The heat is on, and tomato plants are flourishing all across the Wichita area. It's the perfect recipe for Tomato Day, which will be July 24 at the Extension Education Center, 21st and Ridge Road.
Tomato Day features contests, seminars, salsa-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.
Here's a rundown of events, activities and displays.
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In the Demonstration Garden:
* 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, by Vance Silknitter
* 9:15 to 10 a.m., shade tree tour in the arboretum on the grounds, by extension agent Bob Neier
* 10 to 10:30 a.m., Gardening With Kids, by Evelyn Neier
* 10:30 to 11 a.m., Preparing for a Fall Vegetable Garden, by extension agent Rebecca McMahon
* 11 to 11:30 a.m., Growing Heirloom Tomatoes, by Melvin Epp
* 11:30 a.m. to noon, Growing Tomatoes in Containers, by Marty Johnson
In the Sunflower Room:
* 9 to 10 a.m., Making and Canning Salsa, by extension agent Lisa Friesen
* 10:30 to noon, Cooking With Tomatoes, by Damian Lehman, executive chef of Wichita Country Club.
* Ugliest tomato
* Largest tomato
* Best heirloom tomato
* Best plate of three standard tomatoes
* Best plate of three Roma or plum tomatoes
* Best plate of six cherry or pear tomatoes
* Best cluster of grape tomatoes
* Best fresh salsa
* Best preserved salsa
* Photography contest, with three categories: Mr. Tomato Head, the artistic tomato and unique tomato-growing methods.
* Kids' tomato-growing contest.
For more information, go to the website www.sedgwick.ksu.edu and click on "Lawn and Garden," then under "Calendar of Events." Or call 316-660-0100.
* 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.
Tomato Day, tomato ways
Mike Brady of Derby likes to try new things in his tomato garden. This year he put down weed barrier fabric before planting. He rolled out the fabric, pinned it down, and then cut Xs in the fabric through which he planted the tomatoes.
"That has been an absolute godsend with the weeds," Mike says. "They're basically nonexistent around the tomatoes."
Do you have a tip for growing tomatoes that you'd like to share? E-mail email@example.com or call 316-268-6596, and we may include it in next Saturday's Home & Garden section.