Avoidance

When I came back from vacation I found my house looking better than I had left it.  My house-sitting friend had done an unbelievably remarkable job of taking care of my home. The inside and outside were cleaner than I had ever seen them, the whole garden was weeded, tomato branches all tied up on their trellises, yard mowed perfectly, and on and on and on…

The fungus, however, was not so kind.  The same blight (probably septoria leaf spot) that usually begins killing my lower branches in June and eventually kills the whole tomato plant in early October was RAMPANT.  My 24 tomatoes, in 4 varieties, were knocking loudly on death’s door…in JUNE!

The bigger, faster growing plants have tried to compensate for their foliage loss by growing more leaves at the top…and not setting any fruit.  The smaller, more compact plants had already set a bunch of green tomatoes, but didn’t have the strength in them to grow new leaves and branches fast enough to keep ahead of the rising blight.

I broke my rule and sprayed everything with a non-organic fungus spray.  I also ordered an organic copper based solution that has since arrived in the mail.  The spray won’t heal damage that had already begun, but it promises to help slow the upward spread of the disease.

All plants in the main garden under 3 feet tall are either dead already or will be by mid-month. I can only hope and pray that the taller plants will actually begin setting fruit at some point, but I have become depressed about the whole situation. Tomatoes were my real reason for gardening. Last year I bet I had over 100 pounds. This year I feel I’ll be lucky to eventually get 10 pounds of tomatoes, and not close enough together in time that I can make any canned products.

I can see that in my near future I’ll be leaving the farmer’s market with box upon box of expensive local tomatoes, but I’ll just have to hope I can find ones that I trust to be any better for my family than store-bought.

This year, it seems, my garden will produce no ketchup, no pizza sauce, no pasta sauce, no salsa…the list goes on. And now I don’t even feel the motivation to go out there. I know it needs to be fertilized with compost. I know it needs to be weeded again. I know my cucumbers could use a trellis at this point. I know it could use a nice deep watering. I’m so frustrated at this point that I am to the point of avoidance. Logically I know that staying in my air conditioned house is not going to teach me to deal with this minor disaster and recover from it, but I’m a spoiled kid of modern society who knows that there is always another source for anything my heart desires. Aren’t we lucky to live in an age where we can entertain our tantrums and still eat all winter? What are we going to do when those store shelves sit empty?

P.S. It doesn’t seem to be “just me.” I went to the farmer’s market about a week ago hoping to buy the last few potted tomato starts that might still be available at this late date. There were several beefsteak plants there, probably 14 inches tall in their 3 inch pots. Every one already had the same leaf spots on their lower branches as I have in my garden. It was no use trying with them.

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8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by thelinencat on July 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Oh I’m so sorry to read this post, we get the same problem here (Early Blight) and like you it’s come early this year, at the moment it’s on the potatoes but has started to move over to the toms and I’m also a bit panicky about not getting much fruit. I hope you get your gardening mojo back soon 🙂

    Reply

  2. Posted by Leslie on July 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Cheer up! We will weed and water tonight. If nothing else we will have delicious melons and squashes come fall:) We can check the local asparagus/strawberry/tomato/pumpkin place for tomatoes this weekend!!!!

    Reply

  3. Posted by kateohkatie on July 6, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Bummer – I’m sorry! I’d offer you a share of my crop, but so far my crop consists of…two tomatoes. 😛 hehe

    Reply

  4. Hello,

    I read something on another blog where you won first place in a local Farmer’s Market foodfest as an Amateur Chef. Would you mind emailing me with more details on that? I’m a Market Manager and am looking for neat ways to celebrate National Farmers Market Week coming up.

    Thank you!
    msred5@yahoo.com

    Reply

  5. Posted by Roseanne on July 6, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I’ve been waiting for something new here from you. Too bad. But I know how you feel. Bill”s SFG looks pretty puny as well. Too wet and cold in early spring to plant before the end of May. And too much rain ( about 20″ in April and May)and not enough sun. And now it’s blazing hot with more rain. Our neighbor is really impressed, but we’re not. But then he’s doing nothing but warring on Japanese beetles. He can’t figure out why they are eating his garden and not ours. I think it’s because he hung a trap for them, and everything I’ve read says that all traps do is attract more beetles. I don’t think we’ll tell him. LOL. Anyway, our crabbe tree has scab. It had it last year, too, *thanks to all the never ending rain) but we didn’t know what it was, so didn’t treat it. We lost all our leaves by this time last year. We’ve lost plenty already this year, and will lose them all by August, I’m betting. Anyway, I’ve learned that it does no good to treat it after June when the fruits are set. Do you think it worth our while to spray yet this year? then again in the spring?

    Reply

    • I’m sorry to hear that Roseanne. I am also convinced that the last thing the average person needs, especially in-town, is a Japanese beetle pheromone trap. I can imagine cases where they would be helpful, but in small spaces they are just going to bring in every beetle from the whole neighborhood. Our new apple tree also has a fungus this year, but it is growing some new leaves. I really want it to get a good year of photosynthesis and establish roots.

      Every yard is different, and I don’t know for sure that spraying is doing any good, but I figure it couldn’t really hurt. My sprays are intended to slow the progression of the fungus. I don’t know if it kills part of it or just literally slows down it’s life cycle, I’m not sure. But I think it can’t hurt.

      Reply

  6. Posted by Roseanne on July 8, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    Tell me what you think would be a good choice to use on my tree, I really hate to spray anything that’s going to harm the creatures outside. (We got back from errands tonight, and I found a dead male cardinal laying by the back steps. Poor thing. It broke my heart.). But we planted this tree when we bought this house. It’s finally mature and blocks the west sun into the downstairs so we can see to use the computer, and so we can eat in the dining room. I really hate to lose it.

    Reply

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