This has not been the best year for tomatoes. The wet spring and early summer delayed planting, and then the hot, dry spells alternating with deluges of rain made it impossible to maintain the even water supply and temperature tomatoes demand.
If you have grown Celebrity, then maybe you can show off your harvest. These tomatoes are comparatively resistant to pests and diseases, and have a uniform bright red coloring and a symmetrical rounded shape.
They look beautiful, but I find their flavor rather bland. All depends on what you are looking for. I have grown Celebrity in past years, but went a
bit more adventurous this summer.
I grew Heirloom Rainbow Blend tomatoes from seed, and have quite a variety now on the vines, but it is rather disappointing not to be able to give a name to each plant. The seed package listed Brandywine, and they are easily recognizable first from the potato plant-like leaves, and now from the large, bumpy pink fruits and the wonderful flavor.
The seed packet also listed Cherokee Purple, Green Zebra, White Wonder and orange Nebraska Wedding.
The green tomatoes are starting to color, and I hope they will be distinctive enough to recognize each different variety as they ripen.
The Green Zebra certainly are showing their stripes, but it is difficult to tell when they are ripe enough to pick. At this time, they are still fairly small and hard. The pictures in the seed catalog I ordered from look distinctive, and I am hoping for bright purple and orange as well.
One of the conditions due to the uneven weather is cracking, and the cracks may be radial or concentric. I have concentric cracks in many tomatoes, and while it is not attractive, all one needs to do is to cut a slice off the top, and the flavor is unaffected.
The cracking is due to rapid growth encouraged by copious rain together with heat in the 90-degree range.
Anyone who has grown tomatoes in the past knows to look for evidence of pests and diseases cropping up in the next few weeks. Fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, cat-facing, blossom end rot, nematodes, anthracnose and sun scald are common, and unwelcome visitors to the tomato bed may include those horrifying huge hornworms, fruit worms, leaf miners and white flies.
Looking at that list of potential disasters, it seems miraculous we all do as well as we do in tomato production.
I find that by the time these problems appear, it is usually too late to do much about them. You can attack with a battery of fungicides and pesticides, and if you do that, be sure to read the labels carefully and wash the fruits well before eating them.
More varieties are being developed with increased resistance to disease, and you will find the seed packets marked with a V, F or N.
If you are serious about your tomatoes, I would recommend an upcoming program to be sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Seneca County.
Tuesday, Steve Prochaska (OSU Extension educator for Crawford County) and Ruth Ann Musgrave (Family and Consumer Sciences Extension educator for Seneca County) will discuss different aspects of selecting, growing, preserving and preparing tomatoes. The program will be held at 7 p.m. at the Extension Office, 3140 SR 100, in the second floor conference room.
Cost is $5, and no reservations are required.
I hope to see many of you there. Both presenters are helpful, interesting and will allow time for questions.