When we moved the Big Beef tomato plant (and assorted other plants) back at the beginning of July, I figured we had about a 20 percent chance of plant survival. I mean, really. A couple of completely inexperienced gardeners who didn’t even know to look up at the black walnut tree shading the garden plot moving more than a half-dozen large plants and hoping they’d live? This is Iowa, not Disneyland. Dreams don’t always come true here.
But the plants surprised little ol’ cynical me. The Big Beef plant, in particular, keeps putting out new growth with complete disregard for its little mid-life crisis.
While I was outside on my status check last night, I discovered an abundance of new growth, but, by the same token, an abundance of yellow or, worse, brown and withered tomato leaves on that plant. I suspect it’s some kind of mildew or mold—the weather was wet when I left and wet when I got back.
I trimmed ruthlessly, cutting back anything that looked too far gone to recover. There are still green tomatoes on that plant, and some discussion amongst the weatherfolk about warmer weather coming later this week. There’s still a chance of additional red tomatoes this summer. And yes, I know that technically there are only about 10 more days in the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere. La la la la la. I’m not listening to you people who like to wear sweaters.
At one point, my enthusiasm for trimming meant I knocked a lovely green tomato to the ground, where it thunked, rolled, and came to rest. I brought it inside, planning to give it a couple of days to see if it ripens at all off the vine. If not, Plan B involves polenta and my cast-iron skillet.