The Tomato Race is On

I don’t know how it is with growers in your neck of the woods, but here in the Midwest there’s a race each year for bragging rights. The race is to see who can produce the first vine-ripened tomatoes, and if it can be done by the 4th of July (without the aid of a greenhouse), it is considered quite an accomplishment.

Dad inspects his tomato plants on Father's Day
Dad inspects his tomato plants on Father’s Day

Tomato progress must be checked daily. The first blooms are met with much praising, and when the tiny green fruits first appear, it is practically a cause for celebration. I usually get a phone call from Dad telling me “I’ve got tomatoes.”  Personally, I don’t get all wacky over tiny green tomatoes, but I do love to rub my fingers through the leaves and smell their pungent fragrance. (I may be alone in this).

Does anyone else like the smell of tomato leaves?
Does anyone else like the smell of tomato leaves?

Usually, about a week before the 4th of July, Dad can’t wait for the tomatoes to ripen on their own, so he picks the most likely candidates and tries to hurry them along in the kitchen window.

The tomato begins to ripen
The tomato begins to ripen

Or we may yield to the temptation to slice up a few green ones and fry them.  Sheer delight!

© Wade Kingston


    • admin

      Great question, Helen. Plants can absolutely be placed too closely together. Not only do they then have to fight for moisture and nutrients, but plants placed too closely together have a greater risk for fungal issues (plants need to “breathe”) as well as greater transmission of harmful insects. Plant spacing varies by plant. Trees should be placed several feet from their nearest competitor to allow for future growth. A general rule for garden vegetables and flowering plants is to allow 1/2 their distance in height between the plants. In other words, if you have a plant that can grow 4 feet tall, an optimum distance from its nearest relative would be 2 feet. Keep in mind that some plants are meant to be bunched together (certain mosses and creeping plants come to mind), but almost all plants benefit from having room to themselves. If your environment provides good air circulation, and the soil is rich with nutrients and receives adequate moisture, those distances can be reduced a bit. Thanks for your question.

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