Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dealing with sprawl

 One of the things I'm vowing to do differently next year is deal with the tomatoes in a neater, more contained way. I've done the 6x6" wire fencing approach, and that works okay. I tried to stake them this year, and that apparently takes much more effort than I put in. I don't know which approach I'll use next year -- maybe a combination, depending on the type of tomato and whether I mean to pick them a bunch at a time (like paste tomatoes) or singly (like slicing).

No matter which support system I choose, it's going to succeed or not depending on how much effort I put into it, I suspect. Things like proper spacing, clipping blighted leaves, and nipping back overwhelming growth for better air circulation actually count if healthy tomatoes with a neater aspect are desired.

I do know I won't allow any volunteers next year, as they turned out to be mostly uninspired cherry tomatoes. I'm not certain I'll grow cherries, at all. Sungolds are nice, but a little goes a long way, for me. I'm really a cooked tomato kind of gal, caprese salad notwithstanding.

As I was searching for those links, I was surprised to see that I'd put these tomatoes out in April. Can it really be that we have over seven months of tomato growth? Wild. I do grow, however, heartily sick of them, especially when they look as neglected as mine did.

So yesterday was the last day for tomatoes. Ellie and I pulled all the vines (she pulled when my elbow began complaining) and picked through the plants for any leftover tomatoes.

There were a lot:

They got divided into three piles: green, to go to my friend Vera to make into pickles (we ate this year's jar at Thanksgiving and maybe I ate a lot last night while I was doing dishes); a pile of red-maybe-will-ripen-on-the-window for sauce; and a pile of "yuck!" for the chickens.

This guy made me yell out loud, but the chickens will appreciate a tasty snack.


kitsapFG said...

That last one was definitely a "yuck!" but I definitely see happy chickens! :D

I use a combo cage and ladder system but what makes it work is aggressive pruning because we get so many bacterial and fungus problems due to our cool and damp climate. Nothing works well unless I can keep it not only "up" but also dry and with good air circulation.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

You did better than us, our early October deluge knocked out the last of our tomatoes. I agree though, taming them can be a challenge. I gave up on staking years ago as I clearly was not disciplined enough. At least with the cages mine stay mostly upright, but next year I need to commit to pruning them a little more I think!