Saturday, July 10, 2010

The first zucchini

Here is Number Two Son, proudly holding the first yellow zucchini from the garden.  This is his zucchini -- he picked the seed packet out from the store, filled the pots with dirt, planted and watered the seeds, and watched while the seedlings grew in the sun from the window.  When it was time to transplant he picked his spot in the garden and helped gently shake the small plants out of the pot.  I planted them and he patted down the soil.  Every few days since the first bloom we would go out together and check on the growth. 

A few days ago he announced that the first zucchini was ready for picking.  We walked out to the garden and I watched as he carefully twisted it off.  We had it (along with several other zucchini bought at the farmers market) for dinner grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Graham said to me, "Mom, you're the best gardener in the whole world."   I told him he was the best garden helper in the whole world. 

I don't really feel like the best gardener in the world sometimes, especially when my plans go awry.  I saved some of my potatoes from last year's crop (the one I thought was infected with late blight) to plant this year.  I didn't see any signs of blight on the tubers, so I figured they were safe for planting.  I told myself that if I saw any signs of blight I would yank all the plants out before it could spread to my tomatoes and store-bought potatoes.

A few days ago I was doing a bit of weeding and saw the familiar yellowing and browning of the lower leaves.  What?  It's too early for late blight, I thought.  So I did a bit of internet research and came to the realization that this wasn't blight, it was Verticillium wilt.  Arggh.  Why am I plagued by this fiendish disease?  With sinking heart, I yanked all the plants out.  I hope I stopped it in time, hope the roots from these potatoes aren't in contact with the tomatoes across the path.  We'll see.  Next year I am going to have to find a new spot to plant my tomatoes and potatoes.  Verticillium wilt can live in the soil for seven years.

So now I have an empty garden bed.  So sad and forlorn, stripped of its green growth.  I'm thinking of direct seeding some broccoli for a fall harvest. Is this the right time to start a fall crop of broccoli?


Mama Pea said...

Tell your son he did a great job growing that lovely yellow zucchini!

I did the same thing you did. Saved potatoes to plant this year from my last year's crop that suffered a bit of blight. After I planted them this spring I began to wonder if I'd made a stupid decision. But I'm glad to say so far so good. Do you think the verticillium wilt you're seeing could be at all related to the blight affected potatoes?

We must be on the same wave length because I've just been debating about sticking some broccoli seeds in the ground now for some fall broccoli. Should we hold hands and jump in?

Erin said...

don't feel too bad, there is a lot of wilt going around this year, myself included! Mine was on some heirloom tomatoes in pots.

Congrats to your son on that zucchini!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your yellow zuke and your nifty son!

Planting potatoes from plants potentially infected with Late Blight is the NUMBER ONE way that Late Blight survives and spreads.

Those potatoes are often safe to eat, but the pathogen lives in the plant tissue of the tuber and survives in it over the winter to come alive again if you plant it. The same goes for potato "volunteers" that resprout in the spring from an infected patch the year before.

Verticillium wilt is also a fungus, but it's totally unrelated to Late Blight, and unlike it, can overwinter in the soil without a tuber to host it. Once your soil is infected with it, it will persist in the soil for 4 or 5 years or more.

I would strongly suggest you get your infected plants tested by your state or county extension service so you know what you're dealing with.

And don't ever, ever use your own potatoes or spuds bought from the market for seed unless you know for sure they're totally disease-free. They can look and taste perfectly fine and still be carrying blight.

Much as I like to be thrifty and collect and plant my own seeds, potatoes are one thing I never, ever mess around with and buy new certified disease-free seed potatoes from a high-quality source every year.

Carol Ford said...

I just planted broccoli myself. Am trying two varieties to see which I prefer for fall crop. Have always used Arcadia for this purpose and that's just germinated in the flat. Also ordered Marathon. Says it's the most cold tolerant. Oh those bragging broccolis, they're so full of themselves.

I also started one flat each of broccoli raab, storage kohlrabi and fennel. You could also plant fall greens there, like spinach, chard, collards or kale. Lots of good stuff to replace the sad spuds. Bummer there.

Jo said...

Hello Mama Pea -- Yes, let's jump in together! Actually, I already did. I planted the bed to broccoli last weekend. How about you?

Hi Erin -- Sorry about your wilt. It is a nasty thing.

Hello Anonymous -- Thanks for the info. Our local extension office is pretty meager, but if the wilt continues to spread I will give testing a try.

Hey Carol -- Good to hear from you! I am using De Ciccio (or however it is spelled) this year, so far the plants are robust but the heads are a little small. We'll see what happens with the fall crop. Let me know if you find a variety you really love.