I am amazed at how resilient our tomato plants have been. Over a month ago we were sure we were going to lose them in the high winds of a passing hurricane. While two of the plants did topple, their stems didn't break and they kept right on growing, extending suckers and leaves out to two feet beyond the garden bed. To my surprise, this final harvest yielded 70 (mostly green) tomatoes and 15 peppers. Regrettably, we didn't keep a formal count of this years harvest but our estimates are 350 tomatoes, 35 peppers, and 40 cucumbers. In all we had 4 tomato plants, one pepper plant, and 3 cucumber plants that only survived for a month or so before succumbing to downy mildew.
Soon we will clear out the remaining greens, turn the soil and add compost and leaves to condition the soil for the next planting. I am excited to plan for next spring and have learned much from this year’s effort. I know we will have more tomatoes next year however I plan on using a ladder system instead of the veggie cages from this year. The cages did work well, but I think I'll use them for a different kind of veining plant, pole beans perhaps. We were unprepared for how large the four plants would grow (learning about pinching suckers to control size a bit too late) and they quickly outgrew what the cages were meant to handle. We will also be building a second bed, 4-6 feet by 2 feet just for the tomatoes. It was easy to prune and tie the tomatoes from the back, but to reach up high in the front actually required stepping into the bed. Fortunately our radishes had already been finished off so there was no trampling.
In all I would say this year has been a great success for a novice gardener. Learning to provide for our family in this way brings comfort in uncertain times and has instilled a greater respect for natures workings. Looking at the garden every day and seeing the growth that comes from such tiny seeds, along with the loss of whole crops (ahem, carrots) has served as a reminder of Jesus' parable of the Sower and the Seed. Quiet prayer and reflection on God's creation and plan for mankind was a wonderfully unexpected fruit of this garden.