August 13, 2011

The Great Tomato Race

If only that description were more accurate.. I would be overjoyed to have perfectly plump tomatoes racing off to ripeness.. But alas! My tomatoes are all very small and very VERY green.

I don't understand what it is about tomatoes that gets every gardener going. Just about everyone one you will encounter will tell you they love home grown tomatoes, because honestly who doesn't. Juicy, flavorful and delicious, tomatoes are really great for you. They have all kinds of vitamins and great stuff in them, ( love my technical terms? I like how this site sums it up ) and if you can grow them successfully I have to tell you they bring a lot of wonderful feel good feelings. It's true! Seeing that big ol' bush of tomatoes growing outside.. there is nothing sweeter. It reminds me of my mother's garden and being a child again.

BUT WHY, I must ask, is it often times so difficult to get that beautiful lush bush of tomato vines?! If it isn't blight, it is rot. It it's not rot, it's bacterial wilt or fungus or a strong wind blows them over OR THE DOG ROLLS OVER ON THEM. Something about tomatoes.. gardeners have a real tough time with them. My mother, on the other hand... she had the bushes and bushes.

My own glorious red orbs of tastiness are having problems all their own this season. First, they were very sad looking when purchased as starts. Next, they got a bit crowded in their spot and needed separating. THEN, they got too tall and willowy and absolutely needed to be staked.
This is of course when the fun really started. The stems got black spots, leaves developed spots and so did the tips of flowers. Not many fruit set. Many branches were pruned because of spotting. 
Neem oil (the product used is shown on the left for reference) and water mixture was applied, it was mulched, and lots of care has been taken with it. Eventually with all the maintenance fruit began to form. My largest is the size of a golf ball, and greener then the grass that grows here. Many cute little grape tomatoes are set, and I'm excited for those to ripen as well. I THINK I saw the glimpse of orange on one, but really would not like to get my hopes up. I'm sure you all understand.

Since banning my boyfriend from smoking in the garden area, and the neem treatment, things are looking so much better. I am a fan of learning as I go, so if anyone has any suggestions or helpful comments about growing tomatoes I would love to hear! I am in the Pacific Northwest, and the growing season is now as long as most others. Our summers are not as hot, and are often rather damp. I hear many people have issues with ripening their tomatoes. Comments will happily be passed along, and great solid advice will be quoted and reposted with credit on blog posts.

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