Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Never Ending Learning Curve

I love gardening. I love getting out there and working in the dirt, and I particularly love the pay off in fresh produce the garden provides. Gardening is therapeutic. It is also challenging, like a puzzle that changes a little every year. Just when I think I have a particular aspect manstered, the weather, the pests, or something else throw me a curve ball, and I get to learn something new.

Last year we tried Florida Weave to trellis our tomatoes for the first time. It worked wonderfully, and I thought I finally had the "trellis tomatoes" part of the puzzle figured out. This year we set it up, and I have dutifully been adding string as the tomatoes grew. It was all going so well.

Then this morning I found this:

It might be a little hard to see from the photo, but two of my once beautifully trellised tomato plants just escaped and plopped themselves right down on the ground. Upon closer inspection, I found the problem. The bottom rows of trellis string had broken.

Last year we used whatever we could find for string. Most of it was baler twine, and I used all we had last year. We aren't baling hay this year, so I didn't want to buy so much. I bought a smaller roll of thinner twine. Both were natural materials, but last year's was heavy. I'm sure a contributing factor this year was all the rain. The string stayed wet, and just rotted away.

So this morning I spent a couple hours going through tomato rows. This was the only spot where I found plants actually lying on the ground, but there were many spots where a line of string was broken. I did my best to give them a little more support with some fresh string. Next year, back to the heavy twine.

And while inspecting and re-trellising, I found something new in the tomatoes, Margined Blister Beetles.

I've never seen those before. I had to and google it. The bad news is they will eat the tomatoes, and their blood will make your skin blister. The good news is they only stick around for a couple weeks, and can be killed dropping in soapy water. They can join the Japanese, and bean beetles that I've been dealing with in the same way.

So garden, you are throwing me new challenges this year. I'm up to it! I will figure out your ever changing puzzle. Now, I expect my reward! Produce all ready. My pressure canner is getting lonely!

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