Temperatures well above 100 for the last few weeks signaled the end of the tomato plants. All in all, I had an extremely successful crop, with no disease or major animal theft. The process of pruning and trimming the tops really helped to set a large drop of fruit.
Of course while I had great luck with the tomatoes, I had to have trouble somewhere else. The other plant that I grow every year with great success is peppers. I am able to grow enough hot peppers with one jalapeno and one cayenne plant for the entire year. Not to mention the bell peppers keep us happy all summer long. This year everything was going great until I realized in late May that the cayenne pepper plant I bought had been mislabeled and was actually a red bell pepper plant. Now some people may say that is not really a problem. Unfortunately, I depend on the cayenne peppers to get me through the winter because they freeze and dry perfectly, which I will explain how to do in another post if I get a crop this year. Jalapenos are excellent fresh, but lose most of their heat when frozen and are very difficult to dry out.
Naturally I headed out to buy a replacement plant and found no one had any remaining for sale, since most people plant peppers by the end of April down here in the South. Only by blind luck in the middle of June did I find a small mom-and-pop hardware store clearing out their unsold and almost dead plants that still had cayenne peppers. Since it was buy one get one free I bought the last four that had any green left in the leaves and planted them immediately. I also planted so many in the hopes that four plants would be able to produce the same amount as if I had planted the right plant earlier.
For about two weeks, I thought the plants were just going to die off, but by adding potting soil and watering heavily each day I have four healthy plants but none have set fruit yet. When it comes to hot peppers, hot weather is very important for the heat in the fruit. My jalapeno has been producing like crazy for the last month and a half and each pepper is so fresh and spicy. By now I would have piles of cayenne peppers drying as well. Hopefully the month of September will stay above 90 degrees and I will have a good crop. Time will tell.
As for the tomatoes, it is time to pull the plants, compost them and clean up the wire cages. If there had been any disease or trouble with a plant, I would not compost it and the soil around it would be dug out and discarded.