Monday, August 23, 2010


This has been an eventful summer in St. Louis.  The weather has been extremely hot and humid.  Living in a valley has added to the humidity.  Needless to say we have been inundated by every fungus and bacterial infection.  Some varieties of tomatoes  succumbed immediately and we nurtured them hoping to get something for the the work already done. 

The green tomatoes; those that are green when ripe went first.  The few tomatoes we got made us really want to try again next year for more green tomatoes.  We had two varieties, Evergreen and Aunt Ruby's".    In  taste and shape the Evergreen had it all over Aunt Ruby. 

BTW...anticipating the onslaught of the diseases we trimmed all the lower leaves up twelve inches on the plant and mulched heavily to prevent the splash of the fungus bearing water.  The only thing we have not tried this year was cornmeal.  This will be on the shopping list for next year and will be applied to the top of the soil when we plant next year.

We have had great luck with disease resistance in the "Big Mama's".  I used a huge handful of epsom salts in each planting hole this year and we have so far gotten through the summer with no blossom end rot.  (This variety seems to be more susceptible than most.)  Another way to dose your tomatoes is to spray with epsom salts.  I can't remember the amount but it seems it was 1/4 teaspoon for 2 cups of water.  I suggest you google "using epsom salts as a foliar spray" to find the correct amounts.
"Juliet" tomatoes planted late so far have not gotten the different diseases, but the planting 4 weeks earlier did.  I can't compare the two though because the first planting was a double row.  The closeness of the plants could have caused the diseases. 

We had similar results with the "jelly bean" tomatoes.  Except, the first planting was a single row and the second planting was too.  There was a month between the plantings.  The plants in both cases were started on the same day.  BTW, Jelly Beans flavor is exceptional and they are extremely productive on enormous vines.

The planting method we used, which I blogged about in a previous blog,  has worked fabulously.  The earth stayed moist without being soggy.  It drained well when we had gully washers of a rain.  The nicest benefit came when we dismantled the two beds.  After we removed the straw and exposed the dirt, the straw at the base had already decomposed and was ready to till into the dirt, adding the much needed organic matter.

Our favorite long standing beefsteak has failed our conditions for the second year in a row.  We will not be planting "Delicious" again for a while.  This tomato has been our stand by plant for almost 40 years.  Producing 2 lb tomatoes with ease.  This has not been the case for the last 2 years.

A new tomato on the market the last couple of years has been "Rave".  It is the yellow equivalent to the Juliet tomato.  This year it has performed admirably producing 1 ounce tomatoes that do not readily split on the vine.  It is a little susceptible to the diseases but not to the point it debilitates the production.  I recommend picking them before they are ripe.  Ripened in the house they stay firmer.  Vine ripened they are are a softer tomato.  No mater when you pick them they are full of flavor.  Much more flavor than any yellow slicing  tomatoes.  This is our second year growing them.

So far the only large tomatoes that do not have the diseases in profusion (just a little bit) are "Goliath" and "Big Beef".  But they are also not as large of producers as we were used to getting from the "Delicious" tomato.  They do take up the same amount of real estate as the "Delicious" does.

Remember we mixed all new dirt for every tomato bed.  We did not plant anywhere near the area we had tomatoes last year.   We are struggling with the same problems we had last year.  This fall will be a quest for a new location for the tomatoes.   We have an area below our green house but I am not too hep on using it.  It is a great place to encounter mosquitoes so I think maybe the humidity is even higher there. 

I haven't discussed enlarging the garden area with my husband, but ploughing an area out side the fence on higher ground is an option (I think if he reads this, discussion is mute)....Then of course we have to build another deer proof  The fence we have made has worked this year, but it isn't ground hog proof!

Hope you are having better tomato times than we are.

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