The Trials and Tribulations of Tomatoes, Part 1


| 9/2/2015 2:17:00 PM


Tags: Farm Life, Blight, Starting Over, Tomatoes, Chef Elizabeth,

Chef ElizabethIt is a fact of farm life that bad things can happen. This year a bad thing did happen – my crops were the victims of blight. This season we built raised beds and brought in fresh soil and worked so hard to plant the tomato and leek crops, and they failed.

In the past, critters had decimated the crops so this year we put up electric fences to keep the animals out; I even put up an owl scare device to ward off potential raiders. I realized that animals are not afraid of plastic owls as I watched a mother wild turkey and her eight poults dusting themselves in my potato patch. That solved the mystery of why the onions and russets were sitting on top of the sun-burned soil.

I was going to get a night camera to catch what was going on but decided I would need too many of them. I decided to take my chances and pray for the best. You never stop learning about what really goes on. 

pulling out the tomato plants

It’s a smelly and messy job tearing out all those plants, but yesterday I started the task. I realized that if we did not take what we could immediately, nothing would be left. We had to harvest unripe fruit. I was full of sadness, anger and loss as I looked at the fruit rotting on the dying vines. I pulled the brown tomato plants out with a vengeance wanting to get rid of them, as the sight of a dying harvest was so unsettling. It was a constant reminder of our failure.  

tomatoes vs blight

reneeb
10/6/2015 12:01:10 AM

I really sympathize. I have not been able to grow decent tomatoes for the whole 3 years we have been here. I have been able to grow basil, peppers, collards, kale and potatoes. Oh yeah and sunflowers. So sometimes I think it amounts to finding out what grows in your locale and just giving in to reality. Hang in there. - Renee at Grindstone Ranch


annie1992
9/9/2015 5:56:36 PM

I also empathize, I've been farming/gardening my entire life, and just bought the farm I grew up on. My tomato tribulations began with a fungal issue, which I alleviated somewhat with an organically approved spray. Then the hornworms invaded, I picked off over 100. Just as the plants started coming back, the voles started chewing holes in the tomatoes. The weather hasn't been great, so I have many still green on the vine, and every time it rains, the ripening tomatoes split. Last year I had so many tomatoes that I canned until I ran out of jars, gave bushels to family and friends, finally donated several bushels to food banks and shelters and still had some go to waste in the garden, waiting unpicked. Not this year, but here no one had many tomatoes, even the markets don't have bushels for canning. On the upside, I have a 50 foot row of leeks and I don't know what the heck I'm going to do with them all. Dad used to tell me that farming was just like playing poker with God, you only win a hand if providence allows you. That's pretty much right. Better luck next year, but don't plant tomatoes in that same spot, the spores will live in the ground for something like 3 years or more. Annie


mary
9/2/2015 6:57:23 PM

PS I forgot to tell you that I am Mary from Old Dog, New Tricks!


mary
9/2/2015 6:56:03 PM

Hi, Elizabeth. Yes, I feel for you. It is a great loss and depressing after so much hard work and hope. I lost my seedlings this year before they even got planted after all I had put into them: Tomatoes, peppers, and onions started from seed. This is the first year I have NO tomatoes to preserve, so I have felt the loss then and now. I have two hints: I always put crushed egg shells in the hole before planting tomatoes, and our garden is surrounded by a tall chicken wire fence to keep out all critters including deer. Costly upfront, but then the worry is over. I'm looking forward to your next post!





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