Here in Dallas, Texas we have moved into the time when rain is a faint memory. Temps are pushing 100 and the cracks are widening in the earth. Last year around this time there was a sudden rainstorm and we were so excited that we ran out in it, dancing and frolicking in the puddles. We even pulled a few neighbors out of their houses to join us. One neighbor came out just to see what was going on. When was the last time you played in the rain?
For a gardener down here the turn in the weather results in something ominous. NO MORE TOMATOES!!!! No!!!! Sadly, yes. Once the night time temperatures climb over 75 the tomato blossoms will not set fruit. If you have planted an indeterminate tomato variety like I did(super fantastic) you can try to nurse it through this hot time hoping for fall tomatoes. If you have planted a determinate variety you are done for the season. Let the fruits that are on the vines ripen and then pull them up. Tomato plants can harbor many diseases so I never compost mine. They are the only plant that goes into the trash or burn barrel.
Do not despair there is still hope for Fall. Only one garden center, in the area, that I know of has new tomato plants for Fall harvest. It is North Haven Gardens. You can start fresh with new tomatoes but you had better act quickly if you want them to have time to establish roots and produce tomatoes before the first fall freeze.
This year my friend Sam, who seriously knows how to grow tomatoes, taught me how to build a “fence for my tomatoes.” We went to Tractor Supply Company and bought a 16 ft cattle panel. We took the pick up truck and cut it right there in the parking lot. You will need some heavy duty cutters with you. Unless you are prepared to bat your eyelashes and ask sweetly for assistance. We cut each panel to fit our 8ft raised beds, loaded them in the bed of the truck and off we went. Two heavy duty green posts and some bailing wire are also needed. When we installed them in the beds we put a green tee post at each end wiring the cattle panel securely. To add additional support in our Texas wind we put a screw in the wooden ends of each bed and ran the wire from the cattle panels and around the screws on either side. We planted our tomato plants on one side and wove the new growth through the large squares in the panel giving plenty of space to harvest tomatoes. Really beats the traditional tomato cages for sure.