Well – we knew it might happen – temperature are dropping down into the 50‘s and while that will not kill your tomatoes it might stunt them a bit. Lower temperature can make it difficult for tomatoes to take in nutrients and it can also delay the onset of flowering and fruiting which can mean the fruit will not have time to ripen.
But don’t fear – there are things you can do to help boost your tomatoes:
– When temperatures drop below 55 degrees at night cover your plants with a portable cold frame, simple plastic cover, a cloche or even a cardboard box.
– You may not be thinking about it now but regular watering over the growing season will help keep your tomatoes strong, give them a good deep water at least once a week in hot weather. Irregular watering can lead to blossom end rot. Be sure to water from below as excess water on leaves can encourage blight.
– Pruning the lower leaves off of your plants can help stave off blight with is aggravated by our cool wet climate. This fungus is soil borne so eliminating leaf contact with the ground can help. It may seem counter productive but root pruning later in the season can be beneficial to hasten ripening of fruit.
– The proper supports can be incredibly helpful to keep tomatoes healthy. Plants can get leggy and limbs can bend or break under the weight of fruit. We suggest using a sturdy support like wire box form or you can get creative with reclaimed steel, fencing or wooden supports.
– Mulching can keep soil temperatures higher and moisture levels even as well as helping to prevent soil borne diseases. Natural options like straw and compost are generally the best (we have enough plastic in our lives)
– If growth slows you can use a slow release fertilizer but please stay with organic options and keep our rivers healthy.
If all else fails and your plants just seem to be struggling you can always replant with short season varieties such as Oregon Spring, Early girl or various cherry varieties.
Lets all hope for a nice sunny Summer and lots of caprese!