The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat

You hear the saying “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” often in relation to sports but this year the saying can also apply to my vegetable garden.  At the end of May, I planted heirloom tomato plants in my garden in Maine. I had started them from seed and grew them in my potting shed in New Hampshire until the threat of frost in Maine was over. The plants were strong and I started harvesting tomatoes weeks earlier than previous years.

Heirloom Brandywine Tomatoes Harvested From My Garden

Cherry Tomato Harvest

My husband and I are eating homegrown tomatoes every day. Whether just sliced, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh basil and a little sea salt, starring in a BLT or turned into sauce for a nice pasta dish, their flavor has been outstanding.

But now Mother Nature is attacking the tomatoes as well as the rest of the garden with a vengeance…bugs, blight and critters.

Insects alone are not usually a big problem. I grow my vegetables organically and expect some insect damage. Japanese beetles have been eating the leaves of the basil plants.

Japanese Beetle On A Basil Plant

Japanese Beetle Damage On A Basil Plant

Soapy water helps control but does not eliminate the beetle problem. Since most of my basil is for cooking, I can overlook some eaten leaves.

An insect that has inflicted a little damage to tomato plants is the tomato hornworm. A daily inspection is made of each tomato plant looking for evidence of this ugly caterpillar.

Small Tomato Hornworm On The Underside Of A Tomato Plant Leaf

When small, they are hard to spot in the thick mass of leaves on the plants. Thankfully, most have been found before they got as big as this one.

Tomato Hornworm

Sneaky critters have been doing damage in the garden at night or in the early hours of the morning because I have not witnessed them in their act of destruction. Whatever kind of critter they are, I know that they enjoy tomatoes and swiss chard.

Tomato Half Eaten…Probably By A Squirrel

Sneaky Critters Have Eaten The Rainbow Chard Down To A Nub

I have plenty of tomatoes still on the vine but I don’t like to share with critters. There will be no beautiful rainbow chard coming out of the garden this year as all six plants have been eaten down to a nub.

But the most dreaded thing that can happen to a tomato gardener is to find BLIGHT…oh no. Oh yes…the tomato plants have blight and they are still loaded with green tomatoes just starting to ripen. We had so many rainy, foggy and cool days this past month (over 6 inches of rain in August) and that is the perfect condition for late blight to attack tomato plants. My friend Claire in England had blight hit her tomatoes and had to pull them from her garden. She is lucky that she has more growing in her greenhouse.

Late Blight On A Heirloom Tomato Plant

I’m tackling the problem in a different way than Claire, deciding not to pull my plants yet. Each day I take small pruners and cut off the diseased leaves on each plant, bagging the cuttings in plastic. When I’ve cut off as much as I can on a plant, I clean my pruners in water that is mixed with bleach before going to the next plant. I also use this same practice when pruning my apple trees if I think a tree is infected with something that could spread throughout the orchard.

The Tomato Plants Have Been Trimmed Of All Diseased Leaves

I have cut most of the leaves from the bottom and interior of each plant. The tops seem to still be healthy and growing. Each day that I can keep the plants alive means that more tomatoes will have a chance to ripen enough to pick. When I’ve gotten as many tomatoes off the plants as possible, I’ll pull the plants. They will go into plastic bags to be disposed of with the garbage. The long winter freeze here in Maine will hopefully kill any remaining spores that might be in the garden.

Each year in a gardener’s life brings new rewards as well as challenges. Thankfully, I have had a wonderful crop of beautiful tomatoes so far this year. I have over three dozen on my windowsills now. It may not be the best year in the garden but I’m not defeated just yet. So take that Mother Nature…I’ll be better prepared to battle you next year!

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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216 Responses to The Thrill Of Victory And The Agony Of Defeat

  1. hotlyspiced says:

    I’m so depressed! That’s so awful. The first photos of your perfect tomatoes and cherry tomatoes are just amazing and then we get to the bugs and the blights. That’s so awful and I’m so sorry for you. I will certainly be believing for things to be improving for you from here on. Good luck Karen xx

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charlie, Thank you for your kind comment. The tomato crop started out so good. I’m now picking the tomatoes sooner than I normally would. I should be able to get most of the remaining tomatoes harvested.

      • musingmar says:

        Oh, the challenges of gardening! I also follow the organic approach, it just makes sense on so many levels. I will always remember how disappointing it was the year I lost my whole tomato crop to blight. But what I remember more is all the years of tomatoes eaten while still warm from the sunshine, and cooking up pots and pots of sauce. Gardening’s a challenge and a glory!

      • Karen says:

        Hi Marlene, There are a lot of challenges when gardening but the rewards are definitely worth it in the long run. The tomatoes that we have eaten can’t be any better in taste. We made our first large pot of tomato sauce yesterday. Hopefully more will be frozen soon.

  2. Bonnie says:

    I remember your healthy start of tomatoes and envied your early harvest. So sorry to hear about the problems now. It’s true, farming/growing always has risk. I hope you can salvage those tomatoes still on the vine. Perhaps a dish of fried green tomatoes? I’m off to the local farmer’s market this morning and hope to come home with bags of heirloom tomatoes and more.

    Best,
    Bonnie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bonnie, I’m really happy that my tomatoes started ripening early as I have had a nice harvest already. I think I’m going to be able to salvage most of the tomatoes that are still on the vine. Enjoy your trip to the farmer market. Thank you for your nice comment.

  3. Judy says:

    Ditto. We have had the biggest crop ever and are battling the same exact problems you write about. I’m just hoping my efforts will allow the green tomatoes to ripen. It’s a long winter without tomatoes as you well know.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy, Sorry to hear that you have the same problems as I do. I think it is totally related to all the rain we have had. I do hope you are able to control the blight long enough for your green tomatoes to ripen. As long as I can keep some green growth on the top of my plants, I think I’ll get my crop harvested.

  4. Eva Taylor says:

    Such ugly and disgusting bugs Karen; we don’t have any evidence of the Japanese beetle here but I will ask our neighbours who grow tomatoes.
    I’m not exactly sure what blight is do I’m going to google it.Too bad about the basil too, that caterpillar looks interesting though. I had no idea squirrels liked tomatoes.
    Not withstanding your crop looks gorgeous and the photos are actually screaming delicious tomato flavour. Our little tomatoes are not quite ripe yet (from my sad little plant that made a come back from last year as I ran out of time to plant new plants this spring). Next spring I’ll get my act together and not plan to travel during that time.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eva, Our crop of tomatoes has been wonderful this year. They are large and full of flavor. I hope you don’t have Japanese beetles in your area. They can turn a plants leaves into what looks like lace in no time at all. Blight not only attacks tomatoes but potatoes as well…that is what caused the historic potato famine. I can’t believe that you had a tomato plant that lived from the previous year and through the winter…that is the little plant “that could”.

      • Eva Taylor says:

        Hi Karen, we had a very mild winter. That little sprout is now about 3ft high and has about 20 little grape tomatoes on it. It’s been rather hot here so I am not certain what that does to tomatoes (I just dabble in gardening). I have my fingers crossed that the tomatoes will ripen before we leave in 3 weeks! I did manage to plant some chili peppers and have gotten a nice little crop of them, enough to make some hot chili sauce!

      • Karen says:

        I think your tomatoes will be ripe before you leave. Nice that you got to make a hot chili sauce…I’m sure it is delicious. We will be leaving for Europe two weeks after you do, lets hope we all have nice weather.

  5. Norma Chang says:

    Oh no, not the blight. I had no idea Japanese beetles love basit, so that’s what eating my basil leaves.
    Your brandywine tomatoes are beautiful, the second tomato photo looks like a bowl of jewels. Do you dry your cherries for winter use?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Norma, The tomatoes that we have harvested this year have been beautiful and so delicious. No, I don’t dry the cherries. In the past I have slow roasted them in the oven and then put them in the freezer…they are sweet like little pieces of candy. If you have had damage to your basil, it probably is from Japanese beetles. I think it is the strong fragrance that attracts them. I sure wish the tomato plants hadn’t gotten blight but I think I will be able to harvest most of the crop. Thank you for your nice comment.

  6. You have already had a couple of harvests …. and my tomato plants are still quite green. These cherry tomatoes are great.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Angie, I am lucky that I was able to start off my plants in my potting shed this year. Even though they couldn’t go into the ground until the end of May, they were between 2 and 3 feet tall when planted. I think that is why my crop of tomatoes was early this year. I’m sure yours will be turning red anytime. My cherries are Sweet l00’s, Sun Gold and Black Cherry, all terrific.

  7. Absolutely incredible! To say that tomatoes are a favourite is no indication of my love for these fruits and your specimens are as perfect as they get! incredibly gorgeous, remarkable and very drool worthy! Mother nature has indeed blessed you this year :)

  8. Jerry says:

    That is exactly what i do with the tomato plants we grow. I think that trimming off the leaves actually makes the plant stronger and the tomatoes better – more sun gets to the fruit so it rippens better and the plants energy goes into flowering and growing those tomatoes. It really makes me happy to see so many people take on heirloom tomatoes these days – while tasty, those beefsteak tomatoes that we’ve been lead to believe are the ‘only tomato’ are rather boring in comparison.

    I bet it is either raccoons or an opposum eating the tomatoes themselves. We find that the love to nibble on ours.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jerry, The trimming seems to be working so far. If the plants can keep going for a couple more weeks, I’ll get my harvest in. I agree with you about heirlooms…they are much more flavorful than the beefsteak. They are more susceptible to disease but I will take my chances. I haven’t ever seen a raccoon or opossum but you might be right. I was thinking of squirrels because there is a large oak tree in our yard and they are in the tree eating acorns like crazy now.

  9. Chef Emil says:

    How beautiful your garden is! I am pea green with envy……..we had to let ours die a month ago due to the drought and being on a water well that is just hanging on. Perhaps someday the rains will come again. Enjoy and savor every bite!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emil, I’m sorry that you had to let your garden go because of lack of water. Hopefully you will get the rain to replenish your water well and have a nice garden next year. I wish I could have sent you some of the rain we had. Our road down to the lake has washed out three times this summer. Either it is too much or too little rain for everyone this year.

  10. kate says:

    I know how you feel, Karen! My chard gotten eaten by deer a few weeks ago, but it’s growing back and so far the deer have not returned. The blight hasn’t hit my tomatoes yet, but I know it’s only a matter of time. The tomatoes you’ve managed to harvest sure do look beautiful though!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kate, Sorry that the deer got to your chard. I only have a few baby leaves out of the six plants in my garden. I don’t think they will make a comeback before we close down the cottage next month. I hope that blight doesn’t hit your tomato plants but I’m hearing more and more stories of it being around. I have managed to get a great crop so far so I really can’t complain. I’m putting cooper on the ground next year before I plant.

  11. Oh, so sorry to hear this! I will be checking mine carefully today. they are progressing well, but nowhere near as ripened as yours!!! Wishing you luck!!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Natalia, I was pleasantly surprised that my tomatoes started ripening early this year. I think it is because I started with the nice big plants that I grew in the potting shed this year. I’m definitely doing the same thing next year because of our short growing season here in Maine. I hope you have a wonderful crop of tomatoes this year. Thank you for your nice comment.

      • Oh dear. Got the blight. And pulled just about everything. Thanks soooo much for the heads up. I am trying not to be in a funk about it and focusing on making freezeable pesto and tomato sauce from our CSA tomatoes. Heavy sigh.

      • Karen says:

        Oh no…I can’t believe that your tomatoes had blight as well. Sorry to hear that you had to pull most everything. Pesto and sauce from CSA will help get you through the winter and hopefully we will all have better luck next summer.

  12. I am so happy you were able to get those beautiful heirloom tomatoes harvested before your pests did! I love the purple colored ones. Awesome! Your tomatoes would be lovely in my Panzanella Salad. Take Care, BAM

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bam, The dark purply tomatoes are Black Cherry. While the Sun Gold and Sweet 100 cherries have a very sweet taste, the Black Cherry has an intense tomato flavor. I love the three colors and they would be pretty in your Panzanella Salad. I have been eating them everyday for lunch with cottage cheese…delicious.

      • They tomatoes are gorgeous Karen and thanks for info on the kinds of tomatoes. I am so jealous as we have cardboard tomatoes in HK. They taste and have the texture of cardboard. Actually maybe cardboard is better at least that has fiber…

      • Karen says:

        Don’t feel too bad Bam…when my tomatoes are gone, my only choice will be cardboard tomatoes as well.

  13. My Kitchen Stories says:

    Wow, you have had a great crop though. Clearly nature feels it is there tern that catepillar with the eyes on his skin looks amazing ( and long gone by now I would think)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tania, We have had a terrific crop so I really can’t complain. My blogging friend who is a scientist thinks that caterpillar is beautiful but you are right about it being long gone. My husband does patrol even morning checking for them. They can devour an entire branch of leaves in no time.

  14. Our cold weather for 2 weeks in June stressed my tomatoes which are just now putting put a little fruit. The cherries were fine and had hundreds of tomatoes until blight hit them in containers. I also am keeping any diseased leaves clipped in the beds….no hornworm that I have seen and I net all my beds so the critters can’t get to them but the pollinators can if they need to…so I have had little tomatoes again this year…I will not be able to grow any or maybe a few heirlooms due to our weather and the constant blight each year…not if I want any tomatoes…oh well a couple of heirloom plants might just be enough mixed with some hybrids.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Donna, You really do get a lot of little tomatoes when you grown the cherry varieties and they are usually the earliest to harvest. Sorry that you lost yours to blight. I love the outstanding flavor of the heirlooms. I know they are more susceptible to disease but I’ll take my chances even if it means a smaller harvest. Thankfully the blight has happened late in our growing season. They won’t be setting anymore fruit because of our low evening and morning temperatures.

  15. Conor Bofin says:

    Growing your own is so worthwhile. Even if it means taking on all sorts of creatures and blights. You are up to the job Karen. Fight on!
    Best,
    Conor

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice comment, Conor. I am a fighter and will continue to go toe to toe with Mother Nature. Growing your own is definitely worth the challenges that come your way.

  16. The challenges of organic gardening seem enormous, but I love it that you persevere. The results are so worth it both personally and for our planet. KUdos to you in every way–for your efforts in the garden, for your insights, and for your inspiring writing.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Victoria, Thank you for your lovely compliment. I do know that by growing my vegetables organically, I’m doing not harm to our lake from any runoff water and my vegetable are providing healthy food for our table.

  17. How sad to see the damage but I like the way you’re dealing with it … just cutting off damaged leaves and giving plants a chance to revive. We’ve had so much rain in UK this summer that many crops have been ruined and the honey bees have found no pollen … some farmers have lost 70-80% crops because of it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Thank you for your nice comment. The UK has definitely had more than its’ fair share of rain. It really is terrible about all the crops that have been lost. I’m so lucky that I have had a nice harvest so far this summer. I do think that I can keep the plants alive long enough to get most of the remaining tomatoes harvested. The less than perfectly ripe ones will be cooked down into sauce. By adding other ingredients, the sauce will taste good and I’ll put it in the freezer for this winter.

  18. ceciliag says:

    I hate japanese beetles hate hate hate, I spray them with dishwashing soap and they die. Though this year we have had very few of them. terrible about your blight.. those big green caterpillars are a great favourite with the wandering fowl so we have had fewer of those too, though often the peacocks will do a one for you and one for me with the little tomatoes!! Maybe a little cooler weather will help with that blight.. hope so.. c

    • Karen says:

      Hi Celi, If I can keep the tomato plants alive for another two weeks, I think all my existing tomatoes will ripen. I know that you do have a natural defense system for your plants by way of your many wandering fowl. As long as the peacocks are leaving you every other little tomato that doesn’t seem too bad because of the pleasure they give you. Thank you for your nice comment and wishes.

  19. A_Boleyn says:

    One of the many forces that attack one’s garden. Very discouraging when you see that as well as the leaves closed up with webbing. :(

    • Karen says:

      Hi Boleyn, There are quite a few challenges when gardening but whatever you can harvest is so good. Thank you for stopping by…my good wishes are with you with your upcoming surgery. Also with your mother as well. Take care!

  20. One of my more vivid memories as a kid (7-ish years old) was when we lived on a farm and did a CSA, my mum would pay us for the amount of japanese beetles we could collect. She’d send my older sister and I out with either a yogurt container or a bell jar and we would scoop the slightly sticky feeling bugs from our vegetables.

    Beautiful photos! Thanks for pulling those memories from the (somewhat dusty) memory banks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julia, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and that the post brought back memories of your childhood.

  21. Gardening helps to keep the lessons of life right in front of me. The things in life we cherish are vulnerable, it is up to us to nurture and then fight hard to protect them when necessary. Your tomatoes are beautiful, a reward for your diligence and perseverance … don’t give up!

    • Karen says:

      You can never take things for granted when gardening. No matter how hard you work at it, you never know what the end result will be. Maybe that is why I enjoy that first vine ripe tomato of the season. Thank you Judy, for your nice comment.

  22. First, just let me say, I think I had less stress and problems raising a child through her teen years. You have clearly helped me to appreciate why I do not garden. The first time I would see one of those green, horned, slug devils, I would faint dead away–only to awaken to a critter gnawing on my face. Oh yes, on that subject, I know I have kidded about hiding out in your garden and feasting on your heirlooms…you do know I was just joking, right? I am NOT the critter stripping bare your vines–just clarifying. If I had a parole officer you could check with him to verify I have not left the state of Michigan in a month. What’s more, I wouldn’t do such a half-a***d job of it either. No way would I leave half of a tomato behind in my efforts—DNA tracing being what it is and all. Have a great weekend!!

    • Karen says:

      You are so funny Heather or should I still call you Bliss? Actually, your wonderful sense of humor lets everyone know who made this comment. I guess I can’t get you to do hornworm patrol while you are munching tomatoes from my garden. Yes…with DNA testing, you will have to eat the whole tomato. LOL.

  23. koritt says:

    Sorry to hear about the blight and pests! Hope you still make out with some more vegetables before the end of the season. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Koritt, I’m very lucky that a lot of our crop has already been harvested. Our growing season is starting to slow down now because of the cool nights. Hopefully most of the tomatoes I still have on the vine will be ready in the next week or so. I won’t be making as much sauce to put in the freezer but I still have a few quarts from last year. Even with the blight, bugs and critters, I’m happy with the results from this year’s garden.

  24. Hey Karen,

    Well after that second glorious image I never could had imagined I would hear of such plights. Blight hasn’t reared it’s ugly face around here, yet and I hope it never will. The japanese beetle is on its way north though. Try not to dwell on the blight. Plenty of other veggies are out there to grow.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Patrick, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I hope that your area doesn’t get blight…we had such rainy, foggy and cool weather that made it just right for an outbreak of blight to attack the tomatoes. I’m lucky that most of the crop is picked. The weather has started to cool down and frost will not be too far behind. I’m happy with the overall results from the garden this year. Six month’s from now I’ll begin the process all over again when it is time to plant seed.

  25. Mary says:

    How sad! I hope you’ve been able to rescue the rest of the crop! We have been fortunate with our little Maine garden, but earlier a woodchuck ate lots of plant leaves, we had to move the plants! Those bugs are disgusting!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary, Since I posted this morning, I went out and trimmed two bags of leaves off the plants and picked two dozen Mortgage Lifters. I think I’ll end up getting most of the tomatoes in the next week or ten days. They all have a tiny bit of blush on them. What’s left…I’ll try some kind of a green tomato chutney. I have nothing to loose at this point in the season. I’m happy to hear that your garden has been doing good. Woodchucks can be a problem, you are lucky that moving your plants solved the situation.

  26. Larry says:

    It’s always depressing when disease and pests attack the garden – I didn’t realize the blight came that far north. I can’t grow tomatoes here without regular fungicide applications and that just slows it down – By this time of year, I often just give up.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Larry, Unfortunately blight does make it this far north. The only good thing is that any spores left in the area can’t survive the freezing weather we et each year. I guess there is something to be said for all our days in the teens. Gardening certainly can be challenging, can’t it!

  27. glamorous glutton says:

    Wow! you’re a very patient gardner. I think I would have pulled them. I found hundreds of caterpillars on my nasturtiums, tiny ones and HUGE ones. I tried removing them but ended cutting them back and burning the cuttings. You’ve still got green tomatoes and there’s lots of things you can do with those. GG

    • Karen says:

      Hi GG, Sorry to hear about the caterpillar infestation on your nasturtiums. I have seen so many caterpillars this year…I think it is because we had a mild winter last year. Other than fried green tomatoes, do you have a favorite recipe?

  28. foodyrach says:

    I wish that I had space for a garden, but alas! I’m surrounded by concrete. Despite the beetles and ‘pillars, your tomatoes look such a vivacious shade of red. And those heirlooms would be the envy of the Brooklyn farmer’s markets.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Foodyrach, Thank you for stopping by and your nice compliment. I know it is hard when you live in the big city and are surrounded by concrete to have a garden. The nice thing about living in Brooklyn is that you do have access to many food products that I can only dream of so I guess it is a trade off. The heirloom Brandywine tomatoes really are a beautiful tomato and have a great taste…wish I could share.

  29. Love those cherry tomatoes!

  30. Oh Karen I’m sorry to hear you got Blight too!! There I was oggling your Brandywine photos thinking I must grow that variety next year. It looks like you have been able to keep your plants growing well, sadly some of mine were too far gone. I also think looking at your photos mine might have been too closely planted, so the damp and spores spread faster. lessons learnt !! But I still have 4 plants left in the garden, so I’m hoping these are survivors !! Its a balance isn’t it – being organic and dealing with pests and diseases.
    Have you tried netting your chard until they grow a bit bigger? I tend to net everything early on as I struggle with hungry Pigeons !!
    And thankyou for the mention. Hope you have a great weekend Karen !

    • Karen says:

      Hi Claire, Yes, I too have to deal with the dreaded blight. We started out with flooding rains but then the weather got better. But six inches of rain, fog and cool temperatures in two weeks did it. I plant my tomatoes three feet apart but by the time they are six or seven feet tall they tend to be almost touching. If I had more space in the sun, I would grow them four feet apart just to keep the air flowing around them. I think you would enjoy growing Brandywine…it has a great flavor. But if I had to tell you my favorite tomato for the past two years, it would be Black Krim. Since it is originally from Russia, I think it does better in the early part of the summer when our nights are still so cool. It was the first to be harvested as well and have an unbelievable flavor. If you can’t find the seed, let me know and I would be happy to share either one of them. Enjoy the rest of your weekend as well.

      • Thanks for the extra info Karen, it so good to share tips! I think I will try plantinng further apart next year, it has to be worth a try, but like you I’m short on space
        I’ve heard of Black Krim, in fact a number of Russian and Eastern European varieties are said to do well here in the UK, for the reasons you mentioned. and if the taste really is a WOW then count me in. I know a number of providers here and in France, so I won’t have to take you up on your kind offer, but thank you all the same.
        thanks again Karen

      • Karen says:

        If the Black Krim from the last two years are a true indicator of their flavor, I would say yes to planting them. I’m happy that you can get the seed but always happy to share in the future if needed. That’s what friends are for.

      • Bless you Karen ! and yes that is what friends are for :)
        iIdon’t know if you know the company but Seeds of Kokopelli have some amazing varieties – all heirloom and organic, they are a French organisation that campains too. you may have seen their seed packets on your travels around Europe. I’m going to spend some time on their website this coming winter, when I can’t get out because it’s too cold. Something nice to look forward to !

      • Karen says:

        Yes, winter is a good time to spend hours researching what will go into our gardens come planting season.

  31. Little Sis says:

    My tomato plant look just like yours. So frustrating. And these are the ones that came back from a tomato hornworm eating them down to nubs as juveniles. It’s been a rough summer. Your toms look delicious though.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Little Sis, I’m sorry to hear that you are having the same problem. I knew that you were stalking grasshoppers last month but tomato hornworms on top of it all can get to you. As they say, “there is always next year”. The battle with Mother Nature is not for sissies…just remember that.

  32. viveka says:

    I understand what .. problems those worms brings you – but you manage to make it very cute – what a fantastic shot of the hornworm – stunning photo. It looks massive.
    Heartbreaking that your lovely tomatoes are … attacked – hopefully you will be able to eat those wonderful tomatoes for quite a while – what happen if you take all leaves of the plants ????? Not much of a gardener myself – would en have a clue what to do. Still wonderful photo …

    • Karen says:

      Hi Viveka, Thank you for your compliment, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. You are not the only one that finds the hornworm pretty or cute. They do get very big…about the size of your index finger if they go undetected like that one did. The photo really did turn out good…much easier to shoot than a flitting butterfly. I think I will get most of the tomatoes harvested. Plants the size of these need lots leaves to live…you can only take off the diseased ones a little at a time. So far, my method seems to be working.

      • viveka says:

        No wonder they where big .. living out of your great tomatoes. It was up to your photo that made him cute *smile Glad you got the problem sorted out – anyhow that worm looked cute through your lens.

      • Karen says:

        As they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We will have to add that cuteness is through the lens of a camera.

  33. Sue says:

    Hi Karen
    I’m glad to see you didn’t pull the plants. I always leave mine go—I have to because we typically don’t start getting ripe ones until the end of August. I just keep them cleaned up as much as possible. I wouldn’t do this if it were EARLY in the season, but at this point,–why not?
    You’ve had a lot of rain this month. Ours was from cold foggy mornings–sometimes I wonder if I kept those plants hidden from moisture if that would stop it. But that begs the question–HOW?
    Have a great weekend
    Loved your tomato photos.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, Glad to hear that you agree with the way that I’m handling the blight. I really value your opinion since you have such a great garden. Even though we are miles apart, we do have similar growing seasons…very short. We did have a lot of rain in one month and to top it off, we had the fog and cool mornings as well. They say you can’t fight Mother Nature but we have to at least try. Thank you for your nice compliment. Have a great weekend as well.

  34. Thanks for sharing this with your readers. I do not grow any type of vegetables because I do not have the patience and persistence that you have. Now I will have a greater appreciation for the vendors at my Farmers Market and all the challenges they face. As always, your pictures are Awesome.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Southern, for your nice compliment. You definitely have to be patient when growing a garden but the rewards are wonderful. Farmers that depend on their crops for a livelihood don’t have an easy time of it. Buying local as much as you can really helps the farmers out…especially this year when the weather has been so bad in many parts of the country.

  35. Kristy says:

    I had never heard of blight before. I’m always so impressed by how much work goes into tending gardens. I’m sure you’ve found great ways to make use of those lovely tomatoes. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kristy, Gardening seems to take patience and perseverance…especially when you have to battle Mother Nature. She isn’t kind as far as I’m concerned. We have been eating tomatoes everyday, two times a day. It really doesn’t get any better than summer tomatoes.

  36. my gosh! I truly admire how dedicated you are to your beautiful organic garden. I cannot grow things (only thing ever was/is my sourdough). but truly love vegetables so all my sympathy to people like you that grow their own. they must taste amazing! and the smell of fresh tomatoes… beautiful pictures through all this post. and I am sorry about these intruders, hope you find a way to protect your plants. looking forward to know how the situation has evolved. xox

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Barbara, for your kind comment. There are lots of challenges when you have a garden but I do enjoy the rewards. Being able to grow and keep sourdough alive is absolutely wonderful, especially when you use it to create your beautiful breads.

  37. Your tomatoes look delicious. No wonder the squirrels ate some.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Chunklet, Thank you for your nice compliment. I guess if I was a squirrel I would be tempted by the tomatoes as well. How did I get so unlucky to have squirrels with gourmet tastes. You would think they would be satisfied with all the acorns on our large oak tree. LOL.

  38. You should be so proud of those beautiful tomatoes! All of mine are still green. And darn those critters. We’re pretty lucky here in Colorado, not really a buggy place. However, I do find partially eaten tomatoes that mysteriously get munched what seems over night. I blame mice, but don’t know for sure.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Lea Ann, I appreciate your nice compliment. I really think the secret to my early harvest this year was starting my tomatoes in my potting shed in New Hampshire. They were so big compared to anything I could have bought at the nurseries when I planted them at the end of May. I looked up when I harvested our first tomato last year and it was the 19th of August…much earlier this year. I know your tomatoes should be turning red soon. Good that you don’t have a big problem with bugs in Colorado.

  39. Best of luck my friend, you deserve much more than sneaky critters! Your first photos were absolutely divine!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Uru, for your sweet comment. I’m glad you liked the photo of the Brandywine tomatoes. I definitely don’t like sneaky critters and hope they stay away.

  40. ChgoJohn says:

    With gardening, if it’s not one thing it’s another. So sorry you’re fighting off 3 scourges at once: critters, bugs, and blight. Your harvest was really fantastic up until these 3 formed their Evil Alliance! I hope your care will be successful and you’ll be able to save as much as possible. I’ve just about given up on mine this year. Blight seems to be taking up where the heat wave damage left off. In between, I noticed some of my containers had hairline cracks, making a thorough watering nearly impossible. They’ve an appointment with the dumpster this Fall as I’ve already their replacements in storage for next Spring. Hope springs eternal!

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, I have to say that the harvest has been terrific. I think I will be able to keep the plants alive long enough to get the remainder of the tomatoes picked. It really is terrible when you have to fight the alliance that tried to take over my garden this year. Sorry to hear that you had blight on top of all the heat that you had to endure. As you say, hope springs eternal and that is what keeps us gardeners going…”next year”. I appreciate your nice comment.

  41. Gardening certainly can be heartbreaking and such a lot of hard work but the results, when they happen, are so rewarding. I guess that’s why people endure with the battle and don’t just pop down to the supermarket like me. I used to have a vege garden, by the way.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suzanne, I think the rewards far outweigh the problems…especially when it comes to the flavor of a homegrown tomato. Thank you for your comment.

  42. Adrienne says:

    Great job! This is my first year with a garden and I’ve already learned so much. Not enough about bugs and disease though! Thank you for the insight.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Adrienne, I hope you have a good crop from your gardening efforts. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with too many bugs or disease. I didn’t have a problem with disease last year…you never know what each year brings. Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment.

  43. Bonnie says:

    You tomatoes are gorgeous. Our harvest has not been so good here in the west due to the record high heat and drought. Mr. Squirrel has done ok with my chard and he loves tomatoes too. I don’t like to share either.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bonnie, Thank you for your nice compliment. The tomatoes have been real beauties so far. I can’t imagine trying to garden when dealing with drought and the high temps you have had. Hope you have better weather next year. I can’t believe you are dealing with a gourmet squirrel too. I’m happy to share my crop with friends and neighbors but not critters.

  44. Eha says:

    I was delighted to see how many ripening tomatoes you DID have after getting busy with the secateurs! Having lived in Oz semi-tropics for many years blight + bugs were forever a part of one’s life: now, 1000 km further south I can usually contain it! My vegetable gardening is largely of the pot variety, which helps somewhat! And, yes, I am also one of the brigade to cut off and pick off all the offenders, rather than give in and pull the beloved plants out :) !

    • Karen says:

      Hi Eha, I think the pruning has helped. I need about another week of dry weather and I should get most of my tomatoes harvested. I just had too many tomatoes left to pull the plants…so far, so good. Thank you for your nice comment.

  45. I had no idea you were having such troubles in your garden, Karen. I wondered if my problems had any basis in the fact that all my seed was heirloom. My plants have been strong, but not as prolific as my hybrids in years past. But your early crop was so strong! So I don’t think my theory is correct. I somehow think the inconsistent weather may have something to do with my problems, but it was indeed a very disappointing season. Fortunately I can make farmer’s market trips and satisfy my tomato craving. It’s the neighbors and friends who rely on my “crop” who are probably just as disappointed as i am! :-(

    • Karen says:

      Hi Debra, The hybrids are breed to be resistant to certain problems but I love the heirlooms for their great flavor. Plus I like the shapes of the old varieties. I think the weather really has played a factor in most gardens this year. Sorry to hear that you haven’t had a good growing season. I’m sure you must have a great farmer’s market.

  46. Dear Karen this post is great for people who try to grow edible stuff in their garden/allotment. It often feels like a battle. I like animals and even tiny cretures but WHY they have to eat my tiny sprouts to the roots??? I love your Heirloom Brandywine Tomatoes, soft and ‘beefy’ I like to eat them with mozzarella and basil. Ciao

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Rita, for your nice compliment. Soft mozzarella, tomatoes and basil…it doesn’t get much better. The critters do tend to eat the soft shoots down to the ground…very greedy little things. Sorry you have had to deal with them as well.

  47. Wow I really wish I had a garden like yours! My garden here is tiny beyond comprehension..the only things I can grow are herbs. :( I wish I could move to a bigger land and can grow tomatoes like yours. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jenny, I hope one day that you get a chance to have a nice garden. Having space for a little herb garden is wonderful. I love being able to go out each evening to cut fresh herbs for whatever I am cooking. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  48. I’m disappointed to hear that a seasoned gardener such as yourself has to deal with this on your lovely tomato plants. I think they will do well, you know what you’re doing, trimming leaves so carefully. Once a plant has been overtaken, do the tomatoes have to be thrown away??

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, It was inevitable that the plants would get blight because of the wet, cool weather that we had for two weeks along with fog. Perfect conditions for blight. The blight hasn’t reached the tomatoes as yet. At the first sign of pink ripening, I’m taking them off the plants and bringing them in the cottage to finish ripening. It looks like a farmers market in the cottage with tomatoes on every windowsill.

      • My patio tomato has wilted yellow leaves, completely destroyed but the tomatoes live on. Are they worthless now??

      • Karen says:

        I think you tomatoes will be okay if don’t see any damage on them. I’m picking mine as soon as they have the slightest bit of color and they have ripened in the house just fine. Maybe not quite as flavorful but still good.

  49. I am having all the same problems!! and some gardener burn out too! It has been a long hot garden season, and the lack of rain is taking it’s toll. I just can’t put down enough water with just the garden hose…..I have found myself ready to just pull up the plants and ready the beds for Winter…..

    • Karen says:

      Hi Stacey, I’m sorry that you are having problems as well in your lovely gardens. I think that this is turning out to be a hard year for a lot of us. Between too much or too little rain, excessive heat or cool damp temperatures, it is taking its toll on both the plants and the gardeners. I have to say I have gotten a lot of tomatoes for just the two of us so that helps. We are going to close down our cottage early this year so my gardening would be coming to an end soon anyway. Let’s hope that next year will be better for all of us.

  50. Kathy says:

    Sneaky critters. :( It seems that every year a different part of the garden is challenged. We try, we sometimes succeed, but Mother Nature deals the final hand. We need a pickup truck of manure in our garden–we’re hoping that will boost some of our ailing soil. (I keep telling Barry: whatever Mother Nature gives us is enough. He is not entirely convinced.)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kathy, Mother Nature seems to come up with something new each year to challenge us. I think adding manure to the garden will help…especially if you have tomatoes as they are such heavy feeders. Each spring I add bags of a product called Moo Doo, composted manure to my garden several weeks before I plant. I really think it helps.

  51. mjskit says:

    I use to wonder why organics were always so much more expensive, but then this post reminds me of the amount of work involved so one doesn’t have to use pesticides! Looks like you have planted enough for you and the critters however. Those bowls of tomatoes are gorgeous and I’m SO jealous! I gave up on basil this year. I planted it 3 times and grasshoppers had a hay day every time I planted. Thank goodness my sister has more than enough. :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi MJ, I really do have a lot of tomatoes and yes…a couple eaten isn’t too bad. Some years the critters will take a bit out of each tomato that they can reach. I always plant more plants than I need for two people for years just like this. You never know when a problem will arise. I don’t remember seeing grasshoppers in Maine until this year but thankfully not a lot. Nice that your sister has enough basil to share. Thank you for your nice comment.

  52. Jane says:

    I’m the same way as you … I look to each year as a learning experience! I have gotten better at dealing with these things year after year. I must say … those worms are sooo ugly!! I can hardly look at them without getting a little angry with them :) However, your heirloom tomatoes are gorgeous!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jane, Thank you for your nice compliment. I agree that each year we learn a little more as we are dealt with a new situation in the garden. It is wonderful that we have fellow bloggers that can give support and advice. I have gotten wonderful information from nursery owners and the agricultural extension service as well when I can’t figure out something in my garden or orchard.

  53. lulu says:

    Critters did little damage to my garden except for the kale. Your tomato haul is impressive!!

  54. As you know Karen, I’m jealous of your garden and tomatoes since I’m without a garden this year. Eating and enjoying heirlooms on a daily basis is part of summer to me. However, I’m sadden to hear you’ve lost the chard and have had some pesky insect problems. The life of a gardener.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jed, I remember that you said you were jealous of my garden with its heirloom tomatoes. Maybe next year you will be back to gardening. The life of a gardener is not easy but I do enjoy the rewards. Thank you for your comment.

  55. emmycooks says:

    Those are some gorgeous tomatoes you’re growing in spite of the challenges! They obviously feel your love. :)

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Emmy, for your very nice compliment. I have been naturing the plants from tiny seeds. It made me kind of sad to see such healthy plants get blight. But I do have to say that they have given back with a large crop of delicious tomatoes.

  56. kitchenriffs says:

    Gardening is so much fun but it can also be a pain at times. We’ve been experiencing difficulties with out tomatoes for the last couple of weeks, too. I don’t think it’s blight, but something – the lower leaves are looking kind of depressing. I have them planted really close together so I’m wondering if they’re not getting sufficient air circulation. And something has been munching on the tomatoes, too. We’re not in the country, but we do have racoons, possums, and of course squirrels – one or all of them are the culprit. Our Swiss chard is doing terrific, however – I guess we’ve been lucky with that. There’s always something new to learn! Good post – thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Sorry you are having problems with your tomatoes but hopefully it isn’t blight. I plant my tomatoes 3 feet apart so that they do get a lot of air circulation…I think it helps. Perhaps you should trim off your bottom leaves. They are the oldest on the plant and eventually start to wither and die naturally. I think we all could do without nibbling critters. Last year we had a groundhog and they are very greedy but our neighbor trapped and relocated him when he started eating his plants.

  57. momgateway says:

    Your garden is beautiful! You’re doing a marvelous job! I feel for you. It breaks my heart when insects ravage through our garden plants too.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mom Gateway, Thank you for your nice compliment. This year in the garden has had a few more challenges than normal but I have gotten some great tomatoes.

  58. My garden was destroyed this year by the heat. I did containers since we are going to rip up our patio and re-do it in a few years and didn’t want to have to rip up a new garden too. I’m envious of yours, despite your struggles, it looks awesome!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ashley, Sorry to hear that you lost your garden to the heat this year. Hopefully next year will be a better year weather wise. Thank you for your nice compliment…I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I have had a great harvest even with adversities.

  59. Michelle says:

    Ah, gardening. You remind me why I gave mine over to the chickens!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Michelle, You must have very happy chickens. Some years gardening can be a real challenge but we have enjoyed a lot of delicious tomatoes. Thank you for your comment.

  60. spicegirlfla says:

    Oh how sad Karen. I’ve never had a garden but growing up I remember some years hearing my father having to battle some type of disease or bug. It become dinner conversation almost every night! Your early tomatoes were absolutely gorgeous, which makes me wish I had my own garden. Looks like you’re attacking and protecting your plants like a true gardener! Good luck!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Linda, Thank you for your nice compliment. We have had dozens of beautiful tomatoes that we have enjoyed so I really can’t complain. Hopefully I’ll be able to harvest more this coming week.

  61. Sissi says:

    Luckily you still have some gorgeous tomatoes. Even on my humble balcony “garden” insects drive my crazy (birds too!). I try spraying with water diluted with milk and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I must say the tomato hornworm is a beautiful – but probably very destructive – creature.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, Thank you for your nice comment. I hadn’t heard of using diluted milk against insects. Hornworms can eat a whole branch of leaves overnight and then start feasting on tomatoes.

  62. It was a horrible year for tomatoes. I’ve been fighting off blossom end rot like crazy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Julie, Sorry to hear you are fighting blossom end rot. Heat and drought conditions really put stress on the tomatoes and can cause BER. I put a little lime (calcium) in my planting holes each year to try to prevent problems with BER. Perhaps you could try that next year. Others use eggshells but I haven’t tried that.

  63. Liz says:

    We had a horrendous growing season…no rain, high temps, water ban. I’ve given up on tomatoes due to lack on sun in our yard, but my friend who provides me with her excess had very few that didn’t crack :( I’m glad you were able to enjoy so many before the attack :/

    • Karen says:

      Hi Liz, The weather seems to have been so bad for many gardeners this year…a water ban, no rain and high temps would do in just about any garden. Some of my cherry tomatoes crack but I think that is normal for cherries.

  64. Katerina says:

    I had many problems with my totmatoes too this summer and the plants and vegetables were not as good as last year’s. Hope you will resolve the problem, but your tomatoes look so vivid and healthy!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katerina, Sorry to hear that you had problems with your garden as well. It hasn’t been a good growing season in so many parts of the world. Up until the last week or so, there were no problems with the tomatoes. The rest of the crop will be turned into sauce.

  65. I hear you. We have lots of critters as well. Fortunately for me, my neighbors garden is more substantial so the deer have left mine alone, but it only takes one.

    Great photo of the green critter….

    • Karen says:

      Hi GG, Let’s hope the deer visiting your neighbor don’t think that the grass or in this case the garden looks greener on the other side of the fence. As you say it only takes one. I was happy with the photo of the green critter, much easier to capture than bees and butterflies. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  66. Mad Dog says:

    Those are beautiful tomatoes! Sorry about the pests and blight. Guinea fowl are good for eating bigs and leaving the crops alone. You are probably doing the right thing with the blight, though it might be a good idea to plant in a different spot next year. I hope those other tomatoes turn out good ;-)

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Mad Dog, for your compliment. Guinea fowl really are good for bugs. I just had a funny picture in my mind…rolling down the turnpike at the start of each summer with the car loaded with tomato plants and towing a rolling coop behind with Guinea hens inside. It is a good idea to rotate the area where you plant tomatoes but we are so limited to where we have full sun. Our below freezing weather all winter is supposed to kill the blight spores.

  67. I’m all too familiar with the beetles and the hornworms. It’s a real challenge to garden organically sometimes, but looks like your blighted tomato plants are on the mend. I had to laugh when I saw your gorgeous pics of the tomatoes. I just harvested the third of my cherry tomatoes and felt victory for having any…I mean, I really do not have any sun, and these are the scraggliest plants in pots and are the first of the tomatoes for me. Still, I feel victorious to harvest anything out of my yard.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, I bet those three cherries were delicious and you should feel victorious if your plants don’t have any sun. It is hard having a garden when you want it to be organic. I always plant more than I think I really need knowing that I will probably loose some because of insect or critter damage. Thank you for your nice comment.

  68. Hi, Karen. I’m always jealous of those that can grow tomatoes and am glad you seem to have things somewhat under control now. Blight and bugs can be a gardner’s greatest nightmare. We stopped planting tomatoes because by the time the plants are ready for the fruit to set, the heat in DFW starts to break 100 F. At that point, the blossoms simply drop. The plants are always lush and beautiful. They just don’t produce any fruit. :( My swiss chard plants, however, are going on their 4th year. When I harvest the chard I cut it back close to the ground but leave a few smaller center leaves. The winters here have been mild enough that it continues to grow all year long.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Richard, I know that it must to so hard to have tomatoes in your area. I lived in Dallas when I was a little girl and remember how hot it was in the summer. It doesn’t even cool off that much at night from what I remember. Could you grow a fall crop of tomatoes? I think it it wonderful that your chard has been growing for four years…those are the plants that keep on giving.

  69. joshuafagans says:

    Your tomatoes look fantastic. There is nothing quite as awful as critters attacking your garden. I am impressed by your efforts to thwart them. Keep up the good fight!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Josh, Thank you for your nice compliment. There has been some challenges this year but we have had a nice crop of tomatoes. I’m going to be making sauce out of what are now ripening.

  70. I know gardening is not easy, specially if you want to go organic… My grand mom was an avid gardener and use to face many challenges with insects n bugs n all. She use to make herself happy by saying that “Even they want food”….
    I hope it get better with change in weather…

  71. We are on the “down hill slide” of our tomato harvest…luckily, only the chipmunks and squirrels feel a need to “share” them with us…LOL! Just finished the first round of basil plants and will have a Pesto Making class on Wed to use it up. Have planted 5 more to capture the rest of the long summer season we have here in Atlanta. Your heirlooms look marvelous! That is indeed some Good Eating!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Susan, for your nice compliment. We did get some beautiful tomatoes this year. I’ll be thinking of you in a couple of weeks when I make pesto to freeze. You made me laugh. It is nice that your critters let you have a little of “their” bounty in your garden.

  72. bellasabroad says:

    Ciao Karen! Your heirloom tomatoes make me swoon! They are Beautiful! They look so much like the tomatoes in the markets in Italy! And you are such a smart gardener! Great work with your blight situation! Good luck with the rest of the season! Your hard work has harvested good eating!

    • Karen says:

      Ciao Trina. Thank you for your nice compliment. You are right, the Brandywine tomatoes do look like the tomatoes you see at the markets in Italy with their scalloped shape. We have indeed had a delicious crop from the garden.

  73. Given my recent post, you know i’ve had my share and that does look like a squirrel got to that tomato as i have the same thing here in california! sigh…. at least i can store the green ones to ripen in the garage tho doubtful you can in your climate. my chard is trying…. it seems to want to switch to some other kind of chard than rainbow but…. i will take what i can get. my dino. kale has never stopped, much as i don’t like it! naturally…

    i wish you luck and happy gorging until you can no more!!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice wish Linda. Yes, you have had more than your share of problems with voles…they ate the top portion of all my beets one year. I have several dozen pale pink tomatoes ripening in the cottage. Everything on the vines now will go into sauce that I will freeze. I think I have another week or so and they will all be picked as the plants are hanging in there for the moment.

  74. Purely.. Kay says:

    I think my mother would feel like she’s in heaven with all these tomatoes. Oh how I wish I wasn’t allergic to the acidity in them because I would enjoy eating them raw instead of only being able to eat them cooked.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kay, Wish I could send some your way for your mother. Have you ever tried the yellow tomatoes? They are much less acidic than regular tomatoes. It is nice that you can at least eat them once they have been cooked. Thank you for your comment.

  75. TasteFood says:

    So beautiful and so sad. Your tomatoes are stunning, as are your photos.

  76. cabinet stew says:

    Well I am dealing only with blights (and I have learned a lot from you – thanks) and no bugs thankfully. This has been the worst year for it so i think our warm winter didn’t kill off the spores. I too am having some wonderful large tomatoes but the season will be cut short!
    I found that trimming the diseased leaves off helped for a while until I couldn’t keep up anymore!

    • Karen says:

      So sorry to hear that you have been dealing with blight as well. It is hard to wish for really freezing weather and feet and feet of snow so that we will have wonderful disease free tomatoes. I’ll have to think long and hard about these delicious tomatoes that I’m eating twice a day. Decisions, decisions…what shall I wish for. I kind of liked having a milder winter but a summer of wonderful tomatoes is great too.

  77. Amy says:

    Goodness what gorgeous and bountiful plants you have! This stinks about the buggies…wish there was a way to fix it.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy, Thank you for your nice compliment on the tomatoes. The crop has been wonderful. Thank goodness the problems have come towards the end of the season. Hopefully I can get most of the tomatoes off the vines before the blight kills the plants.

  78. I love your garden! Garden tomatoes are so tasty, so much different than store-brought tomatoes. Our CSA farmer had a long battle with mother nature this year, too. Things are slowly coming around here. Sorry to hear/read about your plant issues. I do hope I will be a great gardener like you, when I have my own garden, Karen!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ming, Thank you for your lovely compliment. Anyone that enjoys fresh vegetables from a CSA usually enjoys and nurtures their own garden if the opportunity arrises. I’m sure you will be a very good gardener whenever you get the chance. This has been a hard year for many that have been trying to grow crops. I have had some problems but many have had worse.

  79. What an informative post Karen. I grow tomatoes, but I’m afraid that my gardening knowledge is very limited — I wouldn’t have recognized blight or known how important it is to ensure you don’t contaminate the rest of the garden. Glad you’ve had the chance to enjoy your heirloom tomatoes though — they look spectacular!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Barb, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I hope you are enjoying the tomatoes from your garden. Our garden has provided us with a lovely crop of delicious tomatoes. I’m harvesting the rest much sooner than normal and they will go into sauce for the freezer.

  80. ladyfi says:

    Those first few shots of tomatoes are deliciously lovely! The caterpillars are lovely too and part of nature – but so sorry to see them decimating all your hard work.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ladyfi, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos…especially since you are such a wonderful photographer.

  81. What a mixed bag of emotions in reading this post! So glad to hear you garden organically. The tomatoes are so beautiful, I can almost taste them! But I am sorry to hear of the loss of vegetables. It is so frustrating! Thankfully, the only issue we’ve had this season is dealing with slugs (millions of them). i hope your tomatoes can be saved.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dana, I do like growing my vegetables organically. They may not always to perfectly beautiful but I know that they are healthy to eat. This year’s crop of tomatoes have been delicious…heirlooms have such great flavor. The last of the tomatoes will be made into sauce over the next week. Sorry to hear that you have had problems with slugs, they can do so much damage. Thank goodness I have not had to deal with them.

  82. twbarritt says:

    So many challenges in gardening and so many rewards – your photos are fascinating, from the beautiful first fruits, to the insects and damage. Hopefully your diligence and patience will pay off.

    • Karen says:

      Hi TW, There have been more rewards than problems in the garden this year. Tomatoes ripened weeks ahead of time and I got a lovely crop before the blight hit. Thank you for your nice comment.

  83. I am not really a gardener, except for flowers and herbs but I did enjoy reading your very informative post and looking at all the photos, very interesting and, of course, those heirloom tomatoes look wonderful – thanks for a great post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Andrea, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I love my flower and herb gardens as well but this time of the year it’s all about the wonderful heirloom tomatoes coming from the garden.

  84. Tandy says:

    oh, I could weep for you! However, the tomatoes that you have picked look awesome and I can ‘smell’ then through my screen – well, my imagination can :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tandy, Thank you for your kind thoughts. The tomatoes up until now have been fabulous. The rest that I can salvage will be made into sauce for the freezer.

  85. Juliana says:

    Oh Karen…sorry to hear and see all the damages…but at the same time happy to see that you were able to harvest beautiful tomatoes…I really dislike bugs.
    Hope you are enjoying your week and keep all the bug and pest away :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Juliana, Yes, we have been able to enjoy some wonderful tomatoes so far and I can’t feel too bad about what is happening now. I hope you have a lovely week as well.

  86. That tomato hornworm close up looks like something from an alien movie. But I give you great for the tomato harvest. It’s can be a lot of work keeping up with these pests though.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, You made me chuckle…the tomato hornworm would be perfect casted in a alien movie. We really have had a great harvest of tomatoes. Thank you for your comment.

  87. megtraveling says:

    With those predators lurking, I’m impressed that you still had such a successful growing season! And your tomatoes are beautiful…

  88. It looks like rabbits entered you garden and ate your chard, Karen. :(

    Tomato blight hit many areas here last summer, so I was vigilant to use all new soil in the pots I grow tomatoes in and to sterilize those pots. So far my tomatoes did well and this was also a wonderful pepper and eggplant season.

    Beetles and slugs did eat most of my flowers, however–a first for that to happen! I usually have giant mounds of impatiens growing in flower pots by this time in summer and I have very few.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pat, I’m glad that you have been having a successful gardening season. If blight happens, soil doesn’t seem to make any difference as it is an airborne disease and the spores can travel miles in the air. I have four of the plants growing in new pots with organic potting soil and they have the blight as well. The one problem that I have yet to experience is slugs…hope I don’t get any. Thank you for your nice comment.

  89. oh that happened to my garden last year and it made me so mad! Your heirloom tomatoes though looked great

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jessica, Thank you for your compliment. Sorry that you had to deal with blight last year. If you garden long enough, I think we all experience the good as well as the bad in our gardens.

  90. lvaletutto says:

    Karen, I’m so sorry to hear about your plants, especially the tomatoes! I feel your pain. I’ve been dealing with late season blight on my tomato plants ever since I started a garden here in Germany. It’s so upsetting to see otherwise healthy and thriving plants turning brown and wilting especially when there are good tomatoes still waiting to ripen on them. I have been doing the same thing as you, carefully pruning and disposing of the infected leaves/branches. I hope you’ll still have a bountiful harvest this year. As far as the worms go, I am also having this problem but with my cabbage and broccoli. Apparently the white butterflies that Anna and I love so much and have been chasing through the yard have larvae that are eating my broccoli and cabbage plants down to nothing! A lot of them are starting to look like a sieve and not pants anymore! Argh. Wishing you good luck through the end of the season…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Laura, I know that you have had problems with your garden. Sorry to hear that you are now having problems with worms eating your cabbage and broccoli. Gardening can be such a challenge no matter where you live. Thank you for your nice wishes as I wish you the same.

  91. Heather.B says:

    Oh, Karen, I’m so sorry to hear about your attacks on your tomatoes! I know how hard you worked for them. The harvested picture looks like you got some beauts, though! Hoping you have a better harvest next year! :)

  92. What a terrific harvest you’ve had from your plants! All the way from seeds. Hopefully you can salvage the rest!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ducky, Isn’t it amazing that planting the tiny tomato seeds with tweezers led to these beautiful tomatoes. All the rest well go into sauce this week. Thank you for your nice wish…I appreciate it.

  93. It’s the way of the garden, isn’t it? Ours has had a dream run this winter, but the bugs are just starting to appear now. We’ve never grown tomatoes really successfully because of all the fruitfly in the area, and wilt, but this winter we ate from a giant cherry tomato tree which had self-seeded and fruited endlessly. I’m glad you had such a wonderful crop of tomatoes before the bugs hit though, and as for the rainbow chard – I’ve only just figured out how to get the tribe to eat it! :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Celia, It truly is the way of gardening…you never know what to expect next. I’m glad to hear that your winter garden has been doing so well. Good luck in the months to come.

  94. Tomatoes gorgeous. Inspiring.
    Pictures of defeat bring woe. But are Cool.
    A gardner’s life.
    Damn you blight!

    That was my feeble attempt at Haiku. ok… 17 words not syllables.
    I would say you had more success than not. Bravo Karen :-)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wendy, I love your comment…it was not feeble at all. I agree with you that the overall gardening season was a good one. Thank you for your compliment.

  95. Pingback: Green Tomato and Tomatillo Bisque (Life-Goes-On-Lessons from the Garden) « Hot, Cheap & Easy

    • Karen says:

      So very sorry that you had blight on your tomatoes, Natalia. The good thing is that you used the green tomatoes to make a lovely soup. Let’s hope we have better luck next year.

  96. Susan says:

    Gardening can be such joy and such heartbreak! The Japanese Beetles had been devouring my basil last month but now it seems they’ve found something else to eat – or they’re regrouping for another attack. I’ve had that same worm on my tomatoes but years ago – haven’t seen them since, thankfully.

    • Karen says:

      I agree with you Susan, about gardening. I think the good definitely outweighs the bad. The Japanese Beetles have decided to leave my basil alone now as well. I certainly hope their season of being around has passed. You are lucky that you haven’t had the tomato hornworms in years….they are awful. Thank you for your comment.

  97. Ruth says:

    Such patience, Karen! I think I’d be a sobbing mess after all those long months of work. Critters haven’t been as bad a problem for me this year as the weather as been. The tomato worms and grass hoppers tried, but I showed them who was boss…then the thunderstorms would roll in. I’ve lost about 20 tomatoes in the past two weeks to storms alone! Good thing I like green tomatoes, huh? :-)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth, What do they say…you win some, you loose some. Overall, I have come out a winner as we have had a lovely chop of tomatoes this year. I picked a dozen tomatoes yesterday but right now I have at least a dozen on the ground from high winds too. Sorry that you have had problems as well. Glad that you showed the insects who was boss thought. I find the green tomatoes will ripen in the house but they don’t have the wonderful flavor that they develop when left to ripen on the vine. There is always next year.

  98. Carolyn Chan says:

    I guess you have to share with Mother Nature, and sorry to hear they took over your beautiful crop but at least you got to eat some gorgeous tomatoes ! I’m sure they would taste even better as you grew them yourself from the seed.

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