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long overdue garden update

Emily Oster

The last time I gave a garden update, I had just planted our summer crop. To refresh everyone's memory, we planted two pepper plants, three tomato plants, one basil and left in our three kale plants. It looked like this.

Now it looks like this.

Through June and into July, everything was doing pretty good. The tomato plants exploded in growth poking through the bird netting. We started harvesting basil and little peppers started appearing. The only thing that did not prosper was the kale....damn caterpillars. I tried cutting them back to their main bud but the caterpillars just continued to eat away. Then, in a somewhat frustrated moment, I cut them down to basically just the root. In hindsight, this was not the best idea as they have just stayed as little stubs. I plan to pull out the two remaining stalks this weekend and officially declare a loss to the caterpillars.

In the past two weeks, I have gotten a bit nervous about some of our plantings and am just now looking into some of our "issues". I am particularly worried about our basil. It has become lighter green and the stem has begun to turn brown. Last summer, my basil turned "woody" and then slowly died off so I know its not good. This morning, I took some time to do some research and now have a few guesses as to what might be going on.
1. Root Rot - Hopefully not. I am going to be optimistic and say this is not the case as the plant is pretty much doomed if it is.
2. Improper drainage - Potentially. I am going to go get little feet to put under the pot to help with this just in case. 
3. Nitrogen deficiency - My best guess. I used my same soil from last year with added Bluebird compost and I think maybe I didn't add enough. Since I am trying to be as organic as possible I am going to go get more compost and see what that does.

I also have concern about my cherokee purple tomato plant. It has started to bear fruit but all the light green tomatoes have brown bottoms. Like this.

According to Google, this most likely means the fruit has blossom end rot which is indicative of a calcium deficiency. This is primarily caused by inconsistent watering which would make sense since we have had days of rain and then nothing. Opinions are mixed as to what to do about this particular problem. One camp says do nothing and that it is completely normal that early fruit would have this condition. The other camp calls for treatment with chemicals (which isn't an option for us since it isn't organic) or an organic spray that is applied to the foliage every week or so. I think I am going to hold off on the spray for the next week or so and see what happens. If you have this problem with your tomatoes pull off the affected fruit as once blossom end rot has set in there is nothing you can do. 

My other two tomatoes plants seem to be doing well. The sun gold which is a cherry tomato variety has started to produce ripe fruit and in a week or so I would think we would have a bounty of little orange tomatoes. The brandywine yellow hasn't started to produce yet but it has flowered which is the step before bearing fruit. Both are looking a bit yellow so I am going to add more compost and see if that does anything.

Overall the the peppers are also doing fine although they have been somewhat compromised by the explosive growth of the tomatoes. We have picked a few jalapenos and there is one banana pepper that should be ready to be harvested in the next week or so. I think both would be better off with more space but what can you do. Off to the garden store and as usual I would love any tips or advice from more experienced gardeners!