Protecting Tomatoes from Extreme Conditions

tomato plantsEvery tomato lover knows homegrown are in a class of their own. Luckily, tomato plants are vigorous growers that require very little effort on the gardener's part.

Tomato plants prefer full sunlight and a warm environment, but extreme heat can alter their ability to be pollinated and produce fruit.  During periods of high temperatures, garden vegetables need more attention than usual.

High heat quickly evaporates the soil's moisture, so vigilant daily watering is mandatory. Plants will droop and wilt to let you know they're thirsty and stressed from the dry, hot climate. Swan's Soaker Hoses are available in different lengths and are made of environmentally friendly recycled rubber.  These hoses lie flat on the ground and maximize watering efficiency by minimizing evaporation.  They deliver a steady and consistent flow of water where you want it, directly to the soil.

Maintaining soil health throughout the growing season is also necessary to fortify plants against harsh conditions. Tomatoes need a fertile growing medium and they respond with noticeable results to products like Espoma's Tomato Tone or Hi-Yield Garden Fertilizer.   Follow manufacturers' instructions about feeding or fertilizing plants during drought periods.

Better Reds is a red plastic mulch that is touted to promote better growth and production in tomatoes by reflecting far-red light frequencies (like the sun's) to the undersides of the plant's leaves and fruits.  It helps to hold moisture in the soil and keeps weeds at bay, as well.

Extreme conditions can also include unexpected frosts in late spring or early fall.  Protect your plants and extend their lives by covering them at night when temperatures are expected to dip to 40 degrees or less.  The Season Starter Plant Protector is a plastic, water-filled ring that surrounds the plant.  It absorbs heat during the day and holds it in at night to guard against cooler ambient temps.

Plant and seed blankets, garden row covers, sheets of cotton or natural burlap, and even tall piles of extra mulch can help protect plants from extreme hot or cold. Greenhouses aren't an option for every grower, but they also provide a more controlled climate for young plants that are awaiting optimum spring planting in the ground.

One other option for protecting tomatoes from harsh temperatures or erratic rainfall is to plant in containers.   That allows the grower to move the plants to areas where they'll have temporary shelter from extreme hot or cold, or be closer to a source of water, or even be more easily found by the insects that pollinate them.

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