Jun 3, 2010
Breaking out the big guns...
While not on the same scale as BP's harm to the environment, I am still feeling pretty guilty about it. This is the first year I have had a problem with my heirlooms, but when it rains, it pours! For the past 2 weeks, I have been watching my tomatoes grow like crazy, yet having some yellowing and dead branches and I just knew it was bigger than a heatwave or water issue. After consulting so many ID guides my head is spinning, I have it narrowed down at least. At first I had some wilt, but leaves were still bright green so I just cut the affected areas off. Then I started having complete yellowing and browning with that classic dreaded "from the bottom up" symptom. I have it narrowed down to Fusarium Wilt (really bad) or Bacterial Wilt (bad, but can be helped a bit). None of the affected/dead tissue is showing those classic signs of necrotic vascular tissue when cut though. I actually went to the store 2 weeks ago to buy this, but then backed out after reading the labels on everything. Maybe it was emotional overload, guilt, I don't know, but I did try at first to do other things. I have done the Baking Soda spray, the milk spray, etc. to no avail. So yesterday I plunked down 7.99 for a bottle of copper spray "for organic gardening", ha! So this is how my morning went, in 90 degree humid temps, I might add!
Get spray in holster (no, I don't really have a holster, yet...)
If you are weak, you might want to look away now -
Cut off all affected tissue, this came from 4 different Heirlooms, a Brandywine, a True Black Brandywine, Yellow Pear, and Paul Robeson
I am completely humiliated at this point, since I am somewhat of an Heirloom Guru, LOL! Good thing the neighbors don't know anything about anything :)
Bet you can guess what's happening next!
I have a few that only have a little damage, I sprayed them and left them where they were, just spaced further apart. I have 3 Heirlooms that look completely unaffected, and are looking absolutely spectacular so they got moved, QUICKLY! Even though I would love to have spared them from the copper treatment, I used it as a preventative because I cannot lose any more heirlooms!
One of the survivors is a Vorlon, and guess what the others are that look so good? Those Unidentified Polish Heirlooms that were passed to me in a baggie from an elderly Master Gardener woman! Handed down for generations, she hasn't known the exact name since her mother grew them, she just kept growing them to save the seed. She lives where she cannot have a garden now and out of all the students in our class, she entrusted me with those 6 seeds, so you know how nervous I am about getting at least a few tomatoes for saving the seed! Plus, I really want to be able to show up bearing a gift of those tomatoes for her!
Now, you may need a backpack to make the hike there, but they are far, far away from the others! They make one of the ugly sheds a little easier on the eyes, too! Haven't yet figured out how to haul the water there, LOL, maybe the old fashioned buckets on a yoke around my neck? The neighbors probably wouldn't even be fazed at this point!
I'll know soon enough what it is: if it's bacterial, the copper will take care of it, if it's Fusarium Wilt, the death and destruction will continue. I will be mad if it's Fusarium Wilt since I used bought potting soil for all the containers, but at least there is a better chance of it not infecting the raised beds, since Tomato Alley was not near the beds. I think I will be venturing more into the world of hybrids this weekend and actually buying some tomato plants, ack! I find that over the years since I started canning and growing my own seedlings, I am too emotionally invested to lose my whole crop, so there is definitely a plus to growing some disease resistant varieties. (can't believe I'm saying that!)
And the choir says, "AMEN, she finally gets it!"