Monday, September 21, 2009

Mish Mash Monday and a Veggie Update

I'm a little late for this month's Vegetable Garden Update, sponsored by Tina at In the Garden, but that seems to be the story of my life lately--always a day behind. Looking on the brighter side, though, it does give me a chance to add a few other odds and ends for a mini-Mishmash Monday, the brainchild of Monica the Garden Faerie.

The big news in my vegetable garden these days is not good news. Those tomato plants that once were so green and prolific have fallen victim to tomato blight. I had a similar tragedy last summer and vowed to keep a watchful eye over them this summer and spray them at the first hint of wilt. However, they were fine in mid-August when I left for Oregon, but by the time I got back many of the leaves were turning brown with others showing the tell-tale spots of more wilt to come. I purchased some fungicide, but after consulting with tomato expert Hortense Hoelove and her alter ego Carol, I decided it was too late to do anything about it.

Fortunately, there are still many ripening tomatoes on the plants that can still be picked. Shown above is the spoils from one such picking a week ago. (In case you're wondering, I was hanging out clothes on the line beforehand and didn't have another container with me; I wasn't expecting such a bounty.) Hubby and I have eaten enough fresh tomatoes to boost our antioxidant levels, there is enough juice in the freezer for the winter, and now I'm making tomato sauce. The only thing I'm really sad about is that I didn't get to try any tomatoes from the one Cherokee Purple plant I had. It, too, has been hit by the blight and looks especially pathetic; I would have included a picture of it, but I couldn't crop out the weeds:)

Elsewhere in the veggie garden, things are winding down, but there is still harvesting to be done. For once, the zucchini did not get infested with squash beetles, and my one lone plant is still blossoming, promising a few more fruits before the frost hits.

The green peppers have done very well, and I was surprised to find this nice red one yesterday. Bell peppers will turn red if they're left on the vine long enough, but usually mine spoil or get eaten by bugs before they make it this far. I don't grow many peppers even though they're chock full of vitamins, simply because my sensitive stomach doesn't tolerate them well. But this red pepper is so tempting I think we may have fajitas tonight . . . with a Pepcid for dessert:)

Overall, I would have to say this year's vegetable garden has been a success, largely due, I'm sure, to the regular rainfall we had up until the last few weeks. Besides tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini, we've had carrots, onions, and my first ever crop of beets. But the best producer, by far, has been the green beans. This morning I went out to the garden, debating whether to pull the plants, their leaves either brown and withered or peppered with holes made by hungry grasshoppers. But then I noticed more beans on the plants--I eventually picked a large saucepot full of fresh green beans!

You will also notice in the photo above one green tomato. No, I don't usually pick green tomatoes, but I have an occasional helper in the garden . . .

. . . Husband thought it would be cute to show littlest Grandson how to pick tomatoes. Grandson thought it was indeed fun, but even more fun was to use the tomatoes like baseballs. Sophie quickly picked up on this game, chasing down the fly "balls" and now often picks a few to entertain herself when her little buddy is not around. Here she's chewing on an apple that fell to the ground, but she's just as likely to have a tomato in her mouth. Needless to say, the tomatoes she picks never make it into juice for the freezer.

And now for a few Mish-Mash odds and ends . . . On my last post I showed a photo of a small black caterpillar. Several of you identified it as the first instar of the black swallowtail caterpillar. Once again, you bloggers have come through with great information!

Here's a closer look at the little fellow. I've been checking the fennel and parsley nearly every day and have found they're full of caterpillars in various stages.

This guy must be in one of the next stages, because he's about half the size of the full-grown caterpillars. And if you compare him to the large one in the next photo, you'll see less black and more green as they mature.

Ah, the things we learn from blogging!

And speaking of bugs, the last two nights we have had swarms of some tiny little flying insects.

It's difficult to see here, unless you enlarge the photo, but the little white dots are swarms of tiny creatures with nearly transparent white wings.

They also liked my petunias, covering the leaves and forming a rather sticky, web-like substance. Again, you can see these much better if you enlarge the photos.

I checked out a few websites, but still have not been able to identify them. Any ideas?

Although it may seem I have been very busy in the garden, I have a confession to make--other than watering containers and picking tomatoes or looking for photogenic insects, I have really neglected the garden the last two weeks. Oh, I have excuses--we had a new roof put on the house, and flying shingles and pounding nails don't make for tranquil gardening time. Or I could blame it on the fact that I have been substitute teaching once again, too tired in the evening to do anything too strenuous. No seeds have been collected, no weeds have been pulled, and no (I can hear the gasps now!) bulbs have been ordered. But this week, no excuses! Time's a-wasting--tomorrow is the first day of fall!


  1. Good morning Rose. Your veggie garden looks to be a total success-blight and all. I don't think it slowed your tomatoes down, they look good! Way more than I have gotten. Sophie is just too cute. She had grown too. Chewing on fruit is not so bad-better than rocks I think. Glad the caterpillars showed up. It seems they come later than we expect, at least than I expect. Have a good day. I added your link in.

  2. My how Sophie has grown. She has become a beautiful dog. Don't fret about not being in the garden. I feel like it is kinda that time of year. Things are winding down. Your garden looks to have been a success even if it didn't live up to your expectations.

  3. I also have tomato blight this year; have never seen it before and was entirely unprepared for it. I also love, love, love beets! Yum!

  4. You have made me feel very guilty Rose, you say you 'have neglected the garden for the last two weeks' Oh! If it was only two weeks of neglect in mine! ;)

    A lovely post, full of interest and lovely photos, your vegetables have done well although it is a shame about the tomato blight. It is strange you should say about the peppers I have never had a problem but my sister-in-law is affected like you are, incidentally I don't know if you have ever tried Lavender cake, I had a slice yesterday and it tastes just like the flower smells but my goodness it repeated for hours!

    Lovely to see Sophie with her apple, Louis does that, sometimes they turn up on the sofa!

    Have a great week Rose :)

  5. I can't believe today is the last day of summer.

    Your veggies look great! How great to harvest all those tomatoes. I think I had maybe 5 all summer long.

    Sophie is too cute! She obviously knows how to eat healthy. hehe!

  6. Hi Rose, what a harvest you have had! Wow. One of the downfalls of the heirlooms is their lack of resistance to some diseases....bummer.
    We do learn a lot from others in the blogging world don't we? I think it is wonderful.
    Have a great day!

  7. I think everyone got the tomato blight. Horrible year for tomatoes. Looks like you got a better crop than most.

    We used to have a doberman who would pick and eat tomatoes. She never wasted any, ate everything she picked.

  8. Hi Rose, I'm glad you got some of your tomatoes, so many people here are disappointed about the god awful blight.
    Sohie is so cute, my dog, Tartarus, used to eat the beans behind my back! But he's older now and finds the grass more palettable.

  9. Looks like a good haul! I leave all my bell peppers to turn red/yellow/orange, because that's the only way my daughter will eat them. They haven't done well for me this year. I wish I could help with the bud ID, but the only thing they remind me of is Columbine sawfly, to which they might be related.

  10. I'm so sorry to hear about the tomato blight, but other than that your harvest looks great!

    You've inspired me to check on my golden alexander plants because they're swallowtail host plants, just like fennel (all in the same family). Hopefully I'll have some future butterflies too! And don't feel bad about neglecting the garden. I'm guilty too, but there's only so many hours in the day!

  11. Tina, Thanks for adding my link. Yes, I've been pleased overall with the vegetable garden this year; adding mulch really helped to cut down on the weeds. Sophie also likes rocks:)

    Lisa, Sophie is beautiful, but I may be a bit prejudiced:) August is usually my "forget the garden" month. I think with fall approaching I am realizing I need to get busy to get all my planned projects done.

    Monica, This is the second year for blight here, so I'm no stranger to it. Sad to see all those green plants dying.

    ShySongbird, I have lots of plans for next year that I want to start on this fall, which is probably why I feel a bit of panic. I never know what Sophie will bring into the house either. And I'll remember not to eat any lavender cake:)

    Susie, I'm so sorry about your tomatoes! It hasn't been a good year for them for many people. Sophie isn't picky--she's had a few stomach upsets lately from some rotten tomatoes, I think:)

    Janet, This was my first attempt at growing an heirloom. I'll probably try again next year, but I'll also plant mostly hybrids for this very reason.

    Marnie, I'm pretty happy with all the tomatoes I've gotten, and it's been better than last year's crop. I consider myself lucky this year; everyone seems to have been hit with this blight.

    Dawn, What an interesting name--Tartarus! Did you name him after the Underworld in Greek mythology?? Sophie has sampled some green beans, too:)

    MMD, I would love to have more red peppers, but they usually seem to spoil or get eaten by bugs before then.

    Rose, This is the first year here for growing some host plants, other than the butterfly weed, and my first year of caterpillars. I bet you'll have lots next year, too.

  12. Rose,
    Looks like your garden has been very prolific in spite of the late season blight. All those caterpillars look very healthy and happy. It always gives me such a good feeling to see all those butterflies in the making.

    Sophia sounds just like Bo--my little tomato thief! She sure is cute though. It would be hard to resist that sweet face.

    Here in Round Rock we are very excited about the first day of Fall tomorrow and a Cold Front that is predicted to come (please oh, please oh)!

  13. Oh Rose, I don't know how you can even think after a day of subbing. I found that to be the most exhausting activity in the world! Makes weeding seem like a day of leisure. Your produce is excellent! Our plants always look like that late in the season, maybe we always have blight and didn't even know it. We are off the heirlooms too, they have many problems here, the reason hybrids were probably invented in the first place. Love your catts, don't know the little flies, but assume they are food for birds? :-)

  14. Wow what a great crop of tomatoes! I was pleased with my harvest this year but I'm not sure if it came close to your success. My green bell peppers are turning red now too. I think the change of weather has helped. Now I know I have to grow some Dill next year just to see those caterpillars. :)

  15. Hi Rose! Don't you love Mish Mash Monday...all kinds of goodies get shared that we all want to know! I am totally impressed by your tomato bounty! Juice, sauces and catch!

    How wonderful to see the swallowtail cats...They seem to really like the curly parsley over the Italian here and when I stepped outside earlier I could smell someone chomping on the fennel.

    Happy Autumn Rose...Sophie is sure cute. gail

  16. Hi Rose, I think your vegetable basket looks scrumptious!! And that red pepper - ummmmmm!

    I can just see grandson thinking it's so much more fun to toss tomatoes around rather than eat them. And then when the dog plays along too.....LOL!!

    I think those little dots of light with wings must be faeries. They're banding together to begin flying South where it will be warmer. Ha - and you thought only birds flew south. LOL!

  17. MG, We've had so few butterflies this year, I don't understand where the caterpillars came from, but I guess it's a good sign for the future. Hope it's cooler for you; here we are celebrating rain!

    Frances, Subbing does make me appreciate a day in the garden so much more:) Some days are pretty good, especially when I'm in English class. But the day I had to try to remember functions in Algebra class, I went home with a headache:)

    Racquel, I had 20 tomato plants, so that may make a difference. Definitely plant some dill and fennel next year!

    Gail, I had thought about trying to cook some fennel, but I think I'll just leave for the caterpillars' dinner:) Sophie is my spoiled baby:)

    Wendy, When it's your grandson wasting those precious tomatoes, you don't seem to mind:) I like that theory of fairies! Much better than reality--I found out they're soybean aphids. Not a very magical name, is it?

  18. Sorry the blight got your tomatoes, Rose - drought made them die here. Does it seem that nature is picking on our maters no matter where we live?
    How cool that you have swallowtail larvae - we had some rain so maybe the fennel & parsley will grow enough to support a crop of butterflies here, too.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  19. My tomatoes always get sick and die this time of year, and sometimes sooner. Mine are still producing so far.

    I don't know what those insects are.

    I'm glad I made it here for the caterpillar update. I checked my dill, parsley, fennel, milkweed, and rue today, but did not see any caterpillars.


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment. I'll try to reply here, but I'll definitely return the visit.