My mother used to tell me, “Don’t count your chickens until they hatch.” Most of the time I listened to her as I grew up. I wish I would have remembered her words this summer.
Earlier this summer I wrote about looking forward to ripe, luscious tomatoes in such huge quantities I would be turning into blts, canning, freezing, and dehydrating until I was exhausted, and my cupboards and freezer were loaded. I should have waited until I had those ripe, healthy tomatoes in hand before dreaming such big dreams.
I still have fifteen thirsty tomato vines. However, they have not come close the reaching their potential, and when they did produce, their fruit was not healthy. Much of it rotted before I could harvest it, and what didn’t rot attracted grasshoppers by the gazillions.
Part of successful gardening is preparing the soil and continuing to monitor moisture and fertilizer needs through the growing period. I tried my best to work in the very best aged chicken manure and to water early in the morning so I didn’t let molds or fungi get a start in my garden.
The plants look wonderful, so I guess I did something right. What isn’t wonderful is all the empty blossom ends. Where small fruits should be growing and ripening, I have desiccated blooms.
As I visit with other gardeners, I have learned I am not the only green-thumb turned black. Apparently, the weeks of triple digit temps have taken their toll on other gardeners’ hopes as well. Like me, they nurture fruitless vines and tall, leggy okra with no pods.
I can’t decide if it is time to say enough watering and weed pulling or do I give these plants a second chance to produce a fall crop. I hate to waste precious water if there is no hope, but I hate to give up if there is a chance to pick some salsa makings by late September or early October.
I suspect this is the quandary many farmers find themselves in, only on a much grander scale. When do you say you’ve used enough resources without reward. I guess my answer for today is to give those darn plants two more weeks. If I don’t see little green fruits by the first of September, there won’t be much chance of a late harvest.
Mom is right, as usual. I shouldn’t count my tomatoes until they are in the basket or, better yet, turned to salsa in the canning cupboard.