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Archive for August, 2009

Victory!

Finally!  I have had a successful harvest in this difficult year.

On Monday, I left work a little early to head over to the farm and dig my potato plants.  They had been hit relatively hard by blight, so I was expecting a pretty sorry harvest, but I pulled up what was the most satisfiying, exciting haul I’ve ever had as a gardener. 

This was the first time that I’ve ever grown potatoes, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but when I stuck my fork into the ground and gave it a heave, I literally whooped with joy as several big, perfect fingerling potatoes came rolling out of the loose dirt.  When I scrabbled around a little bit more, I pulled out a good many more, several overflowing handfulls- and that from only one plant!  I was expecting to dig them all, but I ended up digging up less than half because I had so many that I couldn’t carry them all home!   If anyone was watching me, they probably would have though I lost my mind.  There I was on my hands and knees gleefully digging through the soil grinning like and idiot the whole time.  It was great!  (And thank goodness my garden is on an isolated hillside with no neighbors!)

I grew two varieties- Russian Bananna and French Fingerling.  The Russian Banannas were all very large potatoes (for fingerlings) and entirely mature.  I got between 5 and 6 per plant.  The French Fingerlings varied wildly by size.  Many of them were quite large, but there were still a lot of little baby potatoes on the plants as well.  I wonder if I had left the foliage up longer if they would have grown more?  Or is it just normal to have lots of little ones?

I don’t have  a scale, but I estimate that I probably dug between 15 and 17 Lbs. of potatoes out of the garden, and I’m hoping as many more are still waiting to be dug up.  I can’t believe how wonderful these were to grow.  And honestly, I planted them a little late and shallow and was pretty remiss about hilling.  I guess those first couple months of loads of water and cool weather was good for them?  Who knows…but I will always grow potatoes again.  What a satisfying harvest!

(Oh yes, and they are delicious!)

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Ooof!

Wow…another post about a pest, of sorts.  Though this, like blight, is actually another plant disease.

Here at my house my roommates and I have a small, messy garden.  I say messy because we crammed a lot of plants into a small space and they are doing aggressively well.  Certainly not a terrible problem to have, but everyday I have to go out and yell at the cucumbers to stop climbing up the tomato plants and for the Zucchini to stop shading the eggplants with its massive leaves.

The two squash plants (aforementioned Zucchini of an unnamed variety and Zephyr summer squash) are two of the most impressive, productive squash plants I’ve ever seen.  They are keeping the three of us- though one doesn’t cook, so I guess the two of us- in enough squash to choke a hog.  I love it!

But just moments ago I went outside to pick some and I noticed that the plants are absolutely covered with powdery mildew!  It came out of nowhere!  I didn’t notice it yesterday (hell, even this morning in my ritual glimpse I didn’t see anything!) so it’s come on quick and dirty.  Yikes!

I’ve never dealt with this before.  Will it spread to the other plants that are around it?  The tomatoes are literally touching the squash plants- are they in danger of catching it too?  I’m not sure what to do?  Anyone ever had a problem with powdery mildew in the past?

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Blighted

Well, it’s happened.  My potatoes have been struck all to hell by late blight.

I’ve been watching them with consternation for a few weeks now…hoping hoping hoping that those little brown spots I was seeing weren’t blight.  Silly me.  I should have chopped them all down right then.

I went out of town last weekend, so almost a week went by without a stop to the garden.  On Thursday I sped by after work (note to self:  keep some better shoes in your car…traipsing up a hill that is a foot deep in thick weeds in your heels is a terrible, terrible idea) and saw that my potatoes were wrecked.  Oddly enough, it seemed to be creeping up the patch.  I have two long rows, and the vines at one end were rotted and blackened while the ones at the other ends were still green and strong, just showing lots of spots. I figured it would hit them all at once…guess not.

I’ve read a couple of sources online that say if you cut down your vines, not leaving any green, and let the potatoes sit for at least two weeks in the ground, you can dig up the tubers and it will lessen the chance that the blight actually gets on the potatoes. So today I went by the farm and cut them all down, leaving only little nubs sticking up so I know where the plants were growing.  I stuffed all the vines in a old feed bag and gave it to the farm managers.  They are going to see that they get incinerated.

Shockingly, none of the tomatoes at the farm seem to have even a touch of it (they don’t grow any potatoes, so that isn’t an issue).  Almost every farm around us is reporting that they are getting hit hard- many of them have lost their entire crops.  But today we picked a few handfuls of early cherry and plum tomatoes off of perfectly green, healthy plants.  My little plot is on an isolated hillside with a forest between it and any other plants of the nightshade family.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I could personally care less about the whole tomato crop being wiped out, but it would break the hearts of most of the people who belong to the CSA, so I’ll hope for the best.

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