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Saturday essay: A garden blight

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Friday, July 19, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The promise of spring has turned to the sobering summer reality that this will not be a banner year for the garden.

Blight slowly but surely is eating its way up the tomato plants. Neither pruning nor fungicide applications have arrested its march. The bumper crop of last year will not be replicated.

Oh, there will be tomatoes. Even the affected plants will produce some. And a separate bed planted after the Memorial Day weekend cold snap appears clean. For now. But with nothing ripe as the fourth week of July bows, to use the word “harvest” would be a blasphemy.

The decision soon will be made to cut the losses, yank, bag and dispose of the infected plants, treat the soil and sow fall lettuce.

The green beans, too, are kaput. They appeared to turn quite hardy after May's cold. But blooms were few and far between. And in a matter of a single day, blight reared with its telltale spotting and yellow leaves. An entire bed of beans has been disposed of. Fall lettuce already has been planted early.

Not all, however, is lost. The peppers, in the greenhouse, have escaped the scourge and are producing, albeit late. The cucumbers, too, are behind schedule but soon will overwhelm. The first of the eggplant, this year's new crop, is about to be picked. Also in the greenhouse, the Swiss chard, arugula and celery — some “volunteers” from last season — continue to delight.

Indeed, more things grow in the garden than the gardener sows. This year, unfortunately, that also includes tomato and green bean frustration.

— Colin McNickle

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