Normally, mid-May into mid-June are the weeks where you grab a tall, cool glass of Kombucha and sit down in your comfy deck chair and watch things grow…normally.
This year, 2018, what I am frequently doing is sighing, drying off my dogs and hoping that the cold (low 50’s right now), wet weather doesn’t finish off all the plants I raised from seed.
This is my garden, in the mist. It looks pretty good, from a distance.
But my tomato plants are really starting to show the wear of 4 weeks of wet weather. The yellowing and spotting on the leaves is spreading and, because of the persistent wet growing conditions, I don’t think I will be able to stop the destruction.
What my tomatoes have is called Septoria Leaf Spot.
Septoria is a fungal disease. In normal weather conditions, you can usually prevent or at least slow it down by following good gardening practices like:
- removing diseased leaves quickly
- watering with soaker hoses,
- never watering at night,
- spacing your plants so each one catches the breezes and dries out,
- rotating where you put tomato plants from year to year.
But I’m not experiencing normal weather conditions. And this fungal disease loves it when it’s wet out.
According to Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), my back yard is the perfect storm for Septoria, “When conditions are wet, spores are exuded from the Septoria fruiting bodies present on the infected tomato leaves. Once the spores land on a healthy leaf, spotting can appear in five days if weather conditions are ideal.”
Worse than experiencing Septoria, this year, is the fact that the spores shed by the fungus live on in the ground cover and even in the soil. So, even if I remove the infected foliage, even if I rotate my plants, the chances of recurrence in 2019 are high.
I certainly have ideal conditions for this fungal invader!
I will fight back this year by using an organic fungicide called Serenade. I don’t like resorting to this solution but it is non-toxic to birds, bees, beneficial insects, fish, and wildlife.
As an organic gardener, I hate introducing this into my eco-system but I know the long-term damage Septoria can cause and I have to take necessary measures to reduce or eliminate this “perennial” from my garden.
And I will soldier on with the rest of my plants because that’s what gardeners do and because there are other plants growing quietly, albeit slowly, in my garden that need tending to. Here are some photos of these brave, green soldiers.
I noticed your tomatoes cages are upside down. Why?
I use inverted tomato cages for both my peppers and my eggplants. The cages work beautifully to provide support against the Northwest winds we get, especially when the plants are laden with fruit….
I’m so sorry about the damage that you are experiencing from all the moisture. Here we have the opposite situation, which everyone (except me) thinks is great: hot weather and constant sun. Sure the flowers are magnificent and the beaches are crowded, but the trees and plants are starting to suffer. I wish we could trade weather for awhile.
I am sorry your are being baked! Somewhere in the middle would be great for both of us.
Septoria is something I have only heard other talk about. I suppose it is a problem in places, just not something we have had to worry about. The reason that apricots were one of the main crops here decades ago is the arid climate.
Arid…I might like a side order of arid. Under flood watch again and massive thunderstorms showing up in radar coming right up the coast toward us. Oh, and it will be 51 degrees tonight… enjoy the sun and if you get a chance, send some our way, please?
We are enjoying it for the moment, but will get tired of it soon enough when things get dry.
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