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Friday PhotoEssay – May 23rd

Rain! Our rain gauge here measured about 3/4″ even though supposedly the airport (just a couple miles south) measured 1 3/4.” I’m not going to complain!

Here’s a look at the garden this morning after our bit of rain. The potatoes have really come on strong, and we removed some of the spinach this week. I know things are going to change rapidly from here on out.

Speaking of changes, several of the tomato plants are starting to bloom. Even the some of the later heirlooms have one or two flowers on them. Fun fact – Tomato Day is 81 days after we transplanted, which means that we would expect the earliest tomatoes to have fruit by then and the mid-season tomatoes should be at their first harvest.

When we were harvesting the spinach this week, we found this mass of eggs on the underside of one of the leaves. We put our Master Gardener hotline crew to work trying to identify what the insect might be, and they came up with Mexican Bean Beetle. I’m not quite sure if that is right, since these are very round rather than slightly oblong. Anyway, we erred on the side of getting rid of the eggs. In hindsight, I could have put them in my insect cage to hatch out.

The second time is the charm on the Quinoa seeds. The ‘Brightest Brilliant’ variety is looking pretty good. The ‘Colorado’ quinoa is still pretty sparse.

Bah. Some of our beans are starting to show herbicide injury, like they did in 2012 after we renovated the garden. I think that it is probably residual in the soil from the manure-based compost we added. If our experience from before holds true, everything should be fine by next year. But I’m about done adding compost to our beds if we can help it!

On the plus side, we are having much better luck getting our vining vegetables to germinate this year. We’re still waiting on the gourds and cucumbers in the Taste of India garden, but the pumpkins and melons in the vertical garden are looking good.

Have a great (long) weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

I think we’ll call this week’s Friday PhotoEssay the “Death & Destruction” Edition. I was out of state since last week, and then was welcomed back home on Wednesday with a lovely hailstorm. Luckily, the garden doesn’t look much the worse for wear due to hail. Unluckily, there are a few things going on that are probably due to the learning curve with our new garden and not much we can do about it.

This pepper plant (and some of the others) are showing this stunted, distorted new growth. I think there are two possibilities – either herbicide injury (we’ll discuss that in a bit), or thrips. We had thrips like crazy last year, but it doesn’t look quite the same to my eye.

Here is a bean in the “Beautiful Vegetable” Garden that is showing similar stunted, distorted new growth. Hmm…I’m sensing a pattern here…

The Black Sesame seedlings are still pretty tiny, but actually looking quite good, comparatively.

I think this is the second planting of this ‘White Egg’ Eggplant, and this plant is already getting heavily chewed. I saw another pesky cucumber beetle on it. For some reason they are leaving the cucumbers alone so far and attacking the eggplant. (Not that I particularly mind that!)

The French Marigolds are looking nice in the Edible Flower garden, even if not particularly tasty.

This one isn’t nearly as difficult to diagnose with certainty as the pepper and bean above. This tomato is showing very clear signs of phenoxy herbicide damage. The most common herbicide that causes this injury is 2,4-D. UGH! If the damage isn’t very severe, the plants usually recover from it. If the damage is quite severe, the plant will remain stunted and have much reduced yields. Most of our tomato plants are showing this damage, which isn’t surprising as they are some of the most susceptible plants. (Grapes and redbuds are also highly susceptible.) I can’t tell yet how bad the damage is. The question is…where did it come from?

To be clear, I also suspect that the peppers and beans showing symptoms also have the phenoxy injury.

This squash plant is also showing some slight distortion to the leaves and veins. I would say the squash, melons, and cucumbers are the least affected, with more variation between varieties.

So, where did the herbicide damage come from? 2,4-D herbicide injury is very common on garden plants in the spring in Kansas because it is widely used to treat dandelions and other broadleaf weeds in lawns as well as broadleaf weeds in corn fields or other crops. It is very easily volatilized, which means it can get on the wind and blow for long distances, especially if someone sprays the herbicide on a day with wind. (Just as an aside, if you really want to control dandelions, you are better off spraying in the late fall rather than in the spring when you see them bloom.)

However, we’ve never really experienced herbicide damage in our garden and we don’t use 2,4-D on our grounds in the spring. It is possible it came from somewhere else nearby. I’m also wondering if there is some other herbicide residues in the compost we got… It is theoretically possible that there was some type of herbicide residue in the feed or bedding the horses used that was not completely broken down during the composting process. If that is the case, there really isn’t anything we can do about it. Most herbicides should be completely dissipated by 1 year later.

It looks like we’re in for a rough gardening year, even if the weather continues to cooperate!