Monday, August 31, 2009

Garden Blogger's Death Day August 2009

Warning: The Harvest Monday post is below. Please scroll down if you want pretty harvests and G rated posts. This post features death, destruction and carnage. People with heart conditions or high blood pressure should avoid this post. Not recommended for young viewers. Contains out of control infections, swarming wasps, monstrous aliens, evil villains and bad mothers. Don't say you weren't warned.

Ah another Death Day rolls around. The end of August seems so appropriate for such a day. The summer plants are failing and starting to die. Some are already dead. Powdery mildew has my squash in their death grip. They valiantly try to produce, but mostly fail. Usually I would pull the plants up at this point and throw in a cover crop, but I have harvested so little that I'd desperate for more to freeze for my zucchini bread in the winter.

Rust is creeping up my beans. The infections spread. The leaves die and slowly fall to cover the ground. They foreshadow the death of the leaves on the trees.

Though the previous two infections are nasty they really don't belong in a horror movie. However late blight qualifies. They can take out most of the leaves of a plant overnight. I had dead and dying leaves littering my garden. Three tomato plants have already been pulled. The rest are trying to resist. They are putting out new growth very quickly. The new quick growth seems more susceptible, but there is so much maybe they can survive. Will the tomatoes or the late blight win? Tune in during September to find out.

Two eggplant seemed to get blight too, or maybe it is some other disease. The ones that were affected only produced a single tiny eggplant each. They were no more than 3 oz. Small sad little things. The plants are gone now. Their poor broken bodies have been lovingly wrapped up in black plastic and sent to their cremation (our town's trash goes to the incinerator). The site of their death has been commemorated with several inches of compost from the potato bin. A memorial crop of spinach will be grown to remember them by.

Oh no there are alien monsters int he garden. The tomato hornworms were rampant. They were hard to find before the blight defoliated the plants. I think they were using their invisibility cloaks. I would see worm poop so I knew they were there, but I couldn't catch them until the leaves were gone. Then it was death for the aliens. Snip! I thought about putting that photo on too, but a smart editor decided to clip that scene out. The post is hard enough to read without having to see caterpillar guts.

Oh the potatoes! Quick hide your eyes. Children are dying here. If you remember from spring the potoates caused me so much grief. I may have to write the Saga of the Potatoes Part III. I finally had to take them down due to blight. I figured I would get some potatoes since it had been about 3 1/2 weeks from when they bloomed. The bin is filled with compost so I dug some of it up to use for the spinach bed. Sigh. I found little tiny potatoes along the stem. They were just children - dead before their time. Will there be any edible potatoes under all that compost anywhere? Time will tell, but for now I will morn the children that will never grow up.

My pineapple tomatillos were just staring to produce when the dreaded chipmunk found them. There is no sign of the evil villain, but I see signs of his passing under the plants. The ground is covered in tomatillo husks. Next year they are getting caged. I would rather cage up the evil villain, but when all else fails you can cage off the plant.

So I've had death by insect, death by disease, and death by rodent. So I get one more. Death by beneficial insect.

My wasps I usually consider beneficial insects. They feed insects to their young - usually caterpillars. This is a good thing. Now they have taken to eating my raspberries. In the 18 years these bushes have been in the ground, they have never been attacked by wasps before. Not once. Now I'm finding half my harvest eaten. They start by putting in a small hole at the tip and eat out the whole raspberry. They leave nothing but the seeds. In addition they are making the raspberries hard to harvest. I'm picking the ripe berries right next to the berry they picked to eat. They mostly ignore me, but sometimes if the berry doesn't come off easily the stem snaps back and the wasps get startled and swarm around.

The sadest image of them all is when the gardener herself neglects the plants. I planted these out last week. As you can see I've neglected to water them. I did this, not once, but three times and they were only three weeks old when they were planted. The poor things are burnt by being too close to the lights and now they are dying of thirst. I've been a really bad mother.

Well I've got more photos of other nasty things, but you've seen my leaf miners and four lined plant bug damage before. If I show them too much they might get uppity and think they are stars. They will get agents and start making me pay to have them star in my Death Day posts. The poor blueberries wouldn't sign the release form, so I can't put their photo up. Oh and gee I forgot the weather deaths. Well no real deaths there. Just a few bean poles leaning over. I tied some string to the old pea trellis to keep them up. So there you have it. So much death in the garden and I didn't even hit the flowering plants. Really you don't want to see those. It isn't pretty. I really shouldn't traumatize my faithful readers.

If you really haven't had enough, you can be traumatized by visiting Kate over at Gardening Without Skills once she gets her Death Day post up. Don't say I didn't warn you though. It isn't pretty.


  1. Oh, I enjoyed this so much -- not the death and destruction, oh no, but your funny take on it all.

    It was probably wise to edit out the hornworm's end. My daughters are strictly non-violent souls. Except when it comes to hornworms. I am under strict orders not to snip one without their presence. They like to gasp and groan at the gore of it all. (We did finally have one hornworm this year.)

    It's nice to know I'm not alone with all the ugliness out there in the garden; thank goodness for the loveliness that sometimes comes of it.

  2. Wow this gives a whole new meaning to "Dia de los Muertos" now doesn't it. LOL. We've had all manner of icky bugs this summer but no hornworms... yet. I wish you lived closer--I'd bring over a basket of eggplants. It is the one thing that is truly spectacular this year in our garden. We're still waiting on our first vine-ripened tomato, other than cherries.

  3. That shot of the tomato hookworm is fantastic--it could used in a sci-fi movie.
    I love your graphic descriptions of death and destruction. Now I'm going to scroll down to your harvest tally and cheer up.

  4. Daphne, the post is so amusing even though it's sad to have lost lot's of things. The photography I have to say is great especially the dried crinkly leaves, not sure about the horrid green creepy though !!
    Scrolling down I see you have had some really good harvests, so all is not lost.. by the way how do you freeze your zucchini's, I have never frozen any, but would like to.

  5. MY EYES! MY EYES! You did write an appropriate warning at the beginning, but nothing could have prepared me for the carnage! GAH! August is a bad, bad month for gardens, isn't it? Love the picture of the alien hornworm - blech! Thanks for participating in GBDD!

  6. Daphne, surely you and your garden must qualify for some kind of disaster relief. This was very fun post to read. Glad I'm not the only one with powdery mildew.

  7. June, snipping hornworms really is gory isn't it? I'm glad I didn't keep that photo though. Ick!

    Curmudgeon, lucky for me eggplant is one of those things I'm not much in love with. I think next year I won't grow it. I can imagine it would have grown well out there. I think you all got the hottest sunniest summer ever.

    Sally, lol It is nice that I have both posts in the same day. The death and destruction and also the good harvest. It really lets you know that things can die and you can still eat out of your garden.

    Maureen, lol yeah those hornworms are really monsters. Ick! As to freezing zucchini. I grate it and put it in premeasured bags. I use it for zucchini bread and soups. BTW when it defrosts some of the water will separate. Use it all in the bread or the bread will be dry.

    Kate, yes. I would think it is just the start of the season for you in the deep south. Mild weather is approaching and things will start growing for you. Up here it is the beginning of the end though. Our summer crops are almost done. At least we have fall crops that will keep going.

    Donna, lol I think it should. Of course the garden still looks pretty nice. This post was really slanted to all the bad things that went on. All the good things have been neatly overlooked.

  8. oh, I've fried my seedlings to many times and continue to do so. Good thing there are more seeds. I always feel like the seedlings were just getting going.

  9. Now this is a post/meme I would be able to participate in.