Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boorish Tomato Gardeners of Western Washington

Last night's harvest

Western Washington gardeners can be a bit boorish about their tomatoes. This is particularly true in Bellingham where temperatures rarely reach even 80 degrees in the summer. This summer was very cool so western Washington tomato gardeners are bitter about ocean temperatures in the tropics messing up our heat units. That said, I have been harvesting gotten tomatoes. Boorish or not I am proud of it!
My tomatoes are planted at the top of a rock retaining wall that faces south and west so the heat is maximized. Northwest Washington is a bit short on heat units compared to central and southeast Washington. I hope to get more tomatoes and found as long as there is not a hard freeze I can pick tomatoes through to the end of October. Last evening I covered the plants with a tarp. While this might provide some additional warmth, the main thing is to keep the rain off of the plants otherwise the fruit splits and a black fungus will kill them. In early October, I pull the entire plant out of the ground and hang them under the eaves. A couple of years ago, Lisa was working out of town so I hung the plants in her studio and picked tomatoes all the way to Thanksgiving. It worked great but that won't be happening again.
An alternative to all the work and tending of plants is to live elsewhere or take a trip to the east side of the State. A stop at the Pasco Farmers Market will provide lots of heat unit rich produce and we try to make it there every year.

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