Tomato Patch: Stan picks his first big red

Stan’s June 21 prize

Stan Purwin, community gardener in Columbia, Maryland, sent me news on Thursday (June 21) that he had picked a Better Boy tomato and that it had “made a terrific BLT.”

I posted last year about how Stan uses plant protectors to encourage early spring growth of his tomatoes—and how he usually picks his first big-red tomatoes around July 4.  This year he picked his first big red 17 days before the Fourth.

“I purchased 6-inch Better Boy plants in 4-inch pots at Home Depot and set them out about May 10th with Walls O’ Water,” Stan explained. “I used fabric mulch because it was handy but think black plastic would have worked better. I probably could have harvested it on the 15th of June but I was at the beach.”

Why did he pick nearly three weeks earlier this year?  “I think the exceptionally warm spring gave them a good start this year, and I did take the time to fill the Wall O’ Water cells with water, which absorbs heat during the day and radiates it all night,” Stan said.  “If only I can keep the early blight at bay, I should have a good season.”

To read my earlier posting (May 31, 2011) showing Stan and his plant protectors, CLICK HERE.

If want to see a tomato plant with “early blight” and to read additional information about the problem from the University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center, CLICK HERE.

Stan’s pre-BLT Better Boy,
June 21, 2012

3 Comments on “Tomato Patch: Stan picks his first big red

  1. I would like to know what he's doing about the blight. I have had it for the last 3 years and this year it is the worst in my community garden plot. I'm using “Serenade” which seems to help, but needs to be sprayed frequently. I use leaf mulch under all my plants and try not to plant too close together or water the leaves. I also suspect the soil fertility is not as good at the community garden as it is in my home garden and maybe that has contributed to the overall health and disease susceptibility of the plants. Any insights? Thanks, Anne

  2. Jerry Baker (America's Master Gardener)has a home remedy that supposedly will suppress early blight. It consists of the following:
    3 cups of compost
    1/2 cup of powdered nonfat milk
    1/2 cup Epsom salts
    1 tbsp of baking soda
    Sprinkle a handful of the mixture into each planting hole. For additional defense, sprinkle a little more powdered milk on top of the soil after planting and repeat every few weeks throughout the growing season.

    I tried this on some of my plants. In addition I've sprayed “Fung-onil” by Bonide and will be spraying liquid copper fungicide once a week. I'm also plucking any leaves that have any trace of early blight.

  3. I'm afraid this is just another example of Mr. Baker's hogwash. We all know, of course, that compost will improve the soil structure and provide some nutrients. But none of these materials alone or in combination will prevent or cure early blight infection. In fact, loading the root zone with excessive magnesium from epsom salts can decrease the availability of calcium and increase blossom-end rot problems.

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