Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Tomato Blight and Using Green Tomatoes

This summer got away from us and the tomatoes received the brunt of it.  You can see from the above picture how quickly late blight takes over.  The only green in the picture on the right side are the prolific weeds.  It's a heart-wrenching feeling to rip the plants out of the ground while the fruits are still green. 

Every year Jon and I learn a little bit more about gardening and create our own tips and best practices.  This year Jon discovered the best bean trellis, and this year we are one step closer to understanding how to grow tomatoes.  Using wire fencing was far better than the flimsy tomato cages and log and twine trellises that rot and fall over.  This year the rows were spaced "properly" according to seed packet instructions, but they were still too close together making weeding downright impossible which explains the excessive overgrowth of weeds and airflow is crucial to minimize disease spreading.  Next year: eliminate the congestion and plant the tomatoes in one long row instead of a patch. Do you have any recommendations to keep blight away? We think it's taking over our potatoes now too.

Some of the tomatoes will ripen off the vine so we put them on the porch where they will receive some sun (if the cloudy rainy weather will pass!).  In the picture there is a seed-saving experience gone bad.  We saved seeds from a pie pumpkin that must have crossed with a zucchini.


Cherry tomatoes typically don't turn red after removal from the vine.  Instead of throwing them into the compost, I made Green Tomato Hot Dog Relish.  It's super easy to make.  You begin by washing the tomatoes and throwing them in a food processor without removing the skins. 

In food processor, puree green tomatoes until you have 1 quart.  Puree 1 large onion and 1 large red pepper.  Combine tomatoes, onion, and pepper in a large bowl with 2 T canning salt.  Let sit for 1 hr.

Drain and rinse.

In a large soup pot combine pureed mixture, 1 cup sugar, 1 T mustard seeds, 1 tsp. celery seed, 4 whole cloves, and 1 cup vinegar.  Bring to a boil and simmer 20 min.


Remove cloves before filling jars.  Process half-pints 10 minutes in water bath.  
Makes ~6 half-pints.


3 comments :

Robin Edmundson August 24, 2014 at 6:21 AM  

Oh, I feel your pain. The blight has been terrible this year. I noticed that some plants are affected up to the tips, but when I let suckers grow from the bottoms, the new parts of the plant are just fine. Go figure.

We use a thick layer of straw as mulch between tomato rows and that keeps the weeds down. We tie the plants up on long rows of fence [like pleaching] and then prune out the yellowing leaves as often as we can. That has denuded a couple of plants completely, but leaves the fruit on longer for ripening.

I'm glad not all summers are as wet as this one. It's been a real challenge.

Cris August 25, 2014 at 4:35 PM  

I have two tricks that have really worked to keep late blight away. First, I use an organic fertilizer from Gardens Alive, called Tomatoes Alive. I put a small handful into each planting hole, and then I scratch another small handful around the base of the plant when they start setting fruit. It really helps to keep the plants healthy, and its got plenty of good stuff in it--I've even had it reverse mild blight AND blossom end rot! Second, I prune my tomatoes heavily once they set a good crop of fruit. I cut back all the growing tips, prune out all the suckers, AND cut off about 80% of the foliage. Yep, they look naked and mostly like trunks with green fruit, but it works like a charm. There's enough foliage to keep the plant healthy, the fruit gets light so it ripens more quickly, and there is far less area for blight to grow. The reduction in green material really helps with airflow, which helps keep blight away. I may still get some blight at the very end of the harvest season, but since I've started doing this, I don't get it nearly as bad. My neighbors who don't prune/fertilize like I do get blight so severely that their entire crop rots on the vine--so I know it is in the yard. So far, I've been able to beat it even in a really humid season.

Holly August 26, 2014 at 3:47 PM  

Chris & Robin,

Thanks for the tips! It looks like I need to prune more to increase the airflow. I am always hesitant to take too much away in fear of killing the plant and introducing disease. I suppose the risk is worth it if the plant contracts blight and dies anyway.

Holly

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A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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