Garden Days, Early Mornings

August 8th, 2009

We’re in for a few very hot days this week, which is more like our typical August weather. And what better flowers to herald late summer than crepe myrtle? I transplanted this bush a couple of years ago and this is the first bloom after settling in to its new home. I have to admit that I almost ripped it out of the ground in early spring this year! The bark was exfoliating and it just appeared so dead. Go figure- the branch or two I tried were indeed dead, but not the bush itself. Thankfully I figured it out and we have beautiful flowers to enjoy.


The garden is finally coming along and perhaps the warming weather has helped. We’ve got just a few muskmelons growing… or canteloupe if you prefer!  The young boy loves canteloupe so this is his plant.  Think he needs to pull a few more weeds (me too!).  This one looks pretty good at about 6 inches, but easily has a month or more to go.


And we’re finally getting decent cucumbers. I think in my exuberance I planted them too close together and too abundantly. My guess is that the resulting mass of cucumber plants inhibited flower pollination- and the leaf cover was too dense. I noted the bees had been having a tough time getting to the flowers last month. With poor pollination and crowded conditions… we got puny and malformed cucumbers. So I thinned many of the plants and increased the moisture available- now they seem to be happier to produce a decent looking cucumber!


But the tomatoes are another issue. We’ve got some kind of tomato leaf wilt going on. All season the lower leaves on the plant eventually become spotted and yellow, and slowly die back- any ideas? The plants are producing tomatoes now, but the leaves keep dying up the vines.  This is an Orange Oxheart heirloom tomato- the leaves are dying back about 3 feet off the ground now, but there’s 15 large tomatoes growing on this one plant!


I thought perhaps it was the cool weather and rain early on this summer, but now it seems to be a fungus or virus of some kind- its even affecting the hybrid Champion and Big Boy plants.   They were all purchased as starts from the same company- maybe they came with the problem? Otherwise they’ve had plenty of fertilizer and water so I don’t know what’s going on.  We didn’t have the problem in previous years.  I think the other plants would be producing a lot more if they didn’t have the problem, but we’ll see how they do this month.

Otherwise the banana peppers and squash are doing pretty well, and the beans have just sprouted.  If I keep up with the weeds we’ll be doing pretty well.  We didn’t put mulch anwhere this year and are dealing with the result.   By the way- I was watching the bees yesterday and today, and it seems that we have a few raiders attacking them.  I watched, amazed, as a Bald-faced hornet flew up and grabbed a honeybee!  They wrestled to the ground, and then the hornet flew off with the bee in its grasp- poor thing.  Hornets and wasps eat other insects and these guys found a ready supply it seems. 

The days are growing shorter, but this morning was awesome. I got up before the sun and really enjoyed the sounds of the night as the dawn came.  A few frogs from the pond, crickets in the bushes and owls hooting through the forest.  Quiet and peaceful otherwise, as I watched the moon drift down toward the trees.  A satellite tracked quickly across the sky full of stars, a reminder of our presence in space.  Slowly the darkness gave way to light, and the birds and insects came alive.   A good cup of coffee with a cool morning breeze is a nice way to start the day.

6 Responses to “Garden Days, Early Mornings”

  1. i love to watch the moon set–especially when it’s full (it’s a little after that today), but when it’s full and if you have clear line of sights, you can watch it set as the sun rises! Looks like you have a nice garden, one that brings you joy and peace and that’s to be cherished.

  2. Beau, I hope this isn’t the case for you, but the tomato crops out here are falling victim to a fungus, which believe it or not is actually related to the one that caused the Irish potato famine. Here’s a link:


    Love the photo of your crepe myrtle. We have one exactly like it out back.

  3. Sage- Those are special days when you can see the moonset and sunrise too… we had nice weather last week for enjoying moonlight.
    Edelweiss- Thanks for the link. Wow, I hope that’s not what we have either! So far the tomatoes are still ripening…

  4. I’ve been enjoying sitting out in the mornings, even the warm ones. I’ll miss that this winter.


  5. You probably have some sort of blight problem and from what I have been reading, it has been bad this year with the cold wet spring and early summer. I’m not going to get a single tomato off my plants but that has more to do with the increased shade than the blight. But the last couple years I have gotten the blight about this time and it is as you described where the bottom leaves turn yellow and die off. It’s in the soil so I don’t know what you can do about it except rotate to a different area.

  6. R.- I was also just pondering about the cold days looming in our future…!
    Ed- The more I’ve read, your words ring true. I’ll probably have to move to a new spot next year. Doesn’t look like the Late Blight at least, but some type of fungus/virus like you described. I’ve got over 30 large tomatoes- still green- on the vines with leaves dying back. If I see any damage to the tomato I’m going to pick ’em and let ’em ripen on the counter!

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