Stretch the tomato and pepper harvest well into fall by pampering plants through the late summer heat. Peppers often wait until nights cool down in late summer to load up with fruit, so timely fertilizing and staking make a good crop even better.
With tomatoes, rejuvenate plants in your garden, or adopt new seedlings of fast-maturing varieties. Spend a little time spoiling your plants now to have savory tomatoes and sweet, crisp peppers for your fall salads.
Pamper Peppers and Tomatoes:
- Use clean pruning shears or scissors to trim off damaged limbs and withered leaves from your pepper and tomato plants. Compost the trimmings.
- If you don’t expect frost until November, set out new tomato seedlings. Choose fast-maturing cherry tomatoes or other varieties adapted to short seasons. Check with your local Garden Center associate.
- Water any pepper and tomato plants you want to coax back to health.
- Fertilize with an organic, all-purpose liquid plant food, mixed according to label directions. Feed the plants again after one week.
- Cage or stake peppers to keep branches from breaking when they become loaded with ripening fruit.
- Renew mulch beneath peppers and tomatoes to retain soil moisture and limit splashing of soil onto leaves and fruits.
Watch for dry, pale patches on pepper and tomato fruit not lush with leaves. This is called sunscald. Erect shade covers over plants at risk by attaching a piece of lightweight cloth or row cover to stakes with clothespins.
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