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Shady gardening practices

By Penny Stine

Tomatoes are so versatile and essential to the way I cook that they always get the coveted, prime sunshine spots in the garden. Of course, I should mention that the coveted, prime sunshine spots in my shady garden probably get the bare minimum amount of six hours of sunshine required for most garden veggies.
Since I killed half of them while they were trying to establish themselves (or at least allowed them to be cruelly devoured by something), over half of my tomato plants are newcomers, thanks to my mom's generous donation of tomato plants over the 4th of July, which is pretty evident by the size of the plants on this trellis. Notice only two plants are halfway up the trellis while three others don't even reach the bottom of the netting. 




Most of the transplants are looking pretty good, thanks to the rain we've had in the last week and a half. This one is on my sunniest trellis, showing very little trauma from its recent relocation.

The amaranth, which I decided to let live because of it's unusual appearance, is looking fine, too. 





I've also got tomatoes in traditional cages, although I tried to beef up my flimsy cages by putting pounding rebar or wooden stakes into the ground to help keep the cage upright when the plant gets enormous. Even though my tomatoes are slow to grow and produce, I know that by next month, this plant will be overflowing its cage.

After years of losing the first few tomatoes to blossom end rot, I decided to follow the advice of the CSU extension office and mulch with straw around all of my plants. So far, the green tomatoes are showing no signs of blossom end rot, but it usually doesn't show up until the tomato is ripening and I still haven't had a ripe tomato from my shade garden yet!
Maybe next week.


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