This year, astronomical autumn and “gardening” autumn arrived pretty much at the same time for me. Astronomical autumn–for most folks, they know this as the autumnal equinox or simply the first day of fall–arrived at 4:44 EDT on September 22. Meteorologists, of course, had already celebrated autumn’s arrival on September 1.
But on September 21, I pulled out all my tomatoes. This had already been a dismal gardening season, tomato-wise. I had enjoyed a few of the smaller, cherry-type tomatoes, but not a single large tomato had ripened on the vine for me. And with night time temperatures regularly in the lower 50s and occasionally in the upper 40s, I knew I wasn’t going to be seeing any vine ripened tomatoes anytime soon.
So I pulled up the plants, carefully removing any tomato that looked as if it had a reasonable chance of ripening in my “secret indoor ripening place” (in other words, in my basement, near my furnace.)
In prior years when I have done this, I’ve gotten at least 3 platters full. This year, the green tomatoes barely filled 1 platter. That’s how dismal a year this was for tomatoes for me.
What can I blame? The deer that ate the tops off the tomatoes just as they were beginning to grow? The remarkably wet June? The remarkably cool nights, beginning in July (tomatoes need warm nights to ripen and we had nights in the upper 50s and low 60s beginning July 25!)? The tomato hornworms, which I can’t recall having in recent memory?
It’s probably some combination of all of the above. But as a gardener who lives for those ripe tomatoes, this was one disappointing season.
On the plus side, even with the deer, there was a bonanza of pole beans. And the lettuce was pretty good too. So there’s always something good about the garden.