Down in the dumps in the garden


I posted last week about our success with peppers this year. The other side of the coin is our low-down, dirty failure with tomatoes.

We thought we were old hands at tomato cultivation; we’ve been doing it for eight years, and like many gardeners, we consider tomatoes our premier crop. We devote more space to them than to anything else, and more than any other veggie, they define the health of our entire garden.

The stakes are made from ailanthanus trees!

Last year was an epic tomato year. We harvested 100 pounds and canned so many that we still have some quarts in our basement we haven’t used. This year, we were excited to try a new variety of sauce-type tomatoes (Mariana), and we started some heirloom seeds we’d saved from last year (green zebras, purple Cherokees, striped Germans, and sun golds).

But we had trouble with germination, which set us back on our timing. Then we put our seedlings in the ground kind of late. Then we had a pretty bad invasion of tomato hornworms. So our poor tomatoes were, shall we say, disadvantaged.



End result: We haven’t preserved a single tomato this year. Not one! We picked and ate some, of course, but there just haven’t been enough to can, freeze, dry, or even make a nice pile in the kitchen. I was excited to try brining tomatoes as a less time-consuming alternative to canning them, but I’ll have to wait until next year.

The only thing that makes me feel better is that no one else seems to have had a good tomato year either. Or have they? Anyone want to brag about their ‘maters?