Saturday, August 8, 2009

An absence of red

One of the growers I encountered this morning at the Roslindale Farmers Market had prepared an informative display about late blight in an effort to explain why there would be no tomatoes or potatoes for sale this year. Perhaps they were getting tired of being asked about the absence of red at their vegetable stand. Although there were some tomatoes available from at least one of the 4-5 growers on hand, most of the vegetables on offer were mainly green, with some white, purple, and orange. The effects of our mostly rainy, dreary summer continue to plague us.Though relieved to have escaped late blight, after a week away, I approached my tomato plants with much trepidation. First I checked what I had growing in containers at home. At the first glance of the green fruit all seems normal. I have come to expect them to be leggier and more behind because of the lack of full sun. I could put the planters on wheels and move them around all day and they would still not benefit from as much light as the ones I have planted in the Minton Stable Garden. But the real test was yet to come.

Like many gardeners, I would feel the bottom of the fruit hoping for a smooth surface, but this year I have had to lower my expectations. In almost every case my fingers would catch something rough or soft, or a hole of some sort. My heart would sink a little as I bent my knees and craned my neck to get a visual assessment, dreading the common condition of blossom end rot. I had never thought I would be relieved to discover a case of catfacing; at least I can cut that part away and enjoy the rest of the tomato. That is, if it ever turns red.My MSG tomatoes are a bit larger, including this Cherokee purple at about four inches across. Normally at this time of year, I'd be harvesting red fruit already and bringing them on a mid-August vacation somewhere, while begging someone to pick whatever becomes ripe while I'm away. Not this season. I'll be lucky if I can make a batch of salsa.Not anticipating any harvest today, I left my bags and containers at home. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a few beans already, and even more broccoli, about a half pound, though it was on the verge of flowering. Unfortunately, there seems to be some rot on the stumps of where I had previously cut off crowns on the other plants. I haven't checked the plants more closely to figure out if it is being caused by mold or some pests; I'll be back tomorrow to have another look. Hopefully it doesn't affect the chances of edible side shoots.I'll end by returning to my not-so-scientific tally of how much I've been earning on my harvest. I won't include the two pole beans until I get more, but all of the broccoli I harvested. At the Farmers Market organic broccoli was selling for $2.50 a pound. Also, I'll have to add to my expenses by including the basil plants my husband picked up to make up for our lack of a fresh supply.

Previous benefits total: $92.75
2 1/2 lbs. of broccoli at $2.50/lb.: $6.25
New benefits total: $99.00

Previous costs total: $167.07
2 basil plants purchased at Farmers Market: $4.50
New costs total: $171.57
Current balance: -$72.57

I'm looking forward to enough pole beans for a side dish and to close the gap a little more. After I finish this post I'll check out some of the other blogs and experience some tomato envy.


Dan said...

After my tomato whacking on Friday I did find lots of tomatoes but they are all very green and much smaller then normal. It will be such a bummer for all gardeners if the end of summer doesn't warm up and become drier. I hope next weeks heat sticks!

Bryan Bunch said...

This week I started harvesting the tomatoes I planted on May 9 (taking a chance that the average last frost of May 20 would not occur, and winning). One plant had previously had severe end rot, but that was confined to that plant (an oxheart). I harvested three or four oxhearts and a couple of best boys. Also, the tomatoes I planted on Memorial Day are now beginning to produce large orange cherry tomatoes. The bad new is that all the early-planted tomatoes show quite a bit of wilt, so they will not produce more after all the green tomatoes that are there--but so far the wilt has not affected the later-planted ones.

Sally said...

I guess that tomato issues have not been limited to the Boston area. I think these last few warm days since my post have helped, but I'll keep my fingers crossed for all of us.