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The Garden
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This time last year I had given up on the tomatoes because of the heat. This year in the spring I planted 6 different varieties of tomato. My intention was to compare flavors and see how they did in the heat, and keep the seeds of the two best plants. Since they're planted in a 6-foot diameter circle, the other conditions of water, sunshine, shade, temperature, are pretty much kept constant. (yeah, I loved science classes) They share the same lack of constant weeding.

In the interim I read a report from a California gardener who says that she lives in the hottest part of the San Fernando Valley and that she prunes her tomatoes. She takes off those lower leaves and stems that start to die back, so that the plant doesn't stress trying to provide water and soil nutrients to them. Also she ruthlessly trims off the sprawl part of each plant, leaving a healthy vigorous heart.

Hmmm.... So, two weeks ago, I tried it with one plant, average height, not the greatest sprawl, not too much dying foliage. (hemi-demi-semi pseudo scientific) I figured the worst I could do was kill it (zombie tomato plant stalks Los Angeles).

It's a happy camper I noticed this morning, so I got out the clippers to prune the rest and saw that one plant was practically bare of leaves, just stems and leaf petioles left. Uh oh. Tomato worm.

So as I pruned I looked for the little black balls which drop from the rear end of the creature, and found the perp at last (find droppings, look directly above for source). Big one. The little ones are terrifically difficult to see (exactly the same color as the plant and same diameter as the stem); the big ones can strip a plant nearly overnight and it's been two days since my last confession watering and weeding.

That's one tomato worm less. Don't know if the plant will survive, though the meagre uneaten part seems pretty healthy.

Also, this year, I'm going to keep watering them even during the worst of the heat (remember last year I gave up) and see if they will revive in the cool of the autumn and maybe even have some more blossoms and set more fruit.

The plant that is doing the best is the one I grew from a cherry tomato I bought at Trader Joe's (ate the rest) and just stuck one in the ground. There's a lesson in there somewhere....

Love those tomatoes!

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