usually caused by excessive moisture or inconsistent moisture content in the soil which causes a calcium deficiency. It has been difficult to keep the plant evenly watered due to all the rain followed by hot, summer days.
Once the fruit is diseased, there’s nothing that can be done, other than to remove them from the plant, which I did. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on the planter and make sure that it doesn’t dry out too much, or get waterlogged. It is hanging in an area that gets full sun and plenty of air circulation so I don’t think that’s the problem. I may try adding a layer of mulch to the inside of the planter to help retain moisture evenly.
The tomato plants that are growing in the raised bed garden are very healthy and have shown no signs of blossom end rot. It is much easier to keep the moisture content consistent in the raised beds.
These Brandywine Heirloom tomatoes look and smell delicious. Can’t wait until they’re ripe and ready for the table!
Growing tomatoes the traditional way has never been a problem for me. I usually end up with many more than I know what to do with and am happy when the harvest season is over with. The first year I was married I planted something like 30 tomato plants of all types including heirloom. I was literally giving away 5-gallon pails full to the local private school and that was after I had canned 100 quarts for my fruit cellar - only to find out that my (now ex-) husband didn't like tomatoes. He ended up giving quarts away to his buddies which they mixed in with their beer. Needless to say, I greatly reduced my planting the following year.
So, like I said, I've never had any trouble growing tomatoes in the garden. But last year after seeing all the hype about the Topsy Turvy tomato growing hanger (and since I'm now using the raised garden beds and have limited space) I purchased a cheap knockoff at the local hardware store. I struggled to get the tomato plant inserted into the hole because the plastic star-shaped opening was made out of such a stiff plastic, that by the time I got the root ball through the opening, the plant was pretty beat up. The plant never really survived the stress and within a few weeks died off. The cheap knockoff tomato growing hanger went out in the next garage sale.
So this year when the local Walgreen's offered the Topsy Turvey bag for $9.99 I bit. So with Steve's help, I just planted a fairly large tomato plant upside down in the hanger. I have to say that it went much smoother than last year's process. There's a white foam circular disk that is secured around the stem of the plant to keep the plant inside the bag. It's a much more gentle way to secure it. I did have to discard some of the excess dirt from the pot in order to get the root ball through the bottom opening but the plant was still intact when we were done.