The Sedgwick County Extension master gardeners are throwing their annual tomato party called Tomato Day today at the Extension Center, 21st and Ridge Road.
Tomato Day features contests, seminars, salsa- and fried-green-tomato tasting, a tomato brunch, tomato-critter-making for the kids and plenty of tomatoes to buy. It will be from 7 a.m. to noon, and admission is free.
In the Demonstration Garden:
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* 8 to 8:30 a.m., Composting Demonstration
* 8:30 to 9:15 a.m., Growing Vegetables, Flowers and Herbs in the Demonstration Garden
* 9:15 to 9:45 a.m., Making the Most of Your Garden Space
* 9:15 to 10 a.m., shade tree tour in the arboretum on the grounds
* 10 to 10:30 a.m., Gardening With Kids
* 10:30 to 11 a.m., Preparing for a Fall Vegetable Garden
* 11 to 11:30 a.m., Growing Heirloom Tomatoes
* 11:30 a.m. to noon, Growing Tomatoes in Containers
In the Sunflower Room:
* 9 to 10 a.m., Making and Canning Salsa
* 10:30 to noon, Cooking With Tomatoes.
* See new tomato varieties.
* Learn about plant problems at the plant diagnostic lab.
* Taste fried green tomatoes.
* Buy iris rhizomes.
* Shop the Kansas Grown Farmers Market in the parking lot.
Al Bass of Wichita has this tomato tip:
"When setting out tomato plants, I put a 3-pound coffee can with bottom removed around each plant, pushing in the ground about 2 or 3 inches. When I water, I fill each can with water, which goes directly to the roots, using less water and slowing down weed growth. Also mulch around plants. Plastic coffee cans work better than the metal as they do not rust."
And Ward Upham of K-State says that you may be seeing some cracking of tomatoes. While mulching and providing even, consistent watering can help prevent cracks in tomatoes, he says, you can do everything right and still see some cracking.
"We have evaluated varieties for cracking during our tomato trials at K-State," Upham says. "Some varieties crack under about any condition, and others are much more resistant. The difference seems to be pliability of skin rather than thickness — the more pliable the skin, the more resistance to cracking.
"The old variety Jet Star has been the most crack resistant of any we have tested, including the newer types. Unfortunately, Jet Star is an indeterminate variety that puts out rampant growth. Newer varieties with more controlled growth are often more attractive to gardeners. Mountain Fresh, Floralina and Sun Leaper are smaller-vined types that have shown good resistance to cracking."