November 2005 Archives

Hope for the dying?


Perhaps this is a little too dramatic of a title, but I really have been bummed out by my garden. Last year, I actually turned out quite a few small bell peppers and jalapeños. This year, I had great aspirations and have been sorely disappointed. I had one miracle plant and now it appears to be dying before it can bring meaning to its life (harsh judgement, I know).Just to give you a little background, I had a dream once of a salsa garden, with peppers, tomatillos, tomatoes, etc. I had heard that tomatillos don't grow in Utah, but I found a Mexican immigrant here in town who apparently did quite well with them. Since I spoke the language, I knocked on his door one day and had a chat. He told me to come back in May when the seedlings were up and ready to be thinned out and he'd give me some. I eagerly agreed and came back. I walked home with a tray of 16 tomatillo plants and promptly went to work getting the garden going. We have really clay-y soil, so I added a bag of turkey manure to it, hoed it around, and made nice little hills and furrows. I planted the plants along with a serrano plant I had and actually ran out of room, so I cleared more space (w/o the fertilizer). I was satisfied and prepared myself for a bountiful harvest. I mean, there's no way 17 plants could all die, right?Fast forward a few weeks, and everything was shriveled up (they were watered frequently), except the pepper plant, but it was on it's way. My brother swears it was the manure which made the soil too acidic, but I'm not buying it (since there was a section w/o it, and plus I had used it the year before). Anyway, after a month or so, everything was dead. A bit later, I noticed a plant just outside the border of the garden, that seemed green and healthy and which I figured was a weed, except that the leaves seemed tomato-y. I let it grow, and it continued to do so. It was growing quite well and even started to have small yellow flowers, which also looked tomato-y. My brother thought it to be a weed and was going to pull it, but I said to wait. However, after two or three weeks of yellow flowers and no fruit or buds growing behind them, I decided I had been fooled and that it was indeed a weed. However, impressed by its rate of growth, I decided just to leave it.Maybe a few weeks after that, I went out again, and to my glorious surprise, I found little tomatillos growing. Then more. Soon, there were dozens and dozens of the things:

It was about mid September or so when I realized that they weren't growing much bigger - just more and more of them. I thinned maybe 20, but it didn't change it's behavior. Come October and cold weather, I started becoming very worried that Winter would kill my babies before they were useable. I started asking advice on how to keep the little guys alive until adulthood and even got a response from Anne Raver, the NY Times gardening columist. Armed with similar advice from others, I got some stakes and plastic sheeting. Whether from the wind (which can be brutal), the cold (which has dipped into the mid-20's at times), or some other curse, I don't know, but the plant appears to be sick:

So I ask in desperation, does anyone know if I can save these? Should I attempt to transplant to a pot and bring it indoors? I don't want to be a complete failure :(

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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