Beans, beans, beans — and tomatoes

Last spring, germination was sporadic in the bean patch due to the horrible weather. Many gardeners experienced the same problem.

Man, do we have beans! Good thing we like them. A lot.

Last spring, germination was sporadic in the bean patch due to the horrible weather. Many gardeners experienced the same problem.

Beans definitely like it warm and dry for germinating. Any blank spaces in the rows were quickly filled with more seeds.

Turns out not all of the non-germinating seeds had rotted from the weather. Just slow starting because of the cold. Especially the pole and runner beans, which meant I subsequently sowed even more ‘Scarlet Runner’, ‘Lazy Housewife’ and ‘Painted Lady’ seeds.

Now the tepee poles are completely swallowed up. A very good thing I had lashed each pole securely to pieces of rebar for more support. A lesson learned after last year’s disaster in a wind storm.

The cool spring and delay of summer’s warm temps affected the tomato plants too but they are finally producing now. True to their name, the ‘Early Girl’ plants (an F1 hybrid variety) were the first to start producing fruit and ripen. ‘Gardener’s Delight’ (an open-pollinated heritage cherry) were a little slower. And we are still waiting to pick the first ripe paste-type tomato.

The paste tomatoes are from seed we saved from plants my brother’s friend’s father grew for us a few years ago. Originally, the seed came from a friend of the father’s, named Harry. For some odd reason, the name of the tomato was a close secret and sadly, the secret has now gone to the grave with him. A shame as it would be nice to know what variety they really are. But for lack of a better one, we have named them ‘Harry’s Tomato’.

I also started an experiment last spring…growing some tomatoes plants in pots on the front driveway. All are new varieties for us this year, except for the three extra plants of ‘Harry’s Tomato’. The experiment had two purposes. First, to see how well these varieties grew in pots. Second, to test susceptibility to the late blight virus.

‘Black Cherry’ (medium-size cherry), ‘Harry’s Tomato’ and ‘Hawaiian Currant’ (tiny wee tomatoes) are all indeterminate, or vining tomatoes.

‘Gold Nugget’ (medium-size yellow cherry), ‘Silvery Fir’ (large tomato) and ‘Sophie’s Choice’ (large tomato) are all determinate, or bush tomatoes.

So far I have been lucky on the late blight issue. None infected, yet, but have had two ‘Silvery Fir’ tomatoes succumb to blossom end rot…on the same plant. And one ‘Harry’s Tomato’. Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium.

Not too sure why just these three fruits were damaged when all 20 plants were potted up at the same time, in the same soil and amended with a complete fertilizer, same size pots and all watered regularly at the same time. But I will count my blessings it was only those few fruits damaged!

Another problem affecting all of these plants … the lower foliage has been turning yellow and wilting throughout the summer. Probable cause is they needed to be in bigger-than-two-gallon-size pots.

Part of the reason could also have been from too much exposure to heat from the blacktop driveway…even though they were kept watered. Tomatoes do not like extreme heat…preferring to be shaded during the hottest part of the summer.

Moving the pots across the driveway to the shade of the maple tree and bigger pots with more room for root growth would likely have helped stop the leaf damage. If I had done that we would likely have had better fruit production. Fruit production in tomatoes is on a direct par with photosynthesis so you want a good crop of leaves to catch the sun’s rays.

Ah well, there is always next year!

• • •

Have you checked out my website yet at

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her column appears every second Friday.

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