Tomato Cataclysm

This is at best disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. I uploaded the picture to the largest size, so we could all enjoy it. It’s not really a cataclysm, but I wanted to get your attention.

Tomato Growth

WTF?

This thing was not on the plant yesterday afternoon, because I visit them all overnight. I haven’t touched it yet, but the back side of it has been interrupted, and there are bits of what look like couscous/cat vomit spread out across the dirt. I’ve looked up every search term I can think of to identify this and I’m not getting good results on Google. Fortunately, all my plants are in containers, so I don’t think it will spread. If I have to get rid of the whole plant I will; it’s not one of the better plants. It’s a Roma, but it isn’t growing like the other Roma (although it is blossoming and turning into fruit). I am not terribly excited about the idea of scraping it off, although the timing is pretty good–it’s trash day tomorrow! I wouldn’t dream of putting this out in the ice plant where I usually hide my prunings.

I’m posting it here in hopes that one of my fifty readers will recognize it and share treatment tips or even just a name. I’ll also put the word out on my two other boards. This is a mystery that needs solving!

My other plants are doing well, still. The last of the tomato plants and the cilantro plant I started for a friend went home (I hope it didn’t catch whatever this nastiness is). The teeny tiny flowers have officially turned into teeny tiny buds on the red currant bush; I am so curious about these tomatoes–I don’t usually like the flavor of anything smaller than those campari they sell at Costco. The Roma buds on the other plant are thriving. The petunias and sunflowers are the brightest things I’ve ever seen on my patio, and I can see the row of six sunflowers I have on the pergola of the playhouse from the street. It’s so cute! I would totally plant a row of taller, bigger sunflowers next year if I thought Filly and Fella would leave them alone. The way the sun goes they’d turn their faces towards the street, and it would go a long way toward making me happier about living in an HOA that keeps raising its rates.

But before I can get to that, I will enjoy this summer. The electrician was here scoping out my outlet requirements for the new kitchen, which was very exciting. The tile floor guy is expected any minute, and then I have a Costco trip planned for the afternoon. I ran out of Diet Coke yesterday, plus there are no back-up packages of baby wipes in the house. Hopefully the weather will get warmer and it will be sunny enough to eat lunch at their patio. We’ve all been remarking on how sunny this May has been, but the clouds have really been stubborn this morning. I’m afraid we’ve officially entered the gloomy season. Still, I haven’t lost all hope–the Costco I like is a good five miles further inland. The sun could still prevail.

UPDATE 5:15 PM
The sun did prevail! It was quite nice at the part that we found, although it’s damp and kind of gloomy back at home. And I mustered up the courage to cut off this thing. It was firm yet spongy, and the part that had looked like a cat vomiting couscous had turned all slimy and black. This thing was darker and had retracted somewhat, and doesn’t appear to have penetrated the stem at all. It kind of looked like it was centered on a scar from a stem near the dirt that I’d broken off when I pruned everything, but that wasn’t really a fresh wound. And I pruned all the plants. Besides, once I cleaned it off, it looks exactly the same as all the other pruning wounds.

The freaky part of this thing was the even darker center:

I scraped up some of the dirt around it, but don’t know if that did anything. I suppose if I end up cleaning up one of these a day I’ll be able to cope with it.

Happier tomato news is that I am finally getting some buds on my yellow pears! These plants have grown so tall and straight that they were things of beauty, but they were very slow to turn their flowers into buds. I’m still waiting for one to do so.

UPDATE 5:57 PM
I have a name! craig the skeptic at SGU has solved the mystery and made many reassurances. Thank you, craig, for identifying Fuligo septica, the slime mold commonly known as Dog Vomit Fungus. He says that it’s usually not harmful to plants and often appears in fresh mulch. I don’t have fresh mulch, but remember my story about the pint of ladybugs we released last Friday night? They came with cedar flakes, which were scattered among the leaves along with the bugs. It was mulch enough to get started.

Here’s a nice little webpage about someone else’s adventure with Dog Vomit Fungus. Fortunately, I was spared the necessity of having to step on it. My spores are all (hopefully) Ziplocked away and tossed. If I’ve done it right, I’ve ended a genetic line. I’m also pretty proud of having described this thing in terms of cat vomit.

I almost went with meringue as a descriptor, but that would not have been nearly so prescient. How wise I have turned out to be.

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