The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Tomato highs and lows in mid July

Ripening tomatoes

Our tomatoes are finally ripening fast enough that I think we'll be able to make our first pot of soup this week. That's good news since vegetable soup is a mainstay of our winter diet --- time to get cracking!

Pruned tomatoes

The bad news is that I'm pruning the plants higher and higher as the blights spread. Septoria was soon joined by small outbreaks of early blight, and I'm very afraid that the dreaded late blight has entered the fray now. I'm ready to deem these new blight-resistant tomato varieties a dismal failure --- flavor isn't nearly as good as the heirlooms I'd been growing, and they don't appear to showcase any extra blight resistance at all.

Next year, we may try yet another anti-blight experiment --- creating an anti-rain canopy out of clear plastic over the tomato patch. Like a greenhouse with no walls....

Dead hornworm

On the positive side again, hornworms are appearing...and disappearing nearly as quickly as they show up. This little guy doesn't even appear to have lived long enough to get parasitized by wasps. Perhaps this is an example of the plant creating anti-nibbler pesticides within its leaves?

Bird nest in a tomato plant

Meanwhile, a song sparrow family has moved into one of my tomato plants. I'd thought that the mother bird would give up on the nest once I pruned away blighted leaves that used to shield the contents from rain and view. But Tuesday I found a tiny spotted egg inside, nestled atop Abigail's hair. Looks like our resident sparrow couple will have another successful nesting this year! Round one occurred in the hardy kiwis, and I was treated to the inspiring view of one of the babies waking up from its nap and gaping for food before I let the vines curl back over nest #1. Here's hoping Mama Sparrow does as well with round two.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Not sure if this will alway work, but out of space necessity, I put tomatoes up against a bee balm patch, which seems to have protected them. Somehow I feel that strong-scented herbs, incl. sage, might be good for tomatoes.

Maybe your mulch is too thick, and gets too soggy?

Comment by adrianne Thu Jul 16 11:42:32 2015
Which variety is pictured in the top picture in this post? I saw your post about the new varieties you're trying, but I don't know which, specifically, this one is. I've never seen such long tomato fruit branches before; I count 11 tomatoes, plus another couple blooms, on the closest pictured branch! We don't have a lot of blight problems in my area knocks on wood but all the varieties I've tried usually only get 3-6 tomatoes per cluster/branch. I'd love to try a variety that will give me those long branches of fruit instead of the little tight clusters I typically get. Thanks!
Comment by Rachael Thu Jul 16 13:29:27 2015
Not sure if this will work on tomatoes, but I have had excellent results using a baking soda and water solution to stop powdery mildew on the squash plants. I use about a teaspoon of baking soda to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, and spray top and underside of leaf surfaces. It has saved several squash plants. Supposedly milk added to this solution works even better, but using my organic raw milk for that is too expensive!
Comment by Deb Fri Jul 17 22:59:40 2015

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