Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sad Trombone: Sick Tomatoes

It's been pretty cloudy and rainy since the end of July, and with the tomato plants already a bit stressed from bearing fruit, some nasty surprises have shown up: I have early blight on my White Queen and Red Pear tomatoes, and a fungal disease and possibly an unidentified something else on my Beefsteak plant.

Early blight on White Queen and Red Pear tomatoes.

Something fungal & something else on Beefsteak tomato.

White, fuzzy spots that you can rub off = fungal to me.
Not sure if this is the end result of fungus, or something else.
Since I think the plants have set all the fruit that's going to appear, and most of them have only to ripen before I harvest, I've been pruning aggressively and hoping that the remaining leaves are enough to sustain the plants until all the fruit is good. With early blight, there's nothing that can be done anyway. Still, the plants look silly with 80% of their foliage gone.

I think that having the three plants so closely spaced together contributed to how quickly they got sick. I definitely could have pruned more aggressively before they became diseased to increase air circulation as well.

I am very pleased with how prolific the Beefsteak plant was, and the tomatoes it produce were definitely the right blend of acidity, sweetness, and sliceability for me. Even though I still have seed that I have saved last year, I will definitely be saving seeds from this year's harvest to add to my stash.

I wasn't expecting such small tomatoes from the Red Pear; they're cherry-sized and Roma-shaped. I was expecting full-sized Roma-style tomatoes. Still, the taste and texture was definitely that of a paste tomato. Despite how prolific it was, I won't be planting these again as cherry-sized paste tomatoes is kind of weird to me.

White Queen was a big disappointment. Tomatoes were a very pale yellow, although they showed a little pink and even red wherever there was a stress point on the fruit (i.e., a lesion or split). They are slicer-type tomatoes, with very weak acidity and sweetness. The plant did not produce very well at all, and the tomatoes tended to split easily. Wimpy taste plus wimpy production equals a plant unsuitable for a balcony.

Red Pears at 1 o'clock, with the rest Beefsteak and White Queens.

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