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Tomatoes in Summer

by Stephanie Suesan Smith on June 29, 2011

Tomato PlantsNature plays a cruel trick on gardeners each summer.  We plant tomatoes as the frost ends, then baby them along until they bloom.  Just when it seems every part of the plant is full of blooms, something happens.  The blooms just drop off without making tomatoes.No, it wasn’t a fluke, because more blossoms appear after the first ones drop.  Still no fruit.  What happened?

When the air temperature is at or above 90 degrees for more than a night or two, tomatoes stop setting fruit.  They will bloom beautifully and the plant looks wonderful.  But it has become ornamental — not to have fruit for the rest of the summer.

Gardeners have two choices at this point.  Choice one is to baby the plant all summer until the temperature drops below 90 degrees at night and it begins to set fruit again.  This is a viable option.  However, these plants never seem to produce as well after they struggle through the summer.

The second choice is to rip that sucker out and throw it on the compost pile.  Why waste resources on a plant that won’t produce well again?  Start another crop in the tomato patch and start tomato seeds indoors for the fall.  If you are very brave, you can try direct seeding the tomato seeds into your rows.  You will have to water them a lot, but they will not have to be moved and will probably be healthier, all things considered, than transplants.

Good luck with what ever option you decide.  Good gardening, and stay safe in the heat.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie Bradley June 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

Thank you, thank you, thank you for confirming what I was thinking. My vegetable garden is awful this year. I started seeds early, babied them till Spring, planted them outdoors and am watching them suffer outside with bugs, heat, veggies that die soon after forming, etc. I am so frustrated and was seriously thinking a greenhouse was the answer. You confirmed that heat is what is causing this disaster. We have had a hot spring and summer so far this year; in the high 90’s and 100’s. With no rain. The bugs are out of control and daily watering doesn’t keep the plants from wilting in the afternoon sun.

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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 30, 2011 at 6:45 am

It has been a bad year. At this point, hope for a better fall garden.

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Richard Glasspoole from money guide June 30, 2011 at 6:23 am

Now, I get it! whether indoors or outdoors, temperature matters most for the growth of tomatoes or any fruit at all. We can even summarize it further with the big threes which are moisture, heat and light as the essential elements we should be wary of .
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Stephanie Suesan Smith June 30, 2011 at 6:32 am

I would say moisture, temperature, and light, as fruit trees need a certain number of cold days, or chilling hours, to tell them it is time to come out of dormancy and produce blossoms.

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