Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dealing with Disappointment – Garden Style by Sue Bloomquist

This summer has been a time of great success . . and great disappointment.  The joys have included my first attempt to raise LOTS of seedlings.  I planted four varieties of tomatoes and, out of three full bedding plant trays, only three seeds did not sprout.  I also built not one but two raised bed gardens – something I have been promising myself I would do for three years.  As usual, my lettuce, which reseeds itself, has been delicious.

Tomatoes With Spotted Wilt Virus
    However, in the midst of all this bounty, I came face to face with THE ENEMY.  I am talking about tomato spotted wilt virus, TSWV.  Several weeks ago, I began to notice a couple of tomato plants just looking, well, sickly.  After Internet searches led me to several possibilities, I took samples to the Jeffco Extension diagnostic clinic.  The search narrowed, but a simple chemical test delivered the final blow.  TSWV!  Time to yank out the plants – no treating, babying or otherwise trying to save them. 

Since that time two more plants have tested positive, and my tomato garden shrank again.  The last plant to fall was a formerly beautiful Ace bush type that was more like a small tree.  Big lush leaves.  Tall and umbrella shaped.  Flower bud galore.  And cruelest insult of all, it was the vanguard plant in my experimental raised bed with only long-rotted compost as soil.  The plant's removal left a gaping hole this showcase bed.  What to do?!

  As it happens, I have never before planted a fall crop.  Of anything.  I have always settled for store bought lettuce and chard.  And I love home grown lettuce.   Pick one leaf or a whole head, and it's always fresh.

   Voila!  The solution – this opening has become my new fall garden.  I have planted several varieties lettuce to see what does best in the late summer.  Some ruby red chard made its way into a corner of new ground.  I know the daily heat will affect some more than others, but cooler nights are coming, and I expect a crisp and “springish” fall.

So, don't despair if all did not go well in your garden.   Join me, and plant a fall crop of lettuce, spinach, chard and radishes.  We will be dining on BLTs and spinach salads well into October.  Bon jardiner!  Bon apetit!