Thursday, June 17, 2010

About those potato cooties, then.

I'm not really sure what happened with the potato plants that made them go from way bushy and thriving to less bushy and sucking, but there you have it.

                                                 Before                                                                            After

And since I've approached this whole potato growing thing with the lackluster methods of someone "experimenting" rather than "growing crucial sustenance", I'll admit to a certain amount of neglect.

Not that I haven't watered them, I have. I mean, the automatic sprinkler has, but the thing gets watered, so that's probably not the problem.

Here's my problem: brown leaves

But, I have begun thinking about the potato situation, as it were, and here are a few things that might have something to do with its recent decision to take its own life. Perhaps you can conjure up a rationale from these random clues:
  • When it reached the top of the fourth tire, I said, "Eh, fuck it. That's as many tires as it gets. I can't be piling tires to the sky, and plus, we don't have any more tires so it's just going to have to live." So, perhaps it's stunted?
  • The tires really retain a lot of heat, so maybe they're burning in there?
  • When I started to feel guilty for restricting their tire allowance, I filled up the top tire to the brim with soil to give them a leeeeeeeeetle bit more room to grow. Maybe I crushed something important with all that soil?
  • The soil I used was Topper leftover from Bubba's recent Master Lawn Growing experiment and I hear that has a lot of fertilizers in it so again, maybe it's burning the leaves?
Some other ideas from our cocktail hour brainstorm sessions:
  • Space aliens have conspired to kill the potatoes
  • Rocket did it
  • The potatoes are cursed
 Any ideas you have are welcomed and I'll let you know how they fare as we go. For the record, the things are about to bloom right now, so my current plan is to continue not bothering them (ie. neglect), let whatever branches want to bloom, bloom and then when the plants die back completely, which they now have a head start on doing yay, I'll knock over the tire tower and see what's going on. 

There are still parts of this plant that want to live.

Of course, there are other evils that can be determined once you have the potatoes out of the soil, but a lot of those are bug-related and none of the bug-related symptoms I've found on the internets look anything like what's happening to these plants. And I haven't seen any bugs in, on or around these plants.

Oh, and yesterday when I thought the cause of the leaf brownage could be fertilizer burn, I went out and soaked the plants in a half-assed attempt to "flush" the fertilizer from the soil. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a miraculous rebirth this morning when I went out to check on the plants because I was.

There was no miraculous rebirth.

OK - go on and diagnose my potato problem now...GO go GO...

But first, some good garden news that doesn't involve dying leaves or cootie-carrying aliens:

My tomatoes are getting big

The beans have reached the top of their tepee and are setting their first fruit from SURPRISE purple flowers

The lettuce is positively bushy and delicious

The tomatillos are tangoing effectively

Apples, nasturtium, limes and artichokes are at the top of their game

And both cuke plants are doing what cucumbers do best: Taking over everyfuckingwhere

The melons, well, I took photos of them just because I took photos of everything else, but let's just leave it at one word: SLOW.

I also sneaked in a Moon and Stars watermelon seedling that has remained unphotographed because I keep forgetting it when I'm all enraged over WHY ISN'T THIS MUTHER EFFING JELLY MELON GROWING YET?

We're up to four leaves, folks. FOUR FUCKING LEAVES. GAH!

Ok, I'm over my hissy now. Mostly because I'm super excited about the purple podded beans (which I assume will turn purple when they're ripe? Right now they're green and the rest of the plant is purple. Weird.) and the Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers because they're weird *and* growing, which is how I prefer all plants behave.

So, have you figured out my potato problem yet? NO? Come on, people. What am I paying you for? Oh, right.


  1. We all know I am not much at I have nothing to offer you in the way of the potato mystery.
    I heard somewhere that you ( anyone...not JUST you) shouldn't grow potatoes in tires...something about the stuff that the tire rubber gives off. I don't know what, but then again we all know I am not much at gardening so why am I telling you that? You know these things much better than I.

  2. In addition to the tire thing Claudia mentioned, could it possibly be that you're watering them too much? Sometimes that turns leaves brown and sparse, too.

  3. I know nothing about gardening!!! I do know that your pictures all are amazing.

  4. I concur about too much water.

    I also concur about melons sucking ass. I planted cantaloupes that are currently dying a slow and painful (for me) death in the brand-spanking new garden I just filled with soil. I'm giving them another week before I evict them. That's prime garden space there.

  5. I have had similar issues in my garden this year. :(

  6. Well, if you don't have the Goddamn Blight (i.e. black spots first, then dead leaves) or flea beetle attacks (little holes ALL OVER the leaves), then I have no idea what's up with your potatoes. Since those are the two things that we have to worry about every year.

    Over-watering sounds logical to me, though, since they're so confined and the water isn't really draining out much. And you had all that rain. But if they're still alive . . . eh. They're probably okay.

    Yeah. I'm a meticulous gardener, obviously.

  7. I don't know anything about the potatoes but I kind of wondered about if the tires would give off any bad stuff. I know I've read somewhere that that shredded tire mulch isn't such a good thing.

    I planted a lemon cucumber and it just recently shriveled all up. Rather depressing. My melons are just starting to do something, although my cantelope looks like shit too.

  8. There was news up here that some of the tomatoes in the garden centers had been infected with blight, and that the spores could travel by wind and infect tomatoes, peppers, and something else... but you're a long way from Canada. Check to see if it's blight, though.

    PS: I read through bloglines, but will open pages with tasty recipes, with the intention of one day writing down the recipes and trying them. (I have a gazillion tabs open.)

  9. The thing I'd heard about tires was that they might get too hot. I assumed that would be more of a problem in scorching Colorado, than in pleasant seaside California, but who knows. Maybe if you wrapped them in something white to help reflect the light so it will be less of a black heat-sink? Then instead of having a stack of tires, you could have a stack of tires wrapped in a white sheet. That would be much better, ascetically speaking. ;)

  10. I'm voting for "too hot."

    I always liked the idea of tire-planters, but I know how muther-effing hot it gets out there. I suspect you may end up harvesting pre-roasted potatoes.

    BTW - The snails got all my Jelly Melon plants. So you will, most likely, win the South-Bay Twisted Jelly-Sister Competition.

    Yay Finny! Boo Snails!

  11. My potatoes are doing the exact same thing and I'm thinking either a rust (do your leaves look weirdly brown/spotty/glazed?). The master gardeners told me after the last rain it was overwatering but my soil is pure sand, so I doubt that. I think it's a virus or blight, since this has been the Year of Fungi for all my plants. Sucks, but I'm still holding out for tubers. I'm just ignoring them until they're all dead.

    And if not? I'm giving up on potatoes.

  12. I can't believe the diversity you have going on there. So incredible!

  13. great photos. the artichokes blow me away! ah...california!

    so, i vote for blight. or, perhaps they are done. you planted these early enough that they might be dying back, like they do when the potatoes are almost ready. when they are all dead, you can kick over those tires and grab your potatoes. i hope.

    i am pretty sure that blooming is not required for potato growth. weird, huh? i remember hearing, when people were freaking out about colony collapse (mysterious honey bee disappearance), that potatoes would still be around, since they don't require pollination.

    there is also the colorado potato beetle, but i don't know what the damage from those looks like.

    can't wait to find out what's in there.


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