Tomato Harvest 2013 Totals

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first Paul Robeson tomato harvest

June 20, 2013

Tomato Harvest 7-25-2013

July 25, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-1-2013

August 1, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-4-2013

August 4, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-12-2013

August 12, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-17-2013

August 17, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-22-2013

August 22, 2013

Tomato Harvest 8-31-2013

August 31, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-1-2013

September 1, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-7-2013

September 7, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-13-2013

September 13, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-17-2013

September 17, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-25-2013

September 25, 2013

Tomato Harvest 9-26-2013

September 26, 2013

Tomato Harvest 10-7-1013

October 7, 2013

Tomato Harvest 10-9-2013

October 9, 2013

Our tomato harvest is just about finished so I’ve decided to start tallying the results …

Tomato Harvest 2013 TallyCan you believe it? 258 tomatoes! All that from a few plants, a good dose of sunshine, a simple little drip irrigation system, three bags of composted chicken manure, some fish heads, a dozen crushed egg shells, earthworm castings and an occasional blast of neem oil. Our two best plants – both purchased as seedlings in two inch pots from Love Apple Farms on March 21st and immediately transplanted into gallon pots before being planted in the ground on May 4th – produced over 245 tomatoes this summer! Two plants: 245 tomatoes! Amazing isn’t it? And that doesn’t even include the losses we suffered from pests like this:

Hornworms on Paul RobesonA serious infestation of voracious hornworms ruined over a dozen tomatoes on each plant!

Hornworm in action 2We didn’t think the plants would survive, but much to our amazement, they bounced right back and have kept on producing. As of today, these two plants still have 39 tomatoes ripening on the vine and at least a dozen flowers apiece.

And don’t forget all of those countless handfuls and bowls of beautiful, delicious cherry tomatoes … they were a mix of Sun Golds and Sweet 100s produced by just two plants.

Finally, my favorite tomatoes this summer (based strictly upon taste) were Paul Robeson (delicious on sandwiches!) and the Sun Gold cherries – I’ll definitely be planting them both again next year. What was your favorite / best producing tomato plant was this summer?

To see my results from last summer, read my Farewell to Summer post.

Carnage in the Garden

Hornworm 1

By the time I discovered this not-so-little hornworm, and ten others just like him, on one of our tomato plants this afternoon, they had already partially eaten at least a dozen green tomatoes and the leaves on several stems.

Hornworms on Paul RobesonNormally, the tell-tale sign of a hornworm infestation is massive foliage loss, but we noticed that the developing fruit near the top of plant had been chewed up. Unless the rabbits had learned to climb, I couldn’t blame them. Then we noticed hornworm poop on the ground.

Hornworm in action

Upon finding fresh black droppings, we began to look more closely …

Hornworm 2

Yikes! Would you look at that thing!   (this one is up-side-down)

Hornworm in action 2

Despite their enormous size, hornworms are very difficult to spot, their camouflage coloration allows them to blend right in with the plant. As much as I hate these things for chewing up my favorite tomatoes, I have to admit, their coloration is pretty incredible.

Hornworm Identification

This is one of the smaller hornworms we found. The head with white mouthparts is on the right and the red “horn” is on the left. These buggers are HUGE!

Hornworms in bucketAfter looking high and low, we found eleven hornworms on our Paul Robeson tomato plant. Of all of our tomato plants, these buggers had to go and infest my favorite. Go figure! Anyhow, after plucking them off the plant (not an easy job due to their suction cup feet), I decapitated each one with my pruning shears – an unpleasant, but quick job.

Hornworms also feed on peppers, eggplant and potatoes. To prevent a reinfestion next year, integrated pest management guidelines recommend roto-tilling the soil after harvest to destroy burrowing larvae. According to the University of Minnesota, tillage has been shown to cause up to 90% mortality. Finally, if you find a hornworm that is covered in tiny white cocoons, do NOT pluck and kill it. That hornworm is being preyed upon by beneficial or “good” insects. Simply put, the beneficial insects will eat the hornworms, thus doing the dirty work for you. For more useful IMP hornworm information, click here.

Click here for some incredible photographs and even more interesting information.

Good night and good luck!