|Ed in Montana
Happy Eighth Anniversary Garden Bloggers! I have been thinking about memorable gardening disasters and there have been two that have stood out over the last couple of decades.
Disaster Numero Uno: Back in the early 00s, I was purchasing my tomato seedlings at the farmer’s market from our biggest local grower Johnson’s Gardens. Terry Johnson has a large greenhouse in the valley, and supplies lots of seedlings of all kinds in May and June each year. I had been particularly impressed with his Oregon Spring tomato plants the previous season, which produced a lot of ripe, medium-sized fruit before September, so I purchased fifteen of the plants that year.
By mid-July, I knew something wasn’t right. The maturing plants didn’t look like Oregon Springs at all. By the end of July, I could see that none of them were regular sized tomato plants; they were all cherry tomato plants like Sweet Millions. Soon, we were inundated with hundreds if not thousands of penny-sized fruits. Too small to make into sauce, and even too small to be worth drying, we threw them in salads until we were sick to death of them. Friends and neighbors refused them, with many of those folks having purchased the same mistaken plants!
Johnson Gardens apologized profusely, claiming that a large bag of their seeds had been mislabeled. This would have been funny, but it happened again the next year, with Sweet Millions being mislabeled as another variety, but I had avoided buying more than 3 or 4 Oregon Springs that season.
Disaster Numero Dos: This was definitely the biggest gardening disaster, occurring in either 1993 or 1997. Back before our globally warmed Summers, we used to have a regular late August storm that would bring cold rain to the valleys with some snow in the high country. That year, the forecasts called for a bigger colder storm, so I prepared to save our vegetable garden with a collection of large tarps.
The afternoon prior to the storm, the temperature dropped precipitously, and Mrs. Ed and I covered all the tomatoes and other veggies with thick plastic tarps weighed down with rocks and lumber. Amazingly, we received four inches of heavy wet snow, covering everything in the valley.
The next day, the storm passed and peeked under the snow heavy tarps and saw that the tomatoes had survived. Until that night when the temperature plunged to 26 degrees F, turning the slushy snow to hard ice and freezing the tarps to ground. What a disaster!