May 20, 2009: Tomatoes; Woes of the Past May Be Over

I'm still convinced my seedling tomatoes were accidentally sprayed with herbicide by my lawn service last month. I had planted the ones (20 plants) that seemed to have the least damage, but ended up pulling out and replacing eight of those with purchased plants, two with healthier looking seedlings, and just eliminating one without replacing it. This week I threw all the remaining plants (still in their 16-oz. cups) in the garbage, as they didn't seem to be improving a bit.

I purchased another 4-pack of tomato plants at the nursery this week, planning on pulling out the last four sickly ones. But when I went out to do just that, I thought the plants were actually beginning to snap out of it! I took a photo and compared it to the one I published here on May 9th. Even though the leaves are still curled up tight, look at how it has grown, and at the color, as compared to the same plant just 11 days ago:

So...I think I'm going to let these last four plants stay right where they are for now, and try to find another spot to plant those four new ones.

Now there are 11 of the original 42 tomato seedlings left, all of which are in the garden. Thirty-one plants were destroyed. They were lovely seedlings, too bad "the unknown" happened to them.

On a brighter note, some of the original seedlings are thriving and even blossoming!


Blossoms on the "Volvograd" tomato

Seed was identified as Cherokee Purple, but the plant has potato leaves. This might be a "surprise" tomato, but it's a big strong one!

This seed was identified as a Kellogg's Breakfast, but two of the three seedlings grew with potato leaves. I chose to plant the one with regular leaves.

Russian Persimmon


Black Cherry

Chico III, the smallest, weakest of the seedlings that were transplanted. This one looked like it was going to die, but seems to be recuperating just fine now.

One of the two big tumbling Tom tomato plants (the ones I started in Arizona in January) didn't transplant very well. The large one was nearly 55" tall when I put it in the garden. I dug the hole as deep and wide as I could, but it still had a LOT of stem sticking up, and it lost most of its leaves due to transplant shock. But it lives! There is new green growth, and it will get babied just like the rest of the tomatoes. Who knows, it might give me some little tomatoes some day. I tried to get a photo of it, but it blended in with the background too much and couldn't be easily seen.

The smaller of the two Arizona Tumbling Toms is growing just fine.
It also has some blossoms.

The Garden in May
Click to enlarge photos


  1. Everything looks so green and lush!

  2. Yeah...the camera angles work for us, don't they! You can't see the leaf miner damage on the beet leaves ;-)

  3. That's really a shame that 31 plants were killed by the lawn company. Did you ring any necks?

    The ones that are left really are looking great. Can't wait until mine get looking that nice, of course I have to plant them first.

  4. Dan, no necks were rung, because I can't prove they did it. But it's odd that a rose bush in the same general area is showing some damage to its leaves, and an area of the lawn a few feet away from there has dead grass. I know I didn't do it, so that leaves the lawn service. I'm thinking either weed killer or something went wrong and the liquid fertilizer was too strong.

  5. Granny,

    So sad about the tomatoes. Glad to see some are recovering. The rest of the garden looks lovely! I love the strawberry bed. They look so neat and evenly spaced. When I grow up I want to grow carrots like you. They look way better than mine.


  6. Liisa, I noticed today the strawberries are beginning to put out runners. I can't let them do that just yet, darn it, but I really want those extra plants! After my first berries are picked, I'll let a few runners take off.

    I'm drooling just watching my carrots! Having a hard time waiting for those first few sweet little ones.

    I really didn't need 42 tomato plants.

  7. Your tomatoes are coming in great. Of the 7 plants I have, three of them have twelve green tomatoes already. Being a little further south, I guess mine are coming in a little faster. I am trying my hardest not to pick them now....I love fried green tomatoes almost as much as a fully ripe one!

  8. I'm so sorry that you've lost all those tomatoes!

    I've got 40 Romas that I've planted from seed... so I know how you must feel!

    Your garden looks fantastic though!

  9. Ericmcc, I'm jealous! But here in Eastern Washington we don't even get our tomatoes into the garden before May 1....May 15th is really better. I like my tomatoes fully ripe, but I hope I get enough this year to can. We love the sweet chili sauce I made last year, and ran out of it mid-winter! I thought I was going to get some early tomatoes from the plants I started in AZ in January, but the blossoms never did set on them while they were inside the house.

  10. Toni, I'll know to protect "my babies" a bit better next year! The survivors are big and strong and beautiful. Next year will be better :-)

  11. The tomatoes look good and the ones that are bouncing back - really seem to have a new lease on life.

    I love late May in the garden - such lush growth and potential at this time of year.

  12. KitsapFG, The problem with May is that I don't get much gardening done....I'm too busy taking photos and marveling at how quickly everything seems to grow, and wondering where on earth I'm going to find room to plant the next seeds!

  13. What were you going to do with 42 plants? Were you going to plant them all or give a lot away?

    I LOVE that "under-tall" cartoon!!!

  14. Jen, I have no idea what I would have done with 42 tomato plants. Actually, with the Arizona seedlings, I had 45. I don't know what I'm going to do with the 21 I've already planted and the four I have left to plant! Last year I only had four plants total. I think I got carried away this year. I'll bet my four kids will take some ripe tomatoes off my hands though (after I do all the work growing them) :-D The heirlooms don't have any disease resistance, so there's always the possibility they will succumb to something, too.

    My daughter sent the cartoon last night...that's definitely Annie!!

  15. I worked as a gardener's elf one year, and my boss was a tough little country woman. She told me about how she babied her tomatoes at transplant time, and then she went to work at the experimental farm in grad school and watched how industrial tomatoes were just tossed in the ground, and how they bounced back. Her take was they were far tougher than we think they are.

    Your garden looks so neat that I don't know whether to be inspired or intimidated. Clearly, I need to work out some watering issues in mine.

  16. Stefaneener, I once gave a tomato plant to a friend who had never gardened. She planted it next to her back door, and it grew big and lush, but would not set any fruit. I told her to give it a little smack with her hand every time she went in and out of her back door, to spread the pollen around a bit. She called one day and said her plant was absolutely loaded with little tomatoes. I said "Did you give it a few smacks?" She said "I did better than that. I beat it to the ground with my broom!" And she had done just that...scared the poor plant into producing, it thought it was going to die!

  17. I just had a very unpleasant incident at home and was felling like poo. You just gave me a good chuckle. Gotta remember to give my tomatoes a few love taps tomorrow!

  18. Cheryl, I'm glad I could cheer you up. Now go beat the crap out of those plants!

  19. Wow! Your toms are looking good! Even the one's that got hit by the lawn guys are starting to look perkier. You're going to have a lot of yummy salsa and spaghetti sauce this fall!

  20. MMMmmm. I hope so, Jenn. I planted some with disease resistance too, just in case the heirlooms don't make it.