Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tomatoes Again?

So Monday I wrote about my harvests which were mostly tomatoes (3/4 of the harvest by weight). Tuesday I wrote about the tomato festival. So today I should write about something else, but nope. I'm giving you yet more tomatoes.

The bad news first. Late blight has just about defoliated my plants. The photo above is what my Sungolds looked like a week ago. Below is what they look like now. I have plenty of fruit. The fruit seems pretty resistant to the blight. A few stems have had it and needed to be cut off, but mostly I've just cut off all of the leaves that have shown any signs. I thought our hot weather would have helped a bit, but nope. It was hot and humid weather. Every night we have had heavy dews and no wind. So the water just sits on the leaves. The temps at night are in the 70s which is perfect blight weather. Sigh.

The above photo is of my worse off Market Miracle tomato. Look at all the beautiful fruit. They are turning red slowly, but there are just a few healthy leaves left. I suppose in a way I should count myself lucky. I first found the late blight in the garden in July about three weeks ago (or June ages ago on my potatoes). It didn't spread as fast as it could have. I've been really good about keeping any sign of it picked off of the plants. I go over them pretty thoroughly, but the thick Sungolds were my downfall. I couldn't find all the diseased leaves in the mass of foliage. Once I missed a bit then it spread and took over.

The Market Miracle really produces well for me. I think if there weren't late light I would get about 30-50lbs. Their issue is that they like to drop their fruit easily. While picking off leaves these five tomatoes fell off. I hope the green ones ripen. Sometimes in the morning I'll go out and a partially ripe one will be on the ground.

That hasn't been all that my tomatoes have had to deal with. This year has been hornworm central. I've had better tomatoes (baring the blight of course) than in any year in the past and the hornworms have liked the feast. I saw signs of them about a week ago but couldn't find them in the mass of foliage. Now that the foliage has mostly been stripped off, they are much easier to find. I killed two that weren't parasitized by the braconid wasp. I've never had the wasps in my garden before. I've seen other gardeners post photos about them but never saw them before. I think I found my hornworms too quickly in the past. If I wait the wasps can get them. I left all the worms with cocoons on the plants.

But life hasn't been all bad on the tomato front. I've been picking 2-3 lbs of fruit a day this week. We just can't keep up with all the cherry tomatoes. They cover my counter top.

I do try to eat them all. I have fresh salsa and cherry tomato varient of caprese salad everyday. I think a large caprese salad is in the works for a friend's BBQ this weekend. I eat the tomatoes as I pass through the kitchen, but sill I can't keep up. I've resorted to making tomato sauce out of them. Unlike Granny I've been freezing my sauce, not canning it. I have a lot of freezer space. Today some cooked salsa is in the works and that too will be frozen. I was going to can these but Poor Richard's Almanac had a warning that late blight can lower tha acidity of tomatoes so I'll just freeze it all to be safe.


  1. I'm SO awed by your harvest, Daphne! Zowie! No wonder you can't eat them all! Thank heavens we have chickens and a dog to help us out over here, and our harvest's a fraction of yours. Caprese salad, salsa, and sauce are our favorite ways to eat tomatoes around here, too. (Of course we love our Sungolds in salads and Silence actually loves tomatoes and cottage cheese for lunch---our dog Shiloh loves tomatoes and cottage cheese, too---though OFB has just one thing to say about cottage cheese: eeewww!!!!) Greek salad's a big fave around here also. And no worries if your green tomatoes don't ripen: Even if you're not a fan of fried green tomatoes, you can always make them into chutney or use them in place of tomatillos in green salsas. I have even seen (but admittedly have not dared try) green tomatoes used in a mock apple pie.

  2. Your tomatoes are looking really good considering the fact they're blighted. Looks like you've done a fine job of keeping it in check.
    I still can’t get over all those cherry toms, they’re sooo nice. I had my first taste of Chocolate Cherry today. What a delight !

  3. Wow! Nice! I am envious! I have had a total of about a dozen grape tomatoes and that's it. I've been as diligent as possible in removing the blighted leaves but the conditions this summer got the better of my tomatoes. It is all over the place in NE. I was at a roadside stand in Maine earlier this week and no tomatoes for them this year.

  4. You can blog about tomatoes for weeks and I will still enjoy hearing about them. Especially since I lost my crop to Late Blight this year before even producing a semi-ripe tomato. I have to live vicariously through my fellow garden bloggers and cheer on their success.

    All I can say is, "WOW!" How beautiful your tomatoes are in spite of your challenges. the ones struggling still ripen for you and are delicious.

  5. That is a fantastic harvest, Daphne! Oh, that salad looks yummy, and would go well with a bbq. I'm gonna have to grow some cherry toms next year.

  6. our fried Ben, they are coming out of my ears about now. I need to give more of them to my neighbors to get rid of them. My late dog never knew what to do with a cherry tomato. She couldn't seem to eat it. She loved the slicers just fine since she could bite into it. I think cottage cheese and tomatoes are a wonderful pairing. I love cottage cheese. I never have it around though. I'm lactose intolerant and the stores around here don't sell the right brand for me. I have to go to the chain supermarket which I so rarely do. I've never eaten a green tomato. It seems such a waste of a tomato, but I might try if I have a lot of them that aren't turning.

    Miss M, Serenade and a lot of vigilance. It did help. Oh those Chocolate Cherries taste so good don't they. I just had a big bowl of them. Yum.

    Maureen, that's too bad. I would have cried to see all of my tomatoes die before eating them. I've seen that some of the farms at the farmers' markets no longer have them. The blight epidemic is such a shame especially since it didn't need to happen.

    GrafixMuse, lol well tomorrow I'm going to post about something else anyway. Maybe my beans. I am so happy I've gotten some tomatoes. I just have to stop thinking about how many I would have had if blight hadn't struck. The plants are now rushing to ripen what they have. I think they know the end is near. Now I'm getting some really small tomatoes ripening. The plants know they can't afford to let them get any bigger. Even the little ones are really good though. Somehow they are still making all those tasty sugars.

    EG, I think the cherries are the tastiest of all the tomatoes. They don't make it on a sandwich but still they can't be beat in a fresh salsa.

  7. Great harvest Daphne. I've been having to freeze alot of my tomatoes too this summer. They are producing faster than I can eat them. :) Just looks like I will have lots of yummy homemade sauce this winter. ;)

  8. Late blight has not been an issue for me in will over a decade, keeping fingers crossed....I am sorry you are battling it. Your tomato harvest is outstanding...enjoy, this season so fleeting, Kim

  9. Keep blogging about tomatoes, please please please! Even with the blight you have an amazing crop. So many tomatoes. keep up the great work :)

  10. That's it. I'm going to have to cook with some of the cherry tomatoes tonight.

    Good for your Braconids! That's got to make you feel like something is working out.

  11. I keep reading about this frustrating blight problem everyone in the East seems to be facing. What a difference a week can make. Your poor tomatoes. :( Your photos make it look like you are still getting a better harvest than me though who is at the moment blight free and hornworm free....knock on wood....

  12. Racquel, this year I think I will have so much more sauce frozen than last year. Despite the blight they are all producing well. I've never done sauce from cherry tomatoes before, but it works quite well using my Victorio.

    the inadvertent farmer, so many people out here have blight worse than me. At least I've gotten a decent harvest already. I'm really loving eating so many tomatoes even if the season will be shortened.

    prue, lol well tomorrow it is beans. I can't do tomatoes every day.

    Stefaneener, just make sure that you take those skins off. I hate the cherry tomato skins in cooked food. I use my Victorio Strainer to get all the skins and seeds out. It makes life easy.

    And I'm so happy to see the wasps this year. I've been jealous that I've never gotten them, but this year I did :>

  13. Cynthia, it has been a great harvest year for tomatoes for me. I'm going to keep all the changes I made this year. I wish I knew which ones were the clincher for making the tomatoes happy.

  14. My topsy's are almost completely leafless as well. I'm not sure what is going on but the ones in the soil below them look great. Your fresh salsa looks wonderful!

  15. Here in Oregon our night time temps easily dip into the 60's even when the days are in the 100's. Why do you say that temps in the 70's are perfect blight temps? Is it because of the humidity? In the summer here we go days and days without rain.

    Our humidity is incredibly low in the summer. I have never had blight on my tomatoes but this year I had early blossom end rot on tomatoes and peppers. I was so bummed.

    I have 13 roma tomatoe bushes and yesterday I counted over 200 tomatoes on one plant. You can see pics of the garden on my site.

    My squashes have white powder mildew and while the plant is still producing the leaves lok terrible!

  16. Dan, thanks!

    Mrs. Darling, all the experts say that late blight likes cool, moist weather. It doesn't spread well in the heat. So I'm guessing the 70s are quite to its liking. If you have low humidity and no rain, I'm guessing you won't ever get late blight.

    I hope your romas turn red soon. The plants sure look happy enough.

  17. aaahhhhhh!!!!! horror of horrors, my most dreaded fear - the close up photo of the tomato hornworm with parasitic wasps on it. I have posted about this beast. Here I was enjoying your gorgeous tomato photos...

  18. I remember the hornworm of last year...not looking forward to that again lol