The Great Tomato Challenge Wrap-up

      It is now the beginning of October. We've already experienced a couple of frosts, so our growing season is over. That being the case, I'm ready to give my final verdict on this summer's efforts to grow tomatoes in the difficult conditions I have to deal with.
     My last post outlined the measures I took to keep my plants from developing the wilt disease--probably early blight--which I've struggled with for years. In the past this disease killed my plants early in the season and drastically reduced my harvest. So what about this year?

   I picked a little about half a box of tomatoes the middle of September. That was enough to make a
large batch of salsa and fill a food dryer, with more than enough left over to enjoy fresh. Had my
harvest ended there, that along with the tomatoes I had harvested earlier would have made me declare the experiment a resounding success. But my tomato plants were not done producing even though I discontinued the measures I'd been taking to keep the plants healthy. A week later, nearly as many tomatoes as I had picked before were ready. Even now, despite the frosts we've had, my plants are
still loaded with tomatoes, so I'll be picking yet another box full to dry and eat fresh. (Tomatoes picked from dead vines should not be used in home canning.)
     When I started this experiment I expected to take more than one year to come up with measures which would help me be successful at growing tomatoes. Happily, I stumbled upon an effective combination of techniques my first try--regularly pruning out any disease from the plants and spraying them with diluted milk. At times I wondered if it was worth all the effort it took, but whenever I taste one of my vine ripened tomatoes, I know it was. That's a taste you'll never find in a store bought tomato.


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