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Pam Peirce

Hello Patrick,
I agree that it isn't a good idea to shade tomatoes in SF. You can use clear plastic if you leave enough opening so that your enclosure won't overheat inside. (That's why greenhouses have vents. Otherwise they'd overheat inside on sunny days--even in San Francisco. Over 95 degrees is too hot for tomatoes) You can make a hoop house with open ends, or at least partly open ends, or you can put stakes in the ground around your plant and wrap plastic around them, leaving the top open. Our cold summer wind is mostly from the west/northwest, so be sure you block it in that direction.
Another option is row cover. It is white, translucent stuff that you can put over hoops or around a frame. It blocks some of the wind, and allows some heat buildup inside, but won't let the area around a plant get as hot as clear plastic would so you don't have to leave quite as much opening to prevent overheating. Water can get through it, though you'd want to water tomatoes at ground level anyway. Most of the light gets through row cover
I hope you are right about next summer. Three summers that cold in a row would be hard to bear!

Pam Peirce

Hi Lotus,
Glad to hear that you had good luck with 'Matt's Wild Cherry'. If that one did well, 'Defiant PhR' and 'Mountain Magic' should do better. Hope we can get some of the best resistant varieties on the market soon as seedlings!

Patrick Monk.RN.

Will also send to your 'web site'. The word is that we may have a tomato friendly summer this year. After the last 2-3 years of sub-par production, which has engendered performance anxiety, I had planned on erecting a quasi hot house with clear plastic sheeting to maximise heat etc over my tomato beds. A couple of folks have suggested that 'shade cloth' would be a better choice. I'm a little confused. My intuition tells me that here in SF, I should maximise available solar energy, not 'shade' my 'maters'.


Hi Pam,

Just for your record, we put in one Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato starter in our backyard raised beds in Berkeley hills the first week of June, and had a great crop from it with only a tiny bit of blight coming in towards the end of November. We started picking in September and picked all the way through to mid-January. At that point they were tiny little tomatoes but still tasting good, only a few had blight. I took most of what was left inside in December to ripen indoors thinking the cold would get them, but still ore actually did ripen on the plant even though the plant itself was mostly brown by that point. We bought the starter from Westbrae Nursery. I usually grow my own starters but we only have room for 1-2 plants in our beds outside, so now I buy them. I tend to get volunteers so I grow them in our kitchen over the winter. We are eating delicious heirloom tomatos right now from inside with no blight in sight! Glad to know it is wind-borne so I don't have to worry about it indoors.

Lotus in Berkeley

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Golden Gate Gardening

The new, updated and expanded third edition of Golden Gate Gardening has more of the information you'll depend on about California microclimates, soils, container gardening, vegetable varieties, herbs, edible flowers, cutting flowers, fruits, managing pests and weeds. Now includes 4 planting calendars, 2 for cool summer microclimates, plus 2 for more inland microclimates. More recipes and tips for learning to harvest and eat from a garden too.

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These common and easy to grow California garden plants are being reclaimed by current garden designers for their beauty and sturdiness. Learn how to grow them well, care for them throughout the year, and use them in your garden for reliable, drought-tolerant, year-round color.

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