Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tomatoes

Tomatoes have been problematic for us this year.

The tomatoes in the potager have been great, but they are late ripening and there aren't a lot of them due to space.  We wanted more, so we filled the greenhouse with tomatoes this year.  Everything was looking brilliant until I messed up.  Seems like I killed about 1/3 of them. 

We grow our tomatoes pretty close together, about 18 inches apart in the row with 2 rows in a 4 foot bed.  We prune them to a single stem and train them up a string.  It works great, especially where space is at a premium (like in the greenhouse or the potager.)  Pruning and training is an ongoing thing.  I usually do it twice a week.  I snip off the suckers before they get too big, cut away any leaves that look aged or are hanging near the ground, and train the leader up the string a couple more turns.  The kids usually come at least once a week to weed while I am pruning.  Some time around the middle of July we were doing our greenhouse work, and one of the kids hit a weed they couldn't pull (we still have a weed problem... a couple more years should fix most of that.)  I reached down with my pruners and snipped the weed just below the bed surface.  We finished the work and went on with the day.  When I came in the next day to check the water this is what I found...


Within a few days these plants were either dead or wilted and weeping black gunk.  I pulled out about 1/3 of the plants, starting with the plant I'd been pruning when I clipped the weed.  I know better than to prune with dirty clippers, but that didn't stop me.  Bacterial Pith Necrosis.  Seems the bacteria was already in my soil, but only invaded the plant when I introduced it with my dirty clippers.  None of the other plants have shown any symptoms.  Lesson learned I hope.

Then we got invaded.  We leave the ends of the greenhouse open for the summer.  Keeps things cooler and lets in pollinators we want for good fruiting on tomatoes, peppers, etc.  Well it also lets in the yellow striped army worm moth, who layed her eggs all over my tomatoes and peppers.  Now I am picking buckets of the darn worms everyday, trying to save some of my tomatoes.  It isn't a pleasant battle.

You think you are getting this,
but, you end up with this.

How are  your  tomatoes doing?

2 comments:

JGH said...

Very good lesson about the dirty clippers and something I hadn't thought about. That is definitely one ugly worm!

I discovered this year that my vegetable garden in NY has become too shady - lots of my tomatoes haven't even ripened yet. Luckily I grew the Sungold cherries and get a handful of those every day!

Daphne said...

I get a random mix of different caterpillars in my tomatoes, but no hornworms this year (yay). I don't get many so I only have to throw a few away thank goodness. I usually prune my tomatoes with scissors because I have about four of them and throw them in the dishwasher when I'm done. Sometimes all four get used in a session. Sometimes one. I would never have given a moments notice to clipping something else and then my tomatoes though. I'm always more worried about contamination from one tomato to another. I guess I'll have to think about that too now.

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