There’s a secret to success in the garden (or any other endeavor) that’s seldom mentioned.
In spite of what’s promoted – either in ads for various gardening products or articles on gardening – things are not always perfect no matter how good the gardener or the garden is.
As plants age they (like most life forms) don’t always look as lush and beautiful as before they started producing fruit. Plants in any garden have their season of beauty followed by an eventual season of decline.
In addition, varieties that have performed successfully for years may suddenly fail to perform as anticipated.
Open Pollinated Big Beef
An example of that in my garden this year was my open-pollinated Big Beef. I can’t remember exactly how long I’ve grown this variety. It’s been at least 20 years.
It’s always produced more tomatoes than any other variety I grow. AND it keeps producing until freezing weather comes.
Even in a year when early blight is intense, it still performs.
The tomatoes are not only more beautiful than others, but they taste delicious as well.
This year I planted six. When they first started bearing fruit I got about 6 tomatoes. None since then! What a shocker!
The good news is they have plenty of blossoms and with the cool down we’ve recently had they’ve set some fruit. We’ll see.
It’s never over until it’s over — no matter what things may look like.
Two more Big Beefs that I planted in July (backups) are looking great. They’ve already set some nice looking fruits and have lots of blossom.
This Year’s Other Varieties
It’s my habit to grow Big Beef as my staple and then at least 2 or 3 other varieties as backups.
It’s backup(s) that make sure you still have a harvest if something goes wrong with a favorite or a first planting or a new variety.
Cherry tomato plants can quickly volunteer in your garden (from last year’s planting) and take over. I’m constantly pulling them up and/or pruning back the ones that I want.
As I’m sure you know if you’ve raised them, they’re one of the most dependable backups you can have for tomatoes.
They don’t taste quite the same as “regular” tomatoes but when you have no others available they’re great.
In my garden they’re the first to give fruit and the last to stop when cold weather comes. Unbelievably I’ve seen them survive several frosts with maybe only a few leaves browned.
The other two varieties I planted this year were Carbon and Dafel.
Carbon, tried at the recommendation of a friend, was new for me.
I like it much better than Cherokee Purple which is similar. (Planted five. )
It has stopped producing but has blossoms. So I’m hopeful more will come by October.
Dafel was raised from seed saved back in 2012. (It was originally a hybrid tomato.)
The fruits are about the size of a large plum. Many are even smaller. But they’re delicious with the real tomato flavor that I remember as a child. (Planted six.)
And thus far, it’s producing more tomatoes than any of the others (except of course the cherry tomatoes).
Even with the high temperature we had some weeks ago, which causes most plants to stop setting fruit, I didn’t see much decline in production with the Dafel.
There are many variables from year to year. Some you’ll be aware of; others you won’t detect. But plants do.
“Backups” are another tool to give you an edge and help make sure you get a harvest if mother natures throws you a curveball.
It’s a secret to success in the garden that’s seldom mentioned.
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