6.09.2010

Taking it all with a grain of salt

A few weeks ago I put up a question on a local gardening community forum board (won't name names) asking if anyone knew what the deal was with my tators. I was worried because I had 4 healthy bags of potatoes planted with early, mid, and late season varieties that seemingly overnight decided they hated me and started keeling over.

I literally hand picked 3 of the 4 varieties I set out. I had gone down to Planters and dug through the barrels of seed potatoes and picked out the very best I could find. I brought them home, cut and cured them and planted them out in their little bags - all in the name of love for the tator. (The Purple Viking, the 4th bag, I bought on line while looking for something "new"). So naturally I was upset at the thought of losing even one of the bags but here I was watching 2 of them doing something they definitely shouldn't have been doing - seeming to die! The leaves had turned yellow and were starting to lose that lush and lucious look but overall the plants were doing well. I needed to know if anyone with more knowledge than I profess to have could help me out. So I joined the forum and posted my concern. After about 2 weeks I got a response - the poster assured me that what I had going on was one of the blights - couldn't say which one but was fairly certain that's what it was. OK - that's cool - but why did 6 other people jump on the bandwagon and not only diagnose blight but wilt and tobacco virus too? ...and all before I even posted a pic. I was told to immediately remove the bags from the vicinity of the other garden plants and the other 2 bags and destroy the plants because nothing was going to grow and the disease would spread.

In a panic I moved the two bags over to a lonely corner of the garden - but I couldn't bring myself to destroy them. I just couldn't. I moved them to their corner and I left them there. I watered them when I watered the rest of the garden and checked for bugs when I thought about it but my heart ached with every wilting leaf and shriveling branch. Finally, today, I couldn't take it any more. One of the bags seemed half dead - the other half only so so and just barely hanging on - I just couldn't take looking at them any longer. So I sucked it up and dumped one of the bags ... and found potatoes. Nice sized ones too. Not as many as I'd have hoped but considering I'm guessing I probably dumped them sooner than I should have (DUH!!) wasn't too bad of a haul.

... so what do I think was the problem? I interplanted the bags - I planted early season with mid-season and mid with late and early with late ... I basically f'd up. Makes sense that half of the bag would be ready before the other half, huh? The only thing is I never got flowers - so I didn't think there would actually be potatoes in there!

To sum it up - the next time I start freaking out about what's going on in the garden I should probably trust my first gut instinct and just let it happen. Worse case it doesn't grow. Today's lesson was an easy one to learn - I can't dig up everything I set out because some random dude on the 'net told me it was going to kill everything around it. Now I'm not blaming the guy for touching off my freak out session - that was all me. He was only trying to help!

From here on out I'm telling myself hourly to take all gardening advice - solicited or not - with a grain of salt.
I always have this thing rattling around in my head that since I'm new to this I have to follow what others say because they've been at it for a while and undoubtedly know more than I do. The internet is awash with folks with decades of experience - I should be able to trust anything they say, right? Folks know what they're talking about I'm sure, but unless they are physically here looking at it there's no way they can know for sure about what's going which leaves me in the same spot I would have been in had I not asked any one at all about what was going on.

So I'm down to 3 bags now. They look a little raggedy but I'm not dumping them. I'm going to wait until they die back the way they are suppose to - totally and completely. I'm going to take my chances with these last 3 - sorry randome dude.

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