filet beans

Barbara Pleasant

                                                                    Garden Writer

September 2015

The planting and harvesting has eased up, so it’s time to get out and compare notes on the season with other gardeners. September 11-12 I’ll be at the Heritage Harvest Festival, which is held in Thomas Jefferson’s back yard at Monticello. He would have loved this! You can taste tomatoes, listen to hand made music, or walk among Jefferson’s gardens and orchards to your heart’s content.

The next weekend, September 18-19, I’ll drive through beautiful West Virginia to get to the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania, home of the Mother Earth News Fair. The fall colors will just be starting to show, but it will still be comfortably warm, and there will be three days filled with illuminating talks and cool exhibits. See you there!   

Question of The Week: 

We have a problem with our tomatoes. Have had it each year here in Western North Carolina. A large, roughly round gray-black spot will cover an entire side or bottom of the tomato itself. Don't know if this is a bug or some kind of bacteria/virus. We've killed a couple of tomato worms, but don't see any others. What’s the problem?

It sounds like you're seeing blossom end rot, which is a physiological disorder that develops when the tomato plants fail to pump sufficient nutrients to the ends of the fruits, and it usually occurs in episodes -- one cluster will have it, another will be clean. 

They say it's associated with calcium deficiency, but I think it's about weather and variety, too. In general, large tomatoes are at highest risk, but this year I've seen a little on the Stupice variety, which produces golf ball size fruit. This year I also have Ruth's Perfect and Plum Regal, and I haven't pitched a one of them for BER (the scientific abbreviation).

This year has been a little worse than usual, probably because one of those hot dry spells hit just when the tomatoes were setting lots of fruit. Hopefully the season will round out okay. Good luck!


New seasonal reading at

The Fine Details of Drying Tomatoes

Protecting Your Garden From Deer


Plus more in Mother Earth News

Is Steam Cannning Safe?

The latest from Organic Connections 

Create a Butterfly Habitat In Your Yard

Summer Health Check for Tomatoes

Looking for something I’ve written, but can’t remember where? I know the feeling! In attempt to bring order to the chaos of hundreds of articles and blogs, I’ve set up Pinterest boards of my work. The categories range from permaculture and pollinators to growing onions and garlic. I hope you find my Pinterest guide easy to use and more enjoyable than reading through long lists.

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Thank you, Garden Writers!


Recently I received word that both my long-running Gardening Know How column in Mother Earth News and my GrowVeg Blog won Silver Awards of Achievement from the Garden Writers Association. I must be doing something right, among them working with the great creative teams. I am especially grateful to Cheryl Long, editor-in-chief at Mother Earth News, whose gardening passions run as deep as mine, and to Jeremy Dore at GrowVeg, who never runs out of great new ideas.

Barbara Pleasant
Blue Ridge mountainsei


Floyd, VA, USA

Near Roanoke on the

Blue Ridge Parkway

cat with hollyhocks
Magnus, who bears a family name from my Swedish ancestors

Short historial fiction

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