It’s the first of August. It’s GOOPs day … the day for my monthly gardening oops post. I share a gardening blunder of my own and offer you the chance to do the same.
My August 2011 GOOPS revolves around expectations. It’s high season for fresh-picked vine-ripened tomatoes in zone 6a Connecticut. I look forward to this time from the start of gardening season. The flavor of home-grown tomatoes, warmed by the sun, can’t be beat. I ordered the seed, planted them in flats, provided at least 10 hours of light to the little seedlings, watered them when they were dry, and set up a fan to gently blow on them so they developed good strong stems. I watched the weather and waited for it to warm enough to harden off the tomato seedlings. I chose high-quality rich compost-based potting soil for the large pots that would be the outside home for my tomato seedlings. When the conditions were favorable I planted the seedlings in their pots. I staked them, watered them, checked them daily for bugs and disease. They grew large. They looked healthy. They blossomed and began to set fruit. As each tiny tomato expanded into mature size and began to show a reddish tinge, my anticipation grew. The first cherry tomato was heavenly. Then came the first heirloom, a Cherokee, with phenomenal flavor. One slice was all that I needed for a toasted tomato sandwich.
Then it was the plum tomatoes’ time to turn red. I took a visual inventory to determine about when I’d be able to make the first batch of fresh tomato sauce. That was my GOOPs. I counted my tomatoes before they were picked. The very morning I went out to harvest the plum tomatoes I was greeted with half eaten tomatoes. A chipmunk, or two or three, had also been watching the progress of the plum tomatoes … they got to them first. Anyone have any good chipmunk deterring tricks?
The next morning, during my usual plant-check stroll – with freshly-brewed coffee in hand – I spotted trouble with the Cherokee tomatoes. Leaves that had been healthy, firm, and of good color were suddenly wilting and damaged. I’m not exactly sure of the cause … I’m still investigating … but my Cherokees may be near they’re last hurrah.
This experience is a good reminder that gardening outcomes are unpredictable. Best efforts don’t always result in best harvest. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my remaining pots of cherry and heirloom tomatoes continue to grow unscathed. I’m hoping for a few more toasted tomato sandwiches and many more fresh tomato sauces and salads. But I won’t count my tomatoes until they’re picked … free of teeth marks and disease … and sitting on my kitchen counter.
Do you have a GOOPs to share? Tell all in a comment below or leave a teaser that directs readers to a GOOPs story on your own blog.