Monday, September 28, 2009

Garden Tomatoes Summer 2009

Tomato Harvest Basket

As most of my blogging friends and faithful readers already know, my summer tomato harvest was very poor this year. None of my tomato plants thrived. Sure, they grew from little seeds in their recycled yogurt cups filled with good soil into healthy seedlings that I set out in my raised bed garden in late Spring. The summer weather got a late start, staying colder than usual through May. Then the really, really hot weather kicked in with a vengeance. It stayed unusually hot for an extended period of time. So hot and for so long that my tomato plants stopped producing flowers and fruit for several weeks.

The plants were stressed out from the heat. They also had tough competition for water and soil nutrients this year due to the more prolific than usual weeds that quickly covered every portion of my garden bed. The heat helped the weeds grow very tall and very quickly this year. I guess the weed seeds, grasses mostly, entered the garden with my homemade compost that I had worked into the soil at the beginning of the planting season. Usually the weeds are much fewer and a lot less fierce. I blame the heat and just generally weird weather we've had here this year.

I probably should have watered more often and more deeply. I probably should have amended the soil earlier and more often with more compost. But I didn't. The extended heat stressed me out too. I just did not have the energy this summer to devote enough time and muscle power to my gardens.

So the summer growing season is over. My garden is full of plant remnants. Most of them are brown or turning brown now. Some fruits still cling to the vines adding much needed color. The green stuff that is still alive out there is not being very productive.

So my thoughts are already turning to how I can do it better next year. For now, here are a few photos of some of my sad little tomato harvest.

The first little sweet gems I picked this year ~ Red Peacevine Cherry Tomatoes

The first Luther Burbank Red Slicing Tomato ~ about 1/2 the size it should be.

Yellow Slicing Tomato #1 ~ also smaller than it should be

Now for some "artsy" nighttime tomato shots taken on my front porch railing:

Peacevine Red Cherry Tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes ~ smaller than normal and not juicy enough

My first ever Thessaloniki tomato

First Thessaloniki ~ sliced open to taste it and to collect the seeds

I will write more about the Thessaloniki tomatoes in a future post.

I am sadly disappointed with this year's tomato production. I am used to getting pounds and pounds of tomatoes from my small garden. One year, that little garden produced 96 pounds of tomatoes for me, mostly Romas. I canned, froze, dried and sauced until I was exhausted, but I loved my tomato bounty. I guess every year can't be that abundant. Maybe my garden soil is just a bit tired, like me.

All of the above tomatoes are heirloom open pollinated varieties. None are hybrids. This means that planting seeds from these tomatoes will give me the same type of tomatoes next year. Hopefully in a more productive way.

© Copyright 2009 Mountain Harvest Basket


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Ah, and now I know what a Thessaloniki tomato looks like! Yay. I'm so glad you got at least one. Gardening is like that, I've learned - some years everything grows incredibly well and you are gifted with an amazing harvest. Then, the next year, after you do almost the exact same thing as the prior year, you get squat! It's no reflection at all on your gardening, Jen -- well, maybe the lack of weed control was (LOL), but what the weather throws at us is just luck.

By the way, are you on well water? I think I recognize those tell-tale white spots on the 'maters in the basket in that first photo. Mine ALL have that.

Big rains hit here last night. I think it's on its way to you now. :-)

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Danni,
Yes, I have well water here. Very hard water with lots of minerals in it.

I got about 5 or 6 Thessaloniki tomatoes. All about the same size. All smaller than I think they should be. I will write more about them in a future post.

Thanks for the rain warning. It is much cooler today and it is clouding up.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

We were in Florence, Oregon last night and it poured cats and dogs . . . so much water! I've never heard of the Thessaloniki tomato, fascinating there are so many varieties. Next year's crop will be better, I'm sure.

Hardware Bob said...

Great photos and report. Yes, a substandard and very weird growing year, except for my prolific basil and cherry tomato plants. Plenty of pesto and tomato sauce this year.

Then there is my stunted bell pepper plant which is producing the cutest little dwarf sized peppers,my eggplant leaves are being totally eaten up by insects, and the yellow squash plant has tiny underdeveloped pencil sized fingers.

And, now my green zucchini plant has finally decided to produce nicely just when the weather starts turning cold. Where were you when the sun was shining?

Next year should certainly be a bountiful, normal one, keep the faith Farmer Jen.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi CA Grammy,
Still no rain here, but the weather is cooler, especially at night. Yes, I hope next year's garden production will be more normal.

Hi Bob,
Yes, a very weird unsatisfactory garden season.

Your cherry tomatoes and all of our basil plants did do very well. I do think my soil is in need of a refreshing compost fix. It acts tired.

Pick that green zucchini and eat it!