You’ve Got…the Plague!

Tomato growers, beware! Seems there’s a big bad nasty out there. You know, the little bug that caused the whole Irish Potato Famine? Yeah, it’s back and it’s nasty. Keep close tabs on your tomatoes and potatoes — and don’t be afraid to pitch ’em and start over. Seems plants supplied to big retailers like Lowe’s and the Home Depot were affected. If you planted from seed, you should be okay (for now). Keep your eyes peeled, though, this sucker spreads fast. So far POD’s homegrown plants are free of this particular killer and despite their illnesses, they’re still producing.

For more info:

Beach to Deck

Just because you’re growing vegetables, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Or, for that matter, import a little bit of beach beauty into a city garden.

michigan rocks

Here, basil is accented with lake-evoking glass tiles from last summer’s miserable (but successful) bathroom renovation; bathroom tilelong walks on the beach are commemorated by pots bearing herbs and seashells; shattered pottery finds new life with still more basil; iron- and copper-infused rocks, petoskey stones, and granite from the shores of Lake Michigan keep the bachelor buttons company; actual beach glass lends some contrast to the slow-growing bay; and Kalamazoo’s and Battle Creek’s finest brews — the delightful Bell’s and Arcadia —  shellsare honored alongside some beautiful eggplants.

beer capsbroken potterybeach glass

Independent Spirits

It’s cocktail hour.

Philly's Bluecoat and Milwaukee's Rehorst
Philly's Bluecoat and Milwaukee's Rehorst

In honor of this fine July Fourth holiday weekend, independent distilleries, home-grown mint, and recent travels, POD offers you the Southside:

serves 2

4 ounces Rehorst (Milwaukee’s finest) or Bluecoat (Philly’s even better) Gin
1 ounce simple syrup
1 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
15 small mint leaves
5-8 drops cocktail bitters

Muddle the mint — squish with the back of a spoon — in a large cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice and remaining ingredients. Shake until the shaker is nice and frosty and your pinkies hurt.  And then shake some more. Strain into a martini glass.

Return of the Fungi

Stupid tomatoes.

If someone tells you tomatoes are easy to grow. Ignore them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. Then again, maybe they do. Maybe they’re tomato jedi. In that case, listen carefully to their sage advice and then send them this way.

As you can see, some random fungus or another has struck. The cold spring evenings and the torrential May and June rains that Philly suffered didn’t help.  Fusarium or verticillium? Who knows and who cares — the result is the same: sad, sad tomato plants with a low yield. At this point, all that can be done (snipping affected leaves mercilessly) has been done.

Return of the Fungus: 2009
Return of the Fungus: 2009
Nugget's First Haircut
Chocolate Cherry's First Haircut
tomato fungus trimmings
Grrr. Arg.

A glutton for punishment? But of course. Here are a few notes for next year (additional suggestions most welcomed):

  • Shop for disease-resistant varieties — don’t be suckered by heirlooms, as much as you love them.
  • Start the seeds in mid March, using new sterile soil — no earlier!
  • Wash and sterilize containers, purchase new drainage materials.
  • Carefully harden off — no cheating!
  • Plant early to mid-May (strip off the leaves that are submerged in the soil) — no earlier!
  • Spray regularly with Neem and feed them.
  • Continue to mulch, water in the morning, and do the anti-fungus-some-rain-but-not-too-much-warm-but-not-hot-weather dance.