Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Next Year’s Garden

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor


Tags: garden, tomato, blight, red pepper, container,

Jean TellerOh, my poor tomato plant. When I posted “My Garden” at the end of August the tomato plant was doing great. Just a few days later, it was an entirely different matter. The leaves near the base of the plant started turning yellow. So I consulted with our resident expert (GRIT Editor Hank Will), and he thought aphids.

I was still searching for diatomaceous earth when, a few days later, the entire plant was yellow! Another consult resulted in the diagnosis of tomato blight. Ouch!

With a heavy heart, I trimmed all the leaves off the plant, leaving the remaining tomatoes to, hopefully, ripen. No new tomatoes, although there were about 25 or so pieces of fruit in various sizes. I’ve harvested almost all of those, and my kitchen counter contains a pile of red. Unfortunately, a few tomatoes had to be tossed, with strange holes. And since I’m squeamish about that sort of thing, into the trash they went.

My sad tomato plant.This weekend, the rest of the plant will follow, as will the soil. And I plan to rearrange the garage so all my gardening paraphernalia will fit. A problem I never thought I’d have, by the way.

Now armed with a homemade pesticide/fungicide, I have high hopes that this particular problem will not repeat next year.

And yes, I’m already planning for next year. What can I say? I’m hooked.

The basil and the oregano didn’t do too well together, so I’ll leave the oregano in the current pot (letting it winter in the garage) while I plant a new basil plant in a new pot next spring.

New blooms on the red pepper plant.The red peppers are still going strong – new blossoms have appeared, and if all goes as I hope, I’ll pull the plant inside when Jack Frost comes calling and have fresh peppers in a month or two. And a second pot of peppers will undoubtedly be part of the container garden come spring. Those red peppers are delicious, if I do say so myself.

The tomato plant will have a larger pot – and I do believe I’ll add a second plant, probably one that ripens a bit earlier than Brandywine – and I’ll add the wire cage from the beginning, training and pruning each plant as the season progresses. As you can see from the photo, my re-tying efforts were a bit erratic, so I don’t want a repeat of that particular problem. The homemade pesticide will also be applied from the get-go.

Guess I’ve become a real gardener. The roller coaster set of emotions were mine from the beginning – the thrill of new growth and a great harvest, the sadness of a dying plant, the anticipation of next year – and I’ve begun to look at gardening equipment in a whole new light. Too bad I can’t quite get myself to be thrilled about working in the dirt when it comes to my front garden. Maybe next year?

The remaining tomatoes from this year's crop.

jean teller
9/14/2009 10:11:10 AM

LOL, Cindy. I was just thinking of where to store the oregano. As I'm attempting to rearrange my garage (only in my head, so far), I'm coming up blank as to where to put the rectangle pot that the oregano is in. I'm thinking of placing it under the faucet that's hidden in the garage - I have no idea why, but there it is - and it was with the thought that I could splash water on the oregano every week or two over the winter. Thanks for the advice! Now and back when I started this project - yep, I'm hooked, but I'm not sure if dirt under my fingernails is the wave of the future. :) The tomatoes I harvested have tasted good, but they didn't get as large as early harvests indicated. Sigh - next year!


cindy murphy
9/11/2009 7:45:39 PM

Hi, Jean. We had a rotten year for tomatoes here - it was too cool and wet. We tore our tomato plants out about two weeks ago; not many large tomatoes to harvest this year - they never got ripe before the vines wilted. Tons of tiny cherry tomatoes though, and we used them in everything - even on sandwiches, (when you yearn for a garden ripe tomato on a BLT, the cherries, despite their small size, satisfy just fine). So your hooked, eh, Jean? HA! I knew you would be - I could tell from your first couple of gardening posts. Next thing you know, you'll actually be digging in your front garden, and wear that dirt under your finger nails with pride! Ok, maybe not. But you have definitely arrived. Welcome to the world of gardening, with all its ups and downs. Psst - can I make just a small suggestion about the oregano? If you're going to keep it in a pot all winter in your garage, (which should be unheated - oregano needs to go dormant), don't forget to water - yes, even if it's freezing outside. Or stick it in the ground - any old place will do - and dig it out and repot in spring.


jean teller
9/11/2009 11:05:11 AM

Vickie and Dave, thanks so much for the encouragement. As a newbie, I enjoy hearing from experienced gardeners. Dave, wow, what a great cherub plant. Hmmm, maybe I'll have to think about one of those! My Brandywine took off at the beginning, too - hopefully, I'll have better luck with the tying/containing part of the process next year. :) Love the quote! Vickie, I'm hoping those peppers do well. They sure are delicious! And I'm still amazed that I seem to have a green (albeit, light green) thumb! Next year!


nebraska dave
9/11/2009 8:37:30 AM

Jean, sorry to hear about your tomatoes. Here in Nebraska folks are having the same issues with the blight. The experts are saying it’s because of the cool summer and too much rain. I was fortunate enough to escape the tomato condition and so far have harvested about 85 fruits from 3 tomato plants. My container grown cherub tomato on the front patio grew to be 9 foot tall and had lots of marble size clusters that I munched while sipping coffee during the afternoons and evenings. I just plopped it into a pot and set it on the patio for fun to see what would happen. Next thing I know I had to buy a 4 foot support pole. Then a month later I built an eight foot support cage. I was absolutely amazed that the plant grew up out of the cage and was seriously looking at the house roof. This truly has been an amazing year as my last gardening experience 20 years ago was death by black thumb. This year has been a return to gardening from a dormancy of about 20 years. I have just a little 4 by 8 foot plot with 3 tomatoes and 3 green pepper plants. The tomatoes grew so well they smothered the peppers. I guess next year I’ll have to give the peppers their own spot away from the tomatoes. I had problems with keeping my tomatoes tied up too. The blowing wind here in Nebraska causes the tomato plants to fall down. Once their down it’s virtually impossible to stand them back up. They kind of fell out of their designated garden spot and invaded the yard. Next year I’ll support them a little better. Jean, you have indeed become a gardener as gardeners are always thinking about how they can improve their gardens the next year. When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there is always the garden. - Unknown


vickie
9/10/2009 10:13:49 PM

Jean, So sorry you ran in to all those troubles but it looks as though you still were able to reap a wonderful harvest. Funny how you get thinking about next year and all the great things you can do to improve your garden. Hope your peppers come out great. vickie