Thursday, August 11, 2016


Typically the hottest and one of the driest months of the year here in the temperate midwest and plant life is showing signs that it is past its prime.  Already I'm seeing dead leaves on the decks, there's signs of insect damage on trees and most other plants.  Much of the garden looks a little worse for the wear at this point.  That's not unusual.   I've found that many of the annual vegetable plants have a sort of recovery by September and produce more good things to eat.

That certainly won't be the case with the tomato plants.  The disease problem was discussed in an earlier post.  I'm still not sure if the tomatoes got early blight or a bacterial disease.  From what I know about blight, it infects the entire plant, foliage, stems, and fruits.  This infection appears limited to the foliage.  Of course that's enough to kill the plant, but since the leaf browning moves up the plant some tomatoes have had time to ripen up.   Eventually the foliage wasting consumes the entire plant.

It was time to take them out.  There's no point in keeping plants that will just propagate more disease.  But first I picked any tomatoes that looked like they had a chance of ripening.  Whatever is killing the plants does not seem to affect the flavor development of the tomatoes.  With the addition of some tomatoes from the market I should be able to make a batch of salsa soon.

The plants were removed to the other side of the lot where they will be burned.  Now the peppers and eggplant have the bed to themselves.  The eggplant was planted between the tomato cages and hasn't done much, only one eggplant so far.  Maybe with more light they will grow.

This is the earliest I've ever had to remove tomatoes.  Next year will require a different strategy, with smaller cages that hold one plant each, set far enough apart so the tomato plants don't touch.  Then I can trial a number of different varieties and maybe find some that are resistant.

The pole beans mostly stopped producing.  The Fortex especially are a tangle of stems near the top of the trellis.  This is also where the Japanese beetles do the most damage.

I removed a lot of the older foliage. The newer vines that originate near the base were trained up the strings.  I'm hoping that the beans get a 'second wind' and start producing again.

This bed is a jungle, with beans, winter squash and sweet potatoes vining all over each other.   The summer squash is another thing.  I usually only plant one summer squash since they produce so heavily.  The squash that was planted in the spring succumbed to the borer after giving me some nice zucchini.  That one grew like a monster until it stopped.  I planted this plant a few feet from the first one and it has been slow getting started, but is coming along now.  Why would this squash grow so slow compared to the first one?  I have no idea.

The hole in front of the plant is a mole pop-hole.  I can hoe it over but the mole will just open it up again.  When I water the bed the water runs in the hole like a drain.  I usually jam the hose into the opening and give Mr. Mole a wet welcome, not that it will stop him.

This is Joe Pye weed, a native 'weed' that can get over ten feet tall, which grows where my lawn ends.  It's flowers are an incomparable attracter of tiger swallowtail butterflies, a striking yellow butterfly with black stripes on the wings.  I've seen hundreds of these butterflies feeding at a cluster of these plants. 

The female of this species has a dark morph that is less common than the yellow version. I was lucky enough to spot this one when I was taking pictures.


Mark Willis said...

The tomato problem you describe sounds like Early Blight. Maybe next year you should try "Mountain Magic" or "Crimson Crush", both varieties with very good blight-resistance. Over here it is usually Late Blight that causes the real damage. I like the idea of pruning out some of the old foliage on the bean plants. I might try that myself.

Margaret said...

That's too bad about the tomatoes - at least you were able to harvest the remaining tomatoes. The past couple of years, I lost quite a few tomatoes to blight. But on the plus side, those pepper plants look great - just dripping with peppers!!

I've actually found some Joe Pye weed unexpectedly in one of our borders - amazing what you find when you give an overgrown area a good cleanup.

TechChik said...

Your tomatoes might also have septoria leaf spot. Nasty fungus, but it can be controlled.

I had it two years running, but then went one year without plants from the solanaceae family (making sure that included weeds like nightshade), and then mulched this year's tomato beds with shredded leaves. The drought here has stressed the plants, but no sign of the fungus.

As always, make sure you dispose of infected plants properly and don't compost them.

Phuong said...

That's terrible about your tomato plants, although the tomatoes you got from them look fantastic. I wonder if the mole disturbed the roots on your squash plant and that's why it's growing so slowly.

Our tomato and squash plants are dying off as well, it'll be a couple of weeks before I can get out and clear the beds though.

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