Category Archives: Seeds & Seed Starting

Grow So Easy Organic – Find Free Tools to Start Your Garden

Want to start organic gardening but don’t want to spend a lot of money?  You can and it’s pretty darned easy.  Unlike traditional gardening, if you go organic, there are a lot of things you will NEVER have to buy.

You do not have to buy any chemicals or herbicides.  You don’t have to have fancy sprayers or a rototiller – not even one of those small ones named after the bug that prays.

The short list of what you need is dirt, water, seeds and sun.  If you try organic gardening and don’t like it, you’ve probably only invested a few dollars and some time.

But if you do try it and you do like it, you probably already own just about everything you might need to get started.  What you don’t own, you can usually get, for free.

So, here’s my list of what you need to be an organic gardener:

  1. Dirt – free.
  2. Seeds – cheap to buy and even cheaper if you save some for next year’s garden.
  3. A big spoon or small shovel – something to dig holes with when transplanting.
  4. Newspapers – free if you ask your neighbors and co-workers for them.  You can use them for mulch and make transplant pots with it, too.
  5. Straw – free if you find a farmer who has old or moldy straw to get rid of and which works just as well as the golden yellow stuff.
  6. Some found items that your cukes, tomatoes and peppers can climb
    Cucumbers growing up an old inner spring.

    Cucumbers like to climb and did great on this old bed spring.

    up or grow in.  When I say found, I mean things like the old double-bed spring I use for climbing vegetables or the headboard and footboard from the cast aluminum bed that I found on the side of the road.

  7. Epsom salts – dirt cheap in half gallon milk shaped containers.
  8. A bucket – free if you can get a hold of a kitty litter container or a dog food bucket.
  9. A mug – free if you liberate it from your kitchen and use it to deliver water or fertilizer right to the roots of your plants.
  10. Twine – free if you (or someone you know) buy straw by the bale, save the baling twine and use it to tie up plants.  You can also get tons of baling twine in any horse barn.  NOTE:  Do NOT use green baling twine.  It has been treated with strychnine to kill mice and rats.
  11. Old, sheer curtains, old bed sheets and even old mattress covers – free if you save yours or ask relatives and friends to give their old ones to you.  They don’t look as pretty as commercial row covers but they will keep frost off your baby plants.  And they’ll slow down all the bloody beetles that want to share your food.
  12. Access to a public library – free and there are always books and magazines about organic gardening ready for you to browse through, borrow and take notes from.Oh, and libraries have computers and internet connections. Using them is free. And online is just FULL of ideas, tips and advice on organic gardening.  All you have to do is put in your search terms and hit Go.
  13. An old 3-ring binder and some paper – can be free if you ask co-workers to save used copy paper and write on the back.  NOTE:  I consider this a requirement for my gardening.  If I don’t write down a tip or a “lesson learned”, I forget and end up repeating my mistakes again and again and again.
  14. A bit of inventiveness, a dollop of gumption and enough courage to try, fail and try again.

There’s no hurry.  You don’t have to have all of these things all at once in order to get started.  In fact, I accumulated all the items above over the years.

So, you can garden happily without most of them.

FYI – I call this section in my book – Grow So Easy: Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us “practical” because most of the tools you need are in your closets or cabinets, the garage or the shed.  Don’t buy….just give gardening a try.

Who Gardens in January?

I mean, really? It's a bit hard to dig through that! But you can garden!

Even in frozen Pennsylvania, January is a perfect month to get started. All you have to do is answer a few questions:

What do you want to grow?

This is the fun part! It’s tempting to go for something you’ve seen it in the grocery store, maybe something exotic or expensive.

But maybe you should start by growing the veggies that you like the very best. The chances are you can grow it in your backyard.

Tomato just turning red
Ripening tomato

For most people, the easiest (and most forgiving) plants are tomatoes and peppers.

Cucumbers and zucchini are also pretty easy to grow and you get fruit, fast from these two.


Next question: Do you want to start from seeds or buy your plants?

If it’s your first garden, you might just want to pick up plants that are ready to go in the ground. It’s easier on you and probably easier on your transplants.

If you want to start from seed, you can buy packets a whole lot of places but I only buy from 4 sources. NOTE: The following companies are also organic and non GMO. And oddly enough, seeds that are not organic often carry herbicides and fungicides in them, both of which will show up in your vegetables.

Territorial Seeds This company lives, breathes and grows organic crops on its 75 acre farm at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. It also researches and trials seeds with an aim of helping family gardeners and farmers grow healthy food in healthy soil

Seed Saver’s Exchange This is a a network of gardeners interested in preserving heirloom varieties and sharing seeds. Today, with 13,000 members and 20,000 plant varieties, maintaining a collection of over 20,000 different varieties of heirloom and open-pollinated plants, the seeds they save have the ability to regenerate themselves year after year. These seeds can withstand unforeseen pestilence and plant disease, climate change, and limited habitat.

High Mowing Seeds This company believes that re-built food systems can support health on all levels – healthy environments, healthy economies, healthy communities and healthy bodies, focusing on re-building of healthy food systems through the seeds they source and grow.

Baker’s Seeds At Baker’s Seeds, they aim to provide the seeds of a sustainable food supply for everyone and keep heirloom varieties alive for future generations.  Their drive is to preserve seed diversity and food security in an age of corporate agriculture and patented, hybridized or genetically modified seeds.

These four companies works in its own way to try to save heritage breeds. But they also work hard to put the power of the food supply back where it belongs – in our hands and the hands of local farmers.

If you aren’t convinced yet, think about this:

The average distance any supermarket vegetable or fruit travels to the store is 800 miles. But a gardener’s own fruits and vegetables move from the garden to the table within minutes, with every ounce of nutritional value intact

Gardening is easy – soil, seeds, sun and water and you have fruits and vegetables galore. Nxt week – tools you need.

PS – this is my first time trying to edit in the new “improved” WordPress editor. UGH! It will get better, I promise.

 

2020 Organic Garden Update

June 2020 Garden

2020 Garden Growing!

It’s heading for the end of June and my garden has taken off!

Like most gardeners, May and early June are spent in a holding pattern, wondering if the plants you nurtured from seed would survive. They did. And they thrived and are setting fruit all over the place!

Let’s start with tomatoes.

Tomatoes on the vine

Glorious tomatoes!

The only hard part about growing tomatoes is deciding what kind to plant! That’s probably why I have 23 tomato vines in my garden right now.

These are Rutgers slicers on the vine! I have 3 of these plants and I am excited about them. I don’t usually grow slicers but I am looking forward to tomato and cucumber sandwiches!

Kangaroo brown tomatoes

Atomic Grape tomatoes

These babies are Atomic Grape. I saved seeds from last year and they sprouted and grew these gorgeous tomato plants.  Clusters of 5 tomatoes will turn green, red and purple…Atomic seems like an appropriate name for these beautiful fruits.

Below, plump plums are enjoying the cool mist of the morning.

Plum tomatoes

Plump plums on the vine

 

Who doesn’t need plum tomatoes? I make sauce, paste and scallopine from my tomatoes and we savor the summer flavors all winter long!

Yum!

 

Cucumbers reaching for the sun

Cucumbers are absolutely loaded with flowers and the beginnings of baby cucumbers just poking out from the plants. The bigger plants were started indoors and transplanted gently – cucumbers resent transplanting. The second set were planted from seed and will hopefully extend my cucumber harvest and season, my shot at succession planting.

Sweet red peppers

Sweet peppers for eating and canning.

Sweet red peppers

Sweet peppers for eating and saucing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight pepper plants in their inverted tomato cages are also enjoying the warm days and nights. There are 3 different varieties, all sweet, in this bed. Diced and added to tomatoes and blueberries, these make a meal for me on hot summer afternoons.

I somehow ended up with 10 eggplants this summer but I love them and eat them all summer long. I also braise and freeze them for mid-winter eggplant parmigiania.

Eggplant in the truck bed

Eggplant enjoying the heat!

There are 2 varieties, Bianca Rosa and Green. I put the Green eggplant in one of the truck beds and they are really enjoying their time in the sun. In fact, the Green eggplant are already setting flowers.

Green eggplant with flowers

Green eggplant soaking up sun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of flowers, every single flower in the garden this year is a volunteer. And I love them.

Flowers for the bees

Flowers for the bees!

Dill growing tall

Dill growing tall for the bees

Bachelor buttons, Fennell, Borage, Dill and Sunflowers are all welcome to grow right along with all my other beautiful plants.

These flowers are loved by bees – honey bees, bumble bees and all manner of tiny “back yard” bees.

 

Lettuce and spinach bolting

Lettuce & spinach setting seed.

Finally, all the plants in my lettuce and spinach bed are bolting! It’s too hot for these cool weather crops but that’s good news. Each of these spiky plants will grow all the seeds I need for this fall and next spring!

And letting these plants bolt means that the aforementioned bees get yet another plant full of tiny flowers and brimming with pollen and nectar.

Bolting also means that I get seed which I share with the goldfinches and other beautiful birds who live in my garden.

 

I will close with pictures of my blueberries, got the first picking yesterday and my blackberries, setting fruit and preparing to be a delicious add to my jam collection.

Blueberries

Blueberries with dew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackberries on the cane

Blackberries on the cane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: when you look at the pictures, you will see that almost everything looks like it has a light coating of powdered sugar. What you are seeing is Kaolin clay. Bought as a powder and mixed with water, clay effectively keeps Japanese beetles from dining at your buffet and it helps manage cucumber, bean, and squash beetles…and all it is is clay in keeping with my all organic all of the time.

Happy gardening everyone!

 

2020 Garden All In!

2020 Garden

Homemade wind breaks

You are looking at a wind break born of a desperate attempt to save my beautiful, raised-from-seed, plants!

My 2020 gardening season did not start off well. In fact, in looking at this scene, you might be asking what my husband asked when he saw it.

“When did the gypsies get here?”

Droll as that is, and ugly as it is, this hand made wind break, billowing like a sail, has saved 17 tomato plants from early death! And these breaks were free, made from materials I already had on hand and had been using for years.

Wind break saves tomatoes

Tomato wind break in action.

Here’s what happened.

The day after I finally put all my overgrown tomatoes in the ground, Mother Nature treated us to constant wind velocities of 17 to 20 Miles Per Hour (MPH).

The next day was the same and I was watching the leaves on every single tomato dry up, burn  and drop off, a death sentence for any plant.

Early the next morning, in desperation, my “gypsy wind break” was installed.

It’s made of the queen sized sheets I sewed together to protect my blueberries from the birds. (Once you catch and kill a bird in netting, you probably won’t use it again.)

Okay so this wind break is not pretty but it does the job!

Wind break for tomatoes

Gypsy wind break saving my tomatoes

It would have looked a bit better if I could have attached it directly to the tomato trellis but the clips and clothespins were too small. So, I used the bamboo poles I’ve had for 25 years and attached the sheets to them. Eureka! A wind break was born.

But I didn’t stop there!

WIndow frames as wind breaks

Old window frames as wind breaks

I found a new use for the old window frames that I use to cover plants if we get a late frost. They too were employed to break the wind and keep it off of 8 pepper plants and 5 eggplants.

These frames were free; I just stapled old sheer curtains to them to protect my plants.

Cukes under window frames

Window frames protecting cukes

Two of the window frames were tilted down over my 9 cucumber plants, again, to stop the killer wind.

You can just see the plants nestled under the frames and mulched with straw. They must be happy because they set their 3rd set of leaves, already.

Although the garden looks like a bit of a hodgepodge, all of the plants, including the tomatoes, have recovered and are starting to look like they may survive!

Amish Paste tomatoes

Amish paste tomatoes nestled in

But, because my hand-raised tomatoes got such a rough start, I cheated and went to Maple Shade Nursery. I bought 6 Amish Paste tomatoes and put them in the ground yesterday, in the rain.

Checking on them today, they all seem very happy, no wilting, no burned leaves.

I also sneaked in 6 yellow squash plants and tucked them into my blueberry patch..

Today, it’s warm, it’s moist and I think my garden will actually survive!

 

For all of you who are just beginning to garden, enjoy! It can be tricky but it’s also so rewarding.

Lettuce & Spinach

Lettuce & spinach ready to harvest.

Walking in my bare feet, in the dirt and on the straw and the clover is my idea of heaven and…you get to eat what you grow, like this glorious lettuce and spinach!

FYI, the windbreak stays up until the second week of June….

Defending My Garden!

Dill growing in with tomatoes

2019 garden in progress

My garden feeds 4 families, every year. It feeds my soul every day.

It is a place of refuge for me, the birds and yes, even the rabbits. 

Recently, the husband of a dear friend of mine described my garden as a, “Junkyard.”

He will remain nameless (as his worth dictates) but I must defend the space that I call my garden.

 

Yes, I have 2 truck beds in my garden. And I love them. Anyone who gardens knows how expensive raised beds are to buy…especially the 3 foot high beds! Well, one of these truck beds was free; the other cost $100.

raised beds from truck beds

Truck beds for raised beds

Both warm up earlier than the ground does so I can plant early. Both keep my crops safe from rabbits and gophers. Both provide a windbreak for transplants which is very important on our property as we are on a hill. Both save my back from bending over to plant, water, pick or bug bust.

See the chain link fence bent in half in the left hand truck bed? I salvaged it from the side of the road and use it as a trellis for crops like cucumbers to grow along.

Found items for the garden

Free barriers

Baskets that were given to me by a friend cover baby plants when it’s cold out. I also use them to keep rabbits from eating tender new leaves on plants or shrubs.

See the yogurt containers on the right? I cut the bottoms out of them (in the foreground) and slide them over vulnerable plants like baby green beans or beets. They are free and they make great collars to keep rabbits and slugs off young plants.

An old screen from the sliding doors we finally had to replace (after 25 years) also provides protection from rabbits, groundhogs and yes, my two West Highland White terriers.

Screen door in the garden

A screen protects beans

Wherever and whenever I can I find and reuse items in my garden and I love being able to do that. I also follow Ruth Stout’s age old advice and use straw to mulch everything from the garden beds and soil to the blueberries, blackberries and herbs.

My garden is not regimented.  Okay, let’s be frank, I am pretty laissez faire when it comes to where some plants show up in my garden.  For example, when my lettuce and spinach start to bolt, I let them grow up and flower. I have 2 ulterior motives – I want the seeds and I want the bees!

Flowers seed themselves

Flowers seed themselves

Borage, dill and bachelor buttons grow together in clumps. Sunflowers grace the back fence. And dill is everywhere! I don’t use dill but it grows where ever its seed landed and I let it grow up and flower.  Why? I want the bees!

 

Volunteer tomato

Tomato volunteers in the sweet potato bed

If you look closely at this picture, you will see a volunteer tomato growing in the sweet potato bed with…yep, some dill.

Volunteer potatoes are growing around the zucchini which I tucked into blueberry patch along with summer squash.

Will this garden of mine win any awards? Probably not. But I love it and I love the food it puts on so many people’s tables.

I love the joy of just wandering early in the morning, the sweet sound of birds singing from morning til night and the beauty that surrounds me every time I step into my garden.

Fresh beets

Fresh beets

First tiny tomatoes

First tomatoes of 2019

Tiny cucumber

First, tiny cucumber of the 2019 season

Spring @ Chez Mucci

Step outside, feel the sun.

Spring at Chez Mucci.

Guess how I know it’s Spring?

Nope, not trees starting to leaf out. Not daffodils or robins or even dandelions. And it’s not the darkling skies of an approaching thunderstorm or the rich scent of dark earth being turned by my fingers, either.

Spring arrives every year when I first inhale the rich, pungent smell of fish emulsion!  The scent is on my hands. Even after washing them I can still smell the perfume of fish wafting in the air. My springtime eau de cologne is from Neptune Harvest. Egg shells and fish emulsion are the only supplements I feed my plants. It’s all they ever get and they thrive on them.

I also know it’s Spring by the state of my basement…actually plant nursery. There are 44 tomato babies in the nursery right now.

Tomato babies in basement

Tomato seedlings

Growing and changing almost daily, these tomato babies will be shared with 3 friends who love getting heirloom, hand raised tomato plants that are non GMO, too.

Beet & lettuce seedlings

Beets & lettuce

My final hint that Spring is here? Baby beets peeking up out of soil, butterhead and oak leaf lettuce enjoying cool evenings and moderate days. Tatsoi shares a bed with the lettuce I seeded in and kale is growing strong and beautiful in one of my truck bed gardens.

This Spring, I also got a new garden friend who is yet another harbinger of one of my favorite seasons.  His name is Maurice AKA Mo.

A birthday present from my funny, sweet husband, Mo is a 77 inch high, metal rooster (I’ve wanted on ever since I read Jenny Lawson’s,  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened). Maurice greets me every single morning as we welcome another Spring day to my backyard garden.

 

Maurice in my backyard

Maurice meets Linus!

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings

It’s moving day for my tomato seedlings — their first moving day, actually.

Tomatoes ready for transplant

Tomatoes ready for transplant

My seedlings move a total of 3 times after they emerge, first into 3 inch pots then, into 5 inch pots and finally, into the garden.

This year I am growing four different varieties but two of my favorites – Atomic Grape and Fox Cherry  are indeterminate so they need to be transplanted before the other two varieties.

Tomato seedlings in cells

Tomato seedlings

Starting my seeds in the grow trays has advantages. I can get the soil warm, quickly and I can keep it consistently moist. Heat and moisture help speed up the process of sprouting for tomato seeds.  The one disadvantage is that indeterminate tomato seedlings outgrow the cells very rapidly.

At the age of 3 weeks and 3 days, these babies are ready for new digs. I start all my seeds in an organic soil specifically created for seed starting. It gives them an edge at the beginning of their lives and makes my life a bit easier too. But when it comes time to transplant, I add a little something something to make the soil lighter – coir.

Coir is coconut husk and it really adds value to the growing process. It improves soil structure by aerating it which is good for baby roots. And coir manages water – regulating water by holding it or dissipating it as needed.

I start by putting a spoon of my soil mix in the bottom of each 3 inch peat pot.

Soil and egg shells in peat pots

Soil & eggshells in peat pots

I also sprinkle just a bit of chopped egg shell on top of that for slow release feeding of the baby plants.

As I take each tomato seedling up out of its cell, I strip off the bottom two leaves and lay the plant at the bottom of the peat pot.

 

Then, I slowly pack soil around its stem until I fill the peat pot to the top. Sinking the seedling to the bottom of the pot lets the stem put out more roots and ground the tomato plant into the pot.

Tomato transplants in peat pots

Tomato transplants in peat pots

Once in pots, I water in each baby tomato to ensure there are no air pockets around the tiny roots of each plant. Then I move them onto trays and over to my plant stand.

They will look a bit battered for a day or two but recover quickly and start to grow into their new homes.

About a week after transplant, I will give them a feeding of very dilute fish emulsion and water. By the 3rd week of April, I will be transplanting all of them, again.

Tomatoes last transplant

Tomatoes’ last pot before the garden

This time, they go into 5 inch wide, 6 inch deep plastic pots (reusable) following the same process – small amount of soil and egg shells, strip off leaves, pack into the new container, water in, rest and a bit of fish emulsion in a week.

Currently I have 44 tomato plants humming along in my basement – that’s about 20 more than I have ever planted but, every year, I give the extra away. My sister-in-law, my niece and 2 gardening friends get 4 or 5 hand-raised, heirloom, organic, non GMO tomato plants to play with.

I love the process of growing tomatoes and I think I love sharing them almost as much!

FYI, I’m also hardening off the tatsoi, kale and lettuce I started in my basement in February.

Kale, spinach and tatsoi

Kale, spinach and tatsoi transitioning to the garden.

It will go in the ground just as April begins. Here’s hoping that the worst of the winter weather is behind us!

Seed Starting Made Easy

My palms are itching. My toes are tapping. My heart is beating faster! It’s time to start the seedlings.  Not all of them, you understand but it’s  enough for me to start the cool weather babies — lettuce, kale, tatsoi and spinach.

Starting seeds indoors is easyIt’s still very cold outside but I am heading to the basement and pulling out my trays, my seed starting soil and my seeds.

Seed starting is really easy as long as you pay attention to a few basics including the right seed, the right starter and the right planters.

Buy the right seed. Now what in the world does that mean? Seed is seed, right? Not in today’s world. Unless it’s certified organic, you could be buying seeds infused with herbicides and pesticides. And guess what? The herbicide and pesticide actually grow right into your plants and right into your produce.

So, only buy 100% certified organic seeds. Where? My favorite outlets for healthy and happy seeds are:

  1. Seeds of Change
  2. Seed Savers Exchange
  3. High Mowing Seeds
  4. Hudson Valley Seeds
  5. Territorial Seeds

These folks have healthy seeds that ensure you grow healthy plants and healthy produce. And they have ideas, tips and equipment for getting started. NOTE: you do NOT have to buy a whole lot of “stuff” to start gardening.

Start your seeds in the right dirt. I know, dirt is dirt. But is it?

Seedlings get a good start in healthy dirt.

Healthy dirt means healthy seedlings.

And what difference does dirt make to growing healthy, happy plants and healthful food? Dirt is everything.

This is one thing I buy every year. Why? Because dirt for starting seeds has to be organic. I get mine from Gardener’s Supply – employee owned and US-based, their seed starting mix has stood the test of time for more than 25 years!

Have the right equipment and tools. Most of my gardening stuff was used when I started. It still is. My favorite seed starting tool are my seed starting kits.

Grow trays are best seed starting tools.

Grow trays are perfect for starting seeds.

I bought these 25 years ago and they are still working great!  The small cell of dirt heats up fast. The base and mat ensure the seedlings never dry out but they also never get too wet or damp off.

If you’re just starting out, don’t invest too much before you start growing. Look around. Use stuff you already have . Check Craigslist to pick up gardening equipment for a song!

I found most of my tools and you can too so don’t let the cost of tools scare you off. (The post on finding tools was written 5 years ago but it still stands as does its companion post on garden tools that are nice to have.)

Getting started is so easy. I hope you take a chance. Grow your favorite vegetable on your patio, in a pot on the back porch or in a plot in the back yard.

Green and organic garden in summer.

My garden in July, 2016.

Give it a shot and just 5 months from now, you could be looking at gorgeous, healthy veggies growing on your very own plants!

Looking for more tips on seed starting? Margaret Roach, one of my most favorite gardening gurus, offers her own seed starting wisdom, too.

Join in. Get your hands dirty. And start growing your own food. It’s fun and it really is easy!!

Happy Spring (almost) everyone!

July Garden Update!

Today, I will write with pictures, not words. So here is the pictorial update on my garden…and how it’s growing.

Despite cool nights (high 50’s and low 60’s, still), there are wonderful things are happening in my backyard.

Onions in May

Onions in May

Onions ready for harvest

Onions ready for harvest

 

Asparagus crowns need trenches

Asparagus trenches-April

Asparagus Growing-July

Asparagus Growing-July

Bianca Rosa Eggplant-July

Bianca Rosa Eggplant-July

Bianca Rosa Eggplant

Bianca Rosa Eggplant-June

Tiffen Mennonite Tomato

Consueleto tomato-June

Consueleto Genovese ripens

Ripening Consueleto-July

2018 Garden Underwater, Again

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.

2018 garden underwater

My garden in the mist

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 fungus

Septoria on my tomato babies.

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.”

Septoria will affect my 2019 garden

Septoria will affect 2019 garden, too

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.