The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds

…or in my case, the effect of a prolonged heat spell on tomatoes in deck planters, a summer extra credit project by Kristine Smith.

I currently have three tomato plants in deck pots, an Aunt Ginny’s Purple (left), a Tommy Toe Cherry (center), and a Mountain Fresh (right):

They look decent, if on the stunted side–if you squint, you can pick out the yardstick in between the Aunt Ginny’s and the Tommy Toe. The Tommy Toe is yellowing, but the other two plants are still green; each have a handful of fruits. When I first planted them, they sprang up quickly, and looked much better than the seedlings I planted in the raised bed. Now, I think it’s safe to say that the situation has reversed:

The plant on the left is the raised bed Tommy Toe–note the yardstick inserted on its left. It’s a flourishing thing–I’ve attached an additional cage to the top of the first for more support. If all the greenies ripen, I shall be awash in cherry tomatoes.

This is the raised bed Aunt Ginny. It needed an additional cage for support as well, but of the four raised bed plants, it took the worst beating from the heat. Much blossom drop.

It had only three large fruits so far, near the bottom of the plant. The things are monsters, and if they all ripen they will make for many days’ worth of salads, tarts, and whatever the hell else I think of to do with them.

There are few buds or blossoms in the middle, but many blossoms and a few small fruits near the top. Unfortunately, I think we may run out of summer before those get anywhere near ripe.

This plant with the actual red, ripening tomatoes is the Siberian, which I planted because it’s an early-producing cool weather variety and I feared a cool summer (hah). It is, I learned the other day, a determinate variety, which means that it reaches a certain height, stays at that height, and ripens its fruits within a short time span.

I picked the reddest fruit of the bunch and had it with dinner. The first non-cherry tomato of the year:

Unfortunately, the flavor proved kinda meh. I may have picked it too soon, and will leave the other reds alone for a few more days before picking any more.

The last raised bed tomato is a Mountain Fresh, which I tried because it’s supposed to be blight-resistant. It’s on the short side, and is another determinate variety. The spindly one on the deck has about 8 handball-size fruits; this one in the raised bed has 8-10 softball size fruits, with more blossoms and a couple of small greenies:

Lessons learned? Hot weather knocks the hell out of deck pot veggies. The basil don’t look all that great this year, either, but I can still harvest leaves when I want them. I think I may stick with deck pots for herbs and put veggies in the raised bed. Or extend the raised beds and put everything in there. The basil that I planted in the raised bed last year could be measured in feet, not inches. Everything seems to do better in the ground. The comparatively small size of the pots allows for too much temperature variability, I think. Poor plants don’t know whether to shit or go sailing.**


**and if you think you know which movie I was thinking of when I wrote that line, leave your guess in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds”

  1. YES! James Spader’s comment about what will happen to Andrew McCarthy if his mother ever finds out about Molly Ringwald.

    I loved that movie. I watched it so many times, and each time I wanted to communicate to Molly that pink was sooo not her color. Couldn’t the P-Furs have changed the lyrics to “Pretty in Peach,” or some other color that worked better with redhead coloring? Guess not.

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