We got home late and stayed up even later getting thing unpacked, getting the house cooled off enough to sleep. It was a good 85 degrees in the house when we got home, and one of my plants was just a goner. It actually makes some room in my bathroom, and I'd gotten it as a gift more than ten years ago, so I'm okay with finally saying good-bye to it. Though, more likely than not, I'll just keep it and nurse it back to health or something.
So it wasn't until after 10 that Jet got to sleep, and well past 11 that we did, and I had trouble sleeping because the Green Zebras had been gently put on our benches, as the weight of the plants and fruit had overcome the bamboo supports, completely. They hadn't known what to do, so they'd laid them out on the only support they could find, which was the benches. I worried about it so I couldn't sleep, until I finally figured out that I just couldn't do anything until morning.
This morning brought other problems with it. I wasn't able to get up until nearly 9:30 and the boys had been up since about 8. They had already had a play round, and John fed Jet breakfast in anticipation of going swimming with Mikayla and Dean. So the boy was fed and off to Dean's quite happily. They morning routine had consisted of Mikayla and Macy screaming when they saw Jet and chasing him, as he giggled happily, around and around and around...
Dean was willing to take Jet for however long we had to run errands in the morning. We got breakfast at the Brewing Company, bought bagels for other days, got propane for the mosquito magnet, peered at tomato supports but were unconvinced, did bank stuff, and finally hit the grocery store to restock the kitchen. It was a good restocking. Since corn was on sale, we called Dean to ask if he wanted to have dinner with us, and when he said sure, we bought the eight for a dollar ears, and headed home with our booty.
From there we went home, unloaded our stuff, and had a bunch of kids visit for a bit before they then ran off again when Dean was done mowing, and Peter was around. That's when I picked the beans and discovered that the one tomato plant I had been unhappy about before we left was really badly off. It was covered with lesions and the fruit was all laced with brown badness. I peered at the Internet information sources and it really looks like early blight, which is bad, and as bad as it was on that plant, I pretty much decided to pull it from the ground and just give up on it. The other plants looked good, as far as I could tell. But I read more and got more and more unhappy as it really looks as if the other plants are starting to get it, too.
There are enough sources that say that feeding it properly, allowing the plant to dry off completely, and keeping water off of it in the first place can help. Given that there were three days of rain before a really hot spell AND that the one badly off plant was the one most in the shade could have all combined to just kill off that one; but I was really unhappy about how quickly and easily the stuff spreads. It is airborne, so even the thunderstorm winds around here can spread the spores very quickly, but it needs heat and wet to really take on a plant.
So I had a bigger problem than just plants that were lying around. And pulling up the one made me very unhappy as it had so many big, fruit on it that were all probably ruined. And the other plants are just covered with big, gorgeous, unblemished fruit. I might have to resort to a fungicide to keep the rest of the plants and fruit good. Especially in the light of having to move from this climate, which is very good to tomatoes, it was really hard to think of losing a complete harvest.
Argh. Much worse than a lying down set of tomato plants.
In fact, Dean and Tonya had done a *GREAT* job of taking care of the garden while we were away, and they'd enjoyed the good dozen zucchini that had come out while we were gone. Dean had harvested a batch of beans, as well as eaten much of the lettuce from the greens box. He hadn't known that the green tomatoes were going to ripen green.
I got five good tomatoes off the Green Zebra box, too, some of them a little cracked or with blossom end rot, but given the heat of the last few weeks and the limited calcium intake of the far too crowded plants, it was understandable. I mixed up my blossom end rot spray-on calcium supplement and let the plants get a good dose of the stuff. Even with good, steady watering, the amount of calcium for the plants was very limited by the soil in the container. So it was understandable.
I trimmed off what I could see that might be affected by the blight, and then I went in and showered, completely, before we started working on the cage for the Green Zebras. I didn't want to give them the blight, so washing off completely helped. John washed his hands thoroughly, after touching just one thing related, and I think we're good.
He measured and bought the bamboo for the Green Zebras' supports, and cut it all, and then the two of us gently built two sides of the cage for the plants around the perimeter of the container. Then we untangled and lifted branches of the bush plant up and set them against the ladders we'd built on the two sides, and when we had enough of them up, we put the third wall in. With that one in, we were able to set a good half of them up with some restraining bars, and then we got the far wall up, rung by rung. It was a lot of work, but with some cross bracing across the walls and then above, the whole structure stood pretty solidly. It would give in any direction for a bit and then stiffen with all the supports. It was flexible but strong with the bamboo, and it worked out to be less than ten dollars in materials, when most of the commercial solutions were over thirty dollars a pop.
Of course, Gardeners.com has the matching tomato cage for the planter on sale for ten dollars, too, but it was way too late to try and get a solid cage around those plants. The plants were way too far grown to be able to get a conventional cage around them. For next year, though, I'm ordering the cages.
The one great thing about container gardening is that the soil can be sterile and replaced every year, and I would never have a blight problem when planting through the container. Except...
... across the Big Street of the neighborhood, they're building condos, and the dust being raised by the machinery there is in the air constantly. It's probably why I was having so many problems before our vacation, as the allergies being aggravated by the dust was making breathing with the cold so hard. So I might be getting the blight from the dust in the air and not anything actually in my garden. Dang.
But that means that my Green Zebras are as much at risk as the First Ladies; however, only the First Ladies are showing any problems, so it's likely the darned garden soil. Ah well.
We get to talk to the local nursery tomorrow and maybe they'll have a solution for the local varieties, which might include fungicides. Sigh.
The evening was great. We had Tanner, Macy, Mikayla, Jet, and Dean over, and we had a great time. The kids had sandwiches and soup, hot dogs, and other food. We ate roast sweet corn, beer can chicken with the "Smokey BBQ rub" from World Spice, grilled zucchini, and I olive oiled and grilled the green, purple, and white beans from the garden. The vegetables weren't that good, but good enough. The corn was great, though, with a bit of butter and chili. The chicken was good, too, and the cherry tomatoes from the hanging plant were very sweet.
The ripe Green Zebras I'd eaten most of as part of my lunch. They tasted great, deeply of tomato, sweet, ripe tomato. Not nearly as tangy as I'd been given to believe, but very tasty. So I'm glad I raised them and that there are going to be dozens of them ripe at the same time. Best of all, I think the neighbors would love to eat them, too, as Dean tried one and liked it. Yay! I'm glad we got them all up off the ground and I think they'll do better in the new cage than just lying around when I couldn't even reach the fruit on the bottom of the mass, earlier. Now I can see the watering spout as well. That's cool.
The kids had ice pops for dessert, and Dean and John met up with Larry in the front yard and all the kids went out there to play and ride the various bikes and wagons and things that we had in our garages. They had a blast. I got to work on the second sleeve of John's sweater. Sadly, the first sleeve looks waay short, and I'm not entirely sure I should just go ahead with the construction. I can probably just write Meg and ask, as she's been good about answering email when I have asked stuff about the Dublamossa.
And now I have just a bit of time to catch up for at least today, I'll likely backdate fill in stuff for the time we "slept in a volcano". Yellowstone was spectacular but having its own heat wave. The 42 degree nights, though, were fantastic.