If I’m remembering right, it seems that my Dad always managed to pick a ripe tomato from his vegetable garden around Father’s Day. His secret for being able to pick a tomato in mid-June was that he planted his tomato plants well before the last frost and then protected them any time there was a chance of below freezing temperatures. Some years he planted the tomatoes in two gallon or larger pots and then drug them out into the sun on warm days and back inside at night and on colder days. Often by the time May arrived, when other gardeners were just setting out thier six-inch tall tomato plants, my dad was planting tomato plants that were three feet tall.
Whether that memory is right or wrong, Father’s Day is the date by which I measure how late my tomatoes are each year. This year, my tomatoes will once again be very late. By early June, the plants were just tall enough to be tied to their stakes. I’m going to blame the crazy weather which kept me from planting my tomato plants until May 31st and my lack of initiative to drag tomato plants outside and back inside day after day starting in late April.
If I’m remembering right, my Dad’s geraniums (Pelargonium) were always very big and very red. Every year, he planted a row of them in a long planter box on the edge of our front porch. He said his secret for growing such big geraniums was that he bought the biggest and best plants that he could find. He often said the reason the neighbor down the street couldn’t get hers to grow as big as his was because “she bought the smallest, cheapest plants available.” He was also very meticulous about deadheading the spent blooms, which encouraged new blooms throughout the season.
I don’t grow many geraniums myself, but I always remember Dad’s secret, which applies to many other plants. If you want big, healthy plants in your garden, buy big healthy plants to start with and then tend to them, by regularly watering them, fertilizing them and removing spent blooms. Now that I’m much more likely to do!
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