This morning I went out to look at my garden, as is my custom most mornings after the bus has come and gone and I have a chance to finish my coffee. Everything looked in order from afar, but as I honed in for a closer inspection, trying to sneak up on those pesky tomato suckers, I noticed my plants looked in somewhat ill health. Not exactly sick, but queasy. Now, I knew I took a risk by planting them in the dirt before Mothers Day, but the forecast looked good for an early planting, and I had been fastidious about hardening them off. We did get a cold snap last week, but not a frost in our area, and they had looked fine the morning after. The leaves were sort of yellowish, curling at the edges, with some brown spots on them. What could it be? Blight? Bugs? Too much water? Not enough? As I fondled each plant in turn, murmuring over them and worrying like the mother of a sick child (I have, after all, nurtured these babies since January!), It occurred to me that I might need some help.
I knew just where to get it, too. I hurriedly plucked the worst looking of the leaves off pepper and tomato, hopped in my truck and beat feet (My dad’s expression) to the local greenhouse to talk with my good friend who runs the garden center. She has been a resource for me over years, and one I have come to value and respect. I knew together we could figure out what ailed my lovelies. After a trot around the greenhouse with my fistfull of wilted leaves looking for my friend, who turned out not to be working that day, I decided to take a chance and ask someone else. I found another woman and after a quick inspection she informed me that my plants weren’t that sick at all, but had a case of chill stemming from wet feet. We had a chat, and she suggested in the nicest of ways that perhaps I had mulched too deeply, or perhaps too close to the stems. The previous cold, combined with a wet wind and lots of rain has weakened the plants because the roots couldn’t breath. She prescribed a treatment of kelp and seaweed mulch lightly applied to the area around the roots, and the mulch pulled back 6 inches. It turns out everyone at that greenhouse knows stuff! I rushed home to apply her advice. Below is the result. I’ll let you know in a week if my darling peppers and lovely tomatoes have recovered their former vigor.