Encouragement (for Life as well as the Garden) garden notes

Getting Past “Struggle” in the Year of Renewal and Garden Notes about Tomatoes and Peppers

The garden is so much a part of who I am that at the start of the season I had a lot of emotion which turned the “effort” of resuming the tending of my garden, into a painful struggle.

There were more days I felt like giving up than I care to admit.

I realize unless someone’s garden is as important to them as mine is to me, they’re not going to relate to that particular situation. But all of us have more than likely encountered emotionally similar circumstances in our lifetime. Surviving them and coming out better than going in requires about the same process. We have to change how we look at things.

To change my unhealthy emotional state I had to change how I view the situation.

To re-establish a more positive outlook, I ask myself questions like these:

  • Since I have no choice but to change things, how can I change them to make things better and easier?
  • What problems will be solved as a result of these changes?
  • What problems will I have to learn to live with until I can make changes?
  • What ways can this situation benefit me in the long run?
  • How would I help someone else solve this same problem?

These questions helped me change my view of the circumstances from something that seemed to threaten “who I am” into something that was not only going to make me better, but make life more enjoyable after the changes were accomplished.

One of the things that has given me pleasure (since my change of attitude) is watching what’s taking place in the garden this year.

I’ll share a few notes on tomatoes and peppers that you might find helpful/interesting. Every garden is different and every year is different.

Tomato Notes

Early Blight

For the last 7 years or so early blight appeared on my tomatoes once they started producing fruit heavily. I’d still get lots of tomatoes as you can see in this prior post, but the plants looked rather bare at the bottom.

This year there are only a few dead leaves on the bottom stems which is totally normal for most plants this late in the growing season. But most of the foliage is pristine and beautiful.

They Loved Starting Late

I didn’t bother to start tomatoes until May this year. And it was the very end of May by the time I transplanted to the garden.

As we all know, tomatoes love heat and don’t perform well when things go below 50ºF.
(I showed you another picture of the 3 plants in the picture below as they were in early June in this post.)

3 big beef plants after mid August; still with beautiful foliage

Hot Temperatures Prevent Fruit Set

During those extremely hot temperatures in July tomatoes and peppers didn’t set fruit. (That’s normal for a lot of vegetables when temperatures go above 90ºF.)

They’re setting fruit again now, but after all the larger fruit is harvested I’ll soon have a smaller harvest each day until the new fruit matures.

It will be interesting to see if the foliage remains pristine if there is a heavy fruit production.


On 14 plants I’ve seen a total of only 4 or 5 hornworms, all small, and all with the cocoons of the Braconid Wasp which halts their damage almost immediately.

Hornworm paralyzed with white cocoons and young fruit.

I’ve listed 3 posts relating to the hornworm at the end if you want to read more about  this little wasp that helps us in our fight against various pests.

Pepper Notes

Started Late

Started my peppers after my tomatoes. They were only an inch tall when I transplanted to the garden. They doubled to 2 inches relatively quickly. Then they sat there (like they do every year) until almost the end of July and finally started growing. They’re about 3 1/2 feet tall now and look beautiful.

If you haven’t already checked it out, I think you’ll enjoy this post on Peppers – It Ain’t Necessarily So.

Hot Temperatures Prevent Fruit Set

They started to bloom just when that extreme heat arrived and thus, didn’t set fruit.

Now that temperatures are more moderate and they’re setting a lot of fruit.

Final Thoughts

I hope you’ll share what’s going on with your tomatoes and peppers this year. (Or anything else you want to tell about.)

We all learn from each other’s experiences, so please join the conversation in the comments area.  It’ll be fun to hear what’s happening in your garden.


Suggested Reading – Related Posts

Discrepancies in ids – Hornworms- Eggs or Cocoons

3 Tips – Potatoes- Lettuce- Tomato Hornworm and A Personal Note

Hornworms – Why You Might Need a Few in Your Garden

Early Blight on Tomatoes – There’s Hope

Peppers – It Ain’t Necessarily So


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  • Hello, Theresa! Your tomatoes look so lush & healthy!
    Here in NY’s Hudson Valley, I’ve not gotten a real bumper crop of tomatoes since Early Blight became a regular thing – since about the same time it showed up in your garden. This year I tried a few new varieties (I have a hard time resisting those seed catalog descriptions) in addition to my usual standbys of San Marzano, Brandywine, Principe di Borghese, and Heinz.
    Marianna’s Peace tomato is producing well and is much like a Brandywine in every way which is good, because the Brandywine seeds I ordered from SSE grew into an unappealing smallish flattened red thing, and I am now resolved to keep my resolve not to ever order from SSE again.
    Principe caught the blight first and has since made a beautiful recovery. Celebrity gave me a few nice tomatoes before sputtering out. It’s an embarrassing, puny twig next to the Heinz Classic. Some famous disease resistance, sure! Roma and San Marzano struggling with the blight, Roma is a little stunted, but not a bad crop overall.
    Part of this may be my fault – I mulched (with my usual straw) somewhat later this year, so there may have been splashing of soil onto leaves. I always mean to try spraying with Serenade, but a million things always get in my way.

  • Interestingly, I’ve never experienced blight. I use a deep mulch of hay because people have been willing to give me spoiled bales for free. Contrary to what some people will claim, using hay has not resulted in a proliferation of weeds in my garden. Then again, the most I’ve ever turned my soil is to pick potatoes and then I promptly re-cover the soil with hay.

    One problem I encountered for the first time this year was blossom end rot on the earliest of my tomatoes. I started some Volkov early (the first week of April) and others plus Rose de Berne later (end of April). The early Volkov were enormous by the time I transplanted them, so I pruned the lower branches and buried them as deeply as I could. The rest I transplanted as I normally would at a depth of about 4-6″. We got a lot of rain early this year which seemed to impede the plants uptake of calcium. All of the earliest tomatoes on the standard transplants had BER. In contrast, none of the fruit on those planted deeper than normal did. Also, rain normalized later in the spring and the harvest since has been about what I expect (~40-45 fruit per plant).

    I’m in central VA (zone 6B) and agree completely about starting tomatoes and peppers in late-April or early-May. I have not had meaningfully larger harvests from plants I started earlier. That said, I never water my garden and it can get hot very early in the season here. Last year, while most of VA received record rainfalls, we seemed to be in a mini-rain shadow and were many inches below normal. As a result, the tomatoes I planted in June struggled mightily.

    On a different note, cucumbers were absurd this year (thanks rain!). I harvested over 15 lbs. per plant on average. I have two plants (Sassy) that have been producing consistently since July 3. They still have beautiful green foliage, plenty of flowers, no cucumber beetles, and no signs of disease. They’re not the best eating cuke, but they ferment as nicely as any I’ve ever had.

  • I am so glad your garden is showing the same stamina and fortitude that the gardener has shown. I wish for you and your garden an abundance of health and productivity. You are always a “must read” for me for my garden and my soul.

  • I always enjoy your posts, and wanted to let you know I ordered the garlic variety pack today from Get Garlic, adding your recommendation in the Notes on my order.

  • Mary Kate, thanks for all that interesting information.
    Mine are still going. I had a bit of a lull in fruit because
    of the hot spelling that prevented fruit set, but now I’m
    starting to harvest more bountifully again.

    Bart, wonderful that you’ve had good luck using hay. When hay is harvested before the plants set seed, there’s
    no problem with weeds since there’s no seed to germinate.
    Lucky you found a source that good!

    As you have already experienced — sometimes the first of the tomatoes can have BER because conditions are not suitable for them to be able to take calcium from the soil even when it’s there.

    Great that your cukes did so well. I too found this year an excellent year for cukes.
    Thanks for taking time to report the details.

    Claire, thank you for such a beautiful comment. It meant a lot to me and really lifted my spirits.

    Dianna, thank you so much for letting me know you ordered
    from Get Garlic and added the note about TMG when you did.
    I think you’ll be pleased with their garlic. Be sure and let me know.
    Thanks again for your comment and I’m sure glad you enjoy my posts!


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