San Antonio Express News
Sunday, January 29, 2005
By David Rodriguez
“Solar Fire” (not Solar Flare) tomato is a recently new released variety for the spring time. Already it is a being called a “wonderful” tomato. You will like it, and hopefully everyone else will too. This is a determinate, round, fresh-market and home-garden tomato. It has large, firm fruit that ripens well. This variety tolerates most fruit disorders and has a better crack tolerance during the heat. It grows to a medium size plant which requires no pruning. Overall, “Solar Fire” is a very good producer, tasty, abundant, heat tolerant, and comes with a strong anti-disease package.
Is it too early to plant this tomato? Will it freeze? Yes, no, maybe?!! This is the ideal time to visit your local nursery for tomato transplants or visit us next month at the Rodeo. Start individual transplants in 1 gallon nursery pots with composted, enriched soil, lightly dusting the root area with rock phosphate. Water frequently in containers, and feed often with a good water soluble fertilizer. Make sure your tomatoes have plenty of sun. Protect or bring inside if the weather forecasts extreme cold.
If you are more optimistic, follow similar planting recommendations, but support tomatoes with a galvanized mesh cage and protect/cover with an insulating blanket. Mulch with a thick layer of cedar flakes. Make sure that all transplants are planted deep, i.e. up to the first set of leaves. This will help produce advantageous roots on the main stem, thus providing strong girth (supports the heavy fruit). This might be the best tomato that you have ever heard of, bought, planted or tasted. Check it out!!!
Extension Cabin – Come visit the “Glow Germ” area and see with black lights, how well you wash your hands. Food safety and proper hand \washing is important to help keep you and your family from spreading bacteria and germs than can make you sick. While at the Cabin, learn about assembling a disaster preparedness resource kit to help you and your family to be ready in case of an emergency. The Bexar County 4-H Program will also offer fun and exciting hands-on activities for children. Come by and visit with current 4-H members about the numerous 4-H projects within the largest community club 4-H program in Texas!
Bexar County Master Gardeners – Visit the Master Gardener area for horticultural expertise, advice, and helpful educational publications. Become inspired to use ideas from the fully-landscaped backyard retreat into your own yard. Pick up a SIP (Seasonal Irrigation Program) kit which helps homeowners conserve water and save money. Purchase the new San Antonio Landscape Care Guide booklet and, on the weekends, the new heat-tolerant Solar Fire F1 tomato plants.
Ask the Expert – A number of experts will be available on weekends in the Master Gardener area to answer your gardening questions. Visit with horticultural and radio celebrities Dr. Jerry Parsons and Dr. Calvin Finch on February 11 (tentative).
Outdoor Classroom – “Nature – It’s Amazing!” will be the theme of the Outdoor Classroom. Parents and educators will be inspired to teach children about nature, the environment, plants, and gardening. Featured gardens will be the “Texas Coast Alphabet Garden,” “Incredible Plants,” “Insects & Arachnids in Our World,” “Desert Garden,” and “Recycle Garden.” Children and adults will enjoy the gardens and interactive displays. Children can make a garden craft and participate in a building-wide Scavenger Hunt with prizes to make learning fun!
SAWS H2O Hero Learning Lab – Saving water-it’s not just for grownups. Kids need to be water savers too. That’s why the H2O Heroes are important in helping San Antonio Water System save water. Through the use of the SAWS H2O Hero theme, SAWS will tell the “Story of Drinking Water” throughout its exhibit within the Texas Experience Pavilion. The goal of the SAWS “Story of Drinking Water” will be to encourage participants to discover the importance of drinking water and all the things that are involved in getting it to your home. SAWS personnel will staff the exhibit on the weekends for interested kids to come by and sign up to become official SAWS H2O Hero members.
AgrAbility – This area will feature adaptive equipment for physically disabled individuals. Included will be a display of adaptive and enabling gardening tools, adaptive farming equipment, and a wheelchair for outdoor use. Both displays will be staffed periodically Monday through Thursday and all day Friday through Sunday, with handouts and a continually-running PowerPoint presentation.
Texas Native Reptiles – Learn about snakes in general and which ones are venomous. The South Texas Herpetology Association is a non-profit organization of reptile and amphibian enthusiasts. They will have an educational display of live Texas native snakes on the first and second weekends, and possibly the third weekend of the show as well.
Schultze House – Operated by Bexar County Master Gardeners, this area will sell gardening tools, educational children’s items, and a variety of home and garden decorations. Visit the Schultze House early for unique gifts for your valentine or rodeo sweetheart. Hours are 4:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 12:00 noon until 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Sundays; and 10:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Remember, learn and have fun!
David Rodriguez, County Extension Agent-Horticulture, Bexar County. For more information, call (210) 467-6575 or visit our County Extension website at http://bexar-tx.tamu.edu