The worst tomatoes

Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Well I've learned a lesson: Never brag about how good your tomato plants look, until they actually produce good tomatoes. I have one San Marzano plant that still looks reasonably healthy, but the other three, for the most part, are churning out sickly tomatoes with blackened, rotten bottoms. It's blossom-end rot. Big time.

And if that's not bad enough, the birds are delivering the number two of a one-two punch. Bird-beak holes! Everywhere! In every last, nearly ripe tomato. ARRGH!

This was my pathetic tomato harvest today. These went straight to the compost heap.

I looked around at other people's plots and saw that it's not just my tomatoes. It appears that the birds are attacking everyone's tomatoes, regardless of what type they are. I have never seen this happen before. Not to this extent anyway. It's total tomato carnage. I wonder what's going on? I've watched these tomatoes come all the way from seeds, and now this?! It is incredibly frustrating and disappointing.


Blogger Muum said...

oh, I'm sorry, that is tough. I have probs w/ birds pecking at my tomatoes, too, do you have any ideas about what to do? Mine aren't ripe, yet. Hope things go better for you.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

what a tragedy!! I hope you get some survivors.

10:36 PM  
Blogger O.I.M said...

oooh. that's gotta suck. I didn't know that birds would even be interested in tomatoes. can you scare them away? I've seen people tie aluminum pie plates to sticks and plant them in the garden. the theory is the plates flap around in the wind and the movement and noise frighten the birds away.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Carol Michel said...

Those are so sad. I hate when tomatoes ripen and then go bad. I'd rather they stay green and full of promise than be red and bad.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

10:53 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I'm so sorry! To put so much effort into something, and then to watch that something turn into nothing is very painful.

Perhaps your sick San Marzanos could use a shot of calcium to help defeat the blossom-end rot. Good luck beating the disease and the birds!

2:26 AM  
Blogger Celia Hart said...

Oh - the dreaded blossom-end rot. Has the weather been very hot and dry? At least some of your tomatoes are ripening already - here we haven't had any really sunny days since the end of April - just lots and lots of rain and warmth. The result is huge tomato plants with giant leaves and small green fruits, this morning I tied the plants more securely to the stakes and thinned out side shoots and some of the lower leaves - storms are forecast for later today. If we don't get some sustained sunshine soon it will be green tomato chutney this autumn!!!


5:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Birds! Maybe that explains mine... The only thing I had turning red were some cherry tomatoes and last I went to check they were suddenly gone completely. I'll admit it--I have the evil eye to my preschooler (who would have used them as balls not food). Maybe he's innocent...

Good luck with the rest!

7:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How heartbreaking, I'm so sorry for your loss. Can you beat the birds by picking before the tomatoes are truly ripe and let them finish on a sunny windowsill? My first few tomatoes had blossom end rot so I made sure I was watering more regularly and so far, so good. No ripe ones yet, but no more end rot either.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Christa...this would seriously make me cry. I'm not kidding. And I remember last summer how excited you and your husband were to be able to make sauce out of those San Marzanos...dang! I hope one of the solutions the other commenters offered helps with the birds or the rot. I'm so sorry!

9:31 AM  
Blogger kate said...

That is a nasty one-two punch. I hope that the birds decide they've had enough and take off, at least leaving the good tomatoes unscathed. I'm sorry to see this -

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. When I lived in the "city" (as opposed to a suburb), the squirrels would take bites out of my tomatoes about 1-2 days before I planned on harvesting them. I'm not sure what your weather has been, but if it's been dry, then the birds are probably looking for a water source.

Go to the hardware store or nursery and get some bird netting. It's cheap and light, and will help keep the critters away. Drape it over the plants and hold it down with rocks.

There's still a lot of summer left - you can prevail!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Sparow said...

That's just awful! We've been having blossom end rot issues with the Romas on our balcony, so I can relate. I look out at those brown spots and just feel sick. We got some lime to add to their water and hopefully that will help. I agree with everyone else about netting or maybe even flash tape to keep the birds away!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Rosengeranium said...

I agree with genie; get some bird netting. And, if it's really dry and you can afford the water, open up a bird drinking fountain (a long way from the tomatoes). A cleaner source of water will probably lessen their interest in garden fruits.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Carolie said...

I offer my sympathies! What a shame!

I had terrible blossom end rot a few years ago. Bought a big box of bonemeal, and poured it around each plant. The blossom end rot stopped in its tracks...perhaps due to the calcium, but who knows?

Good luck!

1:01 PM  
Blogger Tira said...

Oh, I know how disappointing that is-in February these wild chickens ate my entire costuluto fiorentino crop of over 100 tomatoes, along with all my sweet and hot peppers. I had to surround the remaining plants
( they actually then started on my basil and mustard greens) with wire mesh and my half rottweiler puppy keeps them a bay now, but I basically lost the tomato season, here. I hope you can get some good tomatoes at the farmer's market-that's what i resorted to.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Ed Bruske said...

Christa, blossom end rot is not necessarily a problem of calcium deficiency in the soil. It can also be caused by too low pH, which would impair the plants' ability to take up calcium through the roots. Have you had your soil tested. A laboratory test should indicate both calcium and pH levels. Here's a link to U. MD:

4:49 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Thank you, everyone, for offering your sympathies. It is so sad. The weather has been very dry here, so the birds might indeed be looking for a water source. I have had birds peck at a few tomatoes in past years, but never like this.

Celia, do you have a recipe for green tomato chutney? I actually might try making some of that... while I try to cure the blossom-end rot problem.

Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions and ideas.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Knitters Notebook said...

I hope you get to enjoy a few tomatoes soon! It is so dry here too but we haven't had any bird problems yet.


10:22 AM  
Blogger Anita said...

Oh Christa, I am so sorry to learn about your poor tomatoes! Fortunately, my ones are still looking fine in the kitchen garden and I harvested the first ones just yesterday!

Sorry, I am a bid late to pass by your blog. I still owe you an answer to your last question on kohlrabi. You asked me for a recipe... Well, unfortunately, I do not really have a favourite one to share with you, most of the time, we just peel off the paring and eat it uncoocked....
When I was younger, my mum just cooked them in water and served them with a roux made of butter, flour and milk plus a bit of salt. Did you already try this? Very simple and very good!

Happy gardening and best wishes from Germany!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

I haven't tried cooked kohlrabi yet, but serving it boiled with a roux sauce sounds like an excellent idea. Thank you for suggesting this. I will give it a try.

7:29 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

In dry years I've also done what Rosengeranium suggested, Christa - have water for the animals a little distance away. Not a total solution, but when they're desperate it seems to help.

Our one San Marzano plant never grew and apparently was no loss!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

5:35 PM  
Blogger Where fibers meet mud said...

I had all my nearly ripe tomatoes stolen off the vine about a week ago. I am not sure if it was a human theif or the deer.

The vines were not destroyed by the picking - so I pray the person that took them was homeless and hungry!

But let me tell you I was pretty upset at the discovery... very upset to be honest...

The tomatoes look like raccoons could have eaten them too... that blossom end rot sucks.... sulphur spray may help...

The rest of your garden pickings look great!

8:39 PM  
Blogger tnlady said...

If you have extra CDs, string them up and tie them onto tomato cages. I like to use three or four per plant.

Another great idea is to go to a toy store and buy some inexpensive pinwheels.

One pinwheel per plant will do the trick.

In both cases, the movement and the reflection of the CDs and pinwheels keep birds from hunkering down on your mouth watering tomatoes. And, believe it or not, these organic solutions also tend to be conversation stoppers with visitors to your garden.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to hear about your problems with blossom end rot. i used to have that problem with my san marzano plant. its a really easy thing to fix if you got the right stuff around.

there is a plant called stinging nettles (urtica dioica) which is a great natrual organic source of calcium, as well as many other beneficial nutrients and minerals for tomatoes. if you can find some take about a handfull of leaves (remember they sting so wear gloves)chop them up and put in a small pot, pour warm water over it, then set on simmer. let this go until the liquid is a nice greenish /brown. dilute that about 1:10-1:20 liquid tea:water. then apply to the plants. you cant save the ones that have rot now but you will prevent it in the next tomatoes.

3:31 PM  
Blogger petersteel said...

o that is so sad.. i think u should netting bird tech that will help u out of this.. for more information regarding bird control,bird repellent,netting bird ,pest bird control u can visit

2:49 AM  

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