|Sunburn on tomato fruit due to lack of leaf cover|
Q. The 1st year that I had tomatoes, they were fantastic. I had so many tomatoes that I had a hard time giving them away, but the sun baked the plants ant the remaining tomatoes turned white from the blazing sun. As a result I made some shade for them (it was too late). The next year I put the shade over them and added Miracle Grow to them. They grew like crazy right through the roof ZERO FRUIT (someone told me that it was the Miracle Grow). This year I used a low nitrogen food something like 5-8-9, and one day the plants were wilting (I thought from the sun, So I shaded them. Oops.). They are still really blooming. Is there a time when the shade sould be applied? Talk about rocket science, man...I think I need a how to grow tomatoes instruction book that includes all the don't you do thises. Is such an animal available?
|Tomatoes growing under 30% shade|
|Heirloom tomato grown in the desert|
There are some people in town who are telling people that Miracle Gro is like crack for plants. This is entirely untrue. I have been using Miracle Grow, Rapid Gro, Peters and other similar mineral fertilizers for over 30 years and have found this to be the furthest from the truth. However, it does not substitute for good soil preparation and the use of compost, plenty of it, for soil bed preparation. Products like Miracle Gro should be used as supplements to enhance plant growth, not as a substitute for good soil preparation. My orchard manager did exactly the same thing as you did last fall with our tomatoes. He did not carefully apply fertilizers at about ¼ the amount on the fertilizer label. This was after the soil had been prepared in the spring. He applied the full amount for fall production of tomatoes. He got great tomato Vines and no fruit. This was after careful instructions by me not to do that but he thought if a little is good and more is better. All totally wrong! He learned a valuable lesson and we lost our fruit.
Next is your shade. If you are growing crops that flower and set fruit then do not exceed 30% shade. This includes tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, melons, etc. If you are growing vegetables that you harvest for their leaves then you can increase the % of shade up to about 50%. Too much shade will cause plants that flower to reduce the number of flowers they produce, have leaves that are larger and more tender, and stems that are longer between the leaves they produce. In other words they tend to grow larger and “stretch” in their growth. Okra should not be grown in the shade. It loves full sun and lots of it. It will not perform well under any kind of shade cloth. I hope this helps.
There is not a good primer for growing vegetables in our climate. I am currently putting together some classes with a local nursery on vegetable, fruit growing and principles of landscape design for the desert. I will keep you in notified as they develop.