Don’t count your tomatoes … a gardening oops

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen 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?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 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.

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10 comments for “Don’t count your tomatoes … a gardening oops

  1. August 1, 2011 at 7:20 am

    So frustrating — counting one’s harvests before they are in has to be the gardener’s worst failing! That plum tomato looked so ripe and delicious, even half eaten. (My chipmunk deterrent methods finally were successful when I put down a trap. It worked. You just have to get over the Chip ‘n Dale thing.)

    My GOOPs is on my blog today, but I’m not sure if it’s a mistake or not. You judge.

    • joenesgarden
      August 1, 2011 at 7:42 am

      Laurrie, We got over the Chip ‘n Dale thing long ago. Trapping works well, particularly with a half eaten plum tomato ;-)

      Heading over to read your GOOPs now. Thanks for playing along.

  2. August 1, 2011 at 10:01 am

    No chipmunks here, thankfully, but I suspect they’re waiting for my own tomatoes to ripen. This is my first participation in GOOPs as I have made so many mistakes, I didn’t know where to begin.

    • joenesgarden
      August 1, 2011 at 1:39 pm

      Wendy, Don’t worry about the number of GOOPs you’ve made. If you try new things you’re bound to make some mis-steps. Glad you joined the GOOPs party.

  3. Carla
    August 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Chipmunks have totally invaded my gardens in Durham also. Haven’t been able to harvest a tomato yet…they get every one. They also chewed off MANY zinnia blossoms as well. Will try the trap method.

    • joenesgarden
      August 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      Hi, Carla. I’ve had chipmunks climb sunflowers to eat the seeds from the flowers. Once you get to know them they are not the cute cartoon characters you might expect.

  4. August 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    That is so frustrating! I have had rabbits and raccoons do the same thing…ugh! We have a fence, now…but I would sprinkle cayenne pepper around the beds or tabasco sauce or blood meal. It works great, but you have to reapply after a rain or lots of watering. I hope you get lots of toothmark-free tomatoes.

    • joenesgarden
      August 2, 2011 at 8:17 am

      I may try the cayenne. Thanks for the tip, Sage Butterfly.

  5. August 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I love the idea of GOOPs because I make zillions of them! I posted my own GOOP on my blog Casa Mariposa. My tomatoes are just beginning to ripen but if you even touch them, they pop right off the stem and into your hand well before they’re ripe. I’ve ended up composting several green tomatoes that had been headed towards dinner once they were ripe.

    • joenesgarden
      August 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

      Welcome, Casa Mariposa,
      So glad you’ve joined the GOOPs meme. Tried to make a comment on your blog but for some reason it would not go through. Keep trying to find the right plant for that spot, though. Those that don’t work will at least be more fodder for GOOPs Day!

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