Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cupped, Twisty, Weird Tomato Leaves: Herbicide Damage

I have seen, in the past couple of weeks, several examples of tomato and pepper plants that show signs of damage from weed killers. The leaves are variously cupped, twisty, fanned, excessively pointy, and otherwise just plain weird. The gardeners whose plants these are have not been using weed killer in their gardens, nor have they applied any manures (another source of herbicides), but they have used weed killers (or employed a lawn care company that used them) on their lawns.

K-State has a great little "Problem" page about accidental herbicide damage, and this sentence is especially eye-opening: "Some broadleaf herbicides such as 2,4-D are volatile, especially during hot weather, and may drift across the yard or even adjacent yards in concentrations sufficient to cause injury."

Twisty, weird tomato leaves with unusual vein pattern.
This means that even carefully applied lawn herbicides can cause unintended damage in the vegetable garden.

Those of us who have "freedom lawns" (random-weed-and-turf-grass mixes) rather than monoculture lawns typically don't suffer from herbicide damage, because we never use any, but there are plenty of gardeners in urban/suburban areas who live in neighborhoods that demand botanical uniformity in lawns. Vegetable gardeners in these neighborhoods may be stuck "between a rock and a hard place."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Beans, Berries, and Cukes

Sunday's harvest.
Daily harvests for the past several days haven't been wildly varied, but it's pretty hard to complain when what's in the basket is so very delicious.

Saturday it was beans, berries and cukes. Sunday it was beans, berries and cukes. Yesterday it was beans, berries, and cukes, and I am guessing that the pattern will hold for several more days.

On Sunday, I did pull the onions and lay them out on the porch to dry, along with most of the garlic. The potatoes are nearly ready, but not quite yet. Leaves are turning yellow and falling over, but I like to see a higher percentage of them looking absolutely done before digging up the spuds.
140 pots of basil seedlings.

Monday's harvest.
The cucumbers in the basket are Chicago Picklers and Beit Alpha. Most of the berries are Heritage, with some Wineberries and an unknown variety of strawberry mixed in. The green beans are Provider, and the Wax Beans are a new-to-me variety that I will have to look up again (the name has slipped my mind).

It's been several years since I've planted wax beans, and I had forgotten how great it is to actually be able to find the beans in all the foliage. The bright yellow beans almost glow against the background of green leaves.

The other photo is of a whole lot of basil seedlings. My workplace will be celebrating Horticulture week, July 7-11, and part of the celebration will include giving away basil seedlings to people who stop by the office that week. If anyone is worried about the crowded condition of the little plants - it may help to know that I plan to thin them to ~2 seedlings per pot sometime in the next few days.

Hope the harvests in other gardens are going well!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How the Garden Grows...

Multiplying onions approaching harvest time.
In spite of running a bit behind, the garden is doing well enough. The onion family bed will be ready to harvest soon. The necks of the multiplying onions are getting soft, making the leaves fall over. The leaves of the garlic and shallots are beginning to show a little more brown, too, which is a good sign at this point in the season.

We are bringing in a few strawberries most days, and I have been grazing on raspberries, which means I haven't been bringing them in to weigh. I don't think they would add much to the yearly total, but I just am not ever going to know; it's too hard to see them and NOT eat them right away!

The green beans have been making it to the kitchen, which makes me pretty happy. Many other local gardeners have been begun to harvest zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, and peppers. We've been getting those out at the farm where we volunteer on the weekends, but in my own yard those are not yet ready. I was late getting them planted. When it got right down to priorities, planting at the farm, which feeds lots of people, was a more valuable use of time.
Still getting strawberries!
Popcorn crop making progress.
Tomatoes looking good.

Another use of my time in the past week or so was writing a blog post about growing peanuts in the home garden for the National Peanut Board. I am happy to be able to say that the post is up! It is called (not too surprisingly) "How to grow peanuts in your own garden."

You can see my seedling peanuts in the nearly-bare ground in front of my popcorn. The two rows have come up, and the little plants look great!

I really should have thinned the Asiatic lilies...
Elsewhere in the garden, tomatoes, peppers, and tomatillos are making their fruits, the potato foliage is turning yellow and falling over (a signal that harvest time is approaching!), the sweet potatoes finally are planted (hooray!), little okra seedlings are popping up, squash plants of various kinds are making some big leaves, and flowers of several types are adding to the chaos of luxuriant growth.

Hope all the other gardens out there are growing well!

Monday, June 2, 2014

What I Didn't Know About Tomatillos

One of three tomatillo plants in this year's garden.    PHOTO/Amy W.
A local gardener mentioned a past problem with a tomatillo plant that had developed very little fruit in spite of an abundance of flowers. She had learned later that ... surprise!... in order to actually get tomatillos, it helps to be growing more than one plant in the garden.

Until I spoke with her, the possibility of needing more than one plant hadn't occurred to me, since tomatillos are tomato-family plants with perfect flowers, but it turns out that tomatillo flowers are self-infertile.

They need to be cross-pollinated, and best fruit-set will occur when that pollen comes from an entirely different individual plant.

Most of the University-produced information that I found did not mention this potential problem; they all just said to grow tomatillos like tomatoes. For all the small-garden people who grow just one tomato plant, and likewise decide to plant just one tomatillo, well, there will be some disappointed gardeners. The tomatoes will set fruit just fine, but there will be no source of fruit for the best salsa verde; green tomatoes will have to suffice (they work, but tomatillas work better).

Luckily, for those who are looking for more complete information about growing tomatillos, University of California's Sonoma County Master Gardeners Tomatillo page includes the essential bit about needing more than one plant for best fruit-set.

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