It’s been the best and worst year for vegetable gardens.
Back in the early part of the growing season, my husband and I as well as all of my gardening friends all kept saying that it’s been a great spring for vegetables. We kept harvesting lettuce for a lot longer than we normally would. Broccoli kept producing side shoots for a long time and peas were outstanding.
It truly was the best spring for all of the vegetables that like cool weather. Then the bottom dropped out and it continues to be a lousy season for warm-season crops. Let me explain.
Remember back in late June and early July, just as tomatoes and peppers, the warm loving crops, were starting to really grow and bloom, we had lots of rain with cooler temperatures.
This led to several diseases on these plants, including Septoria leaf spot and early blight on tomato and bacterial spot on peppers and tomatoes. I had them all!
My peppers right now are hideous and barely producing. I have planted so many tomatoes that despite the fact that they look pretty awful, they are producing some. On top of the disease problems, I have either a rabbit or mouse taking bites out of the tomatoes.
As I have written many times before, if you are going to spray a fungicide to try to prevent a disease, you must have the fungicide on the leaf surface before you see the symptoms.
Once I got back from vacation and saw my peppers and tomatoes, it was too late to spray. However, I have sprayed the new foliage to hopefully prevent any further infections.
The other problem that we are going to see right now is the lack of tomato ripening. I have already started hearing complaints about this.
The weather is to blame, again, for this problem as well. I have loads of green tomatoes but they are taking forever to turn red.
The optimum temperature range for tomatoes to ripen is from 68-77F. If temperatures are too far from this, either higher or lower, they won’t ripen.
These recent cool nights are to blame this time, whereas last summer, it was the extreme heat that prevented ripening.
The cooler temperatures will slow down ripening but I don’t expect ripening to stop. If temperatures are extremely outside of the ideal range, ripening stops completely.
So what can a gardener who is waiting to make salsa or can tomatoes do? Wait it out. We really can’t change the weather conditions so patience is key.
In the meantime, if you have had diseases in the past, you can spray any new growth that appears to prevent potential further spread.
Clean off the old dead leaves and those that are diseased. This is also a bit of a problem because if you remove all of the older leaves and the tomato fruit is exposed to the sun, you end up with sun scald on the tomato.
You may want to pick these and allow them to ripen in a warm shady area. And remember, there is next year!