This has been a strange year for tomatoes. In every other year, I've tried to keep them watered, and let the hose soak the soil a couple of times a week in July and August, when it's hot and rainless. And I'd get a lot of tomatoes; but there would also be many split tomatoes, a result of uneven watering.
This year I have fewer plants (three, as opposed to five in years past). I've watered them only four times, I think. The tomatoes aren't exactly pouring in, but I've had a few to pick every day, the plants have been growing large and green and healthy looking, and – this is the strange thing – not a single one has been split. Well, there might have been one, I'm not sure. There has been an extremely low splittage factor this year, though. I don't know why. Maybe there has been just enough rain to keep them healthy, or maybe I just watered too much at a time before.
Or maybe a big difference has been the mulch? This is the first year that I have put down layers of newspapers all around the plants. That helps retain moisture. Now that I think about it, this might be the real difference. Hmmm.
My pumpkin vines are growing and flowering, but I haven't spotted any fruit growing on them yet. I think that if I'm not seeing any pumpkins growing on them by now, my chances of having some to harvest by October are slim. I'll keep hoping.
My fennel is the other thing that is doing really well. I've been picking young green seeds and baking them in the loaves of bread in our bread machine; the results have been great. A little more than a half-teaspoon of fennel seeds in a loaf really lends the bread a pleasant flavor, especially toasted.
One of my mammoth sunflowers is blooming, but the other two had their heads eaten off early on. I'm hoping that flower buds will still form on side branches, but it's beginning to seem unlikely.
My asparagus is delicate and green and looking pretty good, but small. I'm hoping that this will set the stage for larger, stalk-producing plants next year.
The two basil plants are doing well. I can make more pesto whenever I have time for the labor.
And now you know what going on in my back yard.