Friday, July 2, 2010

pretty pretty

We're harvesting!  Sungold tomatoes are on, and wow.  do we have gobs of basil.  Remember how dismayed I was initially about our basil?  All for naught.  Or actually, the concern was probably warranted; it did after all prompt action, and the basil we have now is the direct result of that action (yay! for fish emulsion).  We've been eating it fresh on tomatoes, in salads, and last night on pizza.  Nothing says summer like fresh basil on locally grown maters.  The okra is also coming on, although we don't get a lot at one time... one thing that surprised me is how quickly the fruits grow -- didn't take long for these pods to be nearly overgrown:

Yeah, they were a little tough, but it was fun eating them anyway.  Growing and eating okra.  We are in deep!

As much as basiled tomatoes scream summer, so do pests and disease.  We've been pretty lucky, but the war is on now.  Normally, I don't mind the insects.  As long as we can all agree to share equitably, then I'm happy to let you go, but when you are aggressive and stinging, and ruining my harvest, I must say, I'm with J., who is merciless with the herbivores.  The fire ants!  they apparently love okra.  They chew little holes in the pods, and then set up shop.  What's most dispiriting about these insects is that they are so hard to get rid of -- if we had a mound in our garden, that would be one thing (we've heard that instant grits works to suffocate the mound or something), but it's not clear where these guys are even coming from.  I guess that'll be our first order of work this weekend -- look for their home and set about destroying it.

Our second garden challenge this week:  we lost one of our two scallop squash plants.  The entire plant! and not to squash vine borer either.   Fortunately, the loss came AFTER we harvested these beauties!

Lovely, aren't they?  So the best I can figure is that the plant was infected with some kind of wilt, maybe bacterial wilt, which is spread by the spotted cucumber beetle, whom we have definitely seen on the plant before.  We went day before yesterday and the plant was wilting.  I thought it was water stressed, and hoped it would perk up readily with a drink.  Last night though, it had nearly completely collapsed.  I looked for evidence of a vine borer but the stem was solid, so convinced this was disease, I decided to pull it up.  The big tap root came out very easily and was lacking root hairs -- not sure if this is normal or not for a squash plant (some plants don't have a lot of root hairs -- carrots for instance), but it seems quite abnormal to me -- root hairs are key in collecting water and nutrients from the soil... without those, well, it just doesn't work as well.  With a little research, I found that I should have checked for a gummy ooze from the root; apparently bacterial wilt causes the water-conducting tissue to secrete a sticky white goo, which impedes water uptake.  (Wish I had looked for the ooze!)  I also learned though that wilts take some time to strike and that they often do when the soil stays moist and air temperatures and humidity are high. Our soil holds water pretty well, thanks to the clay content and our mulching system.  Couple that with a recent extended period of hot weather and serious humidity, and yes, disease is a likely culprit.  End result is that we're left to depend on our lone squash plant that I saved last week from a borer.  Lesson learned:  be more careful with the water, destroy the spotted cucumber beetle, and maybe look for a more disease resistant scallop squash variety for next year. 

Garden on!

No comments:

Post a Comment