Monday, June 25, 2012

State of the Garden Report

Harvests of the early summer producers are still ongoing, but the biggest late-summer producers, the tomato plants, might not do as well this year as I would prefer. Another plant needed to be removed, but not for early blight this time; it was one of the wilt-sisters, fusarium and verticillium.

There wasn't any remarkable yellowing of leaves yesterday morning, but the "wilt" part was fairly pronounced in spite of the 0.7" of rain we had on Friday, so I went ahead and pulled the plant from the garden. When I sliced through the stem, the "browning" of the vascular system was readily apparent. Based on the previous history of disease in my yard, I'm calling this one verticillium wilt.

The affected plant is a Cherokee Purple. It had quite a few nice, big tomatoes on it, and I noticed this morning that the largest couple of these - still in the basket on the table in the kitchen - are starting to ripen. They won't be as good as tomatoes that ripened on the plant, but they will be good enough!

Elsewhere in the garden, the Mexican bean beetles are making a feast out of my bush beans. This adult is doing a good job of looking like a ladybug, but she didn't fool me! She has been dispatched to "that great bean-field in the sky."

She was followed by several of her spiky yellow larva, including this one.

The last of the onions were finally dry enough to weigh, for adding to the June harvest total. This particular patch was wildly uneven in size. However, along with the onions already harvested, we should be able to not buy onions for awhile.
I've replanted the space from which these onions were pulled with trombocino squash, which, if all goes well, will start giving us some squash around the end of August. Since the zucchini are about to keel over from their current infestation with squash vine borers, we will be more than ready to welcome some new squash to the table.

We're getting plenty of cucumbers, the popcorn is coming along nicely, the melons are forming under their vines, the pepper plants are overloaded with peppers, the next patch of bush beans is beginning to flower, and there soon will be an eggplant or two ready to eat. Regardless of how the saga of my remaining tomato plants turns out, it's looking like a good summer in the garden.


  1. sniff, sniff.... the dreaded green tomato harvest... I'm next I think, my plants are pretty far gone I just haven't had the courage to go out there in 100 degree heat and deal with them!

  2. Erin, This coming weekend I'll probably be making a batch of salsa verde with those tomatoes from the sick plants. There is at least one more plant out in the yard that will need to be pulled early because of disease, but I am still (unreasonably?) optimistic that I'll be able to harvest some vine-ripened tomatoes in the next few weeks. I will be hoping for the best for both of our yards!

    The good news is that, last weekend when my husband blanched for the freezer more green beans from our yard and some corn from a friend, he came back upstairs and told me that I will probably be getting that new freezer I've been talking about needing for several years. Our current chest freezer, which is 24 years old and the size of a dishwashing machine, is full.

  3. Hi! I have been silently reading your blog since I started a little garden in our yard in Atlanta. Unfortunately, I have some spiky yellow guys on my cucumber plants that looks like what you have in the picture. Could they be the larvae of the squash beetle? I keep picking them from the plant but I guess they are faster than me. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    Thanks for the nice posts!

  4. Squash beetles do have spiky yellow larvae - every part of the life cycle is pretty similar to that of the Mexican bean beetle. Purdue has a publication about squash beetles and their damage called "Squash beetle on cucurbits" that has plenty of nice pictures and some helpful text (try this URL: ).

    Since I haven't ever been able to eradicate the Mexican bean beetles, and I've never had a problem with squash beetles, I might be the wrong person to ask for help, but in my essentially organic garden I usually rely on handpicking, for most pests, not just of adults/larvae/pupae, but also of eggs, scouting around some on nearby vegetation.

    It's important to remove infested plants completely from the garden, sometimes sending them to the landfill instead of the compost, to reduce next year's problem. For the bean beetles, I also plant an early crop that manages to give a nice harvest before the beetles get there, and I start another round of beans later in the summer. You might need (like me) to try a varied set of strategies for the squash beetles. Hope some of that is helpful!


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