Tomato Blight – It’s My Garden I’ll Cry If I Want To

Garden

I grew tomatoes from seed this year (left side of photo and upper top of photo), nurtured them and watched them grow from seedlings into 7-8 foot tall strong and sturdy plants bearing lots of tomatoes, most of which still had to ripen. I look forward to tomatoes more than anything in the garden and my first taste of Caprese salad once again this summer was earth altering. There is nothing quite like the taste of your own home-grown tomatoes picked just that day. I made one batch of fresh salsa and reveled in the favors of fresh tomatoes, onions and cilantro. I made a couple of sandwiches with a thick slice of red ripe tomato from the garden.

THEN … without much of a warning my tomatoes came to an abrupt halt within a matter of days!! My beautiful, healthy tomato plants were dying a quick death!!!Late tomato blite Late tomato blight hit and hit hard. I’ve grown tomatoes for 10 years and have always been blessed by healthy vigorous plants. … Until this year. Wow … It is quite a shock to see such healthy plants die and whither a quick death.Late tomato blight As I looked at my plants for some silly reason an old song came into my head “It’s My Party” and the chorus goes “it’s my party, I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, you would cry too if it happened to you.”  Do you know the song I mean? Well, always trying to look at something positive I turned it into “it’s my garden and I’ll cry if I want to” and put a funny spin on it. That worked for all of a few moments. Sigh ….

I got to work and pulled my plants out, stuffing them into black garbage bags. I filled up 2 55 gallon bags with my beloved tomato plants and then sat down and looked at the empty earth. I must confess that sitting there, at that moment, I did feel tears falling down my cheeks. If you’re a gardener … You get it. 

On the positive side, I did end up with 4 grocery bags full of green tomatoes.  I plan to make some salsa verde for canning and I’m hoping the others will ripen and I can still make tomato sauce and red tomato salsa.

What I Learned:

I read a lot and learned way more than I ever wanted to know about late tomato blight!  I learned that late tomato blight is transmitted through the air and can travel miles and cross state lines.  It was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the 1800s.  I learned that the weather Ohio had this summer played a huge part in late tomato blight with a lot of rain and except for one week of exceptionally hot weather, for the most part it was a cooler summer.  I learned that late blight also affects the tomato itself and not just the stalk and the leaves.  I learned that once your plants have blight it is next to impossible to save them, blight spreads FAST!!  I garden organically so I am torn as to whether I would use preventative measures next year if we had the same kind of weather, but leaning to taking a chance and not using chemicals.  Following are some photos to help identify late tomato blight:

Late Blight on Tomatoes

Late blight first appearing on leaves

late blight on tomatoes

and progresses to the bottom photo quickly!Late blight on tomato plant

Affected tomatoes look like this:

Tomato affected with late blight

One basket of 4 containers of green tomatoes:

photo (5)

I also learned that I never want to experience late tomato blight again!

It was a very, very sad evening in the garden.  But … there is always next summer and I plan on growing tomatoes again … after all, you can’t have a garden without tomatoes and I’m optimistic that next summer will be blight free!

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Mixed Greens Salad with Grilled Chicken, Nasturtium Flowers and Ginger Soy Dressing. Are You a Flower Eater?

Mixed Greens Salad with Nasturtium Flowers-3

Are you a flower eater?  A what???  Do you just look at the lovely flowers on your plate or do you eat them?

I grew Nasturtiums this year in the garden for the sole purpose of adding beauty to my food, and also because I do eat edible flowers.  I have read that the entire Nasturtium is edible right down to the leaves and can be mixed in with a salad.  I have an overabundance of lettuce this year and  despite eating salads for dinner 3-4 times a week I cannot keep up with my lettuce.  This is one of my favorite salads.  Not only is it pretty to look at, but it tastes great!  My favorite ginger soy dressing brings it all home.  ENJOY!

Ginger-Sesame Dressing – Source:  Epicurious.com (slightly adapted)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Add 2 tablespoons of water. Process until smooth.

Mixed Green Salad with Nasturtium Flowers

Salad Ingredients:

  • Mixed greens
  • Arugula
  • Avocado
  • Red Pepper
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Crumbled blue cheese
  • Mushrooms
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Nasturtium

Mixed Greens Salad with Nasturtiums Flowers-2

If I Plant It, It Will Grow – Learning as I Grow

Square Foot Garden - Shade Dome

Square Foot Gardening

This is my second year of vegetable/square foot gardening and my garden continues to amaze me. As my garden grows, I continue to learn.

Shade Cover

LettuceThe latest addition to my garden is that space age dome shaped thing.  What in the world is it for??  I will be putting a shade screen cover over it so that I can enjoy lettuce all summer. Lettuce does not do as well in the heat of summer as it is quicker to bolt and will turn bitter tasting.  Without a shade for your lettuce you can kiss all those awesome fresh salads goodbye.  And how sad would that be?!

Living in the Present Moment

Green Snow PeasAnother lesson that can be found in the garden is learning to live in the present moment.  Everything is constantly changing in a garden and if you don’t take a moment to savor moments such as the soft white buds on a snow pea and the peas just beginning to take shape, it will pass you by.  A seasoned gardener knows to pay attention in the here and now, because a few hours later it will not be the same.  A garden is full of reminders that life is transient and you had better enjoy it now.

Growing Vertically

Growing Vertical

This year I’m trying something new in my square foot garden.  I’m growing summer squash vertically.  Yes, you heard correctly!  Not only does it save space in the garden, but it is healthier for the squash as they are not laying on the ground, more prone to disease.

Pictured in the lower right is Nasturtium.  The flowers (once they bloom) are edible as well as the leaves.  I thought how cool and pretty would that be to add edible flowers to my salads.

Some of the Vegetables I’m Growing

Purple Snap Peas

Purple snow peas.  Aren’t they pretty?

Snow Peas

These are the tomatoes I started from seed.  I’m so happy to see they are doing well!  It’s hard to believe all my vegetables started from a tiny seed.

Bush Cucumbers

Bush cucumbers.  The description said they are bush cucumbers and I was thinking great I won’t have to trellis them!  That picture was taken about a week ago and they are quickly getting big.  I’m not so sure they are truly “bush cucumbers”.

Purple Basil

Basil

Purple and Green Basil.  I love love love Basil.  Bring on the Pesto!!

Kale

I started my Kale inside from seed this year and it has absolutely flourished!  I tried Kale Chips for the first time this year and I have to agree with the majority … they are awesome!

I’m also growing beans, carrots, arugula, swiss chard and radish.

Learning to Live With Rabbits

This year I put up a tall fence around my beds to keep out the rabbits.  Wow … did I have a lot to learn!!  I got up one morning and went outside to look at the garden and to my utter shock and surprise there was a rabbit in the middle of the garden staring back at me!  The rabbit got through a 2 inch opening … if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it!!  And the rabbits in my yard are fat! The rabbit(s) had fun eating all of my Edamame (so sad … I planted these for the first time and they were doing great) “were” being the operative word.  So I waged war against the rabbits.  I put in chicken wire on the lower part all around the fence this past weekend.  Now I know for sure rabbits cannot get through chicken wire.  I came home on Monday and the first thing I saw when I pulled in the driveway was a rabbit staring me down and he/she didn’t look very happy.  Later that evening I discovered that why the rabbit looked so unhappy and why it had tried to dig under my fences.  I was sitting down by the garden and saw some activity in the garden and much to my surprise this is what I discovered – 5 babies.  The mother had made a nest in one of my tomato squares.Tiny Baby Bunny

They are only about 4 inches long and oh so cute.  Maybe I will have to learn to make peace with rabbits; at least little cute babies.

Happy Gardening

If I Plant it, it Will Grow – Cultivating Patience

Morning Gardens

As a society in general we spend our lives waiting, and in effect “wishing our lives away” …waiting for the weekend, waiting for vacation, waiting for our birthdays or holidays and the list goes on and on.  We don’t focus enough on the present moments in life and get impatient waiting for things to happen or events to occur.  I often find myself guilty of this and catch myself thinking “I can’t wait until my seeds come up, I can’t wait until my plants get bigger, I can’t wait until my tomatoes form, I can’t wait until I can pick and eat my tomatoes”.  Gardening is a great teacher and cultivator of patience.  It teaches us that in due time we will be rewarded by our patience when we take that first bite of a delicious sun ripened tomato or make a salad from lettuce just picked out of the garden.  Instead of spending our lives waiting and becoming impatient, why not appreciate and enjoy each moment, being still and observing all that is good in that very moment.

Black Krim Tomato

Tomato Seedlings

Growing tomatoes from seeds

to

seedlings

… to the garden.

Tomato plant

Growing Tomatoes From Seed For the First Time – What I learned:

I started a variety of heirloom tomatoes from seed for the first time this year.  It still amazes me that I took a tiny seed, planted it and look what I have now!  Nature is quite simply amazing!.

Besides cultivating patience, I have learned things that I will do differently next year.  I started my tomatoes too early (March 10th).

Our last frost date here in Ohio is May 21st.  Next year I plan to start my seeds inside the last week of March or the first week of April.  They grew so fast!!  I will also have a fan circulating around the tomato plants while they are growing under the lights.  This will encourage the tomatoes to develop thicker, stronger stems.  I will also be sure to keep the tomato plants 1-2 inches from the light.  I had tomato plants this year growing in different heights, and the tomatoes that were furthest away from the light grew leggy as they had to reach higher to grow to the light.  All is not lost if your tomato plants are too leggy!  I had quite a few like that this season and I planted them as deep as I could go up to the first set of leaves.

Soon … my patience will be rewarded and I will be enjoying tomatoes from my garden.  I am growing 20 tomato plants this season and plan to can salsa, sauce and enjoy many Caprese salads!

In addition to vegetables gardens I also enjoy several flower gardens throughout my yard:

One of my flower gardens

Iris

Lillies

my clematis

Happy Gardening and remember to enjoy the moments in life!

If I Plant It, It Will Grow: I’m Growing Baby Eggplants, not a baby!

Aren’t they beautiful?!  Being a first time gardener I get very excited by things like this!  I’ve never grown eggplants and my Dad never grew eggplants, so on the day I saw my first baby eggplants I was very excited! 

Funny Story:

I was so excited on the day I saw the baby eggplants that I sent a text message to my husband.   It said “I’m so excited I’m growing baby eggplants”.  He texted me back saying “I thought your message said you were so excited YOU were growing a baby.  I’m okay now that I picked myself off the floor”.  Ha ha ha  … make sure you read all the words of a text message!

All my eggplants are growing  a lot of babies and I’m searching for new eggplant recipes to make when they are fully grown.  I can’t wait!

Happy gardening!

Garden Update – Nourish Your Soul

On April 10th I posted “My First Vegetable Garden – If I Plant it, It Will Grow”.  What a difference 7 weeks has made in the growth of my vegetables.  My mantra “if I plant it, it will grow” is working.  Having a vegetable garden would definitely go on my list of “Why have I never done this before?!”.  I’m sure we all have those “lists“.  What are some of the things that would go on your list of “Why have I never done this before”?

I’m just happy that I have discovered the joys of vegetable gardening now!  Who would have thought that a little girl and grown woman that doesn’t like to get dirt all over her hands and under her nails would fall in love with vegetable gardening?!  It happened … each morning now I walk down to look at my vegetables and observe them and view the changes.  It is amazing to me that something that I planted from seed and nourished has grown and continues to grow.  It truly is nourishment for the soul.  I never “got it” until I actually started my own vegetable garden. I find immense pleasure in watching my vegetables grow and in watering and caring for them.  I had my first lettuce salad from the garden and an arugula and lettuce turkey sandwich – that was one of the best turkey sandwiches I’ve had!  I also discovered that arugula is one of the fastest growing vegetables from seed … it should be ready to harvest 30 days from planting.

Take a morning walk with me and see what’s growing in the gardens.

Peas, Arugula, Potatoes, Kale, Beans, Eggplant, Beets, Tomatoes, Sage, Lemon Basil, Lime Basil, Peppers, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Swiss chard

Radish, Carrots, Purple Basil

Isn’t this the most beautiful color of lettuce?!

Growing in a container I have Citrus Mint.

And … Chocolate Mint.  This smells heavenly!

I hope you enjoyed the walk through the vegetable garden.

May all your gardens grow well and flourish!