Shake! Shake! Shake! Read! Read! Read! Taste! Taste! Taste

KC Tomato Times Edition #5

Well fellow gardeners…Summer has finally arrived and she arrived with a vengeance!  These high temps should make those tomato, pepper, and eggplant plants grow, grow, grow!!!  Make sure you keep an eye on your plants in this high heat.  With this weather,  they may need up to 2 inches of water per week.  Remember it’s best to water DEEPLY once or twice a week in the mornings instead of a little bit each day.  Avoid watering the foliage and keep up your weekly fungicide applications because blight and fungal diseases can happen fast with this high humidity and evening storms.  Also make sure you’re keeping those plants off the ground and keep the plants mulched well so the roots can stay cool.

Keep an eye out for Aphids and Flea Beetles as they’ve been voracious this year in some folk’s gardens.  Give them a squirt of Pyola and they’ll go away!

One thing you can do in the garden to help with pollination is to give your plants a few vigorous shakes each day…especially on windless days.  Tomato plants are open pollinated, meaning they do not need insects to pollinate each other.  When it is very hot and still out there, the pollen won’t move around on the flowers, so shake them a bit to get things moving around.  If your plants are on a fence or in a cage, you can whack the cage with the handle of a hoe or rake.  This shakes the whole plant and gets things going.  If your neighbors think you are abusing your plants, just send them to my blog to set them straight!

If you’re holed up in the air conditioning or lounging by the pool, here are some great books I highly recommend to improve your gardening knowledge.  I use to buy most of my books as the deals there can’t be beat!

The Ultimate Tomato Lover’s book:  100 Heirloom Tomatoes for the American Garden

A great all around Missouri Gardening Book:  The Missouri Gardener’s Companion: An Insider’s Guide to Gardening in the Show Me State

An excellent book for solving insect and disease problems:  Ortho’s Home Gardener’s Problem Solver

Any book by Jerry Baker is worth reading….I have a bunch!:  Jerry Baker’s Backyard Problem Solver: 2,364 Simple Solutions

Another one by Jerry: The Impatient Gardener

Mel is a gardening God!  All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!

Some beautiful photography of raised bed gardening here:  Vegetable Gardening With Derek Fell

For some humor and insight, check out this one.  My copy was given to me by me good friend and fellow urban gardener Eric:  The $64 Tomato

Add one or two of these books to your library and you’ll find your thumb getting just a bit greener with each turn of the page!

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for!  I’ve decided on a name: The Kansas City Tomato Times Tomato Tasting (KCTTTT) Saturday, August 22nd is the date and the location is Roe Park.  Roe Park is just north of 435 and Roe.

I’ll be sending out an e-vite in the next couple of weeks.  I’m thinking it will be a picnic type event with folks brining in different varieties of tomatoes, and maybe some tomato dishes from your favorite recipes.  They have nice picnic tables, trash cans, a restroom, and a great play area for kids so we’ll set aside a few hours to enjoy the fruits of our labors and share gardening stories and advice.  Stay tuned to your e-mail for the e-vite invitation in mid July.

Until then…keep shaking those vines and waiting for that first ripe tomato of the season!



  1. Moira Bird said

    Thanks James for another wonderful “Tomato Times”. I read them, take notes, and forward them on to my friends. I’ve also told them where you are and they’ve seen how well my starts from you are doing. So I think they’ll be knocking on your back yard next year.
    We hope to see you at the Tomato party in August. Hopefully we won’t have to bring cucumbers!
    We tried the Vietnamese restaurant in Westport that you recommended and ate too much at the buffet, and loved it!
    Take care, and happy gardening,
    Moira Bird & Gene Goldman:)

    • huntoften said

      Glad you guys are having a great season! Sung Son is an amazing restaurant! They now have an EVENING buffet as well!

  2. Parker said

    Why not earlier?

    Peak season in KC is really from about july10-aug10

    • huntoften said

      I beg to disagree about that being peak time especially with the cool spring we had this year. I just got my first ripe one today and many of the larger varieties and the yellow ones do not ripen until mid-late August. I just picked my first ripe Stupice today…nothing else is looking close to being ripe for another week or two at the earliest.

  3. PlazaJen said

    It’s the KC-Triple-T!

    • huntoften said

      Uhh…try Quadruple T sweetie

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