Monday, August 14, 2017

Disease resistance

It doesn't take long gardening to encounter pests and disease.  One of the attributes plant breeders and gardeners take into account in selecting plants is disease resistance.  Now, I will note, resistance doesn't mean absolute immunity.  It does mean the plant is less likely to get that disease than a plant that is not resistant.  Specifically, in tomato plants, you will find abbreviations following the plant variety name; these abbreviations stand for what pests and diseases the tomato is resistant to.  My 'Early Girl' tomatoes have F and V which means they are resistant to fusarium and verticillium wilt.
Unfortunately, if the disease pressure is high enough, even resistant varieties can succumb to a disease.  That's what happened here.  I came out one day in mid-July and noticed a lot of leaves on the tomato plant that had turned yellow almost overnight.  This is what fusarium wilt looks like on a tomato plant. 
 
Fusarium wilt is caused by a fungus in the soil.  It is common and long lived.  The plus side is that we've enjoyed tomatoes for almost 2 months.  There are still some tomatoes on the other 2 vines, though those vines seem to be declining as well.  I've pulled up the first diseased vine and put it on the burn pile.  I hope to plant a few fall carrots where that tomato vine was.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Improvised dehydrator

In some situations, it makes sense to simply use what is available.  I don't do much dehydrating of fruits or veggies, so I don't own a dehydrator.  I could buy one new or look for one at a thrift store, but I could just use my car as a dehydrator.  I once read in a magazine that someone used their old pickup, with the windows rolled down a little, to dry apples.  I liked the idea and have used it for figs.  I did also put a little netting over the windows to keep out the insects.  I think this netting is probably some I've had for ages (as in leftover from my wedding veil).  I secured it with magnets that have collected on the fridge.
Here are three trays of figs as seen through the back window of the car.
 
 Here is the netting and a couple of magnets holding the netting over the partially open window.
 
Here is the final product, combined onto one tray.  (The trays are those little rattan paper plate holders that I had been given, and I used one sheet of paper towel over the rattan.) 
 
I will keep the dried figs in the freezer, so it is not crucial how much moisture is left.  If they were to be stored at room temperature, they would have to be dry enough not to mold.  I did test a few figs by eating them at various stages of the process.  It actually probably got too warm in the car, but a partially dried, partially cooked fig, still warm, is quite delicious!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Monarch on butterfly weed

The butterfly weed (milkweed family) was living up to its name today, and I caught a picture of a monarch and a pearl crescent butterfly on it.  I think it has had more blooms on the places I cut for a bouquet a month or so ago.



 
This has been a great year for this native perennial.