It is with great reluctance that I have to announce the season is officially over. You see a summer garden without tomatoes isn’t a summer garden at all. I thought long and hard about it, but kept coming to the same conclusion – it is better to put the plants out of their misery than drag the sorry looking plants through a few more weeks, just so I can lie to myself about it still being summer. And to be honest this was a horrible summer and I would really like nothing more than to put it behind me.
In spite of the gloomy and soggy season that was not befitting of the name summer, the tomatoes surprisingly avoided blight. Which was a bit of a surprise as normally by now the decision to rip them out is forced upon me by this dreadful fungal condition. I’ll probably still burn the plants as they have patchy grey splotches from powdery mildew which is nothing more than annoying and aesthetically unpleasing. It may be responsible for the reduced harvest but to give it all the credit for this would be unfair as the weather conditions would have had a rather large hand in this as well.
I had 20 different varieties in the garden this season – all the healthiest of seedlings, all spaced well in soil enriched to suit their desires, irrigated regularly at the roots, in the early morning so as not to create a humid environment – although the weather just laughed in my face there, and I fed them regularly once they started to flower and I hoped for the best. But with the lower than normal for summer temperatures and plenty of gloomy sunless days, the plants didn’t stand a chance and there just wasn’t the bountiful harvest I’d seen in previous years.
Then finally once they did decide to change from green to red, it rained – a lot and I’d be out there with dark ominous clouds over my shoulder as I picked the ripe and almost ripe as fast as I could before the big fat drops splashed down from above. Those tomatoes that were left hanging inevitably split with all of the excess water being received at the roots. The flavour of these were never good as they hadn’t had the benefit of the full sunshine they should have and what flavour they had was diluted. And then just as the crop seemed to recover and have a new batch almost ready for harvest – the rain would come again.
Even the birds stopped eating my tomatoes, like they weren’t good enough to bother with. I guess I have to thank the weather conditions for the reduction of pests I’ve seen in my garden. The Green Vegetable Bug has hardly made an appearance and nothing like in previous years when there were many clambering over my tomatoes to suck the goodness out of them. Even the Cabbage White Butterfly numbers are down and I’ve managed to grow broccoli in the summer without having to pick caterpillars out from every nook and cranny before cooking. This is almost unheard of. I’ve not even seen many aphids. It is like some kind of garden wonderland. Well it would be if the weather was perfect too.
Although I did get the dreaded Tomato Potato Pysllid a couple of times, but I was able to stop his spread with spray before harm was done. Although harm to the host plant was almost unnoticeable in the fruit due to the already poor performance.
So with less than a full harvest stored away for the winter, possibly enough to last the first week of winter, I have put this sorry season behind me and wiped the slate clean. The tomatoes are gone and the bed will be topped up with well rotted manure in anticipation of the onions that will find themselves there on the shortest day that will technically herald the start of the new season – and it better be a good one.
Come again soon – autumn is making itself felt in the form of bulbs that need planting sooner rather than later!
Sarah the Gardener : o)