Friday, August 30, 2013
Totally Tall Tomatoes
Our weather has taken a turn this week. More heat and more humidity have been with us. The nightly fog leaves the foliage still wet at noon. We feel conditions are now favoring the reappearance of the dreaded late blight. The above photo was taken eight days ago during a cool dry period. Sucker removal and tying up new growth continues. Both the Ferline and Italian Goliath are closing in on seven feet in height. Tying up tomatoes that are well above my head is a new experience.
This picture was taken today. The Better Boy had many lower leaves spotted with the disease that splashes up from the soil. All of the dying leaves have been removed. Next year I must remember to extend the grass mulch outside of the cage. Preventing all splashing of soil on the plants seems to eliminate that common source of death from the base of the plant.
This harvest photo is also eight days old. There are more tomatoes in the baskets than our total harvest last year. Two tables in the basement are now covered with ripening tomatoes. Nearly every meal features some form of fresh tomatoes. We have learned that chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato makes a great sandwich but we prefer the old standard BLT.
Keeping the plants open to the air seems to lessen the problem with blight. Despite weekly sucker removal, I still find an occasional monster. With a little help from the weather, our fresh tomatoes may make it to the September frost. In the years before the late blight, it was that first frost that ended the tomatoes.
The late blight really hammered us on September 3rd recently. We had just begun to harvest ripe tomatoes by that date. This year our crop came in nearly one month earlier than that. We started our seed earlier than usual planning to transplant into one gallon pots ahead of setting out in the garden. Than worked well as we were able to set out large strong plants in early June. If the blight does find us this year, at least we will have had a fair period of harvest. Since we are reluctant to fight back with chemicals, we will start early and keep the plants open to the air next year.