I ordered a 1/2 pound of red wiggler worms back in May but the sellers have experienced such a boom in orders this year that they were unable to fill my order until July. Encouraging don’t you think?
I have kept a vermicomposter many times but haven’t had one recently. We’ve just been composting on the roof in boxes or carrying our food scraps over to the community garden where our bins of dry browns need all the wet they can get.
I have to admit though that I love having a bin of worms living with me, so when I had an excuse to get some I jumped on it. I have loved worms since I was a kid. Worms remind me of summer nights running outdoors searching the neighbors’ “lawns” for little dew worm heads poking up out of the ground. We always let them go, there was no reason to keep them. I just liked finding them and feeling them wriggle in my hands. I still do.
Worms also remind me of my grade two teacher, Mrs. Hamson. I’m pretty sure her name was Hamson although my brain wants it to be Hamster.
Anyways, when it rained the concrete pad of my schoolyard became flooded with worms, and I’m not sure if it was a particularly rainy year or what but the boys in my grade had developed a trend of throwing worms at the girls and it seemed like this was happening fairly regularly. This of course always sent the girls off shrieking which only served to egg the boys on more. Mrs. Hamson sat us down one day and explained that worms are animals, that there was nothing for the girls to be afraid of and that the boys should respect them as living creatures and leave them be. She brought some worms in and we all took turns touching and holding them.
That lesson has always stuck with me. I wasn’t one of the kids throwing the worms or one of the kids having worms thrown at me for that matter but what created an impression was the fact that this adult cared enough about something as small as a worm to teach us a lesson about creature abuse. A lot of adults in my neighborhood kicked cats and abused their kids. So when our teacher talked about the lowly worm as something to be respected and cared for she was also telling us something important about all living beings and ourselves. And what’s more she taught by example with a kind voice instead of lecturing or finger wagging. I don’t think I was the only kid who heard her because the worm throwing did stop. To be replaced shortly thereafter by digging clay or petrified cat poo out of the sandbox to throw at each other.
Here’s how to make a worm composter. They’re fun to have around, especially if you have kids, and those suckers (the worms, not the kids) will eat their body mass in food scraps daily. Worm poo is some of the best stink-free organic fertilizers you can also make yourself. Just be sure to get yourself the red wiggler type. Dew worms, night crawlers, and earth worms are good in the garden but won’t survive the conditions of a compost bin.
Question: I am having a problem with some tomato plants in my back yard. The plants are growing good and strong and small green tomatoes are begging to grow. I looked at the bottom of one tomato and it is turning black. Can you please tell me what is causing this. There are several tomatoes on the vines of this plant, but only one tomato has this black section on it.
- George K.
Answer: Hi George,
Your black bottomed tomato sounds a lot like blossom end rot. I don’t have a picture of it to post but a quick search will bring up countless photographic evidence for identification. The reason I am ruling out other problems is because you describe your plants as healthy. Blossom end rot appears as a blackened, sunken spot on the bottom of green or ripening fruit. The plant itself rarely shows any signs of a problem. In fact some stricken fruit is found growing on plants that are exceptionally leafy and health. This particular brand of the condition is a symptom of excessively fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer. In that case, much of the plant’s energy goes into producing big, healthy leaves, leaving little else for fruit production.
Blossom end rot is a very common condition said to be caused by a calcium deficiency, however in general the problem is not caused by a lack of calcium in the soil but inconsistent watering, drought, and uneven soil moisture making it difficult for the plant to draw nutrients up through the roots.
From your description it sounds like your tomatoes are growing in-ground however this problem is especially common for container grown plants since containers dry out quickly and can be difficult to keep consistently watered.
The good news is that the problem is easily fixed — future tomatoes grown on the same plant aren’t doomed to be diseased if you follow the advice below.
General Tips to Avoid Blossom End Rot
- Amend poor soil by adding lots of organic matter like compost. This will provide better nutrition for the plants and make for soil that holds moisture well.
- Water tomatoes deeply, but less frequently. This means give them A LOT of water when you do water rather than watering regularly but in small quantities.
- Water more often once your plants start to produce fruit, continuing to water deeply each time. Tomatoes are a watery fruit, your plant will need lots to grow healthy fruit.
When Excessive Nitrogen is the Problem
- Cut back on high nitrogen fertilizers like fish emulsion.
- Add kelp meal or liquid seaweed to ergular waterings. You can even spray the blossoms with this mix when they first open.
Tips for Container Gardeners
- When growing in a container, grow only one tomato plant per pot.
- Choose a container that is appropriately-sized for the plant. Small busing and dwarf tomato plants will do in a hanging basket but most tomatoes have very deep and ample roots requiring lots of space. Garbage bins are the way to go.
- Grow tomatoes in plastic pots when possible. Plastic retains water much better than terracotta, a difference that will become much more noticeable at the peak of summer drought.
I took this picture back in April on that trip to San Francisco. That one where I ate all the sushi. Delicious sushi. Good god, I’m hungry right now.
And here’s where I admit that I have absolutely no idea what this is. I’m at a total loss. Anyone know?
“What that kind of attitude and approach is saying over and over again is that gardening is not for you; you don’t belong here.”
I met up with Teresa Cheng a few weeks ago for lunch at my favourite long-time local eatery, Cafe Bernate for an in-person interview to talk about urban gardening, growing food, and sustainability. We popped back to my place after the interview to take some quick snaps and of course I sent her off with some extra tomato and anise-hyssop seedlings I had kicking around. I have a tendency to unload plants or herbs onto visitors. I may be a terrible sales person but I know how to “sell” a plant.
The result of that conversation can be found on the Taste T.O site, Talking the Green Revolution with Gayla Trail.
I’ve seen this spelled as ‘Constoluto Genevese’ and ‘Costoluto Genovese’. When I purchased it the package was marked ‘Costoluto’ without the extra ‘n’ and I’ve been going by that since. It’s an old Italian variety so anyone who speaks Italian would have a better idea of the true name.
I actually took this photo in August 2006 but as my tomatoes form on the vines and anticipation mounts, I can’t help digging up a photo to remind me of what’s to come.
2006 was the only year I grew this pumpkin shaped heirloom, not because it was a dud but simply because the maximum number of tomatoes I can grow within a season is limited by space, leaving only a select few to make it back for a second or third year. I grew this indeterminate in a BIG container although the yield was still fairly low. The plant can produce fairly large fruit making it a better choice for in-ground gardens.