My soundtrack consists of buzzing cicadas, the low whir, then toy-like squeaks, of zooming hummingbirds as they head for the nearby feeder, horn-like toots of the white breasted nuthatch - it is utterly delightful. A family of goldfinch just flew in to spend time at the feeder. The sky is deep blue and dotted with puffy white cumulus clouds. It is dead still - the angle of the sun and quality of the air advertises the coming fall season. What better time to start to describe my garden results of 2017.
A few days ago I removed just about all of the Dwarf tomatoes growing in 5 gallon grow bags. Aside from 2 of them, they were still alive, but stretched beyond the 4 foot mark, leaning here and there, and any future production would be spotty and too late for optimum quality. It was encouraging to see them still doing so well, as early blight and septoria were a constant enemy throughout the season.
The vacancies allowed me to rearrange things a bit. I had been ignoring now-crowded and leaning eggplants and peppers. I relocated them all to give them more space, fixed the staking and provided a good dose of fertilizer. The eggplants were slow and steady all season; the peppers were severely impacted by bacterial spot from the very beginning, yet they are all still alive and somehow looking better; I am hoping for more of each. I've now made 6 pints of pepper jelly, which will make our fall, winter and spring lunch time bagels and cream cheese unbeatable.
(pictures of before and after can be found at the end of this blog)
I left the indeterminate tomatoes where they were, but following a really successful summer for most of them, it is only a matter of time before they are sent to horticultural heaven. They worked hard, yielded plenty of absolutely delicious fruits, and, with 20 quarts canned and a few bags roasted sauce in the freezer, all is well.
My next series of blogs will take each crop - and in the case of tomatoes, each little project - piece by piece so that I can tie up the story of the 2017 garden. What I can say is that, for the most part, the weather cooperated. We didn't have an extended drought, and I was available to handle the few stretches of extreme heat and humidity. Blossom end rot was an issue for a few of the large container indeterminate varieties, but didn't really touch any of the dwarfs. Aside from a very few hornworms and fruitworms and early spring aphids, the plants were essentially pest free.
Tomato spotted wilt hit a few varieties early on, which seems par for the course. Septoria and Early blight were their typical pesty selves, but removal of blemished foliage and better plant spacing meant that it never became unmanageable. A few of my straw bales seemed to be embedded with persistent herbicides, which led to premature death of both of my Sun Golds, as well as Egg Yolk. Downy Mildew really hit the basil hard, and bacterial spot caused grief for most of my peppers. The deer got me bad just one night.
The fun is in the details, so I will begin digging into specific results in the next blog.
Below is a carousel of pictures from my driveway rearrangement work.