Highest temperature recorded this September was 106.3° F on September 6th. Yes you read that right – 106° in the high deserts (6,200’ elevation) of Utah in September!
In sharp contrast and relief, but equally as unusual, Hurricane Kay has brought substantial rainfall to the area, especially the other corner of the state:
Hurricane Kay in Utah
Really now, how often do you read “hurricane” and “Utah” in the same sentence?
So far, at least 2 cm of rain have fallen here, and daytime temperatures dropped by over 30°. Relief also comes in the form of saving time: I have been spending up to 12 hours per week watering by hand during the hottest days of summer.
The tomato AVALANCHE is in high gear – drowning, swamping, overwhelming, burying (remain calm, breath…). It took me two days to harvest tomatoes just from the original exclosure, there there are about 350 tomato vines. Then it has taken me ten days to process those tomatoes for seed saving – and I’m still a week away from getting all of those seeds to the point of drying on plates.
How I wish I did not need to sleep and had the energy I had at age 25! But nobody really wants to hear complaints and lamentations – I just do what I can, and once again, the word of the day (or rather season) is “TRIAGE“.
Here is an example from just a couple of hours ago. While scouting for hornworms in the main tomato patch (yes, I spend significant time in the tomato patch at night – loving my new headlamp…), I just could not resist harvesting these 21 (mostly) beautiful tomatoes from two vines, variety Dagma’s Perfection (fruity, sweet, so tasty…) —
The four fruits at the top of this photo of 21 illustrate these four fairly common problems:
- Blossom end rot – from inconsistent watering; in the main tomato patch, this is only the second fruit noticed with BER — just one among many advantages of a drip irrigation system!
- Sunscald – a week of record or near record-high temperatures in early September
- Consumption by tomato hornworms – <100 tomatoes affected so far this year, despite limited efforts at controlling them
- Splitting – again from inconsistent watering, in this case likely resulting from recent heavy rain
Original title of this blog post was to be, “More Than Circumstantial Evidence”; however, the following observation is more anecdotal than significant.
Yesterday (September 14th) evening around dusk, I exited the house with the intent to close the gate to the tomato patch. Immediately, a buck mule deer jumped from somewhere and bounded to the back (south) side, outside of the tomato patch to join it’s two companion garden destructors. Needless to say, vocal cords were but one tool to chase off the trio. A few moments later, I encountered this more-than-circumstantial evidence of invasion into the tomato patch, three rows in, near the middle:
Maybe I got to the tomato patch just in the nick of time and scared the s*** (sugar babies) out of the invader! Motion sensing light confirmed to scare off a neighbor’s cat – will it work for deer?
“Tomato Tangle” is now an understatement. After some frustration (not to mention severe time pressure), I’ve abandoned all hope of getting all tomato vines tied up this year. Many of these vines are now so long, and heavily laden with tomatoes, that trying to tie them up results in vine breakage and fruits falling off. Perhaps if I could transform into an arachnid-human chimera, with 4 to 6 arms available for manipulating and moving vines…
A few other plants are also (I’m only 99% made of tomatoes) growing well. I’ve been eating spinach, kale, or broccoli leaves every day, along with more than a few tomatoes. Even cucumbers added to my diet – variety Muromoski was jus 46 days from seed to eating stage!
Back at it…