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Poor Mr. Stripey

Cherry tomatoes – check. We have plenty of those things. Cherokee Purple tomatoes – check. We haven’t had many, but they have been delicious. Love the color, too.  My lunch today was a juicy tomato sandwich featuring my latest Cherokee Purple.

Sliced Cherokee Purple

Sliced Cherokee Purple

But then there are my two Mr. Stripey plants. Every tomato so far has been a mess. I posted a picture of one here that was full of holes around the shoulders. Little did I know that would be my best of harvest so far. The others I’ve picked have had some kind of rot – yuk! I’m not sure exactly what kind of disease this is, does anyone else know?  I’m guessing it’s fungal. Here are the clues I can recognize.

2013-07-27 13.54.58 2013-07-27 13.56.07 Mr. Stripey #2 with rotMr. Stripey tomato with rot

The Mr. Stripey area is poorly mulched compared to the other tomato areas.

The Mr. Stripey plants were planted later than the other tomato plants and, I confess, were indifferently staked. The tomatoes have been closer to the soil, and the soil was not mulched well enough to keep splatter off.

Finally, we have had more rain than I can remember in an Alabama summer. It’s pouring right now, in fact, and I have only had to water the garden once since May.

I have the Mr. Stripeys better staked now, and I hope the next ones will be healthier. I must say, the parts that weren’t rotted were gorgeous and yummy!

2013-07-27 14.00.24 Mr. Stripey tomato sliced

In other garden news, the winter squash and the Cherokee Tears beans have sprouted, and the bell peppers look like they might give the hyper-productive cherry tomatoes a run for their money if the rain keeps up. The plants are loaded! I also harvested my little crop of shallots grown from slips. I know May planting is ridiculously late (or early) for the onion family but I enjoyed them. They are drying on the dining room table now.

I also have a community garden plot that I checked this afternoon. The soil is poor and I didn’t amend it nearly enough, so most of my plantings are sad indeed. The exceptions are my zinnias and my carrots. I have the most beautiful carrot tops in the universe!  I planted my seed about May 15. After sixty days I had nice tops but no swelling of the root. Pulled up a plant for a 75-day test today and the roots are starting to swell. Isn’t it cute?

Carrot 75 days after seeding

Carrot

After snapping this picture I washed it off and ate it. Pardon my city girl thrill, but it tasted just like a carrot!

Soon I need to start picking limas so they aren’t too huge and mealy. Updates to come!

Gotcha!

Leaf-footed bug

Leaf-footed bug

My first post included a picture of a mystery bug, which I finally identified (with the help of a work friend) as a leaf-footed bug, a relative of the stink bug. When I read up on the devil, I learned that they are voracious eaters of veggies. With that, I went on the hunt. After three days I spotted him on my sunflowers, but when I went to get my terminator of choice I turned and almost stepped on my garden helper, Dusty.

Dusty, my miniature schnauzer

Dusty, my garden helper

After the yelp (mine) and scrambling around, the leaf-footed bug got the hint and disappeared.

Today I noticed him on the lavender, gazing longingly at my eggplants. This time I was able to get him! I’m staying as organic as possible, and didn’t want to spray anything toxic. My solution was a big water glass with a top. I crept up and got him in the water. With those long legs he was quite the swimmer, but eventually he succumbed, and no stink.  (If there are any insect lovers here I will admit it hurt me a bit to watch him struggle, but I managed.) I also drowned some regular stinkbugs that were procreating on my tomatoes.

Now, to steal the hopeful description of a cockroach from the immortal Erma Bombeck, I have to hope that my leaf-footeded bug was a single male, traveling alone. I’ll be watching.

July 21 harvest of eggplant, bell pepper, tomato and bowl of cherry tomatoes

July 21 Harvest

Mr. Stripey tomato with multiple bug holes

Mr. Stripey: victim

Here is today’s harvest. I get this many cherry tomatoes every day. The eggplant variety is Easter Egg, the tomato my first Mr. Stripey. Looks gorgeous in the group picture but in the interest of honesty  I must confess that Mr. Stripey was a stink bug victim.

No disclaimer needed for the bell pepper! It’s my first harvested. Over the last three days there has been a bell pepper explosion with small peppers everywhere. I have green, red and yellow bell plants. May they all do this well!

Went out early this morning and planted a hill of winter squash seeds and some Cherokee Tears beans. More updates if and when they do anything.

 

Stuff in Pots

I’m excited about this year’s new vegetable plot, but I’m enjoying my containers, too.  I’m giving trash can potatoes a try, which I found out about here on the blog It’s All Gouda. Isn’t that a cute name? ANYWAY, I’ve got two trash cans of potatoes flanking my backyard vegetable plot. Unfortunately I read too late the part that potatoes like cool weather, and the russet potatoes have not been willing to play along. However, the Norlander red potatoes have done wonderfully. I’ve added soil twice. Soon I’ll get the courage to dig around and see if I can find some new potatoes.

 Trash Can Norlander Potatoes

Trash Can Norlander Potatoes

I’ve got three more pots going with Beauregard sweet potatoes. They are in the front yard masquerading as ornamentals to get the maximum sunlight. I stuck a watermelon in one of the pots too. Last year I tried watermelon in the back yard but something ate them – I’m guessing raccoons.

The other pots are full of herbs.  Kentucky Derby mint, chocolate mint, oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme, and boxwood basil live at the end of the driveway, on the other side of the fence from helpful watering by Dusty the miniature schnauzer. The basil and the chocolate mint are gifts from my coworker Jaime. There’s something special about plants from friends, don’t you think?

Saturday in the Garden

Saturday I spent several hours working in the garden. I never get as much done as I hope! I started this garden in 2012  with a perennial section and this year added vegetables. Now I realize that it takes a year, minimum, to really see what you have with perennials. The phlox

Phlox 7/13/13

Phlox 7/13/13

are coming into full bloom, smelling really great and attracting bees. In front of the phlox are two Easter egg eggplants – have harvested two already. There was a fascinating bug on one leaf – not sure what it was, but my husband dubbed it the “your eggplant is doomed bug.” Guess we’ll see! Please let me know if you recognize this critter.

Your Eggplant Is Doomed bug?

Your Eggplant Is Doomed bug?

Two weeks ago I would have been bragging on my vigorous squash plants, but they have since succumbed to squash vine borers. We did have two good meals of yellow squash  before they died. Research tells me that the borers only have one life cycle per year so I am going to replant. I’ve ordered some jumbo pink banana winter squash seed and will head back to the store to see if any healthy summer squash seedlings remain.

Summer so far has been damp and cooler than normal, but some sun and heat have finally arrived and the bell peppers are starting to set. One plant got an earlier start, but the other seven are just started to hold their peppers. No such trouble on the sweet banana peppers, though! We have harvested once already and they keep on coming.

We have all the cherry tomatoes we can manage! This year we are growing three Supersweet 100 cherry tomatoes, and two are massive and prolific. The cages that looked so satisfactory in May are overwhelmed. We have also harvested six or seven Cherokee purple tomatoes and have many Mr. Stripey’s growing. I love the deep color of the Cherokee purples!

Cherokee Purples tomatoes cut in quarters

Cherokee Purple tomatoes

There are also green beans, limas, new potatoes, sweet potatoes and one little watermelon plant  – more on those later.