Monday, August 6, 2012

Cosmic Tomato Justice…

My tomato plants look like crap. Yes, they do.

It was only a few of weeks ago that I was feeling a little smug. You see a neighbor was on vacation and I was watering their tomato plants. I remember thinking mine looked oh so much better  (mistake #2).

There’s another neighbor whose plants I can see from one of our windows. They looked so sparse and spindly, unlike my happy leafy plants. Another notch on my growing tomato ego (mistake #3).

And then there was my blog post back in March, where I mentioned the fact I’d never rotated my tomato crop and always planted them in the same spot but never had any problems…(mistake #1). I was practically begging the tomato gods to take me down right? Well they have, big time. I’ve still got a decent amount of fruit on the vines but the leaves, oh the leaves…

Powdery Mildew brought on our wet cool spring? A reaction to my less than frequent watering once the rains stopped at the beginning of July? Or worse…a soil condition brought on my growing tomatoes here year after year?

Please let me know your thoughts…I’m all ears.

Just look, I’ve got lots of happy basil. But what’s the use of basil when you’re tomatoes may cease to produce? And besides, successful tomato growing is a point of pride in my family.

The first topic of discussion…when did you get your first ripe tomato this year? Closely followed by how tall your plants? And just how many tomatoes are you harvesting every day????

This is the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I might be disowned, the tomato failure, and the family member that nobody talks about anymore…

25 comments:

  1. Mine alway look like that too I have given up on tomatoes.....I can NEVER get rid of this white fly....no matter if I spry every day....I have eathboxes...

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    1. "given up"...but what's summer without tomatoes freshly plucked from the (in my case yellow withered) vine?

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  2. That's why there is a book titled the $64.00 Tomato.........

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    1. I've thought about reading that one...

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  3. We have a thing called late blight here in the north east. It looks similar, but the fruit also rot. Not sure if same, but http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/factsheets/Potato_LateBlt.htm this is an article from Cornell on it. I think the thing is to not buy tomato plants; grow heirloom from seed, and spray(sorry if you're organic).

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    1. I remembered reading all about that across the blogosphere and did a little bit of investigating. Thank you for the link, that's nasty stuff...and as I watch the plants get worse daily I'm beginning to wonder. Although the fruit still looks great.

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  4. I wish I knew. Tomatos befuddle me every year and I'd actually be happy with your current crop. I'm hoping for some late fruits in another month or so, or I may just give up and plant beets, kale, and spinach everywhere.

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    1. I can see that I'll be looking into fall crops too, for the first time ever.

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  5. Oh no :(

    We haven't grown tomatoes for several years, looking at yours reminds me why :)

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    1. I guess maybe I'd better plan a few trips to the local farmers market to stock up...

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  6. I love tomatoes and anticpate the first time from the minute I plant my first tomato. The PNW does give us a challenge for growing tomatoes, but I certainly don't follow the great practices of rotation either. I have a two spots that get great sun and I go back and forth between the two unless I get really greedy. I do try and cut off all the bottom leaves so they can touch the wet soil as I find that does the bet job of keeping blight away. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks Kath! I think I was a little lazy in cutting the lower leaves this year.

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  7. No, I don't think that the planting is the issue, since they are in pots and I assume you replace the soil each year. If you don't, you should since it would be pretty tired-out soil by now. Plus it WOULD be harboring the nasties that you are afraid of. Seems more like a weather/fungus amongus type problem. IE they grow fast and luxuriant and were defenseless against attack. Perhaps try a bit more calcium in the compost next year.
    Or it could just because your were being way too self-satisfied with yourself.

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    1. Replace is a strong word. More like "beef up"...I'd say each tank got at least a half bag of good growing compost and a half bag of well rotted manure, probably a little more. I mixed that into the old soil. I will remember the calcium, and definitely I am humbled.

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    2. Looks like time to turn out those pots completely and give them a scrub with a mild bleach solution. You may be harboring something deep down inside. In the pots, I mean.

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  8. Tomato plants often look like crap even as they continue to pump out splendid plump tomatoes.That looks like a classic case of powdery mildew to me, and I would strip off some of the old blechh foliage and await some new growth.

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    1. I did start cutting off the ugly leaves and for awhile it really looked like I was winning. Not anymore. Maybe today I'll go ahead and get really ruthless. I think that means I'll have 3 leaves left per plant.

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  9. Clearly you have angered the tomato gods! If you throw a virgin into an active volcano within the next week all shall be well. Or you could just spray your tomatoes with a tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in a gallon of water and a teaspoon of dish detergent. Either way, you'll feel like you're doing something. If this is powdery mildew, the spray will help keep it from spreading to new leaves. Sorry about the family thing. Will they still let you visit for the holidays?

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    1. Thanks for the recipe! I don't know about the holidays, maybe if I lay low until then they will have forgotten, after all tomato-talk usually dies down about October.

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  10. I've read that a spray made with milk, baking soda, and a few drops of dish soap works well for powdery mildew. If you think that's the culprit, it would be an easy thing to try. I have hopes for your tomatoes though--the fruit is looking good!

    P.S. I love that you have 21 posts tagged "Tetrapanax"!

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  11. Well mine look like crap too, but I'm getting 10 lbs a day. Sorry. It's not what they look like, it's what they produce. I was told to give them just enough water to survive, which will stimulate fruit production. Also when you get rid of them for the year, get out ALL the roots, which is what allows the various diseases to take hold--they live over to the next year on the old roots. But you probably already know that.

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  12. I still haven't had one ripe one!! Worst summer ever :(

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  13. My plants still look very green and lush, but so far I've only produced two little Sungold tomatoes. I'm hoping my tomato production will follow the same pattern as last year, when they didn't start really producing until after Labor Day. Right now I have lots of leaves and flowers, and a few small green fruit. I do rotate every year, and I always add amendments to the planting hole -- ground-up eggshells, worm castings, and humate. I sprinkle a little kelp meal on the soil around the plant too. I think the advice to turn out the soil and completely clean out the containers is good.

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  14. I have spider mite problems on mine. The tomatoes always ruin my organic garden dreams. I start off organic and then finally bring out the "big guns" and even those only work for a while. The mite make the leaves look horrible, but I got a lot of fruit this year. Especially cherry tomatoes and supper sweet one hundreds. Now mine are all a crispy brown heap. I have not yet figured out how to get a plant through the summer. One looks like it might be making a come back...it's only have crispy, so we'll see what this years verdict is. If it is powdery mildew and you are removing the leaves, make sure you get any sitting on the soil. Water can splash the spores back up onto the plants.

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  15. EEK! That looks familiar. Try 1 tbsp of epsom salt in 1 gallon of water next time you water in am. In early am or pm use that same dilution and spray the foliage. MAY help if you really want to try and save them but they look pretty far gone. Sorry. sucks! You may want to at least consider burning or bagging those diseased guys so nothing spreads....via bug or wind...If you suspect verticillium or fusarium do not dump that soil in your garden when you change it out. get it gone another way.

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