Tomatoes – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

good bad and ugly

Let’s face it, despite the intense care we take in planting our tomatoes, sometimes there’s just nothing you can do and you’re left with the challenges of a gardener.  I’ve certainly seen my share of the ugly over the past several years.  There were times when I knew what was going on and other times that I simply have to do some research and play the game of trial and error to correct the problem.

In 2013, I was excited to DIG into the new addition to my garden and plant a large variety of tomatoes in the new space.  I took care to sift the soil, add my compost, and made sure they drank lots of water.  I watched as my beautiful seedlings grew larger and larger and that plump green fruit began to appear.

Needless to say, I was one happy gardener as I began to pick basket after basket of perfect tomatoes.  JOB WELL DONE LINDA!!  And then it happened………

Dried Up Tomato Plantmy beautiful, lush stalks began to shrivel up and its fruit were marked with big black spots.  After some research, it appeared my plants had blight. Tomato blight, in its different forms, is a disease that attacks a plant’s foliage, stems, and even fruit.  I quickly dug up the plants and disposed of them in a trash bag. I no sooner dealt with that problem and I started finding tomatoes all over the garden off the vine and half eaten.  I assumed a groundhog or family of chipmunks were the culprits, perhaps even a bird. Day after day, I would find tomatoes on the ground as well as on the vine, half eaten. For over a week, I went out to the garden at different times of the day looking for what was creating such a mess and one evening I found this monster…

big ugly slugI couldn’t believe the size AND DAMAGE that these guys can do.

slug3So I decided to sprinkle him with some salt and thought – “OK – problem solved”. That was until I went back to the books and read up on slugs.  OMG! They wanted me to pick these things off the vines in the morning?  And create traps for them?  Seriously?  Well, if I wanted to keep my precious tomato plants healthy, that’s exactly what I had to do.

One creative idea I found, and that has worked well, was to make “beer traps”.  The slugs love the sweetness of the beer and are drawn into the inverted water bottles to take a sip……….never to return to the garden again.  I also placed some beer in the bottom of milk containers I had.  This process, along with checking the vines every morning seems to be working for now.

Just as in life, it’s all about the journey, not the destination.  Some days all the little set backs can really frustrate you, but it’s empowering learning all these little tricks along the way as well.  It opens up the door to start a conversation with other gardeners where ideas and knowledge are shared as well as know that with a few minor adjustments along the way, you can often repair some of your problems and be on your merry, gardening way once again.

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