Your tomatoes aren’t perfect like these of mine? Your plants don’t still have vivid green foliage in late summer? Mine do. You are failing.

This is the message that some gardeners receive. This summer, I’ve heard from a number of first-time gardeners who feel like failures because their tomato plants don’t look perfect, like those shown in blogs and videos.

Those tomatoes are phony, I tell them. The tomatoes I photographed above are phony.

I harvested around twenty tomatoes this morning, and then I selected the three prettiest from my basket. I held them next to the tomato plants in my garden that have the greenest foliage and I snapped a picture. It’s a phony photo in that it does not represent what is actually happening throughout my garden.

I visit many other gardens and have done so for many years. None of them have had tomato plants that were all perfectly successful.

You are not alone. Everyone growing tomatoes has mixed success.

Here are some tomato failures that can be seen in my yard today:

Skin cracking.
Critters eating fruit at night.
Hornworms eating leaves.
A cherry tomato plant taken over by mites.
Tomatoes scalded by last week’s day of 101 degrees.
The sunscalded tomatoes were in the row with my worst-looking tomato plants.

The sparse foliage of those plants doesn’t protect the fruit from the sun. Is the foliage sparse because of root knot nematodes in the soil? (“What are root knot nematodes?”)

On the other end of the spectrum, I have a tomato plant in another row that has beautiful, dense plant growth but not a single fruit. What’s the good of all those leaves?

Here are a couple of problems that I’ve seen in other gardens this summer:

White spots of powdery mildew taking over leaves.
Bottom of tomatoes rotted.

This photo was taken in my own yard a couple years back. I’ve had years with lots of this “blossom end rot”, but this year I’ve had almost none. I have also had powdery mildew on my tomato plants in the past, but I’ve had none this summer. The photo of it above was taken at someone else’s garden near the beach, where powdery mildew is more prevalent compared to my inland location.

Keep this in mind: Every year, your failings will be slightly different and the amount will fluctuate too.

So we can’t expect perfection. I hope you feel better knowing that there’s a lot of imperfection among my tomato plants right now.

Going forward, just because we can’t expect perfection doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to minimize the failings. Next week’s post: “Succeeding at Tomatoes.” I’ll share the best methods I know for dealing with ways that tomatoes can go wrong.

All of my Yard Posts are listed HERE

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