Crop Failure

Our cooler than normal summer did nothing for our tomato crop, which struggled from the get go. The plants grew nice and tall and looked healthy enough, but they set very few fruits, and the ones that did develop just sat there not changing colour. Even the mature plant that my mom bought at the nursery produced a few ripe tomatoes in early August, but then the rest just sat there. The alternating rain and cool weather was good for one thing though, producing blight.

I’d say that more than half of the tomatoes we got have succommed so far, and the rest of them are still as green as they were at the beginning of August. This is so disappointing – we planted about 17 plants, thinking that would give us plenty between the two of us for canning and salsa, etc., but it looks like we’re going to have to buy all that stuff this year.

There are still some beauties hanging out there though! The above Speckled Roman is huge…

…as are the Tiffen Mennonites. This variety (so far) seems to be resisting the blight relatively well.

I’m going to leave the tomatoes on the plants for the next few days, but it’s supposed to start raining again soon, at which point we’ll bring them in and let them ripen on the counter. My mom cut off most of the extra foliage last week hoping that it would hasten their ripening process and prevent the spread of the blight, so we’ll see how that goes.

A couple of them are showing some promise, hopefully we’ll be treated to a few fresh tomatoes in the coming weeks.
Some things grew well despite the weather, however. This huge zucchini (which looked very serpentine sitting on the kitchen counter) produced about 30 cups of grated flesh, which I froze in two cup amounts for use in soups and our favorite Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Did anyone else suffer any major crop failures this year?

17 thoughts on “Crop Failure”

  • we had exactly the same thing with our tomatoes (and tomatoes are the one thing i am generally good at growing). we are in sussex in the uk. none ripened at all so my other half is planning on making green tomato chutney with the few miserable specimins that grew. my chillis have been good though – blew my head off in last nights curry!

  • Midwest US garden: Same issue with tomatoes. I don’t even have any flowers anymore and the harvest was, maybe, 10 tomatoes. Disappointing also were my zucchini. They got “blight?” where the leaves turned white and any zucchini that started to grow all dried up. A farmer at our market told me, too much rain! ARGH. Too much, too little — never just right! My herbs are great (thank heavens) and I’m currently drying my whole Lemon Verbena plant now that I’ve made tons of Lemon Verbena ice cream. I’ll use the dried for Lemon Verbena Madeleines in a Susan Herrmann Loomis book. Sorry, so many words here!

  • Manchester, UK here – some of our tomatoes suffered with something very similar to what you’ve had, but i was told it wasn’t blight, and i don’t think it was. Basically, it was too slow for blight, and another batch of tomatoes on the other side of the garden (diff variety) didn’t get it, which is unusual if it was blight. The tomatoes were very slow to ripen, however, they grew to a decent size, so i just pulled them over time, put them on a sunny windowsill and they ripened soon enough. (I refuse to make green tomato chutney – we’ve still got jars of the stuff from the last batch i made 2 years ago! – and yes, its still good to eat!) Zucchinis (courgettes here) also failed mid way through the “summer” which was disappointing as i was told they were extremely prolific. On the other hand, my greenhouse is working overtime – i’ve had a couple of ripened peppers, lots of chillis, lots of cucumbers and some aubergines, which is lovely!

  • Here in the Okanagan our tomatoes always seem to do well, it is my main crop and I grow between 50-70 plants.If you have the space for it, one other ripening trick is to just rip out the whole plant before frost and bring it into your garage and hang it upside down. The tomatoes have a chance to slowly ripen without the danger of them rotting as they sometimes do when piled in a box. Also it means you don’t have your counters covered in tomatoes. We are usually finishing up our last tomatoes at Christmas time. Although I did come aross a recipe for green tomato salsa which I will try this year too.

  • We tried melons this year – water melon and cantalope. The watermelon was supposed to be a fast-maturing variety and should have worked even in our short growing season, but they didn’t grow fast enough to fully mature. We had several fully ripe cantelopes, though, but they were about the size of a softball :). Yummy, but so tiny.

    I think this year, any problems I had with my garden were due to human error. I got a little overzealous and think I crowded out many of my plants. Oh, well. Live and learn, I guess ;).

  • My tomatoes did fine here in California, but most of our picking and canning took place in July. I still have a few tomatoes left on the vine, but they are VERY slow to turn red. And now I know what that nasty spot is called on the tomatoes LOL I had a few of those in Late August and had no idea what it was or what caused it and hadn’t bothered to look it up yet.

    My zucchini is still producing, but has definitely slowed down. The cucumbers and bell peppers have finally kicked into gear and my eggplants are beginning to bloom.

    Other than that I have no plans for a fall garden other than letting our apples rippen and our peppers and eggplants continue to produce.

    Oh, and your cold weather is headed down here…expected to rain tomorrow night, but the cold is here now! About 215 degrees cooler than usual.

  • I’m having the same issue with my tomato plants (although the grape tomatoes did fab) so this weekend I’m making green salsa with those which refuse to ripen.

  • Our tomatoes seem to be ripening very slowly, one at a time. Of course, they also seem to all be splitting just before they’re ripe. Oh well – thank goodness the farmers market is still overflowing with tomatoes around here… Maybe next year I’ll try putting them in the ground instead of pots.

  • Wow…you have a good harvest in your garden.Your Zucchini looks good. I have not much luck with my tomato plants in my garden( here in Hamburg /Germany) this year because our summer was too wet.Maybe I try it next year again.

  • I didn’t get anything on my tomatoes due to rain this year. Sometimes the tomatoes get bottom rot. The tomatoes that were large when I planted them and withstood the first frost gave me lots of tomatoes. I had the large boxes from the fruit I bought in BC and with one plant, filled one box to the top. I got about 3 boxes full. Here in our colder climate, I don’t even look for them to ripen on the vine. If my green house were finished, then I would be looking there, but otherwise it has always been the practice to get as many green ones as possible and ripen them in the house for making sauce. We are eating the tiny ones now. They are ripening faster than we can eat them, so I will put them in a colder place so they don’t ripen as fast. We have a small house with a bathtub we don’t use, so I will put the tomatoes in there layered with paper to ripen and every few days will make jars of sauce.

    I got quite a few peppers. Today I will make some fresh salsa, and then I will freeze the rest for cooking as I don’t want them to go bad.

    Sorry your tomato crop wasn’t so good. It is nice there are organic garden markets around to get the things we need when they don’t work out in our garden. I usually get cabbage from one as I don’t get many from my garden.

  • So sad, isn’t it?

    My tomatoes in Seattle are mostly still green (though I did plant them late). Tons of flowers on them still, but only one ripe tomato out of the bunch (sigh).

  • My tomatoes started out beautiful and did not ripen. I did a similar thing to what Heather did. I stopped watering my plants (they were in a green house), let them dry out, but I didn’t pick the green tomatoes. They have slowly ripened on the dried out vines under the protection of the green house.

  • Our tomatoes did horrible due to an early summer hail storm. We also had troubles with the hay we used for mulching, which was laden with oats that sprouted; also, the toms were on an unfenced lot and the deer chomped them to pieces. Our peppers we didn’t even manage to get in the ground.

    On green tomatoes: we had difficulties similar to yours last year which left us with a plethora of green tomatoes at the end of the growing season. We harvested them all and many ripened after harvesting. The secret to after ripening is to keep the tomatoes in a dark place. With the rest, we made loads of green tomato chutney

  • We’re in the Pacific Northwest, and our tomatoes did terrible too. My farmer FIL’s crop did only slightly better. It’s so depressing — I so look forward to fresh from the garden tomatoes each year!

  • Dean
    Well, the reason seems to be these persistent contrails left by jets. They are trying to modify the weather (their own admissions)and worldwide it is causing all kinds of problems. Try linking to for more info.

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