The latest gardening update

By Bill Taylor

It seems to me that I owe curious readers an update on this year’s gardening efforts – especially those I have undertaken in response to last year’s losing struggle against tomato blight and those midnight munchers that did a number on my bean patch and my New Guinea Impatiens.

Starting with the tomatoes, as I previously reported I purchased two varieties of “blight resistance” tomato plants – note that these are blight “resistant” in that they are less susceptible to blight but they are not blight “proof.” I prepared a different bed from the one I used last year by covering it with landscape fabric to reduce the probability of blight spores splashing up from the ground onto the plants when it rains. I cut small slits in the fabric to insert the plants. I also purchased an anti-blight spray to help ward off the blight fungus. Remember these sprays are preventative, not curative, that is, they cannot “heal” an infected part of a plant. That leaf or stem must be removed and destroyed.

Okay, so what’s the status. Well, despite my best efforts, blight is showing up – yellowing leaves with brown spots. I have followed all the recommended anti-blight procedures such as changing beds, caging and tying the plants to keep them off the ground, and avoiding getting water on the leaves when I irrigate them. I have carefully removed any infected areas and disposed of them – and repeatedly applied anti-blight spray. Not a complete loss thus far, but the outlook isn’t good. I’ll keep up the regimen and hope for the best.

However, all is not necessarily lost on the tomato scene. I also bought two “old reliable” varieties of tomatoes which I planted in patio containers. I filled these pots with freshly purchased soil and put them some distance from the rest of my vegetable garden beds.. In tending them I have followed the anti-blight routine: spraying, caging, tying, and watering. In general, they are doing well although I have found a few blighted leaves. One bright spot – we have already enjoyed our first cherry tomatoes of the season from one of these “old reliables.”

Okay, moving on. Last year I lost my yellow and green bean crop to midnight munchers who neatly nipped all the bean’s leaves down to the bare stems and for dessert did an encore on a goodly portion of my New Guinea Impatiens. Over the winter I figured out these voracious varmints were rabbits and to counter the menace this year decided to thwart them with a granular “critter be gone” substance spread around the bean patch. For good measure I planted Marigolds and onions in and around the beans because I understood these also act as a deterrent to rabbits.

Well, my bean patch this year came up very well. The plants grew nicely with a strong stems, leaves, and a showing of blossoms that promised a good crop. All was going well until we had lotsa rain recently. Following a day-long stint of steady rain, I figured I should renew the varmint repellant because it may have been washed away. Unfortunately, I was too late. Yep, the midnight munchers had struck again the night before – leaving mostly stems and bean blossoms while carefully avoiding the Marigolds and onions. The proverbial day late and a dollar short, right?. Well, the remaining plants and parts thereof appear pretty healthy with some new leaves appearing and the bean blossoms looking good. And so I have reapplied the repellant and installed a low barrier around the plot. Don’t know if this will help resuscitate my bean patch, but we’ll see what happens.

I had also planted quite a few Marigolds amidst and around my New Guinea Impatiens in hope they might deter a repeat performance by those ravenous rabbits. As of now the ploy appears to be working – no sign of even a nibble thus far and the color contrast between the Marigolds and Impatiens is quite striking.

My cucumbers have blossoms so I have to keep watch for appearance of the cukes and harvest them to forestall those nighttime nibblers who sometimes take a few bites. I don’t have to be concerned about that with my sweet banana peppers that are now appearing. They have a natural anti-nibbler defense.

Well, there you have it. A quick overview of my gardening efforts this year that I have shared because a number of readers have apparently encountered similar problems and want to know how I have fared. You know, one thing is apparent in all this, “backyard” gardening is not for quitters. At least that’s how it seems to me.

By Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]

Bill Taylor, a Greene County Daily columnist and area resident, may be contacted at [email protected]