It was not that I had a particularly bad day at work, but I was definitely ready to come home and be outside. Instead of diving right into dinner prep as we usually do when we get home, we had snacks and I wandered out to the garden.
First task was to hunker down and deal with the potato damage. I was quite pleased to see that the white mold infestation was neither as widespread nor as fatal as I’d assumed. If it’s spreading, it’s doing so very slowly – and in fact, despite the recent rain, the plants actually look better now than they did a week ago. I think 15-20% of the bed had noticeable problems.
To be on the safe side, I went through and pulled out all the diseased plants. The vines went into a garbage bag (how foreign!) and I harvested the potatoes. Kennebecs the size of an egg…yep, something’s definitely not right there. The Pontiac Reds seemed to suffer the most damage.
But when I really looked at what was going on, I noticed a couple things. Bad vines seemed to emerge from the same seed potato. Nearby vines might or might not be affected. I’ll keep an eye on things daily and remove any more problem plants, but in the meantime most of the bed looks pretty healthy, and I’m going to let it keep growing until I see the mold spreading.
The other thing I noticed is that when the plants keeled over (sort of radially out from the center of the bed), they exposed most of the moldy stems to the sun. I gotta say…that’s pretty clever. True, some of the squishy stems were at the bottom of the piles of vines at the edges of the beds, but happily, many of the bad spots got exposed to the sun, which I’m sure slowed the spread of the mold.
In even better news, there appears to be little problem with the big potato bed. Again, I’ll be watching it carefully, but it appears to be good to stay the course, keep bulking up, and harvest when it’s a bit cooler. The root cellar does little good when nights are 70 degrees.
After dealing with the potatoes, I climbed into the three sisters garden. The squash have really taken off in the last week and now form a ring entirely around the bed. The theory is that all those prickly squash vines help keep the critters out. We’ll see how that goes…the corn is just starting to ear up and tassel out, meaning it’s just becoming a tempting target.
I was literally crawling under the canopy of squash vines at one point, trying to figure out what variety of squash I had planted. Long pie pumpkins, I remembered, but I couldn’t remember if the others were butternuts or delicatas. I saw one baby butternut, so I know there are at least a few of them. I’m surprised I didn’t plant any delicatas, though. They’re my favorite. Hmm. Maybe there are three varieties in there…
Then I just sat there. Listened to the wind rustle the corn leaves. Looked at the crumpled ends of the squash vines. (Fuzzy! Curled! Tendrilicious!) Admired and smelled the nodding wild onion. (Oniony! Unspeakably cute! Probably the most feminine-looking thing in my garden, by a mile and a half. Including me.) Just sat. It was really quite lovely.
Then I headed in with tonight’s harvest, dropped off potatoes and cukes and a handful of beans to a neighbor, and came home to make dinner with my sweetie.