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Monday, February 7, 2011

Boasting Brings the Bugs

Tommy Toe
Now I'm not a very supersitious person.  Although Monkey Man would disagree.  He reckons I'm bonkers 'cos every morning I have a little ritual with my egg-cracking.  As I'm making my breakfast, if my egg yolk breaks and runs everywhere I know it's gonna be a bad day.  If it remains intact, all's well to carry on.  Luckily I'm pretty good at the egg-cracking caper seeing as I have one most mornings and I consequently usually have good days.

There was a teacher at a school I worked at and he sagely advised us over morning tea one day that the first rule of teaching is this: "The minute you think you've won - you've lost"!  And he was right.  Never get too cocky.  And I think that's been my mistake with my tomatoes.

I grew my tomatoes from seed for the first time this year and they were coming along fantastically.  Enormously tall bushes with loads of cherry tomatoes.  When Mr P. came to visit he was most impressed and said they were doing better than his!  Better than Mr P. my Italian, expert, gardener neighbour!  Huh!  My chest puffed up a bit at that one and a little more when friends visited and I'd take them on a tomato admiring tour.  Yes, I'd say with false modesty, it must be those Diggers seeds or the broad bean crop before that fixed the nitrogen (see how much I've learned?). 
Grub Attack
So the plants grew wonderfully and there were masses of lovely tomatoes - but I'd been waiting and waiting and waiting for something to ripen.  And finally a few have been turning red - maybe 8 a day.  Not many.  Not enough for a real meal.  Then when I would take a closer inspection at my booty I'd discover that some rotten little grubs had been burrowing in and had made whopping big holes in most of them.  So I've ended up throwing half to the chooks who squawk and squabble and have a tommy tomato feast and I'm left with four measley cherry tomatoes.   And what's more, the bottom of the plants are all starting to wither and die - already.  What's going on?  I've never had grubs eat my tomatoes before.  And surely the bush isn't supposed to die at the bottom when the top is still in flower?   

My only explanation is cockiness.  I've learnt a lesson.  Never get too full of yourself.  No boasting.  Those little grubs can hear a boast from several gardens away and will come crawling into your patch just to teach you a lesson. 
At least the chooks like them.

15 comments:

  1. What did your grubs look like if you dont mind me asking, as I had some in mine too?

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  2. I pulled a grub out of mine the other day! I hope it doesn’t go through the whole crop!!!
    The browning off looks like bacterial wilt. It’s just gone through my mum’s crop and she has pulled the infected ones out. Not much you can do about it unfortunately - but it’s not from bragging hehe. It’s a constant blight (pun intended) for Melbourne tomato growers.

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  3. They ( whoever 'they' are) do say, Pride cometh before a fall. But I don't think it has anything to do with your pride...it is just gardening. I wouldn't be a farmer for quids! You remember you asked me about my 'lovely' strawberries? They have been really prolific and ripening wonderfully well and at first glance you would think I was an expert strawberry producer. But they are covered in thousands (I kid you not) of tiny black and red shield bugs..some people call them soldier bugs or harlequin beetles. You know the ones that go around joined at the bum for days...longest sex act in the Guiness books, I reckon. Any way they are all over the strawberries and they suck them dry. Even if you wash them really well they have a funny taste. Frustrating. Promise, you won't give up!

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  4. You are right there veggiegobbler...never boast too much, a little still ok :)..same happened to me when I started my veggie planting. I took visitors to my backyard to tour my fruiting tomatoes, chillies and cucumber. And what happened after that? My tomatoes ripened but when I cut open it was rotten inside, my chillies never turn red instead they turn black and rotten, and so on and on...Well of course there's a logical explanation to it like fruit flies, plant disease or something, right? But I dont boast any more after that! :)

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  5. I hear your pain! I have exactly the same problem.. Try spraying with DIPEL, an organic solution for caterpillars and grubs. It's helped mine. As for the dying leaves, well it could be wilt, or another disease. Cut off all the bad leaves and dispose of them (not in the compost though).

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  6. That same thing happened to me this summer. http://nycgardening.blogspot.com/2010/08/not-for-faint-of-heart.html
    A fellow blogger told me to grow basil next to tomatoes this year because it deters grubs and pests.

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  7. sounds familiar, I have a lovely crop at the moment but one or two have had grubs which I can cope with when they leave some for me. I do have basil growing near them so maybe that is right what meemsnyc said. Its just the luck of the draw isn't it with veggie growing, I have just given up on my baby squash,couldn't stop them turning to black mush, so pulled them out.

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  8. I always plant basil in with the tomatoes and rarely have grubs in the fruit. Worth a try next year VG.

    Gav x

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  9. Oh you poor thing :( All those lovely tomatoes... All I can say is that you get used to the failures, I have so many all the time that I can shrug them off now!

    Is it tomato growing season for you now? It's too hot here for them right now, it's actually too hot here for anything but the hardiest of veggies.

    Our tomatoes do well all throughout the cooler months in Brisvegas, I have been advised to plant mine out in March.

    Not that it ever gets that cool here during the days anyway!

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  10. My tomatoes were looking lovely until whitefly then the heat hit them, now they're just sticks with green tops. Sometimes I think tomato plants just like to build us up.. then shatter the illusion. :p

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  11. "Boast away", I say. Whether you boast or not, you're bound to get a few pests and diseases. Gardening would be very dull if we didn't have a few challenges to overcome! But maybe just to be on the safe side we should agree not to count our chickens until they're hatched, eh? I mean, boast about what you have already harvested (eaten?), not what might be good later on...

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  12. Well thank you for all your commiserations. Enchanted Moments I don't mind describing the grubs! I've only seen one but it was little and green and I quickly threw it to the chooks cos I'm a bit squeamish like that. Thanks for the bacterial wilt tip Phoebe. Hazel I've not heard of those soldier bugs. Are they seriously gobbling your strawberries while they mate?! Thanks for your Dipel tip Funkbunny. I haven't used anything but seaweed on the garden yet but it might be time to get serious and investigate some organic solutions. Meemsync, Jeanetteann and Gavin I'm afraid I already had basil growing with them and still got the grubs. Ali I think usually our tomatoes ripen earlier but yep we're right in the middle of tomato season. And I'm getting ready for winter with broccoli and cauli seeds. Sorry for you in Brisvegas where it's warm all year round...not. But Kat everyone grows tomatoes - surely we can get that right? P3chandan and Mark I think I'll stick to no boasting at all I am a little superstitious.

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  13. I'm with Mark on this. Boast. Your tomatoes were obviously SO tasty the bugs couldn't resist them.
    We live in Brisbane so will wait a while yet to plant. Summer is cruel to tomatoes here. If they don't succumb to mildew and rot, and don't split from too much heat and rain, the bugs are sure to get them.

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  14. Ooooh Missy, I like your attitute. Of course you're right. It must just be that I have such tasty tomatoes. Hope you get some tomatoes when it cools.

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  15. Awww, I'm sorry about the tomatoes...but oh my...I haven't stopped by in a little while, and your chooks! Look how grown up they are, they're beautiful!

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