Field of Science

Nighty night nightshades

This hasn't been the best growing season for nightshades: tomatoes, eggplant, chili peppers, petunias, etc. Both the combination and the sequence of weather seems to be not to their liking. Firstly it was too wet and not warm enough early on, and tomatoes being grown by some of the best gardeners TPP knows got no further. TPP had  his nightshades in containers, so the extra drainage kept them from completely crashing. Nightshades are also susceptable to quite a number of diseases particularly wilts and blights. Those along with mildews got off to a great start during the wet weather of early summer, and now the plants look terrible, their vigor is waning, and they won't last much longer although usually gardening is fine through the end of September around here. In particular it was a bad year for petunias, and the wave type seem to have done particularly poorly. In contrast verbenas that sometimes struggle are doing quite well. Remember that these nightshades are not tough plants, but cultivated softies. Now that the weather is cooler and drier, which requires some watering, plants should be doing well, but they are already too far gone. So for about 5 weeks tomatoes were abundant. There were plenty of eggplant for a month; the plants do show some signs of rebounding. Chili peppers produced well for about 6 weeks and now some varieties are almost leafless, others are recovering and will probably provide a few fruit. The petunias are just shot; wave goodbye. Glad our survival doesn't rely on potatoes this year, although strangely, perhaps because they are harvested earlier, some decent crops are being reported.

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