Did all that heat slow down your tomatoes?
This week, Sacramento finally ended its record streak of 47 consecutive days – almost six weeks – when temperatures reached at least 90 degrees. That streak started June 27 and broke a record of 40 days over 90 degrees, set in 1992.
To put that 47-day period in perspective, it takes an Early Girl tomato plant about 50 days after transplanting to bear ripe fruit.
But tomatoes are notoriously fickle about setting fruit during hot spells, so many local vines produced few if any tomatoes in late July and early August. Several gardeners also have reported smaller than normal tomatoes, likely a consequence of all that heat.
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The good news: There’s still plenty of tomato season left. Keep plants watered and healthy. Feed them phosphate-rich fertilizer such as bone meal. Soon, most varieties will push out fresh blooms. With a little cooler weather, you’ll have ripe tomatoes in October.
▪ Meanwhile, harvest peppers, squash, melons, eggplant and tomatoes if you have them.
▪ To prevent the spread of brown rot and other problems (such as nasty gnats), pick up dropped fruit and other debris around fruit trees.
▪ After cleaning up, feed fruit trees. Make sure to water trees deeply before adding fertilizers.
▪ For more blooms, feed begonias, fuchsias, annuals and container plants with fertilizer high in phosphate. Always water plants before feeding.
▪ Start the fall vegetable garden. Plant onions, lettuce, peas, radishes, turnips, beets, carrots and potatoes directly into vegetable beds.
▪ Transplant cabbage, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.
▪ Sow seeds of California poppies, clarkia and African daisies.
▪ Transplant cool-weather annuals such as pansies, violas, fairy primroses, calendulas, stocks and snapdragons.