Fungus Amongus….

Late tomato blight damage.

A humongus fungus among us….

Last summer was an incredibly wet year for us. By May it was declared that we had received enough rain to pull us out of the drought status that had afflicted our region for 2+ years. One of the worst gardening years on record for me! All of that moisture, combined with steady lower than average temperatures created the perfect environment for all sorts of evil garden demons… er, well, maybe not evil…

One of the most damaging plagues last year was the late tomato blight. It’s really common here in the cool damp mountains, and farmers are always hanging around the feed store complaining about it. It’s a highly contagious fungus that spreads through the air and can completely destroy tomato crops.

However, last summer, the fungus was unsually widespread and fierce, devastating crops all over the eastern half of the United States. Upon tracking the source of the outbreak, researchers discovered that a large plant company who supplies vegetable starts to large chain stores like Wal-Mart and Lowe’s could have been partially responsible for the massive outbreak.

All of it makes me think hard about agri-business and globalization and giant corporations… And really, I guess what I think is that gardening is way more important than any sort of political soapbox or anti-corporate fear mongering. If being able to buy a tomato plant at the hardware store will get people out in their backyards and eating healthy home grown food, then that’s good.

But, for myself, I’ll be starting all my own from seed this year. And making sure I have enough to give to all my neighbors who are upwind from me!

Click this link to go to the NY Times article about it:

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Oh Summer….

The grassy path through the backyard.

Somehow, looking at this picture, I’m totally stunned. I just cant believe that summer will come again and everything will once more be this green! We’ve had record snowfalls this year, and winter has been bitterly cold, wet, dark, and terrible. When the ground isnt frozen, there is six inches of slushy ice wtaer to wade through in order to traverse this path… I think the only footwear I’ve worn in months has been my insulated rubber boots.

But, despite all that, February is one of the biggest farm-work months around here. The 400 tomato seeds have just begun to sprout (indoors of course!), closely followed by eggplants and peppers. Now is the time to dig new garden beds, to weed the old ones, to burn brush and last years garden plants (since there was so much late tomato blight in the area as well as an explosion of harlequin bugs I’m not going to compost it), to plant early brassicas and peas, hack down the terrible holly bush again, mulch pathways, acquire oak logs for shiitake cultivation, do trail maintenance, and await the arrival of seed orders.

Even though the world seems dead right now and there doesnt seem to be any greenery in sight, if you look closely… the veronicas are blooming, the daffodils are up, crocus buds are about to pop, new raspberry canes are green just under the soil’s surface, baby cleavers are coming out of the mulch pile… and I know with all my heart that spring will come again.

And… that the poke berry that’s wedged under the chicken coop will be 15 feet tall again, that the mower wont be able to keep up with the lawn, that the morning glories will threaten to eat the cat or slow moving small children, the mosquitos will show no mercy… Well, you understand.

I can’t wait!

Published in: on February 11, 2010 at 6:35 am  Leave a Comment