Stacey Mollus is a humor columnist who believes laughter is the best form of exercise. She is a gardening diva who hates worms, but loves to get her fingers in the dirt. Besides gardening, she loves her family, chocolate and clothes that are stretchy. You can find her personal blog site at " ", and tweets at “queenchocolates”.

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Teeny Tomato Plants, But Lots of Fruit!
by Stacey Mollus - posted 06/22/12

Living here in a desert climate...oh, wait! This is not the desert, it is the Midwest. So why is everything so dry and crunchy then?

Not sure who ticked off Mother Nature, but this is the third season that we are short on moisture. If it wasn't for my incredible watering skills, I am sure my lawn and garden would be looking like the Sahara.

I turn on the sprinkler, then pull out a good book and my lawn chair, and watch the droplets of water spray back and forth. This type of yard work is grueling, but hey, someone has got to do it. 

With the help of our local water company, my lawn is still green and my garden is still growing. Despite my "marvelous-moisture-maintaining-moves",  I am having a problem and so are many of the local gardeners in our area. Our tomato plants are green and putting on tons of blooms and fruit, but the plants are not filling in very well.

I called the conservation department, and asked him if I should be concerned that my plants are too weak to maintain the fruit they are putting on.

Here is some of the info he shared-

The heat and lack of rainfall in our area is causing obvious problems, but it can also cause a deficiency in nutrients as the dry soil does not release what the plants need. He stated that mulching is vital to the plants during this time to maintain an even moisture level in the soil to help prevent this. He also said, when we water and get the plants wet, then the sun comes out and dry's them out, this variation of soil moisture causes a lot of stress on the plants. These stressors are leading to an increase in blossom end rot, and catfacing. (catfacing is scarring in the blossom end of tomatoes. This scaring causes the tomato to be considered unfit.) 

He also explained the foliage that the plants are not putting on, typically offers shade to the fruit, thus preventing sunscald and if there is not a lot of greenery, your tomatoes would get a bad suntan! He suggested hanging old bed sheets up to help shade the plants from the strong afternoon rays, but being careful to not block all the sun as tomatoes like a good sunbeam.

He said to make sure and fertilize, as that will help add plant growth, but do not pick off fruit or blooms to encourage bushiness. Let the fruit ripen and hope for the best.

I am sure looking forward to a BLT soon, so I am going to take his advise. I sure hope this info helps you enjoy your own ripe red 'maters, real soon!



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