BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Robyn Januszewski knew it was a bad gardening year when, after weeks of waiting, a single red tomato appeared - and her dog ate it.
Dogs are the least of her worries.
"I was really actually excited about growing some stuff and it kind of just stalled," said Januszewski as she glanced toward her anemic garden. One small cucumber clings to a plant, a small pepper rots where it dropped, and a handful of small green tomatoes show few signs of ripening into the feast she envisioned.
"I don't have a great green thumb, but I would think I would get a little something," she said.
Her gardening misery has company.
"I'm hearing it from everybody, we all are. And it's not just tomatoes, it's all veggies," says Abby Davis, a master gardener at Bachman's Lyndale Avenue store. "People are panicking about their tomatoes not ripening, either that or they're all getting some type of fungus and they're rotting on the stems.
Davis says gardeners can blame the weather -- a cold wet spring followed by an oppressively hot stretch of summer. "None of these things are conducive to plant health."
An inquiry on Facebook brought responses from dozens of gardeners struggling with small tomatoes that don't seem to ripen - and a smaller number of gardeners who reported good harvests despite the weather.
The gardeners at the Wirth Park children's garden are decidedly in the struggling category. On Wednesday night they had to buy tomatoes to make Salsa for a community picnic.
"Thank goodness for the farmers market," smiled park gardener Kristi Pursell. "Our tomato plants look a little scraggly."
Davis advises patience. The growing season is running late and some of the green tomatoes still have time to ripen. She says it's not too late in the season to put down plant fertilizer and treat tomatoes with fungicide and rot preventer. Both could be useful if the wet weather continues.
She also recommends pruning lower branches to keep them from touching the ground, which she calls "an open invitation" to fungus.
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