Wait! August is over already? How did that happen? Well I am a little behind getting to my harvest poundage for the month. But here it is:
My total poundage for August (2014) is 45.41 pounds.
My total poundage August (2013) was 107.27 pounds.
What happened? So there is a reason why I was behind getting to adding up the poundage this month and that is because it is DEPRESSING! I was trying to avoid this moment. I knew my poundage was going to be way off from my 2013 total but WOW it is really off. And the main reason is my tomatoes have barely produced anything. So far this summer I have only had about 26 pounds of tomatoes which is really pathetic considering I have 12 tomato plants in the ground!
So that pretty much seals the deal. There is no way I am going to reach my 500 pound goal with poor harvests like this. August should be the highest yielding month for any home gardener and with a meager 45 pounds harvest it has crushed my dreams. It is rare to find a depressed gardener in August. I’m too depressed to even put up any pictures of my lousy, non-producing garden. My freezer is depressed too because it is empty longing for roasted tomato sauce. Thanks a lot tomatoes!
So awhile ago I posted about my gardening nightmare and it looks like my nightmare just got a bit bigger. Look at the size of this guy!!
He was happily munching on my tomato plant before I got him and disposed him. The most frustrating thing is that I have only been able to find about 3 hornworms so far on my plants (which doesn’t sound like a problem)…. except I know there are more that are just so well camouflaged that I can’t seem to find them. I go outside to stare at my tomato plants and my eyes go blurry from staring at all the green. I know they are there because of their trail of poo but my eyes just can’t focus long enough to find the monsters. Or maybe I just don’t have that many hornworms this year… yeah… let’s go with that. I like that answer better.
August is here! Now that July has come to a close I can tally up my harvest poundage for the month. This month I harvested: basil, runner beans, carrots, cucumbers, kale, Delicata squash, scallions, onions, peppers, strawberries, rosemary, thyme. tomatoes (Persimmon and Fox Cherry) and zucchini!
My total poundage for July (2014) is 70.69 pounds.
My total poundage July (2013) was 79.56 pounds.
My total poundage for 2014 is 179 pounds so far. Well officially I am behind from last year. The main problem has been my tomato plants. Last year in July I had already harvested lots of tomatoes from four varieties of tomatoes. Just in the month of July I had harvested 30 lbs of tomatoes and I was struggling to keep up with the amount on my counter tops. This July I only have been harvesting from 2 varieties and have harvested 18 lbs. To make matters worse the rest of my tomato plants look pretty bad and I doubt they are going to give me many tomatoes in the months to come. I have one beautiful tall and lush tomato plant in my backyard that is failing to provide any fruit… not even a small green tomato has formed. Nothing! It is quite sad in the tomato department this year.
It is quite amazing to see the difference a few weeks can make in the garden. Here are two shots of my main backyard garden just taken a few weeks apart.
Garden on July 8th.
Garden on July 31st.
Garden Side view on July 8th.
Garden side view on July 31.
You know you are an obsessive gardener when you actually lose sleep over your garden. And this is what I lose sleep over… Enter the tomato hornworm. Don’t tell me, “Oh isn’t that little caterpillar so cute?” It’s not. Trust me. It might be cute and small now but in just a few weeks it will turn into a huge, menacing, voracious, no-concern-for-my-feelings-or-garden PEST. It will eat its way through my tomato plants at an alarming rate. When the worms are big they even make a clicking sound just to mock me since they blend so well into the plants. They are just mean… and ugly… just look at the damage these small guys have already done:
This tomato plant should have flowering tomatoes on the end of each of those stems…. instead the hornworm has stripped the flowers meaning less tomatoes for me. They are voracious eaters and will eat all parts of a plant. Look at my potato plant below. This was a lush bushy plant one day ago and a hornworm grew fat eating all the leaves. This hornworm was already a few inches long and once I saw the damage to the leaves I quickly checked for droppings. The bigger hornworms have a very distinct poo. It is large, black and sort of looks like small grenades… yes the hornworm even mocks you in its poo bombs taunting you, “I’m going to destroy your garden!” But the hornworm’s poo is it’s downfall. Looking for the black poo first (which is easy to find on green leaves) helps you locate the camouflaged monster. Then you can destroy the thugs! Death by drowning in soapy water, death by beheading with garden shears, death by stomping… or let the wasps lay eggs in them and you get the most gruesome death of all… death by parasitic take over (think about the scene in the movie Aliens!)…take your pick! Sometimes gardening is thug life!And so it begins… my gardening nightmare. I go out and patrol my tomatoes every day but I know they mock me since I can’t seem to find them. Right now they are really small and almost translucent but I know in a few weeks there are going to be tons of 4 inch caterpillars all over my plants. I really lose sleep over this. They even mock me in my dreams!
The first peppers and tomatoes of the season are here! It is an exciting time to be in the garden as today’s harvest provides a glimpse into what the next few months will be all about! Happy summer!
If you have never eaten a garden fresh tomato, you have never really eaten a tomato at all. There is nothing that can compare to a tomato grown at home. Plus when you grow your own you can grow varieties that are not carried in the stores. Home grown tomatoes are a superior product to commercial tomatoes. First of all they have personality. Color, texture, blemishes, meatiness, juiciness. I’ve never meet a commercially grown tomato and thought, “Wow, that tomato sure has a lot of character!” So do yourself a favor, and grow your own!
Here are the varieties I grew in 2013:
- Fox Cherry
- Super Sioux
- San Marzano
I had a total of 8 tomato plants in 2013. In terms of yield, some did well like the Fox Cherry (45.83 lbs), Super Sioux (46.9 lbs) and Persimmon (99.61 lbs) while Brandywine (6.86 lbs) and San Marzano (8.14 lbs) were my lowest yielding tomato plants. I had a total of 207.14 lbs of tomatoes in 2013. In terms of taste, the Persimmon tomatoes were my favorite. They were great sliced on a piece of toasted sourdough bread with lettuce and mayo. I wish the Brandywine had done better. I got a few late season tomatoes off the plants but they were just so slow going. I think they may have not done so well because of their placement in the garden.
Here are the varieties that are currently in my 2014 garden:
- Fox Cherry
- German Pink
- Persimmon (2)
- Sun Gold
- Striped German
- Cherokee Purple
- Super Sioux
- Hillbilly Potato Leaf
- Black Krim
- Big Rainbow
- Volunteer 1 (growing out of the compost)
- Volunteer 2 (growing in Bed #3)
I started all the tomatoes from seed and bought several new varieties from Seed Savers to get a good mix of tomatoes. I also am trying to place my tomatoes in different places than where I planted last year in order to avoid disease. Crop rotation will also help me avoid my problem with horn worms last year. Horn worms give me nightmares… let’s not talk about them while my tomatoes are still in their delicate youth. We might have to talk about them later in the season if they make a comeback. Yuck.
I have a few tricks when planting tomatoes. First of all when I transplant them I try to dig them in as deep as possible. I remove the lower leaves leaving at least the first two rungs of leaves above ground. The stem of the tomato that is below the ground can sprout roots creating a stronger and hopefully healthier plant. Also I throw a few crushed up egg shells in the bottom of the hole for calcium. This is supposed to help with bottom rot. I also amend the soil with my compost and E.B. Stone Organic’s Tomato and Vegetable Food.
With tomatoes in the ground, I know summer is just around the corner!