Well, it has finally happened. After three years of fairly healthy, disease and pest free plants the garden is being invaded. I've been picking and killing cucumber beetles today, and watching one of my San Marzano tomatoes be affected by early blight. The good news...I'm hoping...is that the copper fungicide I have may help the plant get through at least a partial harvest. I've been scouring the 'net looking for help, and what I've come up with is to pick off the dead foliage (when it's dry--early blight is spread by fungus spores that thrive in damp, cooler weather) and spray with the copper.
In everything I read, the importance of rotating crops every year is stressed. What I HAVEN'T found yet is how to rotate crops in a garden that's 10x14 feet. If there is a limited amount of good tomato space, do I just not grow tomatoes for a year or two? I have to say, in my opinion that solution is for the birds. I suppose I could always grow fewer plants in pots for a few years. That isn't a solution I'm thrilled with either, but it's better than constantly fighting diseases or not having tomatoes at all.
I've also read that enriching the soil with compost is helpful, and I do that each year. I'll up the amount I've been using to "promote beneficial micro- and macroorganisms." Sigh. Ya wait six months to be able to grow tomatoes, and then things start attacking them. Who needs this anxiety! :)
In more cheerful news, Larry and I went blueberry picking yesterday, and picked six pints! On top of the three I had bought at the farmer's market, we're rolling in the beautiful blue jewels. I've made a blueberry tart (Eating Well magazine), frozen a few pints, and made "Farmgirl's Blueberry Breakfast Bars." Farmgirl (Farmergirl?) is a blogger whose posts I read for awhile last summer. The recipe is awesome, and it freezes well. That way, in December or January when I'm bummed about the lack of fresh fruit I can defrost the bars and pretend it's summer again. Tomorrow I'm baking cinnamon burst blueberry muffins (Cooking Light) for the same reason. Eat a few, freeze a few, Christine is a happy girl!
We also bought Ball jars for canning. I know it's probably bizarre, but I'm very excited about putting as much food by for the winter as I can. I'll do tomatoes (keeping my fingers crossed) and pickled beets, make green tomato chutney (if that plant doesn't make it, I'll at least be able to take its green ones and do something with them), and see what else I can learn to do. I've already started freezing cucumbers. It's an almost sweet pickle recipe, and the cucumbers come out with a little bite left when they're defrosted. I found and made the recipe last year and loved it. The more I can put by, the less Whole Foods can hold me hostage for organic foods this winter!