June 22 Garden Update & Tomato Trellising

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you well. The garden continues to do well and the sweet corn is still weird. We finally received 1 2/10″ of rain from Friday afternoon and overnight. I came back home Friday afternoon from helping a friend and it had been raining a little off and on. The rain gauge said 2/10″ of an inch at the time… I took a nap then went to the garden around 6:30 and saw a lot of the taller corn had blown over so I had to stand it back up. I had watered on Thursday so the ground was was fairly wet. While I was at it I removed the suckers from more of the corn and hilled it up pretty good as I went. During the night another storm came in and the wind blew a lot. I thought surely the corn would blow over again but it didn’t. There was a total of 1 2/10″ in the rain gauge.

OH, earlier in the week I bought a new hose because I couldn’t get inside the garden with the 150′ I had. I needed to water the smaller corn and what I had transplanted and I was using a watering can… Anyway, a friend told me he had a lot of extra hose so he gave me 100′. Then another friend also gave me 50′. All of it is very good heavy hose so I took back what I had bought. Now I have enough to get into the garden and replace the old hose that is about shot. I can use the old hose on the faucet behind the house or the last 50′ from a friend. Either way, I can definitely stop using the weird expanding hose dad bought from Publisher’s Clearing House.

 

I had already removed the suckers and hilled some of the corn but not all. The reason I hadn’t hilled it all yet was because some of the corn was still very small… As I mentioned in a previous post, the seeder did not plant very well the first time so I replanted what didn’t come up. Then the moles ate a lot of that even with the mole repeller in the center of the garden. SO, I replanted again and moved the mole gizmo between the two sections of corn. That time the moles didn’t seem to bother it. Maybe the mole repeller doesn’t work well in tilled soil… Hmmm…  Believe it or not, there is not that much difference in age between the tallest corn and she shortest. The first planting grew quickly and the last planting very slow because of lack of moisture.

Ummm… I know what dad would say… I didn’t get an almanac and plant by the sign. He always said if you plant in the sign it will grow whether it rains or not. I just don’t like it because the corn is next to the street where everyone can see it. 🙂

 

‘Incredible’ from the north side. I always like growing sweet corn probably because it is one of my favorite vegetables. But, as always, there are a few hiccups along the way by the time it is harvested. I knew there will be mole issues and wind that will blow it over (more than once or twice) because it always happens. Despite the issues, it is well worth it…

 

I usually don’t have to worry that much about suckers but this year has been terrible. I have never had corn sucker so much before. Half of the corn is ‘Incredible’ and the other half is ‘Peaches and Cream’. I have grown ‘Incredible for several years but this is the first time I have planted ‘Peaches and Cream’ unless it was MANY years ago (early 1980’s).

 

Now, that is the way it should all look… Well, perhaps the stalks are a little close together for the “experts” but if your soil is AWESOME I think it is OK to plant a little close. Sometimes 2-3 seeds came out together and they all came up and looked good. I have to choose which ones to thin out and sometimes I may leave two if they are big and growing well. Most of the time that happens one will be bigger than the other and the smaller one should be removed. Truthfully, our corn has been much closer without thinning or suckering and we had such a bumper crop it lasted me four years in the freezer.

From now on I am going to plant the corn without using the seeder. Even though information suggests to plant 2-3 seeds (per hill) 3-4 inches apart and then thin to one plant 10-12″ (or 8-10″). Experience is the best teacher and I think planting 2-3 seeds 2-4″ apart and thinning is a complete waste of seed and plants (and energy). BUT, you do need to remove the suckers from your corn. Suckers take energy from the main stalk that needs to be used to produce corn.

I was going to write a post about seeders but that time kind of past. Most seeders have the seed plate that fits vertically on the side of the hopper with a series of holes in it. There is a small cup that scoops up the seed and as the wheel turns it comes to a hole where the seed falls out. MOST all seeders available are exactly alike except one that I know of. Hoss Tools make one where the seed plate sits horizontally at the bottom of the hopper so the seed can’t fall out. They make wheel hoes and a variety of attachments that are very well made. They are a bit pricey but well worth the money if you have a lot of planting to do. They also offer other tools, garden seeds, supplies for drip irrigation, pest control, fertilizer, and food preservation.

 

The remaining two “clumps” of asparagus has done really well this year and expanded very nicely. I had a HUGE bed in Mississippi and brought all the crowns with me but most died out over a few years. GEEZ! I love asparagus!

 

The ‘Sugar Ann’ Snap Peas are doing very good and are beginning to flower.

 

The kale has really taken off this past week as well. I bought new seed from the Green Street Market in Clinton but I don’t know what kind I bought. I told the owner I wanted kale seed and she put a scoop or two on an envelope and didn’t write down what kind it was. I had leftover ‘Red Russian’ and ‘Dwarf Blue’ from 2017 so I mixed them all together. I later found a package of ‘Siberian’ from 2016 which I didn’t use…

 

The ‘Broad Windsor’ Fava Beans also started flowering this week and are looking great.

 

The ‘Black Diamond’ Watermelons have also taken off this past week. I gave them plenty of space but I know they will eventually take most of the garden. One year I planted white sweet potatoes and they took the garden. They were great though! I thought about ordering some bush sweet potatoes but I didn’t…

Now for the tomatoes…

I managed to get all the tomato plants mulched with old hay this past week. They are all doing GREAT. I experimented with my own version of trellising in 2017 so I did it again this year. I put a steel fence post next to each plant and run balers twine along the top of each post. You only have to tie it to the first and last post and wrap it around the others. Get it as tight as you can… Unless it is very (VERY) old it won’t break. I always use a level when I am setting the posts because a something that isn’t straight drives me NUTS. They used to call it being a perfectionist now they say it is OCD. LOL! If I had OCD I wouldn’t be living on a 40-acre farm.

People who enjoy growing their own tomatoes typically have their favorite cultivars and their own particular way of growing them. There is plenty of good advice online when it comes to growing tomatoes. Some people use Epsom Salt on their tomatoes for a variety of reasons and I thought I might try it. But, I found out Epsom Salt is magnesium and sulfur and unless your soil is deficient in those micronutrients it doesn’t really help. Some say it prevents blossom end rot but that isn’t true either. Too much magnesium inhibits the proper uptake of calcium and one cause of blossom end rot is the inability for the plants to absorb enough calcium. Another cause is fluctuations in soil moisture which is one reason I added the mulch…

 

It seems once the tomatoes form their first set of branches you have to be on your toes. This is where the plants fork out and form two branches. Once the two branches get big enough, I tie a piece of twine on the post for each branch.

Some information says you need to remove the suckers and leaves below this fork. I remove the suckers but leave the leaves until they turn yellow.

 

Once I tie the twine to post I wrap it loosely around the branch once or twice, depending on how long the branch is, then I tie the other end to the twine running along the top of the posts. I tie it as perfectly in the middle as I can very tight and overlap the two so they won’t move around. You will also need space for tying up secondary branches between the post and center knots… You don’t need to make the twine holding the branches very tight. In fact, it is a good idea if it is fairly loose. It will tighten up as the branches get heavy and you may even have to loosen it up a bit.

Normally, I use jute twine to tie the tomatoes and wrap the branches but I ran out… I need more but I keep forgetting. I ripped some material into strips to tie the stems to the steel post and it may be an option to use it instead of the twine to wrap the branches. Balers twine and string can cut into the branches so you need to use something softer and thicker. Just experiment and watch for whatever you are tying and wrapping with to make sure it doesn’t get to tight as stems get thicker.

If I see the balers twine causing harm I will replace it with strips of material. Hmmm… I could use different colors for each plant or maybe for each variety. Well, since I don’t have a privacy fence I think I better rethink that. Trellising the tomatoes like this already makes some people think I am a bit whacky.

 

This photo shows a second fork on this ‘Goliath’. This is not a sucker… I will tie another piece of twine to the post at this point, wrap it around the branch, then tie the other end between the knot and the post at the top.

 

I bent a couple of electric fence posts to use on the ends. It works but they move around a bit. 🙂

 

It seems no matter how much time you spend with your tomatoes removing small suckers, there are always a few that. I noticed while taking photos I had missed several like this one. GEEZ!

Typically you want to remove suckers that form above the leaf nodes when they are very small for several reasons. You can just pinch them off easily with your fingers. Some information online says once suckers get bigger than the size of a pencil, removing them can cause damage to the plant. Well, folks, I didn’t read that until this year so I have been removing them at any size. I have noticed in the past removing large suckers has effected some of the plants, kind of like a shock. Once fruit starts growing and it gets very hot, removing large suckers can also remove leaves that are providing shade for the tomatoes. If you leave large suckers, just pinch off after the first or second leaf. You can also just remove tips of larger suckers and leave the larger leaves for shade. The other problem with missing larger suckers is that they will, sooner or later, flower and then you won’t want to remove them. Best to do it before that happens so it won’t keep you awake at night. 🙂

It is always best to remove any leaves once they start turning yellow, especially lower leaves. Any leaves or suckers that have been removed need to be taken from the area for disease control.

Many people I know never remove suckers from their plants and use tomato cages. They get along just fine and have LOADS of NICE tomatoes. I was brought up staking and pruning and kind of sort of learned from my dad. If I remember, he used to prune and leave one single stem but as he got older he didn’t worry about it.

 

‘Rutgers’

This ‘Rutgers’ plant has a cluster of tomatoes where the plant is forking then lots of flower clusters in the upper portion of the branches. The other two have smaller tomatoes than this one. They are more open growing and haven’t had that many suckers to deal with. Rutgers is an OLD variety and my dad used to grow them when I was a kid. I have three of these because there were only three in the pack and they are all growing exactly the same.

 

‘Goliath’… Hmmm… With a big sucker… 

I have grown ‘Goliath’ several times and I always like them. The plants have plenty of leaf cover for shade and the leaves get very long. They seem to form secondary branches very quickly and they sucker A LOT!

 

A cluster of tomatoes on a ‘Goliath’.

They produce fairly large and tasty tomatoes.

 

Tomatoes on a ‘Mortgage Lifter’.

The ‘Mortgage Lifter’ plants grow similar to ‘Goliath’ and produce LOTS of good leaf cover. Right now, this ‘Mortgage Lifter’ has more  and larger tomatoes than any other plant. There are five of this variety because one cell had two plants. It makes up for the one missing from the ‘Rutgers’ pack. I have grown this variety several times and they have always done well.

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

There are four ‘Cherokee Purple’ on the north end of the row. They are doing very good although they are MUCH smaller in comparison to the other varieties. I have not grown this variety before but I did grow ‘Black Krim’ in 2017. Very interesting and dad didn’t like them…

 

‘Cherokee Purple’

I noticed I need to loosen this plant up a little because a couple of tomatoes are tight up against the post.

I was thinking about trying ‘Pineapple’ also but I decided 16 plants was enough. I will have plenty to eat, maybe can, and give away. I grew over 20 plants in 2017 but a lot of the tomatoes were weird. ‘Celebrity’ and ‘Goliath’ were the best and best looking in 2017 but I didn’t find any ‘Celebrity’ this year.

 

I got up one morning and when I fed the cats on the back porch I noticed “something” or “someone” had dug up two packs of the okra on the plan table. HMMM… I planted the seed in the packs instead of the garden so the moles would not eat the seed and then that happened! GEEZ! So, I had to put the plants that were dug up back in the packs. I asked the cats who did that and they didn’t seem to have a clue. I have my suspicions, though… I moved the okra to the bedroom window. I planted 20 seeds and 19 came up. On plant started being weird and after the disaster, there are two more that are iffy.

 

I was a little hesitant to move the okra to the garden because a few storms were in the forecast. I decided to just transplant a few Saturday evening to see how they would do but then went ahead and did them all.

 

I have noticed a few Japanese Beetles here and there but Saturday there were A LOT on this American Elm sprout along the north side of the house. I didn’t notice them on American Elm last year but they strip the Chinese Elms. Then Sunday I saw several on the asparagus in the garden. They didn’t appear to be eating it but they were hanging out for sure. I still hve the traps from last year so I better clean them out and add new attractant. There are few things I really don’t like, and Japanese Beetles are close to the top of the list.

Last Sunday, the 14th, I went on a walk to the back of the farm and took quite a few photos. I even identified a few new species again. Anyway, I have been working on that post all week when I had the time and wasn’t too tired to focus. It still isn’t ready and I think it will be too long.

Now I better stop or I won’t get this one finished.

Until next time, be safe, stay positive, be thankful, and GET DIRTY!

 

33 comments on “June 22 Garden Update & Tomato Trellising

  1. katechiconi says:

    Lonnie, I’ve found the ties I like best for tomatoes are made from old cotton T-shirt material. You take an old shirt and cut it into a long, long strip in a spiral, working up from the hem. That way, you have one long length you can cut to the size you want. It’s softer than pantyhose (which I don’t suppose you have much of anyway!) and it lasts pretty well, plus it’s compostable when it gets too old and perished. Your tomatoes are looking really good! There’s only a few varieties I can grow here due to the high temperatures and humidity, and I kind of miss those big, sweet juicy ones like Mortgage Lifter…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Kate! Thanks for the tip about using T-shirt material. I will give it a try. You are right in thinking I don’t have any pantyhose. 🙂 Sorry to hear tomatoes don’t do well there. When I lived in the south we had to choose tomato varieties more suitable to that climate. Even so, a lot of the flowers aborted when the temp and humidity were high. Then, as it cooled off a bit tomatoes set but wouldn’t ripen before an “F”. I think just about any variety grows well here. Take care and thanks for the comment!

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  2. Dayphoto says:

    Your garden is LUSH! And I so agree with you about protecting the corn from the street…people would just Help themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Linda! Ummmm… I have never had any problems with anyone coming into the garden. I meant I didn’t like the corn next to the street where everyone can see it because it looks so bad. Someone getting a few ears of corn would be OK but I doubt that would happen. The watermelons, on the other hand, will be a different story. I do think they will be much more tempting but I am hoping the corn stalks will hide them well enough. The electric fence may also keep unwanted visitors at bay as well. You just never know… Take care and thanks for the comment!

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  3. Everything is looking so good, all is thriving so well… Wonderful to see what you are growing Mr R.. and our sweetcorn too is thriving with sun and rain and more sun..
    Its wonderful that you can grow your tomatoes out doors…. We have tried several times… not always successful in our climate..

    Sending Well wishes.. and so good to see everything growing.. And we know and appreciate what effort it takes to maintain.. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your garden looks so healthy, neat.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim R says:

    I didn’t know you could buy garden hose from Publishers Clearing House. 🙂

    Your corn is a challenge. I hope it all turns out good and the winds don’t knock it down more. And, your tomatoes look great. Mine are not as far along as yours but coming along. My wife is a quilter. She cuts off ½” strips from pieces of cloth. I use them for ties on the tomato plants. Soft and sturdy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jim! Well, mom and dad ordered LOTS of stuff from PCH and I am pretty sure that’s where it came from. I needed more hose one time and he said there was a collapsable hose in the garage that had never been used. I finally found it in a PCH box. I thought “I’m not going to use that thing” but I finally did. I hope the corn doesn’t blow over again but I am sure it will because it always does. LOL! Just one of those things you have to deal with when you have soil that is nice and loose. I finished round one of removing all the suckers and tilled again yesterday evening. Now I can finish hilling it up. Strips of material seem to be a very good thing to tie tomatoes with. I suppose you are growing Celebrity again? Take care and thanks for the comment!

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  6. Littlesundog says:

    I don’t know how you keep up with all of that!! What do you do with all of the produce you get?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Laura! I mainly freeze the sweet corn but my sister is supposed to help with that this year. She wanted bi-color so I told her I would plant it if she would help shuck it all. She said she would so we shall see… I mainly steam a little kale every day but I also freeze it as well. Later, there will be a few worms that help with the kale so I always plant extra. I will probably can some tomatoes and give some away as well. You never know how the harvest will be even though it starts out well. It is a work in progress that you can’t stop once you get started. If you take a few days off the grass and weeds start to take over. So, the garden gets top priority while the flower beds get neglected for a while. Take care and thanks for the comment!

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  7. tonytomeo says:

    At least you got corn. Much of mine got washed away by a downpour shortly after the seed were sown. It was such a small patch that with much of it missing, there is not enough for good pollination. I am dusting the silks anyway. I do not normally grow corn because it takes up space and wants quite a bit of water here. Yet, I will try another patch again this year. The indeterminate tomatoes here are laying on junipers, so do not need to be staked or caged. Cucumbers are doing the same. The junipers may as well be good for something.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow what a beautiful garden! What do you use for the moles? I have tried everything and the only thing that works for me is to push down a run and wait in my chair with a small pitchfork tool for him to come back. Works every time but it is so time consuming. We have a trap set now but it doesn’t work either. I use to have the traps for Japanese beetles too. They were destroying my plants. Then I read the traps are like a sex hormone that actually draws more of the beetles to your yard. It said to stop using the traps and get a can with very soapy water and knock them into the soapy water to drown them. I did this the first year and couldn’t believe how many there were. By the second year there weren’t many at all and now I don’t get enough to even bother with. If my mine is treating me right, I think it said something about laying their eggs in the dirt in your yard (the grubs we see) so when you pick them off the plants and drown them they can’t lay eggs and eventually disappear. You are the expert in this area but I thought I would pass that on when you said you use the traps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Diane! Last year I received a message from a rep of a manufacturer of sonic pest repellers from China. He said he would send me a couple of mole repellers to try out if I wrote a review. So, I happily agreed. One works GREAT and the other quit working within a month or so. I put the one that worked fine in the shade bed and I can honestly tell you it kept the moles away for at least 60′. I put it in the garden when I planted seeds but it didn’t stop them at first. Now I think they may have left the garden. I still need to write the review. Since I moved the repeller to the garden they are starting in the yard and even in the back yard farther than the repeller will work. I really like them and need more. Ten would be great!

      As far as the beetle trap attracting more from other areas, you have to be careful. You need to put them where they are feeding and laying their eggs. If you put a trap somewhere they are not a problem, they will definitely go to it. I have five Chinese Elms they love so I hung one trap in an elm tree in the shade bed and mistakenly put the other in the back yard. There are roses behind the house they also love. Anyway, they decided they also liked Cannas… When I first hung the one in the elm tree I barely had a chance to change it up and get out of the way. They started coming out of the grass (where they were laying eggs) from quite a distance. I had to dump both bags every day for several weeks. I haven’t noticed very many yet this year. I made a couple of posts about the traps last year, I think in July. I am not sure how far the lure attracts the beetles from but I should look into that. 2018 was a very bad year for the beetles which is why I tried the traps in 2019. I’m not sure if the taps made them worse than in 2018, but I hope I made a big dent in their population for 2020. I will find out when July gets here because that is when they seem to be the worse.

      I will be posting more about the traps and beetles later and I need to write the review for the mole repeller. If you need a rest you can come and watch for moles in my yard. Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha what is rest? Thanks for all your information and I look forward to your review. Again…..amazing garden!

        Liked by 1 person

        • GEEZ! I have to find someone else. I saw a dead mole in the driveway so one of the cats must have caught it. I think they are getting tired of the moles digging in their yard. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well maybe I better get me some cats! I have a family of 4 racoons in my backyard almost every night. I wish they would take care of the moles. Luckily they have stayed out of the garden.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hello Diane! Well, I think it depends on the cat. Some could care less even if a nice mouse or bird sat right in front of them. Raccoons can be fun to watch but they can also be destructive at times. I’m not sure how many I have here, but several come to eat cat food on the back porch, often several at a time. If you read up on the Raccoon, if the ones in your yard are adults you may find you have either all males or a mother who’s female offspring have stayed with her. It may be a good thing they don’t go mole hunting as they could also tear up your yard. I am glad the moles have not bothered your garden. Not only do they eat the seed, they burrow under plants sometimes to the point there is not much root contact. It would be nice to have at least ten mole repellers. Take care and thanks for the comment!

              Liked by 1 person

  9. I had no idea that corn could sucker. I do love fresh sweet corn, though. Now, tomatoes – I know how they sucker, and no matter how many you cut off there are always more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jason! Yeah, corn suckers. I never had it sucker so much though. You are certainly right about tomato suckers. They just keep growing from the bottom of the plant and leaf nodes. They become their own jungleif you don’t keep an eye on them. There is nothing better than fresh sweet corn and tomatoes. OH, and of course a nice sweet an juicy watermelon. GEEZ! Now I am thinking about what else is so awesome! Take care and thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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