a pox on my garden

Posted on Posted in designing, food and garden, projects

i’m pretty sure that most of my garden is dying. when i got back from austin last weekend i really noticed it. although david took great care of everything while i was gone, the tomatoes had some really bad-looking underskirts. and my star eggplant was looking ve-ery sickly (though full of fruit still).

this guy had full, green leaves and about 30 flowers just before i left. ruh-ro.

sigh, what could i do? i thought possibly they didn’t get enough water when i was gone, but as the week wore on, i could see it didn’t have anything to do with watering. not that i have a clue what is wrong—i just don’t know.

on saturday the tomatoes looked like this

(i’m embarrassed to show you—really sir, we have been taking the best care of them that we know how!). anyway. the new growth at the tops of the plants still looked hopeful

see the flowers? see the new little plump tomatoes?
by the time i came in from working saturday i was chalking the brown parts up to damage from the hailstorm two weeks back and thinking we were on the road to recovery.

then i went out there today to collect produce

it’s not looking good, is it? the eggplant seem to be ok—that is, the problem seems to have stopped at one (possibly two) plants. i’m wondering if insects have tracked some sort of disease through the place or what. (ironically though, we have not had any more problems with insects eating away at leaves. huh; they probably know exactly what’s good and what’s a lost cause.)

whatever it could be, i think i need to think about where i’m going to buy the rest of the tomatoes i’d like to put up for winter. oh well; better luck next year i guess.

on the other hand, the greens bed gets more successful with each downward-spiraling step of the rest of the garden.

i’m thrilled with the bright, shiny, juicy leaves in this little patch. the center part that looks empty actually has new chard coming up. the greens i planted to fill in the asparagus bed are charging along as well

i’m pretty glad that i finally had a good year for greens—we’ve been eating salads and and appreciating them quite a bit.

so much so that i even planted more lettuce and yes, some spinach. i have to keep trying with the spinach; i just can’t let it alone for some reason. my new strategy is that i put one of the boxes david built around back in a spot that gets morning sun and then shade the rest of the day. it’s warm but not baking-hot. i planted the summer perfection spinach in it, which did ok in the garden and didn’t bolt. we’ll see.

the squash are sitting on the fence for the moment—they looked bad a week or so back, but then this week they started growing again and look ok now, at least at one end of the plant

and i’m still picking them regularly (though we are never overrun with them the way some people are)

pretty, right? i love to look at them when they are tiny . . . kinda like staring at a newborn baby.

so that’s my tale of woe . . . some of the garden is doing well and some may be down the toilet; i just have to wait and see. i was at beckie’s house the other night and her garden looks so good that i was immediately seized with envy (and i didn’t have my camera—drat). not ONE brown leaf on any of her tomatoes. and she has tons of huge fruit growing.

the worst part? she claims she just did what i said i was doing. arrrggh.
next year i’m gonna do everything she does, so i can have her garden. (what i really wish is that i had her garden this year, but i’m afraid that ship has sailed . . .)

well, at least i can find consolation in my knitting.
oh yes, there is knitting—this isn’t a garden blog.

i’m actually making good progress on all the knitting i can’t show you; setting up an incentive for myself really helped over the last couple of days.

unfortunately, i can’t show you. ugh.
but i do have to start a couple of new projects very soon that are bloggable.

the first one up next is a shawl with yarn dyed by our lovely friend kim at the woolen rabbit. here’s the yarn

this is a new colorway in her whisper merino lace yarn. (i don’t think it’s listed on the site yet)

back in the winter, i did a whole bunch of swatching for some little nothings and one particular swatch i knew i wanted to save for a shawl project. remember this?

it’s really hard to sit on something that i’m very excited about—my instinct is to drop everything and start that thing right away with no thought to the season or my other commitments. but i knew i wanted to work with a dark colorway (autumn) and lightweight lace yarn, and i knew my schedule wouldn’t have room for a while. so using it for an autumn shawl was a good plan. and now the time is here—yay.

i’ve been planning and imagining this one for a long time and i’m finally down to doing swatches. it requires some re-engineering for a better orientation, but i’m working through it. my plan has mostly been that this stitch would be beautiful as the shoulder and back for a faroese shawl, with a smaller leaf pattern falling down from it. sometimes i can totally see it around the hem too (the whole thing completely reversed). but i think i’ll go for the main interest at the shoulder after all—just seeing the swatch again today makes me like that plan best.

i’m still finalizing what stitches and edgings to put with it, but i’m close. i’ll show you what i have as soon as i knit a composition i can make public.

and won’t it be pretty in that dark brown-and-plum yarn? mmm yummy fall colors. i’m hoping against hope to have this on the needles by the weekend. we’re leaving town friday to go visit my mom and a shawl that is still small enough to carry along would be great to bring.

and yet, with all that going on and the secret things, i still feel a little naked without a scarf on the needles. it amazes me how quickly i’ve become addicted to those little nothings . . . i never even liked knitting scarves that much, but i love doing these. they are so light and easy to take along, or to work on whenever i have a few minutes, or whenever i need a rest from something hard.

so, i cast my eye about and it fell on this

oh my. there’s abby’s yarn—i think this is just the one to work with next.
so i wound it up and started looking through my books

i’m searching for just the right stitch—something that shows off the softness of the yarn and its buttery color, but not too foo-foo. something really classy and wearable.

speaking of classy and wearable, debby finished her morning glory stole and we blocked it at her house the other night. she arrived at class yesterday with it in tow. now, let me just preface this by telling you that debby is one of those natural stole wearers (unlike me)—she just knows how to throw it on, drape it just so without even a mirror, and walk away with it, if you know what i mean.

(she can probably apply lipstick without looking too. i betcha). just try to get her to stop moving around while you take her picture in it, though

we all applauded—this one has been some time in the making. it’s knit with briar rose grandma’s blessing, in a colorway close to 9014 or 9011. she won the yarn in the lanterne rouge contest we had way back at the end of the moth race of 2006.

it’s just terrific debby—congratulations!

45 thoughts on “a pox on my garden

  1. Hi Anne,
    I’ve been waiting to see what would become of the “Falling Leaves” swatch. I LOVE the pattern and also love Kim’s yarns. This will be a delightful autumn shawl. I can’t wait!

  2. hi there!
    i’ve lurked, but i don’t think i’ve ever commented. it looks like you have septoria leaf spot on your ‘matoes. we had the same issue earlier in the summer…it gets the older leaves first, and then works it’s way up the plant. it’s a fungus, and there’s not much you can do about it once it takes hold. the weather this year has not been helpful, at least not in my neck of the woods (Vermont). sometimes the fruit has a hard time ripening well with this disease, but then again, it may be fine. you can probably find a lot of information if you google it. very important, though, that you do NOT compost the plants. the disease will overwinter in your compost pile and attack next year’s plants. we’re going to burn ours before mulching the garden for the winter.
    the morning glory stole is stunning…someday i will force myself to sit down and spin enough lace for it!

  3. Ooooh you wicked tease you! That gorgeous stitch and yarn together! I’m gonna end up buying still more yarn I won’t have time to knit anytime soon. Sigh.

    Lovely shawl, Debby.

    I have no garden advice I’m afraid. It’s been 3 years I think since we grew tomatoes.

  4. Hello,
    I love the new pattern for the fall shawl. Sorta leaves, but it also reminds me of a chile ristra in that deep red color!
    And here’s more diagnostics from afar. I think it’s Verticulum Wilt. It attacks tomatoes and eggplants and that family in general.
    Verticillium Wilt This name can be misleading, as sometimes the leaves will turn yellow, dry up and never appear to wilt. Verticillium wilt is caused by a soil-borne fungus and it can affect many different vegetables. The fungus can persist in the soil for many years, so crop rotation and selection of resistant varieties is crucial. Symptoms include: wilting during the hottest part of the day and recovering at night, yellowing and eventually browning between the leaf veins starting with the older, lower leaves and discoloration inside the stems. Verticillium Wilt inhibits the plants ability to take in water and nutrients and will eventually kill the plant. Verticillium wilt is more pronounced in cool weather. Management: Remove affected plants and choose resistant varieties.
    Important to pay attention about not planting tomatoes and eggplants in the same spot year after year. Sorry….

  5. Well, whatever the garden problem is, I have it, too. My tomatoes are pretty much history now, and both my squash plants perished. My eggplant is dying as we speak! I did have stinkbugs earlier in the season, but I haven’t seen any more lately, so I guess it’s not them! Good luck!

  6. I live in Akron, maybe 15 miles from you, all my tomatoes always have that browning of the leaves. Yes it is in the soil I think because no matter the variety of tomatoe, I still get the ugly brown leaves. Next year I’ll use garden soil in buckets and see what happens. My brother in Doylestown doesn’t even stake his tomatoes and they are the prettiest you’ll ever see. I tell him his dirt is black gold and he tells me No pure horsemanue!!!!

  7. Although I defer to those who diagnose fungus disease–particularly because of the wilting of the leaves–I’m also wondering whether you have fertilized enough. Since this is the first year that you’ve planted in the ground, instead of in raised beds, the plants may have used up the existing nutrients in the ground soil. Fertilizing now might help the plants overcome the disease.

    The change from raised beds may also explain why the disease has just now surfaced. Your garden photos from last year certainly show that you don’t suffer from “yellow thumb”. If it were me, I’d go back to the raised beds next year, even though the boxes have already been recycled, because those were wildly successful.

    The Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening (http://www.amazon.com/Readers-Digest-Illustrated-Guide-Gardening/dp/0762105127/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1219177905&sr=1-3) is a truly excellent book, which has great drawings (too bad that they’re not photos) of diseased leaves, fruit, etc., that make it possible for you to diagnose many more individual plant ills than other books (including the wonderful Sunset Western Garden Book). I see that an updated edition is now available, but the one that I can vouch for as a SUPERB all-purpose, all-gardening-questions-answered book is the original.

  8. I’m so sorry about your tomatoes! It’s hard to see them looking so pitiful, isn’t it? The new shawl motif is luscious, though, and I love those colors. How do you keep so many projects straight and moving forward all at once? I swear my head would explode 🙂

  9. I’m soooo sorry about your garden. I wish I could tell you what was wrong…but I’m not very “seasoned” LOL!!! I hope it snaps back into shape. I just loved your recipe about the tomatoes! I am going to try this…I’m waiting for your newest shawl to hit the net. I’m so ready to do this one…..Just lovely 🙂

  10. Well, shoot. I loved the garden pictures, even though teased you about your red tomatoes and my green ones! Maybe, something will turn it around. I hope.

    The new Little Nothing is going to be awesome, as well as the new orangey yarn.

    Can’t wait!

  11. I am sorry that your lovely and seemingly quite prolific garden is ailing. HOpe it turns around for you. On another note, however, I love your little nothings scarves. I am not much of one for scarves, but your series has definitely changed my mind. And I am just finishing a “Mystic Meadows” stole in Kim’s lace yarn – it is wonderful to knit, wonderful to wear, and a delight to the eyes. Looking forward to the new shawl combination – love that stitch pattern!

  12. oooohh, I just love that new stitch swatch, so unlinear, so rambling. Can’t wait to see it in a wrap or shawl or scarf.
    Here in Paris we seem to have similar weather to you, and our tomatoes didn’t do well this year either, although not for the same reasons. Very interesting to read about the fungus…

  13. Anne – Regarding the garden: It looks like Verticillum Wilt. So sorry. Our weather has not been much help. Sometimes we can keep ahead of this by making sure we’re rotating types of crops to different beds (which I think you have been careful to do) and also planting cultivars that are known to be resistant.
    How can this stuff be so easy for me and I still cannot get the hang of a P3tog tbl?

  14. I was just watching a gardening show about tomatoes on the weekend, and the gardener was talking about a little bug that destroys the roots of the tomato plants. You cant do anything apart from pulling out all the plants after they have finished fruiting, and not planting in them in the same place for about 1 year. Apparently the bug eats the roots so it destroys the plants. Perhaps pull one plant out and see how much damage is on the root of it.

  15. I am getting tomatoes, but the bottoms of almost everyone of them are rotting. Can’t figure it out. It’s not that they are getting too much water, its actually the opposite. Bad year for gardens I guess.

  16. I’m thinking something attacking the roots, maybe even grubs? Dig down a bit around the plants and see what you find. My big surprise this year was broccoli. Never grew it before and it did so well I am going to triple the planting next year. Plus it stays short enough that I can put some in the flower beds as well.

    Do you think it is too late to plant some kale and lettuce in NH??

  17. that’s too bad about your garden. i’d suggest the local saturday farmer’s market for tomatoes, but i know you’re not much of a morning person – maybe one of the others further north? (i think they’re in the afternoons…can’t remember, don’t pay much attention.)

    as for the knitting – why do you tempt us so? i’ve loved that leaf swatch since you first showed it and can’t wait to see it in a shawl…it’s almost enough to make me anxious for fall! not that i need any other lace patterns to drool over….

  18. Shannon, I live in VT too and, having looked up septoria leaf spot, I am sure ours have it. Ugh! What a drag! We moved into this place last year and tomatoes the former owners had planted did fine.

    To add insult to injury, pests are also really bad this year, and I have harvested a grand total of one tomato because my eggplants, squash, and tomatoes are being continually eaten by some animal as soon as they appear. They are getting past rabbit fencing so I think it is either squirrels or raccoons. UGH! I swear, next year I am going to electrify.

  19. I’m so sorry about your garden! That’s the strangest thing! I have no suggestions as to the cause as I buy all my produce but I hope it doesn’t keep getting worse.

    Can’t wait to see the leaf shawl – that swatch is very pretty! Do you ever sleep?? Or do you just dream about new patterns? 🙂

  20. The tomatoes are a mystery this year. Our plants are absolutely loaded with fruit (a first for us), but have barely any green leaves left. Yours are far greener.

  21. We get that same tomato thing some years. My husband always refers to it as “the blight,” as in, “The tomatoes are blighted.” I think he did tell me it is a fungus thing, though, which is what a couple other people already mentioned. I always just go out and pick as many as possible to salvage before they completely die off and the fruit is ruined. It is a major bummer. I was noticing the other day that our neighbor’s prolific tomato plot appears to have suddenly succumbed to the blight (and it does always seem to happen suddenly). Ours is currently lovely and green…leaves and tomatoes. :::sigh::: I swear, we are never going to have ripe tomatoes this year. And if we get blight without ever having a ripe tomato first, I think I really will cry!

  22. That is so sad about your tomatoes! Mine are ok, but I do have one that looks similar to your crop. Luckily mine are all container plants so I moved the infected one away from the others. Gardening is such a rollercoaster of emotion! Maybe the fruit will ripen anyway at the tops and you will get one more harvest?

  23. I had a problem like that some years ago, and I assumed it was verticillium wilt. You could check with your local cooperative extension to determine which varieties are least likely to have this problem and grow well in your area, and (as the other commenters have said) don’t plant tomatoes (eggplants or peppers) there for a while. I like lots of broccoli, which also can’t be planted in the same place too often, and so I rotate the two. Beans also seem to do fine in rows that had tomatoes the year before.

  24. You know I always comment about how beautiful
    your garden is. I’m sorry about your tomatoes and
    other veggies that might have gotten the same
    thing. You might want to take one of your
    tomatoes to a local nursery and ask them what
    happened. I know that you got a lot of advice
    but until a professsional tells you what’s wrong,
    you may never know. There may be a simple way
    to correct so that the next batch will be alright.
    Your shawls are beautiful as usual.

  25. I’m sorry about your garden. Those are dramatic photos – everything was looking so great!

    That swatch is really great. I’m looking forward to seeing the project progress.

  26. Hi Anne. I’ve emailed but never commented before. While I know this won’t make you feel any better, misery does love company as they say. We had a terrible year for flowers and tomatoes. We lost all our tomatoes but one plant, and that one only has 2 tomatoes on it. They aren’t getting bigger or ripening. To make matters worse,last year we tossed some seeds in a pot and had TONS of tomatoes. This year we followed the rules and tried to be real gardeners. Beginners luck I guess. NO better luck with our flowers. We got invested with spider mites and by the time we realized what was going on we’d lost nearly everything. The time, the money, the work and nothing to show for it but empty pots.

    So, hey, we understand how it feels. I do so love your garden photos and all the yummy food and the trays of drying tomatoes.

  27. HEY ANNE – looks like some garden buffs have given you good advice about your poor plants – I would take some leaf samples to your nearest garden centre for a diagnosis, especially with the possibility of the compost fungas affecting next years plants – I have always found the garden centres to be very helpful

    – poor you , what a thing to come home to , knowing how much you love your garden

    – have to use all that lovely fiber as a soother – thank goodneas for knitting

    yours in knitting —pat

  28. Sorry about your garden! If it’s any consolation I have tomatoes but I’m now on attempt 3? 4? Of lettuce and spinach, and I think it’s still too hot to work this time. I’m also on round 2 of squash since borers completely devasted my first try. Oh well, try, try again I guess…

  29. It’s such a shame about the garden, but I’m glad the knitting is going well, at least. Very excited to see what the cute red swatch evolves into! It’s one of my favorite of your incidental swatches.

  30. I really enjoy your blog. It’s nice to see that someone else in the world likes to take pictures of squash blossoms! I have had much better luck growing tomatoes since I started mulching them with a thick layer of grass clippings. This keeps pathogens in the soil from splashing up onto the leaves during rainstorms and watering.

  31. Ooog. Sorry about yer ‘maters. I don’t know what the problem is, but if it turns out to be something soil-borne, you might want to try mulching next year. Soil fungus ickies can spread to plants when the rain splashes dirt up onto the lower leaves, and it climbs up the plant from there. Mulch keeps the dirt where it should be–on the ground! Anyway, hope it goes away and gets better and you can’t harvest stuff fast enough for the rest of the summer.

  32. I love that stitch for the shawl. It’s one of my favorites, because it looks exactly like a ginger plant from my island home. *Sigh* getting nostalgic here . . .

  33. You just gotta stop with all the gorgeous yarns and beautiful patterns! I can’t keep up with all my “wanna-do’s”!!!

    As for the tomatoes, this has not been a good year for most everyone. Early in the season the lower leaves on my one plant (I have it in a pot on my apartment balcony) turned brown. Now I am getting such a small yield…23 blossoms and only one tomato to show for it. All in all, I’m only yielding 13 tomatoes off a plant which is supposed to produce from May through September. Do you suppose the climate changes have anything to do with it? Just wondering. At least we have our knitting to fall back on…….

  34. I feel your tomato pain. My plants look like that too, and they are container plants with brand new potting soil/compost in them. I have gotten a few small, ripe tomatoes, but the leaves are nasty-looking.

    My beets, however, look marvelous. And I’ve had alot of fun, so it was all-in-all worth doing.

  35. Um, sorry….my tomatoes have the same thing. Some years it’s worse than others, and this year it’s baaaaad!!! I have used fungicides from http://www.gardensalive.com (an organic garden supply company) and they help a lot, but I have not been diligent this year. Sigh.

    On another note, I’m anxiously waiting to see the next Little Nothings pattern, as I have a skein of cashmere laceweight bought as a souvenir of our trip to NYC and it’s looking like the same color as what you’re planning to use next…..FYI, bought this yarn specifically to make a Little Nothing scarf, just can’t seem to choose which one!

  36. *tap* *tap*

    When are we going to see the pattern page (and real modeling shots) of lacewing? I’m waiting all in a tizzy to buy it!

  37. The marigold stole looks beautiful. Debby did an amazing job, gorgeous.
    I am looking forward to seeing what you do with the red swatch. It looks really interesting. And Abby’s gold wool, what a colour, terrific.
    From the other comments it seems like you are not alone in your gardening decay. The weather has been so unusual this year, at least I hope it’s unusual and does not happen again soon, that maybe this is a once off summer – it was summer right!? It could turn around and give you a lovely long and bountiful autumn.

  38. I am so sorry about your poor garden 🙁 I’m with everyone else though, tomatoes have not been good this year at all! It makes me sad, because I just love ’em.
    Like you said, thankfully you can console yourself some with all your knitting 🙂

  39. Yep, it’s definitely a fungus of some sort and there’s really not much you can do about it once it takes hold. Tomatoes and eggplants are of the same plant family, and the disease of one will often spread to the other. I came home to find my squashes and pumpkins have powdery mildew and they’re on their way out. Gah. Nothing I could have done about it, but I hated to see that drastic change.

  40. oh my, your poor garden. I think that all the rain has taken its toll across the country – ’cause a lot of mine looks like that too. fungus for sure. I agree, clip those puppies at the end of season, and burn.

    I can’t wait to see what Kim’s yarn is going to look like in that autumn leafy pattern – wow. it’ll be fun to watch her dyed colors emerge.

    Have a grand time in Albany – my folks are still at Keuka, and they tell me that the weather is just about perfect there right now.

  41. I suspect grubs. They are the bane of my existence. When you pull up the plants and find that their roots have been nibbled, it’s likely grubs. I tried to get away with planting the tomatoes in the same spot for the third year in a row and now I’m paying for it. Next year, raised beds!

    There are more toxic things you can use but I’ve also heard that diatomaceous earth and beneficial nematodes can help.

    My condolences!

Comments are closed.