Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Tomato Troubles

Here's the sum total of my tomato crop this year - pathetic isn't it? It's marginally better than last year, which in turn was far better than the big fat zero from the year before. I had vowed not to grow any tomatoes this time, but the promised 'barbecue summer', plus a freebie 'Sungold' crumbled my defences and I grew some after all - four plants in total, the other three were 'Gardeners' Delight'.

They succumbed to tomato blight - yet again. I might as well give up growing tomatoes. I've tried the blight resistant varieties: they resisted for all of 10 extra days and didn't have much taste in my opinion. I've tried the aforementioned early ripening varieties too and I'm not keen on spraying Bordeaux Mixture over something I'm going to pick and eat. There's nowhere I can put a greenhouse, so I can't switch to growing them indoors where blight tends to be less of a problem.

But ohhhhhh, the taste of each of those few tomatoes in that tray: far superior to anything shop bought. It breaks my heart to think I might never have that taste again. Any ideas for a possible winning strategy next year?

17 comments:

  1. It was our first year growing tomatoes this year, we grew money maker, alicante, gardeners delight and garden pearl. the gardeners delight faired worst, surrcoming to blossom end rot, but our stars were the garden pearls. Grown in hanging baskets they just produce and produce, still picking them this evening!!! Next year I think I'll only grow garden pearl and Alicante.

    Maxine
    http://slowingdownwiththejones.blogspot.com

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  2. I feel for you!

    Having lost our total crop to blight 2 years running about 3 years ago we took the decision to spray with bordeaux mix if the conditions for blight were prevalent. There seems to be something particularly sad about losing this particular crop during the summer.

    I seem to remember Bob Flowerdew erecting some sort of plastic covering for his some years ago but I don't think I ever found out if it worked!

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  3. Have you got a sunny windowsill to grow little bush tomatoes in pots? That would be better than nothing, although you'd probably never get to cook with them, as you'd be bound to eat them straight off the plant ....

    there used to be a taxi firm in Henley that had a big shop window, south facing, and by the end of the summer the window was completely filled with tomato plants bearing loads of lovely big toms. It doesn't have to be a greenhouse ...

    Good luck - I wouldn't spray, either

    Joanna

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  4. That's better than I did!
    http://flightplot.wordpress.com/2009/08/23/tomatoes/#comments
    I take you grew them outside...on the allotment?
    As has been suggested try containers, hanging baskets and even indoors.
    Above all don't give up! xx

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  5. I am coming to the conclusion that I wont bother with tomatos anymore. Mine havent really succumbed to blight they just arent ripening. The plum tomatos look lovely but when they do finally ripen, they have been on the bush so long, there is hardly any moisture inside. I am concluding that its alot of work and working for a small return and I could use the space more advanteagously in the greenhouse

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  6. That's about the same as me. Not many but the few sungolds I got were absolutely delicious.

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  7. I did not have much better luck although I do not think that mine were a victim of blight. The forecasters say next summer will be better (now where have we heard that before?) because of El Nino so you might have more joy.

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  8. I was just going to photograph the same thing, only my tomato crop fit in two handfuls and I needed to set up the tripod..... pathetic is right!

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  9. Poor VP! Our harvests here in PA have also struggled with late blight and cool, rainy weather this year. My Sungolds actually did well---a good thing, since they're my favorites---but others were duds. I suggest that you do as I do and supplement your stash from local farmers' markets. That way you can enjoy others' bounty, support local growers, and enjoy flavorful varieties instead of settling for less. Glad you at least got some lovely ones to cheer you!

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  10. Sorry to see you've had problems with your Tomatoes...

    Could you try a lean-to or one of those small plastic, zip greenhouses? They will at least provide some protection until they're too large to fit in anymore :)

    This is my first year of growing Tomatoes and so far I haven't had any problems and they've been grown outside and nothing sprayed on them at all, although I am under no illusions that it is simply beginner's luck!

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  11. Howdy do.

    Sorry to hear of your troubles. There is a product you might use--it is a bacteriacide/ fungicide that is used by some organic growers, it's safe on food for human and animal consumption. Not available retail, but if you want a sample please email me. It works--it even protects your plants when they are grown near fields where blight is rampant (blight is spread up to two miles by spores)

    I do find WV irritating, but if you have a lot of traffic, I understand your need to use it.

    (abporkrinds@yahoo.com)

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  12. Blight is a major problem on our allotments too, I even got some in my greenhouse this year! Although, only the plants by the open door were affected, blown in by the wind no doubt. I understand that it is on the increase eveywhere. Some plots have banned tomatoes in an attempt to break the cycle, but that seems a bit harsh and I don't believe that this method has been proven as yet.
    I think erecting a temporary plastic tunnel over the outdoor tomatoes would help, it certainly should in theory. I heard somewhere that if you water the tops of the tomatoes thoroughly after rain it will help to stop blight by washing the spores off the leaves. The drawback here is you have to be available to do it.

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  13. So glad it's not just me, although I've not had blight. My problem is the same as Patient Gardener's - lack of ripening.
    No answers, I'm afraid, just sympathy as there is little better tasting than homegrown tomatoes.

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  14. I lost all my crop the last 2 years, last tear even in the greenhouse. I thought I was going the same way this year as had the odd blighted tomato which I took off of course. I then trimmed the majority of the leaves away to get more air circulation round the tomatoes. this does seem to have worked and they are now ripening well too. It seemed rather drastic action denuding the poor plants so and they don't look as attractive but I am now getting good crops. Next year I intend to remove the leaves earlier so that with luck I will grow tomatoes not leaves.

    WV is aenidism which sounds the sort of ism I would prefer to avoid!

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  15. We've had more success with tomatoes this year than in previous years - strange how things work out. I sowed my Sungold in late Feb and put them outside in pots in May (we're in North Hampshire) and sowed a second batch in April just in case. Must have had nearly 100 fruits off each early plant - I cut them down yesterday with a touch of blight just showing. The later plants are still going.

    We also have Gardeners Delight from the late sowing and Legend from both which have been successful.

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  16. Hiya VP

    No, 'fraid I have nothing to offer. I've given up on tomatoes, too. The annual disappointment is just too painful. The only thing that really DOES work is Bordeaux mixture, but like you I'm a tad concerned about spraying it directly on fruit I'm going to eat (potato haulms are another matter).

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  17. mrs jones!!!! Welcome :) I've grown Garden Pearl before was disappointed with them compared to Sungold and Gardeners' Delight. However, you have tomatoes and I don't and that's even more disappointing!

    Ms B - helloooo! Joy Larkcom has that plastic shelter in her book too. Might be worth a try if my resolve crumbles again.

    Joanna - the sunny windows are crammed with various seedlings at various times of the year and NAH already grumbles about them, so I don't think that's an option :(

    Flighty - I gave up growing allotment tomatoes last year. These were in pots on the patio.

    PG - tomatoes not ripening seems to be a common problem this year. I suspect now we're having some sunnier weather, yours should start to ripen. You could always use the old banana skin trick to help them along...

    Arabella - aren't they just? There's nothing like your own home grown tomatoes.

    Anna - I predict if I don't grow any next year, the summer will be boiling hot!

    nikkipolani - it's so disappointing isn't it?

    OFB - we're within walking distance of a farm shop, so I'll try there in future.

    Liz - I've bought one of those plastic zip greenhouses, just need to get round to putting it up!

    Aunty Belle - I'm UK based so I suspect postage will be too much and not sure what customs will think about it!

    Finchley Land Girl - welcome and thanks for following :) There's a new kind of blight apparently that's more vigorous than the usual one - I wrote about it when I was talking about my spuds a while back. As for washing the spores off the leaves, I'm not sure that will work as won't the plants take it up through the soil. I thought watering the tops helps to ensure pollination?

    HM - we had the last of the homegrown ones last night. Thankfully my friend C from choir has a surplus and gave me a large bag of her tomatoes at the weekend :)

    Maggi - I think I'm not as vigilant as you, sounds like the kind of thing you need to do straight away. A good tip and worth a try :)

    Simon - I'm green with envy! Especially if you're growing them outdoors?

    Soilman I'm with you - happy to spray on spuds, but not tomatoes even though Garden Organic says Bordeaux Mixture's the treatment of last resort.

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