As I've mentioned before, I am harvesting tomatoes every day (at least 10 pounds of cherry tomatoes, and 15 pounds of slicing and paste, just today), but I didn't want the season to go by without recording the fact that we are having serious tomato issues, stuff I've never had before. I haven't been growing tomatoes long enough to know what the different diseases are, but the paste tomatoes starting looking funny as early as June, and now everything looks weird, and it's getting worse all the time. Our May was cooler than normal; our June was hotter than average, and July has been up and down, with temps as high as 108 (last week) and as low as mid-50s at night (last night). We also started with the drip system this spring, and I mulched with straw for the first time. Plus, we're in a terrible drought, and we don't really know how much to water and how often. So a lot of variables.
I know I have blossom end rot, which could be too much water or not enough water. Betting on the fact that we weren't getting enough, I upped our watering slightly, and the blossom end rot has gotten better - but now I have tomatoes that are splitting from the change in water - meaning their insides are growing faster than their outsides. On top of that, some of the tomatoes have random holes. I haven't found any bugs or worms.
|Blossom End Rot|
|Splitting along the side|
|Splitting along the top|
The fruit with blossom end rot goes to the chickens (and they've gotten a lot, sigh). The fruit with splits or holes still gets used; I just cut away anything bad, and they taste fine. But what really worries me, and has the whole season, is the leaves. In June the leaves on the paste tomatoes started forming a sort of wilt, like a shepherd's crook. That hasn't ever gone away, though we removed the straw mulch (thinking it might have been contaminated with herbicides). Lower leaves on all tomatoes started turning yellow, and now I have whole sections of dead leaves. I added Epsom Salts both in the soil and as a foliar spray, but it didn't seem to change anything. Some leaves have spots, some are curled. For a while I thought it was some sort of fungus, then I thought verticillium. I just don't know.
My working theory is still verticillium, because the squash and peppers have a similar wilt, though not nearly as bad.
|'sunrise' sweet pepper|
If any of you experienced gardeners would like to weigh in, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts on all of this.
Meanwhile I gave away quite a lot of cherry tomatoes today; we had too many to eat, and other than freezing, there's not a lot of ways to preserve them. The neighbors always seem happy to get some. I'll hang on to the larger fruit until Friday and make a few quarts of crushed tomatoes.