Monday, June 15, 2009


If I could grow just one thing in my garden, it would be tomatoes: heavy, deep-red Early Girls, with Sungolds a close second.

Most of my Early Girls are thriving, threatening to grow taller than I.

My Sweet 100s, a couple Sungolds, and even one of my bush Early Girls, on the other hand, are beginning to look like this:

Stefani suggested it might be late blight; I think it's early blight, but the fact is it's blight. My tomatoes are blighted. They've been smote.

What I've been able to learn about early blight so far suggests it's a root issue; helpful phrases like "sterilize your soil" come up. Great.

The edamame are also struggling, though I think it's something else.

I believe a tiny pest caused these to look like brown-spotted lace, and I know slugs did the rest. I'm just waiting to see whether we'll get a small crop before they become compost.

Not all is gloom and doom, though. The broccoli, kale, potatoes, corn, and squash are thriving; the wax beans are large and lovely, sweet and tender enough to eat fresh off the bush.

And the happiest garden treat of all popped up all on its surprising own:

An honest to goodness morel, one of the most prized edibles out there, growing among the corn. We've been regaled with (Internet) tales from our fellow local mushroom hunters, lucky folks returning from the mountains with sacks full of giant morels. We've considered making the 3-hour drive ourselves, and now looky there!

The garden, she taketh away and she giveth.


ericmcc said...

WOW!!! I can't beleive you got a morel. Did you "plant" for them, or was this just by chance? Also I am noticing that you seem to be mulching with hay. Do you like this? We are having over 100 degree weather here in TX and now going into water restrictions. I am not a fan of wood mulch as I think it takes too long to break down. Do you use a certain type of hay for this?

Michelle said...

Awww, your poor maters :(

I'm surprised the Sungolds and Sweet 100's are afflicted. One might think that newer varieties wouldn't be blight prone. But, I remember from my master gardener days a BIG book about tomato diseases - it made me wonder why we bother, at least until I tasted that first homegrown tomato.

Lovely morel, I had some pop up in a gravel path once - crazy things!

Jeff Vandiver said...

Have you tried spraying some copper fungicide on the tomatoes? It's supposed to help....Never heard of a morel, but it must be tasty!

Annie*s Granny said...

Awww, sorry about the blight. I fuss about my tomatoes daily, afraid they will all become diseased and give me nothing! I know I tell everyone else to quit worrying and just enjoy, but it's difficult not to be edgy about your favorite crop.

Denise said...

Hey ericmcc, yeah, how about that! We didn't do anything to get the morels (yep, plural: we've found about 5 in there so far); David Arora says they're common in gardens, but until now not mine! It's so funny to have worked to inoculate logs to grow mushrooms and to just have these pop up.

And yes, we mulch with hay---nothing special, just what we can get from the local stable. Have you looked into rain catchment in addition to mulching?

Michelle, wow, morels in your garden path! Part of me wonders how many edible mushrooms I've stomped on in my life just because I didn't recognize them. Did you eat yours?

Engineeredgarden: I haven't tried anything yet---all suggestions welcome! Do you recommend copper based on its general fungal-retardant properties or do you have specific experience with early/late blight?

Annie's Granny: fussing---that's exactly what I'm doing. I read something about one of the blights being the cause of the Irish potato famine. As ominous as that sounds, happily we're in danger only of having to pay for tomatoes.

But your advice is sound: all of this fussing is from a place of privilege. We're a thousand times blessed, regardless.

kitsapFG said...

Been there and done that with tomato blights and it is soo depressing to watch your tomatoes (that represent LOTS of your time and attention) just kind of wither and molder away. Arrgh. Living in a cool damp environment - means we are particularly vulnerable to fungus and blights and so I "fuss" and worry about the tomatoes far more than is healthy for a soul.

beth said...

I love garden art. You garden love goods. Try spraying some copper fungicide on the tomatoes. It will surely help you.

Mr. H. said...

Morels in the garden, how neat is that. I'm sure you know not to pull them up by the roots but to cut them off at the base if you harvest them. That will increase the chances of them returning... they can have quite a vast and delicate root system.

They only time I had an issue with blight on my tomatoes was when I once grew them all very close together. I now provide them with enough space for the air to flow freely around them and sometimes trim the lowest branches to help keep them away from the soil.

Your beans look great, mine are a good month away. Slugs and leaf miners are having a hay day with our greens this year, our Swiss chard looks terrible.



lynn'sgarden said...

Tomatoes are always a struggle for me to grow so I usually just do cherry tomatoes and Sweet Million is my favorite! Sorry yours are having trouble :( Is that a wild morel? I'd be kind of nervous eating

Heather said...

Dang the luck~ I know how awful it feels to have something go wrong after so much time is invested in the garden. I have an issue with the beans this year. It always has to be something. I hope you get some harvest before they become compost!

Val said...

What an absolutely fascinating blog. I especially loved reading about the bees as my father was a beekeeper for over fifty years. Keep it up! Val

Just Jenn said...

Compost tea to help with the blight?

Jackie said...

Sorry to hear about your tomatoes getting blight. You asked about blight in my garden (CCT trials) and I can say that I have a some spotted leaves (the oldest and lowest). But I've been lucky enough not to be too strongly affected at this point. Been cutting off the affected leaves...not sure if this helps.

Ktrion said...

We found morels in our path too! For a while I thought that maybe, like us, you had gotten playground chips from the Davis recycling center, but I came back to double-check and you said they grew in hay.

The garden giveth indeed!