By Susan Jensen, JensenGreenDesign Group for Broadview Neighborhood
I admit: I am a neophyte blogger but a seasoned landscape architect, environmental planner and gardener. Four years ago my husband, Jim, and I moved to the Broadview neighborhood. Through our passion for community design, parks and open space, urban gardening and the power of volunteerism, we find ourselves embedded in this lovely community in northwest Seattle and charged with bringing you thoughts, current news and links on Sustainable Communities, green living and gardening tips on our new Our Broadview Neighborhood website. The gardening tips are an easier place to start.
Broad Views on Gardening – Tomatoes!
Today is sunny but not really warm like we’d expect on a day in late August. I went out to inspect my garden this morning. I must have 200 or more green tomatoes on the ten tomato plants, standard, cherry and heirloom varieties, we optimistically planted this spring, and have harvested maybe 10 so far. We can pray for more sunny days and some heat to turn these to delicious red fruits I can relish, share and maybe can. Heat will also salvage the sad pepper plants, slow cucumbers and late green beans, still climbing up the trellis. Since we can’t control the weather, here are some tips to encourage the tomato ripening:
Keep any ripe or really ripe tomatoes picked, to allow the plant’s energy to go towards ripening the remaining fruit.
- If you haven’t fertilized lately, apply a maintenance fertilizer low in nitrogen (N), high in phosphorous (P) and medium to high in potassium (K). Among the best analyses for tomatoes are 8-32-16 and 6-24-24. Avoid using ammonia fertilizers such as urea or ammonium nitrate for tomato fertilization. Spread fertilizer around the roots of the plants and lightly work into the top inch of soil, avoiding damage to the roots. You can also apply a compost tea to the plant leaves.
- Allow the soil around the plants to get a little dry between watering, which should send plants a message that the growing season is ending soon.
- Take a few minutes with your pruners and snip off the outer tomato branches below the flowering tips, channeling the plants energy back to the existing fruit. These late flowers won’t produce mature fruits before fall frosts (except perhaps for the cherry type tomatoes). If you have big vigorous plants like mine, you may need to do some light, selective pruning to open up the plant to allow better air circulation, let the ripening fruits see some dappled sun.
- Remove any lower leaves, especially yellowed leaves, which touch the ground and could get tomato blight which is spread from soil contact.
- Avoid watering late in the day or evening, again to minimize tomato blight diseases.
With some late season heat and a little care, I’ve been lucky to harvest delicious home grown tomatoes up until Thanksgiving, unless early frosts kill the plants first.
What to do with if you still have too many green tomatoes? I was reminded of a favorite southern dish, Fried Green Tomatoes (as well as a favorite movie of the same name.)
This easy recipe makes 6 servings and the cornmeal makes them crunchy-delicious! Try spicing them up with a little garlic and Italian seasonings. (re-printed from AllRecipes.com, submitted by Jess1199)
- 1 extra large egg
- 4 tablespoons milk
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 green tomatoes, sliced
- In a small bowl whisk together egg and milk. In another small bowl mix cornmeal and flour.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; use more or less oil to reach about 1/4 inch in depth.
- Dredge tomato slices first in egg mixture, then in cornmeal mixture. Carefully place slices in hot oil and cook until browned on both sides.