So, here we are, chugging into prime tomato ripening season (a little behind here at Chez Siberia, but the total numbers of tomatoes are excellent) and the National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the 40s.
Which means that at our house, depending on the wind, if any, fog…if any and so forth, it could actually be in the low 40s or even (shudder) the 30s.
Not that I’m concerned about a frost or a freeze. Not yet (even though everyone out there in weather land is predicting a Polar Vortex(tm) to hit in the last half of September). But even in the low 40s, that would shock the tomatoes. Perish the thought that we should ever have stressed tomatoes at Chez Siberia.
What to do…oh, what to do?
Well, as we have discussed several times before here, there is this stuff called ‘row cover’ which I positively dote on in terms of plant protection. Most people think of using this in the early spring as a piece of insurance, but with the heavier types, you can add up to 5 degrees of frost protection to plants, so even at this time of the year, if things are looking a bit dicey, this is something you can use, especially if you use the method we did this year, which was to put up woven wire fencing, reinforced with fence posts (we used metal ones that we used to use in the pasture, but your mileage may vary depending on how permanent an infrastructure you want to get involved in), with the tomatoes planted close to the fencing and tied up to the fencing as the plants took off.
As you can see, with this sort of arrangement, you can run the row cover on the long edge (it comes in various widths so frankly, as long as you don’t have a whole row of corn to protect or sunflowers, this will work) down the row, wrap it around one end and as long as your piece is long enough, you can take it down the other side of the fencing – in our case, we had tomato plants on both sides of the fencing. This is a huge improvement over trying to cover up tomato plants on stakes or cages. I’ve been debating with the DH over the benefits of growing the tomatoes like this and even he admits that there are no ‘cons’ in this arrangement other than what we’ll have to do at the end of the season in terms of cutting off the string, taking down the plants and ripping them up and moving the fencing and fence posts (we will be moving the entire affair down to the other end of the garden to the last bed before the rhubarb as a rotation.
So, we ran the row cover around both sides of the row of tomato plants. So far, so good. But you do want to seal it up, somehow. Check this out – laundry (pegs) clothespins over the row cover, folded over the fencing and neatening up the ends of the row cover so that not a speck of chilly air can hit those green tomatoes overnight Tomorrow morning, depending on the temperature, we’ll just unclip the pegs, pull off the row cover and let the tomatoes soak up as much sunlight and warmth as they can.
Why thank you; I knew you’d like the idea, too.
Please note: I would not use plastic or old sheets to do this – we find plastic lays right on top of the plants and can stick with a frost, so we don’t use plastic. If you don’t have row cover – the best place to get it (and they ship super-fast) is Gardener Supply