Thursday, October 7, 2010

Reflecting on garden efforts

Warm weather lingers but plants are responding to signals that days are shortening. Summer squash plants that used to produce a fruit a day are down to one or two per week - this in spite of the record twenty-five days above 80 degrees F in September. Decisions will have to be made soon about removing declining plants and chopping them to compost.

It’s a good time to assess what worked and what didn’t this growing season. What varieties did well and which ones performed poorly? I am pleased with this yellow zucchini variety, ‘Soleil’ (photo left). It produced well and fruit had a good flavor in addition to a very bright yellow skin.

What about diseases and insects? The container tomato pictured maintained pale leaf color throughout the season. Leaves were small and stiffly held. Fruit were extremely slow to develop, ripen and lacked flavor. All these symptoms point to a virus that sapped the energy from the plant leaving it weakened. The lesson here is to avoid planting transplants that look off-color from the start or replace them early in the season as soon as unusual growth is noticed.

Some problems are hard to prevent. Psyllids were widespread this year on potatoes and tomatoes. Not all gardens were infested with these insects but enough were that it can be characterized as a severe psyllid year. Fortunately psyllids don’t overwinter here (except indoors) so next year insects might not find their way from southern areas resulting in no or little infestation. Both potatoes (affected foliage yellow in photo) and tomatoes (photo right with purple veins in leaves) are typically affected. See earlier psyllid article for more.

What did you learn from your vegetable garden this year?

Photo credit: 'Soleil' zucchini, Virus disease on tomato, Psyllid yellows on potato, Purple veins of tomato with psyllids - all Carl Wilson

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