5 Free Pictures of Blue Hydrangeas

Because my blog is mainly about hydrangea plants and flowers, I thought I’d bring to attention some pictures of blue hydrangea flowers that are free to use as you please. Download any size on the Pixabay site  (click on the image to view the page at their site) and use on your blog, website, stationery, and printables. These pictures can also be used commercially, with no need to give credit to the photographer, or site. Of course they would love it if you do.
I’ll also do other colors like green, pink and white. (Coming soon.)  In a few months I should have some photos of my own to add.
Here you go.   Click the image if you can use it yourself.   Continue reading

Late Blight Tomato Disease With Pictures

DSC05255Until last summer I had grown crops of delicious tomatoes without any problem. Then, suddenly my beautiful, tall plants, which were loaded with nearly ripe tomatoes, began to turn brown.  I watched in horror as day by day they looked worse, and each tomato became deformed with brown spots.

I knew nothing of blight, or late blight, which is more appropriate I think, but I did do some research to try and discover what was wrong in my garden.  I rotate my crops each year and no tomatoes had grown in this spot before.  I carefully pour over my gardening books so I know which crops should follow which, and which ones like to be paired in the garden.  I thought I had done everything right, and with the crops looking so darn good – it was depressing, to say the least, to lose all those luscious tomatoes.  After all, I wait a whole year to be able to pick fresh tomatoes from my backyard each August!

What I have found is that blight affects potatoes and tomatoes.  It was the cause of the Irish Potato Famine in 1845.  I didn’t grow potatoes last year.  But I had six, celebrity tomato plants growing nicely when it hit.

The first signs are brown spots on the leaves and stems.   There is no way to stop the progression as the leaves curl and die.  Big dark spots form along the stems and also on the tomatoes themselves.   I even picked the green tomatoes, hoping they would possibly ripen fine, but that didn’t happen.  It was the year of no backyard tomatoes.  I swore I’d never garden again!  But alas, here it is March and I’m already wondering how to avoid this problem when I plant tomatoes this summer.  Even ugly, old, rotten tomato blight can’t stop a gardener.  I’ve had all winter to get over it.  (Now it’s ice dams I despise.)

tomato blight picture

A picture of blight on my tomato plants – August 2014

The disease is caused by a pathogen that can migrate to infect other areas easily. It can survive from season to season, but needs a living host.  For those of us who live in the northeast, temperatures are so cold over the winter (remember February anyone?) that the disease usually does not hang on from season to season.  It tends to bother potatoes more in that way, as it can survive on tubers still underground.  This is according to the Cornell University article link below.

So when we start fresh this season, how do we make sure our backyard tomato plants will not fall victim to late blight just as those tomatoes begin to ripen? Buy blight-resistant tomato varieties. According to this article, found on the Cornell University site, ‘Mountian Magic’ and ‘Plum Regal’ are two to look for. The Cornell page also lists more at the bottom. I notice that my favorite ‘Celebrity’ is not there.

(Buy Mountain Magic Hybrid Tomato Seeds 10 Seed Pack by OrganicSeedSupply at Amazon.  They are non-GMO and organic.)

Long time farmers and growers will already know that plants should be watered from the bottom to keep water off the leaves.  Any leaves that look infected should be removed right away and bagged up to throw away.   Be sure you are seeing late blight and not another disease or issue that can look similar.  Don’t allow volunteer plants to grow.  Start with quality seeds or buy good, healthy plants.

Cool temperatures and wet conditions – or high humidity – is the enemy.  All we can do is hope for better summer weather and pray for a good crop.  By the time you see the effects of late blight, you can probably kiss those beautiful tomatoes good-bye no matter what you do.  At least our lives do not depend on our crops.  We can buy from the Farmer’s Market if need be.

ripening tomatoes vine blight

grape tomato plant with blight

Late blight affected the grape tomato plant as well.

brown spot on tomato

Spring on the Calendar Means Nothing in NH

winter snow spring

Winter is not Gone Yet

Winter is not gone yet here in New Hampshire. Spring on the calendar means nothing really. On the first day of Spring it snowed and was very cold. My outdoor thermometer broke a long time ago, so I don’t keep track of the temps, but this week it will be close to 50 and that is the warmest it’s been in many months here. It will come with rain, so we’ll still be stuck indoors, but to open my cupboards and have them not feel like a refrigerator will be a nice change.

In your neck of the woods, it may feel like time to get the gardens cleaned up and the seeds started. All this still seems a long way off to me. And that’s fine. Because of the ice dams that were created with the non-stop February snow storms, I have damage to get fixed inside my house. I need a new roof, but can’t afford that, so I’ll do what I can. Home fixes and improvements are what I have on my mind after surviving the bad winter we just had. I try to ignore all the clean up that will be needed once this icy snow melts. It will not all be gone for a long while. What you see in the picture of my backyard (above) has gone down to about half. I had to have the roof shoveled in February, and that made big piles of snow all around the house.

So I have no hydrangea news to report. The only hydrangea flowers I’ve seen are the ones on the paper I make for the BlueHyd store. I’m hoping the ones in the yard will look fine once the snow goes away. At least the sun is stronger and having bright days is a wonderful gift!

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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