Gardeners say that tomatoes thrive; Watching the Heat – Virgin Pilot

Here are some of this summer’s experiences that gardeners have shared with me. (Thank you! Keep emails coming.)


I recently read your article about tomato plant species and blight problems. Tomato plants are doing well this summer, I water a lot, plus I used a lot of my compost when I planted them.

My picks this season are Park’s Improved Whopper (indeterminate), German Queen Heirloom (indeterminate), Husky Cherry Red hybrid (indeterminate), Early Girl and Sweet Million (grape-like clusters of delicious sweet cherry tomatoes; type vine, indeterminate F1 hybrid). The top three are Bonnie Plantes. The German Queen’s legacy is truly one very big tomato. Of course they are all delicious! They are all stacked, and I plan to add more compost around the roots of each plant when it’s cooler. I compost all year round.

– Sherri Lewis, Newport News


Several years ago, I read about a Dr. Klee tomato in one of your columns. You donated to their cause and received seeds for gems and garden treasure. These items performed well above my expectations in containers on my balcony at Oceanfront. We had all the fruit we could eat, I was even able to share some with the neighbours.

I saved the seeds every year (which is not allowed for hybrids but I did anyway) and from that I got a delicious variety of oval and striped red and orange tomatoes. They have a slightly firmer skin, but the fruit is well worth the extra chew.

– Polita Anglin, Virginia Beach


We’ve had great success with tomatoes from many of our heirloom and hybrid varieties, including cherry tomatoes starting in late June. We pick a handful of cherry tomatoes and three or four large tomatoes each day, with more on the way.

Our herbal garden is also thriving – sage, parsley, chives, dill, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, thyme and many types of basil. We struggled with squash – several healthy plants with flowers but no squash, and then withered; I think there might be a lot of water/rain.

Our vegetables are in raised beds and large pots and we enjoy the afternoon sun. I apply compost tilled into the soil before planting the vegetables, then fertilize a little two or three times during the summer. Planted in mid to late April.

We plant flowers to attract pollinators, and those flowers bloom very actively.

– Mike Vecerkauskas, Norfolk

More notes from readers in the next column.


You’ve been working in the garden with a steady clip for half an hour or so. You are sweating profusely. You start to feel a little wobbly and become very thirsty. You stop, grab your water bottle and take a big gulp. Now that I’m almost done, I’ve decided to go ahead and get this chore done and finally finish it. As you go on, the sensations continue, but now your pulse quickens and you feel a slight headache coming on.

What now?

Get out of the sun and head for the air conditioner. Take a cool shower, apply an ice pack, or do both. Re-moisturizing.

If you’re confused or incoherent, slurred, feel faint, feel nauseous or can’t sweat at all, you have a red flag: heat stroke. (Seizures are also possible.) Call 911 – seek medical attention immediately.

Each year, the American College of Emergency Physicians reports more than 400 deaths, as well as several thousand emergency room visits, from heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are dangerous and can affect people of all ages. Pay attention to symptoms.

Tim Nuckols, of Nuckols Tree Care in Virginia Beach, wrote, “Heat and drought have wreaked havoc on many trees. Native dogwood cannot handle direct sunlight very well and many are stressed. Please tell readers that watering is needed. Extra with this heat and lack of precipitation. Covering around your trees also helps prevent water evaporation. Not only dogwoods, but all trees need water during these extremely hot conditions.”

For weeks, many parts of the country have been in the grip of a record heat wave. By any calculation, it was the last two weeks of July warm. Expect more in the future. Let’s be careful there.

Send questions to [email protected]

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