A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Kevin 2015 
And Just When Things Were
Looking So Good... 

June 24
, 2015     
(See below for archives)

I wish I had the answer. Three of my twenty tomato plants have been taken ill. They were perfect when I planted them about three weeks ago, and they have been treated lovingly since. I am not exactly sure what the problem is, or if there might be more than one problem, because the symptoms vary on the three plants. Years ago, when a plant in the greenhouse looked bad, and we weren’t certain what the problem was, we’d say it had “the klunk.” It seemed pretty apt back then, and today too, for that matter. The three plants that are affected are ‘Bloody Butcher,’ ‘Green Zebra,’ and ‘Sweet Aperitif.’ I would not have predicted that any of them would be a problem. ‘Green Zebra’ and ‘Bloody Butcher’ are the worst off. They have a pale, grayish green color and they have not put on any growth in the last ten days or so. There are no pronounced spots on the leaves, but the stems are discolored and there is yellowing on the new leaves. It looks a little like a newer virus called yellow leaf curl; my leaves are yellow, but not curled. I am about ready to toss them. ‘Sweet Aperitif’ has some dark spots on the stem too, and some leaf spotting, so I am thinking early blight. I removed the spotted leaves and sprayed the remaining leaves again with copper fungicide. It looks a little better, I think---keeping my fingers crossed.  

Sometimes when you make something in the kitchen, it doesn’t quite work out as planned. You think you followed the recipe to a T, yet the outcome was iffy. Some recipes have a lot of room for creativity, others not so much. This is the case for some plants, too. I often tell people the “recipe” for success for a given plant; some plants have very specific requirements, and there is little room for error. I always thought that tomatoes were relatively easy; after all, pretty much every gardener is growing at least a few of them. Of course, I’ve encountered problems in the past, but never this soon after planting. The perplexing part is trying to figure out if I did something wrong. I started with all new soil in my new pots, my plants appeared to be in excellent health, I planted at the right time, I fertilized, and I sprayed copper for disease prevention. Current wisdom is that blight disease (assuming it is correctly diagnosed) comes from diseased garden debris from the previous year. I guess that is possible, but there is nothing remaining from last year that I can see. I’ll keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

On the bright side, 85% of my tomatoes look great. I guess I should focus on them. After all, this is one of the reasons for growing a number of varieties---it guards you against complete failure.

The garlic plants are looking good. At Milaeger’s we sell both hardneck and softneck garlic. I grow the hardneck, but the softneck lasts longer after the harvest. At this time of year the hardneck garlic forms scapes at their tips. If you want larger garlic bulbs later in the season, you should cut off the scapes. I cut off quite a few last weekend and added them to something I was fixing on the grill. It added a luscious new dimension to the flavor. The scapes make for an interesting presentation, too.

Of course I enjoy the ornamental side of gardening, too. One plant that is always a pleasant surprise is Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum,) a native prairie plant. The flower is not of much consequence, nor is the foliage. But the seed heads are spectacular. This is an early blooming plant, and the seed heads are in full display already in June. I took this photo at a garden in Door County about ten days ago. If the plant is positioned so that it is backlit, it would be even more stunning. Most people are unaware of this little gem, but it attracts attention in any garden. It grows to about 18” wide and 12-15” tall. It is very hardy and easy to grow in any sunny garden. Of course, the seed heads are eventually blown away, like those of a dandelion; true beauty is fleeting. 

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.


Archives  (Click on the green text for links)

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012- My Tomato Garden
May 2012 - Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com