Tough love

In my Hot and Humid post, I said I was looking forward to the results of the rain that happened last Sunday afternoon. I expected that the garden would flourish. I was not prepared to hear my brother come home Monday morning and say, “the tomatoes and zucchini are dying.” What?! It wasn’t until I made it up there Wednesday night that I understood what he meant. Many of the tomato leaves and some zucchini leaves had turned yellow.

Tomato leaves, yellowing and shriveled

My neighbour to the north said it was probably nothing as it was common for the bottom leaves to become yellow as they weren’t receiving enough sun. The leaves seemed pretty high up to me. He observed some yellow leaves on his plants as well and said he would ask his tomato-expert friend. Later that evening I received an email from him saying that the friend advised that it was probably “plant stress due to varied watering” – not enough, which he told me was causing the shriveled leaves, then too much on Sunday, and then a new pattern now. He suggested letting up on the watering for a few days to see what happens and that if that didn’t work, it might mean something else. He also suggested I tie up my tomato plants to prevent them from being damaged in future rains. I didn’t have any twine, so I used the plastic bag that held the eggshells I put down and tied up one branch that was hanging out of the plot.

Ghetto twine, only temporary

The yellowing didn’t seem so bad this morning, and my brother had continued with watering once a day in the morning despite my neighbour to the north’s suggestion.  As my brother watered and I harvested mostly basil, we chatted with our neighbour to the east. I complimented him on the string work he had done with his beans. It was like a work of art.

My neighbour’s beans. If it was a house I’d live in it.

I tied up the borage plant that was shading my basil and parsley and we began to tie the tomatoes to their stakes. I noticed that at least one of the tomato plants had more fruit that were quite healthy looking. My brother seems to think that some look like they might be changing to a lighter green/yellow colour. Could we have some yellow pear soon?

More tomatoes, and they’re looking pretty healthy

We chatted about the importance of air circulation for preventing diseases. I’d been reading that powdery mildew in zucchini plants could be caused by high humidity and poor air circulation. My neighbour to the north had white spots on his zucchini, but his are in cages and they were properly spaced so I ruled that his problem was due to the humid weather. My problem was definitely overcrowding. Coupled with the humid weather, I was setting the plants up for trouble.  So I instilled some serious tough love and removed the basil plants that were hiding under some of the leaves and removed some of the zucchini leaves that were looking pretty poorly as my neighbour to the east suggested.

Yellow zucchini leaf, and probably powdery mildew

No room for these two extra zucchini plants. Had to pull them up. Tough love.

Sadly, I knocked off one of the few tiny zucchini and now it seems there is only one left among the many male flowers. Damn.

Many male flowers, one lone zucchini

After detaching them from the nearby tomato and nasturium, we trailed two of the four cucumber plants up a stake (the other two had been climbing the nearby sunflower, which was OK). We noticed that we had some cucumbers after all! I hope they make it.


A shaded cucumber

After some tough love and general maintenance, the garden is looking much better and I’m feeling more confident that there’s better air circulation. Tomorrow morning we’re going to transplant the calendula flowers that are also hidden under the zucchini leaves to another part of the plot. The flowers have been struggling and dying off.

Still looks like madness, but much better air circulation and better supported plants

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