From time to time I’ll be recycling some of the garden-related posts from my old blogs – but I’ll try to insert them at the same point in the season they were originally posted. It will be interesting to see if my tomatoes and peppers and so forth start fruiting at the same time. So far, I think I’m behind schedule.
Today’s year-old post concerns the shocking discovery I made one year ago of a black walnut tree, which releases a chemical called juglone that is toxic to tomatoes. I am living in the same house this year as I did that summer, so I’m still facing down this enemy.
There has been some attrition in the potted garden. For some reason, the little bell pepper that started a few weeks ago stopped growing and is now shriveling up and looks like it will fall off. But the tomatoes are doing well. The beefsteaks continue to swell:
The cherry tomato plants are getting a little too rangy for their own good, as they got knocked over in a recent windstorm. However, I am extremely grateful for their good health in light of a terrible discovery I made this morning. As I walked out the back gate, I noticed a small half-sphere on the ground. It was a black walnut shell. Having read the Inadvertent Gardener’s tragic tale of poisoned tomatoes, I knew that black walnut trees exude a substance toxic to tomato plants (and pepper plants, although I think the pepper attrition is unrelated). The toxicity can even collect in rainwater beading up on a walnut tree’s leaves, which spells doom for any tomatoes in the tree’s “dripline.”
Looking at the trees above me, there was only one that was not identifiably a maple or a birch. I picked up a small branch from that tree and took it back to my room for analysis.
A quick internet search of black walnut photos confirmed the origin of the leaves and shell. Yes, indeed, we have a totally freaking enormous black walnut tree towering a scant 30 feet from the deck on which all the potted plants sit. Fortunately, I think the tomatoes are just outside of its dripline. But an errant leaf falling into the tomato pots could spell doom. Who knew gardening could be so fraught with lurking enemies?
I never did experience walnut wilt that summer, so I feel confident that I can keep this year’s tomatoes out of the dripline. Of course, my biggest problem that summer turned out to be Blossom End Rot. Now I know that I need to help my tomatoes have higher calcium uptake. And as for storms, looks like they came at the same this year as last. We’ve gotten doused in the last few days, but everything seems to be pulling through. In this heat, there’s no such thing as over-watering.