Memphis Backyard Farmer

Don’t Drop Your Blossom
August 29, 2011, 1:22 am
Filed under: Gardening

It’s August and I haven’t harvested a single tomato in my home garden this year. Does that make you sad?

Meanwhile, most of my gardening friends have already given up on their gardens. They enjoyed tomatoes all through June and July, and have now taken rest from their early garden labor and allowed the vines to slowly shrink back to the ground.

My harvest, however, is about to begin.

I was depressed last year when June and July passed without a single Brandywine or Roma. The vines were beautiful, they were full of blossoms, but after a few days, the blossoms would shrivel and fall off. What was I doing wrong?

It turns out, I was doing nothing wrong. The vines were simply doing what they needed to do to survive. They were dropping their blossoms to keep fruit from setting, causing the plants’ stress. Once nights consistently heat up past about 75 degrees, a tomato plant will typically not produce new fruit (though the fruit that was pollinated before hand will grow and ripen). The technical term is “blossom drop” for obvious reasons.

The great thing is, however, that if you’re patient and continue to care for your vines, a bountiful late harvest is yours. While all your neighbors and friends have wandered back to the grocery for Mexican-grown and trucked tomatoes, you’ll be pulling fruit off in to November (my last harvest was the day before Thanksgiving last year).

Blossom drop – don’t give up. Your plants have more potential than you realize. Keep babying them until they freeze!


No Time For Wimps
August 1, 2011, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Gardening

My wife Stacey, who led the effort to reclaim this community garden in Jackson, Mississippi last week

This is no time for wimps.

This is the time of year where your neighbors discover if you’re a real gardener or not. In Memphis, we’re trending weeks of 100 degree temps with very little rain. Many of my friends have given up on their gardens. The weeds have won. There isn’t enough time to water, harvest, and chase unwanted bugs from the¬†zucchini and beans. Nature has taken back the ground that belonged to it in April, when dreams of Eden drove your offensive into its territory.

But I say “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!” Don’t give up!

There is still much life to be had in your garden this season. Much that can be harvested, and, yes, still more that can be planted. Make a truce with Mother Nature, cede the ground you can’t keep, turn her to your side, and enlist her help in making the territory you share useful to both of you.

Charge on!

Liquid Gold
August 1, 2011, 8:58 am
Filed under: Bee Keeping

We made a second honey pull today. 3 supers of liquid gold!