Gardening: unknown unknowns


Choanephora cucurbitarum. Yep. That’s what that is. But blurting out a fancy name doesn’t mean I know what I’m talking about. This spaghetti squash was about an inch and half long before being attacked. I gingerly picked it and tossed it out. I ain’t not wanting them thar spores overwintering in my garden no-how, nope, not ever. I don’t know what can be done about this when everything is still in bloom, or how to purify the soil for the next year…


And then there’s human error. A great friend with unlimited amounts of energy got a bit too close to a tomato plant. Surprisingly, a week later, the plant is still going strong. We’ll see. I might get some used tires to protect from innocent mistakes. My fault, too. I baited that weed-eating by not not weeding as I should, as is evident from the photo above. But what do I know? I know so little that it is unknown to me what the unknowns might be.

Donald Rumsfeld put it best:

  • “Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

More unknowing from my first time gardening experience:


Placing spaghetti squash over the house supports instead of keeping them on the ground turns out not to be a good idea. The spaghetti squash will, of course, get huge, and perhaps break the vines, so that all is lost.

And then there’s this – what? tomato rust? – I don’t know:


Is that a bug which does that? Like this one? Also over on the cucumber…


I think this is what happens in the wake of such a beast:


But what do I know? And even if I knew, I wouldn’t know what to do about it.

It seems to me the Lord said something about this:

  • “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how.  Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

The Lord is so good. Despite the vast ignorance that is mine, I have been harvesting really almost too much asparagus daily for months, so much squarrsh that there is now about 30 one-pound bags of it in the freezer, heaps of cucumbers, multiple spaghetti squarrsh, at last count about 80 tomatoes, one of which I’ve already harvested.

The Lord makes it easy. We can survive. As time goes on we get more clever about it, and are more successful if we work together, lest we suffer from the thistles from the neighbor’s garden, he also suffering from the thistles from our gardens.

There is one known unknown, however, and that’s that we do know that the extent  of the Lord’s goodness and kindness for us is almost entirely unknown to us. The Lord is soooo very good, soooo very kind.

When running out to the garden for something to eat it’s a great consolation to discuss such matters with the dear Lord.


Filed under Gardening, Spiritual life

4 responses to “Gardening: unknown unknowns

  1. Aussie Mum

    Re “how to purify the soil for next year”
    There are seeds one can plant (Brassica juncea, Brassica napus) after harvest to remove infectious agents from the soil. They grow to about 3 foot in 21 days and are then dug back into the soil before planting the next food crop, and are described by the Diggers Club in Australia as “Mustard Biofumigant”. Although safe for organic gardens, Diggers notes that these natural biofumigants are not to be consumed by people or animals.

    Re “tomato rust?”
    Could be; if so, its a fungal infection. The above-mentioned biofumigant if planted after this crop is harvested will clean up the soil ready for next year’s crop but that doesn’t help you now. I guess there is some type of chemical treatment you could give the affected tomato plant but chemical treatments aren’t healthy. I would just remove the affected leaves and hope the rest of the plant will be alright. I don’t know if it would help with the fungus but when my plants looked stressed they always responded well to watering with an organic seaweed fertiliser I bought from the supermarket. I added a small amount to water in a watering can and poured over the whole plant and the soil it was growing in.

    The Diggers Club in Vic has the following advice on their website that might be helpful.
    ♦ Plant tomatoes a metre apart. This improves airflow and minimises physical transfer of pests and diseases between plants.
    ♦ Try not to grow tomatoes in the same soil each year. Rest beds for 3-4 years before replanting with tomatoes or bio-mustards can be used to reduce the presence of harmful microbial activity by fumigating the soil after a tomato crop.
    ♦ Prune on low humidity days to reduce fungal diseases in open wounds.
    ♦ Clean pruning tools between plants (hand sanitising lotion or methylated spirits will do the trick).
    ♦ Never compost diseased plant materials as this may spread pathogens around the garden.
    ♦ Mix up your plantings. Many pathogens are host specific (e.g. they only feed off one species or family of plants). Interspersing beds with other species can provide physical barriers or regions without food that can prevent or slow their spread.
    ♦ Use companion planting. Planting marigolds around tomatoes suppresses nematodes which damage tomato roots.
    ♦ Identify a few good varieties that are best suited to your area

    The little beetle pictured looks like a ladybird aka ladybug. If it is, its one of the good bugs gardeners like because they eat bad bugs like aphids.

  2. sanfelipe007

    I knew nothing about gardening before your comment, Aussie Mum, thank you for generously sharing your knowledge.

    • Aussie Mum

      I can’t garden anymore, Sanfelipe, or do much else for that matter, but enjoy seeing pictures of other peoples’ gardens and hearing about them. I’m grateful to be able to come here in cyberspace and listen to and share in conversation with others.

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