Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tomato troubles

It hasn't been a great year for tomatoes, at least in my yard, and in many others, I imagine. As usual, I gave my plants a good start indoors, but was slow to get them hardened off and planted out. For several years I've been planting in big pots in the driveway, which is probably not the ideal environment from a tomato's point of view, but hasn't seemed to hold them back too much.

Tomato leaf curl
Here in the mid-Atlantic region, as in many parts of the country, July was even hotter and dryer than usual. No doubt during those long stretches of 95+ degrees and no rain, I should have been watering the pots twice a day, but other things in my life were taking priority, and a once daily watering was all I could manage. The plants were clearly stressing. All but one developed tomato leaf curl, in which the leaves curl tightly and become quite leathery. Apparently this can result from either insects or environmental stress. Clearly it was stress in the this case; I studied the underside of the leaves and saw no insects.

One plant also developed blossom end rot. I picked those fruits off and discarded. A little later in the season the blossom end rot subsided. One plant developed some kind of wilt where the whole plant withered and died in a matter of a couple of days. Only one plant, the Brown Berry, continued to look completely healthy throughout.

To my pleasant surprise, once we got past the most brutal summer weather my plants began putting out new, healthy shoots. I've harvested a few tomatoes, nothing like the bounty of previous years, but they've been tasty. It speaks to the resilience of plants that they can make a comeback from what appeared to be a near-death experience!

Tomato resurrection