Tuesday, October 21, 2014

It's Over for 2014

It's over for 2014.

The tomato plants were pulled last Saturday. They were meant to be pulled the prior Saturday but the gardeners didn't show.

I didn't harvest at all during the week but I did pick off a few tomatoes before the plants were pulled last Saturday. Sunchocola, which looked pretty darn good and strong three weeks ago, got the fungal disease. The top of the plant looked like it had spider webs on it. For what it's worth the Sunchocola plant also had a couple of hornworms on it, though that's not related to the fungal disease.

Our total harvest for the year ended up at 6904 tomatoes. Here are our top ten harvest totals for 2014:

Orange Paruche -- 1250
Sunchocola -- 1015
Matt's Wild Cherry -- 683
SunGold -- 666
Sugar Snack -- 333
Husky Cherry Red(2) -- 332
Husky Cherry Red(1) -- 245
Evan's Purple Pear -- 189
Black Cherry -- 153
Indigo Rose -- 139

We added a lot of compost in preparation for this year. The plants started out strong but more importantly we were very pleased with the taste of this year's crop. However, most of the plants "hit the wall" relatively soon. Why?

Well, one never knows. For instance, it could have been a weak year for seedlings...but barring a few tomato plants that didn't seem to be the issue. The soil was prepped moreso than in other years. But there were two factors overriding everything else: This was the hottest year on record and we got very little rain during the prior winter.

This record's record heat is consistent with how our plants seemed to peak and die about two to three weeks earlier than before. That is clear. But what about fall and winter rains? We're warming to the opinion that the rains in the fall/winter affect next year's crop. We're beginning to believe that rain brings worms up to the top of the soil, depositing worm castings where the tomato plants can later use it.

2013 was our worst harvest year on record. In that year we had little rain the prior fall/winter and I did not prepare the soil like I did in the fall of 2013. And it showed. In 2007 I could find plenty of worms in our front yard. This year I don't think I saw a single worm anywhere in our growing area.

Our plans for 2015 will involve prepping the soil similar to what we did late last year. That means we should acquire compost in the near future. But if we have a low rain amount during the next fall and winter, we may not plant tomatoes for 2015. Or we'll scale back and try to not "fight nature" as much as in prior years.