Alchemy Garden Journal Entry 18: Accidentally Destroyed My Pepperoncini?


The sadistic weather patterns have subsided for now. This is the first time in nearly three weeks that we’ve had sun that stayed for longer than an hour. Everything had dry leaves, so I took this time to do some extensive pruning.

I got rid of 1 to 2 pounds of foliage because almost everything was touching the ground and dirty. I didn’t want any fungal infections to persit―which might be inevitable anyway.

While pruning, I noticed black joints on my pepperoncini plants. The stems attached to the joints were wilting, and even though the leaves looked very healthy, I jumped the gun and thought I found something called Fusarium Wilt.

The disease is known to be soil borne and the fungus can be transferred via infected transplants, garden tools, and even from shoes! It often does a number on nightshade plants―which are the family of plants the peppers and tomatoes are part of. The entire plant turns yellow, the leaves and stem wilt, and the leaves begin to brown. Joints turn black.

Only one problem. Blackening of the joints is also a normal characteristic of pepper plants.

I cut off the infected joints and while a lot of evidence seemed to point to Fusarium, my plants also did not display other characteristics of the disease such as looking better in the evening, and yellowing leaves.

Soooooooo….. in my anxiety to save the pepperoncini, I cut off all of the foliage including the main stem where I saw all of the black joints…. And because I was reading so much about the infection, I planned to remove the plant entirely the next day… only to find out that black joints are normal and that my plants may have been completely healthy.

Damn the world, man! I just may have destroyed the pepperoncini that I just bought…. Rats.

The next day, I went to survey my garden, and thankfully, except for the oregano plants (which I will definitely have to destroy), everything actually looked okay. The soil in the front garden was drying up after the crazy flooding.

What is the lesson here? Do thorough research before hacking up your garden. Also, be patient. I probably will have little to no yields on these pepper plants, which is upsetting because I could have had at least a dozen peppers next month.

It’s easy to be frustrated with all of these mistakes, but I came across an article from The Patriot News that made me feel better about the mounds of energy, money, and time spent creating my first garden. It’s called New gardeners: Don’t be afraid of killing your plants. Here’s why, by George Weigel. And it reminds us that killing plants is part of the gardening learning process.

And He’s right! I’ve been so driven to not kill anything, but since starting this journey over a month ago, I’ve learned a bucket load of things from my mistakes than I did from my fragile successes. That’s the case with every endeavor, though. But what makes gardening more pressuring is that it is a patience game of trial and error. Some mistakes come with instant gratification fixes. Gardening does not. More often than not, problems are sometimes invisible until it is too late. And you can’t always diagnose a problem on the same day. Some problems aren’t even problems at all! So my next goal is to be more patient with my garden and pay attention to as many details as I can so that I don’t hack down any premature harvests.

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