The last jar of canned tomato sauce will be used in tonight's dinner of chicken tamale pie. Sigh.
Instead of being sad, I should be happy - we really made progress on our goal of canning enough tomatoes to last us through the off-season. And we've almost made it to this season's ripe tomatoes. As you can see from the header picture, the tomato crop is really looking good this year.
I'm really pleased with my system of eight plants per bed, staking and hard pruning. The plants are responding well. I have had one or two mishaps; I mistakenly pruned the growing tips off 2-3 plants. But tomatoes are forgiving in that regard, they send out a side shoot readily which I then train to be the new main shoot. Those couple of plants are a little behind the others in growth, but they'll catch up. The season is long. I just needed to have a little lesson taught to me about being over-zealous.
Since a classmate reported success in an experiment using cal-mag on his tomatoes, I immediately started to use it on mine. When the plants were small, I used it as a foliar spray. Now that they are bigger, I've been adding cal-mag to the soil once a week along with a very low-nutrient fish-based fertilizer (Neptune's Harvest Tomato Veg 2-4-2). It has a bit more phosphorus than nitrogen, to encourage nice flower and fruit production.
I know I shared the results from my lab experiment in foliar feeding chard with an all-purpose fertilizer; those plants really did miserably, and I swore I'd never do any kind of foliar feeding again. But when new information comes along from a trusted source (in this case, my classmate), with data and photos to back it up, you gotta give it a try.
Also, I have shared in the past that I really don't believe we need fertilizer. I stand by that. As long as your soil is rich in microbes (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, etc), that should provide your plants all they need. Soil health absolutely comes first. You can't expect a crop to do well on fertilizer alone. (And for heaven's sake, don't use chemical fertilizers - they destroy soil life.) But, tomatoes need a lot of nutrients to feed all that biomass during their growing season. They suffer from fluctuating temperatures here, as well as getting a lot less water than they'd like. They're an important crop for us and we rely on them. So to me it seems like a good investment to make sure they are well-fed. And I'm tired of losing a quarter of my crop to blossom-end rot.
Since peppers also suffer from BER, I've given them the same regimen with the cal mag. And they are responding beautifully.
As for the rest of the garden, the pole beans (two successions) are doing quite well, we had our first pesto from our basil crop, collards are being harvested every day, cucumbers are starting to climb the trellis, the pumpkins and butternuts have started flowering, the melons look like they've finally got a hold, cilantro and dill progressing nicely, and the last of the artichokes have been harvested. We had our first crop of fingerling potatoes, with plenty more on the horizon; when those are finished, I'll plant peas in that spot. I've figured out a place to start a new asparagus bed (my older asparagus just slowly faded away, I think they needed more sun) and will do that this winter. I'm contemplating removing a couple of trees from around our water feature. Summer flower seeds are germinating and starting to grow tall, spring wildflowers are finishing up, with the stalwart Clarkia 'Farewell-to-Spring' announcing the end of that season. Sunflowers are blooming mightily all over the garden, as well as dahlias, poppies, lupines, hollyhocks, and fennel. It's a good time to be making bouquets.
And the bees, both honey and native, are very busy in our blooming Catalpa bignoniodes tree. I enjoy standing under the tree and just listening to the very loud humming coming from the high branches. I've also been watching a pair of Nuttall's woodpeckers forage for insects in this tree, for many days now. It feels like summer!