Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Day Two: Tomatoes and Cold Weather
There must be a better way ... I'm right now thinking of developing a way to better protect tomatoes than sheets and bags. Maybe I'll give LEDs a try. Or maybe I'll invest in a small heater of some kind to put under the sheets. Anyway, going on Day Two of this cold snap, I thought I'd update on the damage. And be prepared: today's blog is full of dead things. It's not a great day in TomatoLand.
Cold damage to tomatoes is an insidious thing. It tends to creep up on the plant, so it might take hours or even a day or two to see the full effects of the damage. It might be tempting to cut away wilted, dying or dead growth right away, but it's important to resist that urge. First, there's no sense in shocking the plant. Second, you don't yet know the true extent of the damage. So I say wait until the damage is completely revealed, then cut away the dead parts of the plant. And don't worry if you have tomatoes on the vine—they will still ripen, even on vines that are heavily damaged. Also, you might be surprised: the plants will often bounce back surprisingly well as soon as the weather warms up.
Anyway, last night I did the best job yet of covering my plants. I first covered them in giant bags, then wrapped them in sheets. The worst damage from last night appeared where the plants actually touched the insulation material, which acted as a conduit for cold temperatures. Otherwise, all of the damage in the pictures below is from the night before, when the plants blew over. The first picture shows the north exposure (direct exposure to a cold wind); the second picture shows the southern exposure on the same plant. So you see ... the damage is extensive but limited to the northern side.
And lastly, this isn't tomato related, but also kind of a bummer. I'm a pretty dedicated lover of lizards. I was the kind of kid who begged for things that slithered and caught snakes by the bagful in the forests and swamps around my house. While other kids were dressing their puppies in adorable hats, I was breeding praying mantis. So I was kind of saddened to find this knight anole dead on our porch overhang last night. Yes, I know he's an invasive species, etc., etc., etc., but still ... that's a tough way to go.