Better Weather, Harvesting Accelerating, but Still Transplanting!

Surprisingly, July has produced mostly cooler weather than June, including several days of light showers and one evening (July 29th) with a significant thunderstorm, dumping perhaps 0.7″ of rain. I need to get a more accurate rain gauge than this:

First significant rain in months

This area of Utah is in severe drought, so every bit of rain is helpful.

Despite several weeks of high temperatures remaining in the upper 80’s to low 90’s and mostly higher humidity than last year, many thousands of tomato blossoms are still aborting. Pollinators are almost non-existent in the tomato patch, though some small, native bees are visiting the many tomatillo blossoms.

I’ve not had/taken the time to hand pollinate as much as is needed. But those mornings when I do give my electric toothbrush a workout, I’m getting pollen from maybe 1 in 4 blossoms. Plus an abundance of Western Flower Thrips, as last year.

To date, the most prolific tomato plant in terms of blossom production is Sweet Cherriette. This variety produces very tiny, red, tasty tomatoes. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of these blossoms are setting fruit, despite much hand pollinating.

Sweet Cherriette Tomato Vine

At the other end of the spectrum, I have two promising tomatoes that have developed from megablooms and look like they have potential to grow to 3 lbs. or more. Unfortunately, I could get very little pollen several weeks ago when the megablooms were open, and these green fruits are growing rather slowly


I’ve harvested tomatoes from about 50 varieties to date. The largest specimen harvested so far was Opal’s Homestead at 0.304 lbs. and plenty delicious, especially for early in the season.

Opal’s Homestead

The most attractive so far has been Apricot Zebra, a golf-ball sized tomato with orange on lighter orange stripes.

Apricot Zebra

Back in March I planted seeds of a couple of varieties of True Potato Seeds (TPS’s), and they are starting to put out flowers! These Blue Velvet potato flowers are attractive; but, despite several attempts at pollination, there has been very little pollen production and so far, blossoms are just falling off a few of days after opening.

Blue Velvet Potato Blossoms

I (or rather we – see below) harvested all the garlic by July 28th. Weed volume was about 200 times the volume of garlic. Needless to say, it’s been a mostly poor harvest. Of 27 varieties, only 5 produced bulbs worth saving and growing again. Besides not keeping up with weeding (not even close), other likely problems include: insufficient organic matter; late planting; not enough water (native soil drains very quickly here); deer browsing. Better luck next time…

Garlic Harvest

After harvesting the garlic and amending the soil, we finally got the Stokes Purple sweet potatoes transplanted – see blog entry from December, 2020 for the start of these slips.

Sweet Potato, Stokes Purple

Also going in the tomato bed: hundreds of pepper seedlings that have way outgrown their 3-1/2″ pots. Only about 1/3 done with this project. Giving these peppers lots of good nutrients, but it’s so late in the season that I’m not gambling on getting a substantial harvest.

Garlic Bed Converting to Pepper and Sweet Potato Bed

So, as mentioned in my last blog entry, health issues have presented major interference for physical labor. Still no diagnosis. Pain, in shoulders, is getting worse. My tentative self-diagnosis is: reactive autoimmune arthritis, concentrated primarily in shoulder joints, as an adverse response to COVID vaccine (Moderna). That’s enough details, but for more info., you’re welcome to read the VAERS report I submitted, VAERS id is 1461734.;jsessionid=2FFAE01BC81AD89DF9EA0D5B7E74

With my back against the wall, on the verge of giving up on this growing season, I finally caved in and published an ad for a summer internship. So, after 3 weeks, we’ve actually got quite a lot of work done!

Here’s the second deer exclosure with 608 tomato vines, transplanting completed on July 15th:

Second Deer Exclosure

And the third deer exclosure, transplanting of 288 tomato plants completed on July 19th,

Third Deer Exclosure

So, so many weeds to pull, especially after the recent rain!

The first exclosure is SERIOUSLY overgrown, with literally hundreds of hours of work needed to prune and tie up.

First Deer Exclosure

Fig is starting to put out fruits – a pleasant surprise!

Fig Putting on Fruit!