Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Sucker Born Every Minute

A sucker growing from a tomato vine.
I've been pretty worthless today because last night we went to a concert: Gavin DeGraw, The Script, and Train, and didn't get home until after midnight. It was a terrific concert, though; well worth the late night.

I'm working on the laundry and also my back to school kids' clothing listings. I missed last year's back to school clothing sales because we were in the midst of all our moving and the clothes were in storage. So, now I'm just overwhelmed with clothes. I listed my short sleeved boy's stuff from 18 months to 3T and my girl's size 6/6X, but I still have probably 8 more big tubs and boxes as well as shoes. Between that and the regular laundry, I feel like I'm buried under an endless pile of children's garments! Make sure to check my store for great children's clothing: http://stores.ebay.com/atelier-mandaline.

Another thing I worked on yesterday and today is pinching back suckers on my tomato plants. Suckers are the stems that grow in the intersection of two Y-shaped branches of the plant. These won't produce fruit, so if you let them grow large they will give you a very tall, full plant with few tomatoes. There are suckers growing continually, so I am as vigilant about pinching them back as I am about weeding, maybe even more so!

Here is a sucker I  missed when it was small.
Occasionally I will miss a sucker, though, and it will get big. You can use these large suckers to your advantage to grow more plants. When you find a sucker a couple inches or more in length, just pinch it off. Then strip the lower leaves and place the stem in a jar of water. The sucker will root very quickly, usually in a week or less, and you can then plant it in your garden. It will soon grow into a new, large tomato plant and will produce its own fruit. This is a great way to extend your summer tomato harvest. As your older plants are maturing and dying back your newer ones will just be beginning to set fruit. Here in our climate we have tomatoes growing until November or December many years.

A large sucker can be pinched off the plant and rooted in water.
Besides working on the suckers, I have been trying to clean up a big mess from our weekend weather. We had steady hard rain all day Saturday, and got 9 inches of rain just that day. The flooding was severe. Jerry and I were driving to the hardware store to equip ourselves for our weekend projects and left the children with our teenager. I was worried we wouldn't get back because the roads were flooding so badly. We were pretty lucky; people had to be plucked from their roof tops in the next town over because the Catawba River went 7 feet over flood stage.

Our yard fared okay on Saturday and I hoped we were out of it, but we had a violent thunderstorm Sunday with high wind and another deluge. This time my garden didn't make it through unscathed. Several of my larger tomatoes and part of the fencing I use as a trellis for them toppled over. Many of the branches were bent or broken, so I might end up having to window-ripen a few tomatoes early when they are fairly small. I'm keeping an eye on them. The rhubarb is looking pretty sad and bent as well. It will be good for me to have some small plants in the wings to take over if the broken plants die.
After about a week, the sucker will root and can be planted in the garden.
I absolutely have to get my cold crop seeds sown this week as well. Some can be started in seed flats, but others don't like to be moved and will have to go straight into the garden. I will let you know how the winter garden comes along. In the meantime, you know I'll be taking care of those suckers!







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