Friday, August 21, 2009

A Dying Crop

I just assumed the heirloom tomato Cherokee Purple was naturally prone to being hideous and did not think much of it. As they began to ripen they were full of rotten spots. The whole crop was hideously formed and rotting on the vine. Well I won't be growing those again. I still did not think much of it because the plants looked perfectly fine while they were growing. Yes the lower leaves were browning, but not unusually so.

It's Late Blight. The tell tale symptoms have now shown up on the Better Boy tomatoes. Brown lesions on the leaves with a white fuzz on the underside of the spot's margins. This season of monsoon and infected big box tomato starts have combined to blight this year's tomato crop.

Tomorrow the Cherokee Purple will be bagged and tossed. I will salvage what we can from the Better Boy over the next week and then toss those. They never did grow as prolifically as last year and once these fruit ripen that is all there will be. We did have plenty tomatoes and the Juliet grape tomatoes are still doing fine.

This was not the year of the tomato.

This was the year of the corn. Until two days ago when Mr. Raccoon found something he liked. Varmint! If he doesn't steal it all tonight I will do a major harvest in the morning and more fresh corn will be frozen for later eating, at least what we don't eat for lunch. We've had plenty corn.

The cucumbers got the Wilt again and did not produce at their maximum potential, but there is no more room on the top shelf of the refrigerator because of all the jars of pickles. We got plenty cucumbers.

Oh the traumas of this year's roadside vegetable garden. Plagued by grasshoppers. Drooped by Wilt. Blighted by blights and ransacked by coons. Varmint!

And there is no more room in the freezer or refrigerator and we have been eating fresh produce since mid May. There have been sugar snap peas, pole beans, lettuce, turnips, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, Magda squash, peppers, potatoes, acorn squash to come, maybe even cantaloupe and leeks we haven't tried yet.

My roadside vegetable garden is not as uniformly lush as this one closer to town, but it has fed us well.

It sure is pretty when it blooms, but they usually cut the flowers off. It is a dying crop in these parts.

The roadside vegetable garden will probably close down a bit earlier in this year of the monsoon. There will be some late season carrots and beets from a second sowing I hope. I could even seed some more lettuce, damn grasshoppers, but the main players are already winding down.

There is a learning curve that I am on for growing things at this altitude in the wilderness. The more successful I get the more likely we will be needing a big chest freezer.


Carol said...

You have my deepest sympathy over the loss of your tomatoes to late blight. So far, I've not seen it here, but my tomato plants definitely do not like the cool, wet summer we've had. Here it was/is the year of cucumbers and green beans, most definitely.

So people grow their own tobacco 'round your way?

Lola said...

I'm sorry about the lose of your tomatoes. I thought surely with the Cherokee kind you would have an abundant harvest. Glad you did have some fresh corn, cukes, beans & the sort.
Yes, a freezer is in order to keep all those goodies that aren't consumed during the height of production. Fresh is always better.

Sylvana said...

I think that is what is affecting my tomatoes. I came back from camping to find one whole vine almost depleted of leaves. luckily the tomatoes were all fine. Now three of my other vines are going the same way. Oh well. Good luck to you.
Don't you can any of your harvest?

Christopher C. NC said...

Thank you for your sympathies Carol. I started getting suspicious about the tomatoes a couple of weeks ago when it dawned on me how small the plants and crop was compared to last year. They were still loaded with green tomatoes at the killing frost in October. Not this year. Yes my neighbors grow their own smoking crops. The black helicopter hovering overhead was scoping out some of those crops the other day.

Lola we have been eating tomatoes, not any of the Cherokee Purple though. Every meal for months has had fresh produce from the garden. The overflow gets pickled, sauced and frozen.

Hi Sylvana. I grow the vegetables, harvest and clean them. The resident cook determines what to do with them and she don't can no more. She freezes or refrigerates. With tomatoes she'll do sauce, salsa and picante type things to use them up.

Anonymous said...

Please don't give up on the Cherokee Purples in the future; they have been my best tomato this year. Luckily I grew all 6 of my tomato plants from seed so have not seen the late blight. The CP's as well as the Brandy Boys have been my best yielders/tasters. It's just that the CP;s have thin skins and need to be harvested just as soon as they are ripe, or they do tend to rot.
I did have tomato fruitworms on one plant, which fortunately was isolated from the others.
Glad to hear you got more corn than the raccoon did; haha!


Siria said...

Hi Christopher! So sorry to hear about your heirloom tomatoes ~ those are my favorites! I haven't ventured into growing them though. I buy them at Duckett's, but one of these days I will try growing them. It does sound like the roadside vegetable garden has been rich in harvest!!! Soon you will have an extra refrigerator and freezer in the cozy cabin to store things in, but that chest freezer might be in order.

Carol said...

Christopher, can you send me your email addresses - you and 59 of your garden blogging pals have won Cobrahead weeders!

Sandy said...

Aw, too bad about your 'maters, those are always the price & joy of any gardener. Some years just seem to do better for certain things. We still laugh at my house about the year of the basil. This year, my eggplant was attacked by aphids and in spite of everything I did lost. This year is the year of the sweet pepper for me, I have purple, yellow, and green growing nicely. Good luck and may I say what a nice blog! Happy Gardening here in August here in North Carolina!

Benjamin Vogt said...

I have lost many ornamentals to a massive grasshopper infestation this year in NE. It was a dry spring, so that helped them I'm sure. They seem to go in cycles, and once I get hopeful, a hundred spring up overnight. I've scissored their heads off in rage, and, shamefully, applied some spray insecticide judiciously on them--even spread some bran flakes infused with low doses of sevin in a few spots where the foliage is dense.

Frances said...

Hi Christopher, it was a weird year here too although no monsoons. Not so good for tomatoes or cukes, great for beans and peppers. The rains made the maters split so bad, a good one is hard to find, even while the plants still produce. The tobacco is a pretty crop. I have cured leaves in a frame on the wall.