2019–A lousy year for tomatoes

This year was a lousy year for tomatoes for me. Other gardeners have said as much too. Except for one raised bed with 8 tomato plants that are my salvation, the other 17 tomato plants in a different section have not produced well.

Why I asked? A couple of things come to mind for me.

First, we got a late snow on May 20th. The first frost free date is suppose to be May 15th here, but not this year. Plus our spring was cold. That caused me to to put the transplant in the ground on May 25th in wall of waters. I could have transplanted them earlier in the wall of waters but I didn’t have the heart to put them out earlier. It’s hard to do when you’ve started them from seeds 6 weeks earlier and it’s cold or freezing outside. I didn’t want them to stress or even die in the cold nights.

The previous year was we had a very warm spring and I was able to get out the tomato transplants in the ground on May 6th-quite a difference 3 weeks can make in a short growing season.

The second thing that comes to mind was we had a hot June where the temperatures were above 92°F for much of the month. Any temperatures over 92°F will cause tomato blossom drop during the pollination process. The plants did flower and then dropped their blossoms. Pollination temperatures are critical for setting tomato fruit-we want the temps to be below 92°F. After they set their fruit, temperature is not a big factor and the fruit will grow.

The third thing is the monsoons were late. They normally come at the end of the first week in July but didn’t materialize until the end of July and then only for a short period of time. The monsoons stopped and it got too hot again for tomato pollination-hence more blossom drop in July.

Lastly, the soil in the beds were not as good where the 17 tomato plants are in. They are in a newer section where the soil is not as rich. This pointed out to me (again) the need to improve the soil with more compost.

Now the temps are beautiful but basically our season has slowed down and will end for tomatoes whenever we get that first freeze which is between now and October 15th. So before that night comes, when I hear a freeze is eminent, I will pick those few green tomatoes and bring them inside to ripen. For tips on ripening tomatoes inside, go to my post here.

It was a disappointing season for tomatoes here in my garden. How about the rest of you? How did your tomato plants do this year?

Mother nature is sometimes not so generous to gardeners!


16 comments on “2019–A lousy year for tomatoes

  1. Cecile Stein says:

    My tomato crop was dismal this year. Worst year ever. I agree with all the reasons you mentioned. Hope next year is better!


  2. mike says:

    Agree. However, I had a pear yellow tomato plant that has produced pounds of fruit. 6 out of 8 plants were a bust. Do you prefer mulch or pea gravel in between your raised beds?

    Sent from my iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gene S says:

    Jannine, Although this seems unlikely, my tomato crop is better than its ever been. I am still harvesting even though the plants are largely dying slowly in the greenhouse. Things that helped this year: 1. no grasshoppers 2. a system improvement in water delivery= a one inch ball valve as opposed to the 1/2″ gate valve I have used for years. Lord, talk about feeling stupid! I added fertilizer less this year, and nothing after July 20th. All this seemed to work well. Yeah, the weather sucked, but still the tomatoes grew. Things to do next year: more upgrades in water delivery since I got a huge amount of free 1″ drip line and will be replacing the old 1/2″ pvc lines. It was free, but never worked efficiently, just adequately. I will be following your planting techniques next year EXACTLY! Take Care, Gene

    On Tue, Oct 1, 2019 at 12:08 PM giantveggiegardener wrote:

    > giant veggie gardener posted: ” This year was a lousy year for tomatoes > for me. Other gardeners have said as much too. Except for one raised bed > with 8 tomato plants that are my salvation, the other 17 tomato plants in a > different section have not produced well. Why I asked? A co” >


  4. rpwelker says:

    We live out of town, near Aldea, across Hiway 599. I have had the same experience with Tomatoes. The heirlooms are not doing so well. Hardly any heirlooms have ripened yet except some black cherry tomatoes. Lots of blossom drop. All tomatoes are running well behind schedule. I doubt whether we will get any vine ripened tomatoes at all before the frost hits at the rate we are going. All the things you mentioned, including the exceptionally cold spring really contracted the growing season. I had one plant that didn’t get a tomato even started until about a month ago, if that.

    It was a bumper crop however for cucumbers which although they got a late start have been producing so many cucumbers that we have them coming out our ears. We planted Beit Alphas, developed in Israel and they have thin edible skin. Utterly delicious! Beans are just now producing. Summer squash, normally prolific, are barely producing any zucchinis. The calabacitas are hardly doing better. Most blossoms have been male and only one plant is steadily producing a few every week. This is highly unusual!

    I’ve started green cropping in my garden using winter rye and Austrian peas to enliven the soil and put a bit of nitrogen back in. I’m moving towards “no till” methods as per the inspiration of regenerative farming practices. A good book on this is called, Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles Massy. It’s out of Australia but incredible what they are doing there. You can check him out on youtube.

    Thank you for posting your experience.


  5. John Marks says:

    Me too! I thought it was some sort of operator error!!


  6. Deanna says:

    We are in Abiquiu and experienced all the same weather problems Santa Fe did. My tomatoes and peppers did much worse than last year. Cucumbers were weird as well, being small and round. I was glad to get a mediocre harvest despite having over planted everything and tending to it every day.

    I need to look up your favorite tomato varieties. It’s been awhile since you posted them. Are they still online?

    There is only one tomato I have found that I adore and that does well in this climate, Napa Chardonnay Blush (it’s a yellow cherry tomato). The flavor is out of this world, it’s prolific, and doesn’t crack. I had a nice harvest of those, but would like to diversify.


  7. amy spencer summa says:

    I also had a lousy tomato year for all the reasons you pointed out. It helps to know I’m not the only one! Another problem for me this year is that most of my tomatoes have that big black spot developing on the bottom I’ll have to look up why that happens. One person told me too much water but my tomato plants look pathetic and wilty if I don’t water them twice a day. Any advice?


    • Hi Amy! That big black spot on the bottom of your tomatoes is called blossom end rot. It is not a disease but a plant disorder that is caused from a deficiency in calcium. Sometimes it’s a lack of calcium available in the soil but more often it’s being leached out of the soil when we get a big rain (LOL). This fall get some gypsum (I get it at Newmans Nursery) and sprinkle it on the soil (follow directions as to how much) and turn it in and let it sit all winter. Then tomato plants as usual next year. Gypsum is used where more calcium is needed without raising the pH which is important as we already have high pH in our soil and don’t want to raise it. People back east use ashes but don’t do that out here as ashes raise the pH. Watering 2x a day might be necessary so water as needed. Hope this helps.


  8. tonytomeo says:

    Well, I won’t bore you with the details, but ours were adequate; neither good nor bad. Weirdly, those that grow wild on the roadsides and around the compost piles were unusually productive.
    Your climate is fascinating. I do not expect such variability from region to region in New Mexico. Satellite images demonstrate how some regions are chaparral, and others are distinctly greener. The minimal bits of New Mexico I drove through were fascinating alone, but I know there is so much more out there.


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