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Deceptive Appearances

July 21, 2011

When I first went into the garden after we returned from Texas I was ecstatic. My dream of having tomatoes of all different colors outside my back door had come to fruition. Every plant had ripe or nearly ripe fruit. And they looked perfect…from the top. When I went to pick a lovely looking Green Zebra tomato, though, I discovered that the view from the bottom was not so pleasant.

Green Zebra Tomato with End Rot

I was too busy to look into the issue further at the time, but today I did some investigation. I discovered that the ripening Black Krim and Ace 55 tomatoes were suffering the same fate. With the help of the internet, I discovered the name of this fate: end rot. The good news is that according to my research, end rot is a result of calcium deficiency, not a disease, and thus it can affect some tomatoes on a plant without infecting others.

Black Krim Tomato with End Rot

End rot often occurs when there are large fluctuations in the moisture of the soil, but proper fertilization can help to prevent it. Though I put some fertilizer spikes into the soil last week, I think I should have put them in earlier and used more. Since I had used a soil that contained slow-release fertilizer, I was unsure about whether to use the full amount suggested on the package. In the future, I may also consider a tomato specific fertilizer instead of a general vegetable fertilizer.

Fertilizer Spikes

Luckily of the 7 varieties of tomatoes I planted, 4 have not shown any indication of end rot yet. The most successful varieties so far have been the Tiny Tim and the Jaune Flamme both of which have produced many delicious fruits. We did manage to get a few good Green Zebras and one Oranje van Goeijenbier. Together they made a delicious salad. The tomatoes were so delicious that I did not dress the salad so as not to mask their flavor. Now I know, not to get my hopes up when I see beautiful, ripening tomatoes until I’ve looked at them from the bottom.

Tiny Tim Plant

Jaune Flamme Tomatoes

Tomatoes, feta, and basil with olive oil and black pepper.

I spent some time doing basic garden upkeep this afternoon. It had been over a week since I’d had time to do anything other than water and pick the ripe tomatoes, so there was a lot to do. I pulled off a lot of dead leaves and branches.

Cleaning Up

I also made a dent in one of the most time consuming garden tasks of late – pinching the ends of the basil plants. At this point, I feel like I am fighting against the natural order of things by trying to prevent the basil from flowering. There are still many leaves on the plants, but they aren’t nearly as large as they were earlier in the season. In addition, the stalks are beginning to turn brown. Despite all of these signs that the season is coming to an end, we have been able to get some good harvests in the last couple of weeks.

Basil Attempting to Flower

 I’ve also been unsure about what to expect with the broccoli and cucumbers.There are still cucumbers growing even though many leaves are turning brown. The broccoli is growing small florets, but they get so big so fast that it is hard to catch them before they flower.

Tiny Broccoli Florets

The summer is flying by, and I know it will take some of the plants with it. I started this process hopeful but aware that I’d encounter many problems along the way. It is confusing, though, when things that look good aren’t and things that look bad are, in fact, doing fine. Even though all living organisms are unpredictable and each summer is different, I hope that as I gain more knowledge and experience, my expectations will match reality more often. Overall  I’m quite happy with the way things are going.

Even though I lost these…

I got these…

and I have a beautiful (though currently scorching) place to sit…

right outside the back door.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Diana permalink
    July 23, 2011 11:14 pm

    You can crush up Tums and work them into the soil of the tomatoes with bottom rot. I’ve had plants that got body rot produce healthy tomatoes later in the season.

  2. July 25, 2011 5:33 am

    hey the tomatoes that nik planted also had bottom rot, thanks for telling me what it is! it’s been crazy weather in freiburg the past couple of months, scorching hot for awhile (so i’d been watering heavily morning and evening only and the plants were still totally dry during the day) and now the past few weeks it’s been raining heavily almost every day. glad to know that it’s not something that i did wrong though! the tomatoes still taste good, i just cut off all the rot and they were yummy! next year i’ll try the tums trick 🙂

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