Wednesday, November 24, 2010

More Garden Partying

Well, there’s good news and bad news about the garden.

Good news:

I have green beans!

My nasturtiums are flowering!

I also have developing tomatoes and green peppers! And…I bought a bacterial killer for my tomatoes that targets those nasty caterpillars I complained about last time, and it seems to have worked. I’ll need to keep an eye on it, in case a new batch has hatched, but for now we’re good.

Also, this is not my part of the garden, but the bushes the owner has planted are flowering, and they smell lovely. Anyone know what kind of bushes these are? The big flowers start out white, then turn yellow before dying. The small flowers just bloom and then die.

Bad news:

My tomato bushes look like this:

In particular, the large heirloom tomato is suffering. Even worse, I did some googling, and I think they have fusarium wilt, which comes from the soil and is not curable. I spoke with my coworker, who told me that all the potting soil here comes with lots of nematodes, which are the cause of the wilt.

Professor google also informed me that heirloom tomatoes are especially susceptible to the wilt, which explains why the big tomato looks even worse than the cherry tomatoes. At this point, I am desperately hoping that at least a few tomatoes redden up before the bushes die altogether. This is a huge disappointment to me, as it is the first year in ten (10!) that I have even attempted to grow my own tomatoes. Hopefully I get a few before I have to start over from scratch. At least it’s still technically spring here, so I can start over with fresh soil and fresh plants if necessary.

Update:  When I came home last night, I found that my heirloom tomatoes had finally bitten the dust.  We had some relatively strong winds yesterday and the plant was just not strong enough to withstand the breeze.   At least 2 branches with tomatoes are broken.  Of course, nothing had ripened, so I plan to have fried green tomatoes for dinner tonight.  Then, I'll dump the plant and dirt, sterilize the pot, and try, try again, this time with a disease-resistant variety.  So goes gardening, I guess.


craftosaurus said...

Well, at least you really like fried green tomatoes, right?

Anonymous said...

We love fried green tomatoes! What I don't get is why do they cost more in the store than the ripe ones?

Not sure, but believe your bush is a gardenia. The large white flowers look like gardenia blooms Gardenia blooms turn yellow before dropping off. They smell really sweet.


Anonymous said...

In the USA South wilt is a big issue with tomatoes. I remember the year that wilt got all of your G'daddies plants (when I was a child). It was a revelation to him. It's cause is the nematodes (sp?). When we lived in OH, wilt wasn't a concern and we grew these lovely, huge, Beefstake tomatoes. When we moved to VA we had to buy wilt resistant varieties and Beefstake wasn't one of them. So we went to Better Boy, which is good but not as preferred as Beefstake (by us). I think they may now have new hybride Beefstakes that are wilt resistant but I haven't tried them. Wilt is very frustrating because it kills the plant when it looks like it is going great.

-FW (D)

sa.ross said...

Hey L,
I second the thought that the bush is a gardenia, and the small white one? I'm going to guess azaelas, although I can't see them very well. They both like acid soils and the gardenia's flower is very delicate. Will bruise if you touch it. As far as the tomatoes go, I have 2 thoughts to offer you. You could "bake" the soil in the oven, thereby sterilizing it before growing anything in it, or look into buying beneficial nematodes to counter the bad ones. If they sell them down there that is. And possibly a bigger pot for the tomatoes. I'm sure you'll find a solution. Sa

sa.ross said...

Hey L,
out of curiosity, did you make a cut in the main stem? There should be brown streaks in it if its F. wilt.

Anonymous said...

believe Sa may be right - it might be an azalea. Could also be a camelia or a minature variety of gardenia. Look at the google images for all of these and match up as best you can. The gardenia is the only one with a sweet smell as far as I know.


L said...

Craftosaurus, I do love fried green tomatoes! They were the silver lining to this dying tomato business.

I think Mom is right, the bushes are gardenias. The ones with the smaller flowers I think are some sort of hybrid variety. They smell the same and the bushes look the same, it's just that the flowers are smaller and more numerous. I really like the gardenias.

Regarding the tomatoes, thanks for all the help! I threw out the soil in the pot, but it was pretty intertwined with roots, so I think that's all right. I might bake my potting soil before planting a new variety in it. A disease resistant variety.

The tomato stem didn't exactly have a brown streak, but it was all dried out and cracked, which is what broke the stems. Even though it wasn't exactly brown, it still kind of looked like the google images of tomato stems with fusarium wilt.

I had no idea that tomatoes were so hard to grow!

Anonymous said...

The comments reminded me that I knew of desperate gardeners in VA growning Beefsteaks in large pots on their deck. The soil has to be purchased potting soil, etc. which is free from the nematodes. The other problem with tomatoes is keeping the critters out of them when they turn ripe. You want to wait in order to vine ripen them as much as possible - but the critters are "watching" also and will get them just when you are ready to pick! And we haven't talked about the blossom rot which also frequently occurs as they are at the final stage of ripening! I guess they are a lot of trouble when I think about it, but no garden plant has a bigger payoff. The grocery store "green wraps" are not even close. But I understand why commercial people pick them so green - it eliminates some of the problems noted above. One advantage of living in FL is that we can purchase pretty good local tomatoes at fruit stands during the season (but only duing the season). Don't buy from the fruit stands out of season bec they will be green wraps. Still, the good locals are not as good as from one's back yard.


Anonymous said...

and further more--

w.r.t. how much better some fresh foods taste (when they are truely fresh), the local fruit in FL is so much better it is hard to believe it. But again, one has to be careful in purchasing from the farmers' market that the fruit is truely local (and only purchase it in season). And don't even attempt to purchase fruit not grown here, such as apples. Being from AK, you know about the seafood so I won't go there.


sa.ross said...

well if it looks like a gardenia and smells like a gardenia- I guess it's a gardenia! lol Ive never seen the small ones before, but i'm sure there are many varieties of it. I absolutely LOVE that flower! Pretty and smells lovely! Are you thinking about growing any? (I beleive you said you saw them elsewhere?)

sa.ross said...

P.S. My favorite tomato to grow is the Roma. I thought they were easier and they are meatier, so better in salsa's I think and for canning.

L said...

Well, my #1 criteria for new tomatoes is wilt resistant. If they have any romas that are wilt resistant, I will give them a shot. Dad, I did purchase the potting soil, but my coworker told me that here, even purchased potting soil has nematodes in it.

The gardenias are in my garden/courtyard, but they weren't planted by me. I didn't make that clear in the post. So I get the enjoyment of having them, without the expense!