Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Sorry State of my Garden, or Don't Be Like Me

I've mentioned before that Daniel works in the family business. Well, the business is a nursery (with plants, not children at church) and he's something of an expert, compared to your average Lowe's-goer, on plants. That is part of the reason why this picture I'm about to show you is so dismally embarrassing, unexpected, and disappointing. Keep this lesson in mind when you plan your next foray into indoor gardening!

We have, attached to our home, an added-on sun room. It's a lovely room, with big, bright, southern-exposed windows. Since we haven't yet fenced in the back yard, we thought it would be the perfect place to grow a few of our favorite summer vegetables safely away from the nuisance deer. So, we got some tomato plants, big tubs of dirt, cute little saucers for the tubs, and fancied ourselves farmers.

At first, it went swimmingly. The plants shot off, getting taller and taller, then they got leggier and leggier. That was odd, we thought, but not the end of the world. Then the leaves started looking wilty, but not every leaf. No, just a few branches got curly and wilty, then dried up and died. But the whole leggy plant looked positively ill.

Maybe they needed food. So we got on the ball and started feeding with every watering. Waited a week or two. No dice. Then we decided there just wasn't enough sun in the sun room. The sun is so high in the summers that there's only a few hours of direct light every day. It's really a poorly designed room in that regard (the previous owners went pretty cheap on it). So I put them out on the step in the mornings and returned them in the evenings. Still no improvement after several days.

By this time, they were so sick that Daniel wanted to give up. We had just seen the tomatoes in the in-laws' garden, tight little balls of juicy green energy, and lost all hope. On our plants, there were a few fruits that had started developing before the blight got them, and those weren't exactly coming along swimmingly. So Daniel carried them into the yard behind the sun room. The deer won't get them, he said. They never come into the yard itself anymore, seeing as it's a 100'x100' patch of dirt. And if they do, well, they can have them. Sigh.

The moral? Make sure your plants have good ventilation. The final diagnosis stands: fungal infection. Had we aired out the sun room a little better, we would be enjoying beautiful, red tomatoes by now.
These plants have been trimmed a little by the deer (I assume the selective trimming has to do with the extent of the fungal infection). But these plants are goners. Oh, what a world! Thank goodness we can mooch off of the in-laws for garden-fresh produce.


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