More Planting and Bean Troubles
This week brought more planting – namely the peppers and tomatoes!
The tomatoes are already caged, but not yet mulched.
Hey! What is that? Looks like a elm seedling. Oh, you thought I was referring to the strawberry?
So there are a couple strawberries starting to ripen from last year’s planting. This one has been sampled by the roly polys. Ugh! There isn’t anything to do about them other than try to keep things dry. Hard to do this week! The one nice berry I found tasted like a ‘Mara des Bois’ – sweet and floral.
The majority of the beans that were planted didn’t grow well from the first planting, nor the second. They are missing leaves or have damaged leaves. There is a bit of difference between varieties though. It could be a few different things. We had this issue last year, and I thought it might be herbicide. A little more research this year indicates it could also be a bean/seed corn maggot or a disease. Basically, something is damaging the hypocotyl of the seed as it is germinating and results in plants with no leaves. Obviously they aren’t going to grow much from that!
The easiest fix for either of these problems is to till up the area and then replant when the soil is warmer. That worked last year, so hopefully it will work this year too.
This variety – ‘Contender,’ I believe, seems to be mostly okay. I suspect it may be more tolerant of cold soils. ‘Contender’ is an old variety, and sometimes the old ones are the best ones!
We’ll wrap up for the week with a picture of the whole garden! Things are only going to accelerate from here!
Insects on the Grape Vine
This is a good example of why it is worth it to take a closer look when you see something abnormal going on in your garden. I was out in the garden a few days ago and noticed that there were a few leaves on the grape vine turning brown. I kind of mentally shrugged and figured that maybe a few spider mites or something was happening or maybe just a little leaf drop in the later part of the season.
I noticed it again yesterday as I walked by, and then did a double take when I realized there were leaves that looked chewed on. Oops. Then I took a closer look and found two things going on.
This dude is a sphinx moth caterpillar, happily munching on the end of the shoot. Although he is eating quite a bit, I’m not concerned that he will kill the plant and just decided to leave him alone. If you look on the left side of the picture, you will also see some other insect feeding damage, but that wasn’t done by this guy.
Oh no, all that damage was done by these cute little larvae. I suspect they are either grape sawfly or grapeleaf skeletonizer, based on their appearance, but I haven’t had time to do any more research. One of the Extension articles suggested picking off the leaves with the larvae on them, because grapes don’t mind a little leaf thinning. I picked about 10 leaves off that were heavily infested and we’ll see if that stems most of the problem.
I doubt that they would seriously damage the vine at this time of year, but it is still a good thing we caught them before the whole plant was munched up!
Friday PhotoEssay – August 29th
I think our garden is about ready for fall, as you can easily see below:
Clearly the pumpkin and the tomato on the nearest trellis have seen better days. I suspect that by next week the garden is going to look significantly different! Fall garden, here we come!
One of the reasons the pumpkins are looking so sad is because there are dozens (or more) squash bug nymphs all over them. I’m actually rather impressed that they didn’t show up before now, when the pumpkins are almost done producing. Since the plants are nearly dead and we picked all but 2 pumpkins this week, I think we will just be removing the plants rather than trying to treat for the squash bugs.
This is one of the fruit from the ‘Tondo Liscia Manduria’ cucumber vine in the Italian Garden. We let it go all the way to “melon” stage, and you can see that the stem had slipped (separated from the fruit) and it was starting to crack.
From the inside, you can see it looks quite a bit like a honeydew melon. It tasted pretty good – not dissimilar to a honeydew melon. Maybe not quite as sweet. The texture was very much like a melon. So it’s a dual purpose plant – cucumbers and melons!
We have ornamental peppers in many of our containers this year, and they are just starting to look really spectacular. This is a variety called ‘Sangria.’ I love the mixture of red and purple peppers.
This pot has three different varieties, and the color combination is really interesting. I love the purple plant in front, then the green plant with orange fruit, then the “black” plant at the back. The sizes of the plants worked well too!
Have a great weekend!
Friday PhotoEssay – August 22nd
Whew! It’s hot and steamy out there! I’m regretting not going out to take pictures first thing this morning.
As a result, you get the shadowy version of the whole garden today. Shadowy and slightly wilty, especially if you are talking about the pumpkins. It’s a good thing they’re almost ripe, because the plants are almost done for.
Also in the not so spectacular category are the zinnias. They usually look great, until all of a sudden they have powdery mildew. Then they look awful until we decide to take them out. And that is really the best option. I think we’re getting near that point here.
Apparently the peanuts are thoroughly enjoying the weather, because they are growing like crazy. I know they don’t look like much from the top, but I’m hopeful that they will be pretty spectacular when we harvest later this fall!
Have I give you the spiel on how peanuts grow already? I can’t remember. Anyway, what you are looking at in the very center of the picture are the ovary tubes growing down into the soil that will grow the peanuts. Those reddish-brown sticks coming off the stem are what I’m talking about. The plants are still blooming too, which means even more peanuts!
Ironically, the trellis over the walkway has been rather pathetic this year, with both varieties not doing a lot of climbing. But who needs a trellis arch when the okra and the tomatoes can grow together over the path all by themselves? It’s starting to feel a bit like a jungle out here.
Denise made some yummy Indian dishes for our Saturday Sampler last Saturday. This is the Quinoa Chickpea Curry. The recipes should be up on the website soon, but in the meantime you can revisit other recipes here: Saturday Sampler Recipes.
Have a great weekend!
Watch for Diseases in Your Garden
As nice as the rain and hot-but-not-scorching weather is, it is creating something of a perfect storm for tomato diseases this summer. Our two most common tomato diseases are Septoria Leaf Spot and Early Blight. While they are two different diseases, we usually talk about them as one disease because they develop in the same conditions and have the same overall effects on the tomato plants.
This is a tomato leaf that is infected with Early Blight. The lesions usually have concentric circles, and spread to have something of a V-shape on the edge of a leaf. In contrast, Septoria Leaf Spot has small round spots over the whole leaf. Some years we see more of one or the other. Some years we have both. The disease typically starts on the lower leaves of the plant and works up the plant. Most of the time, we don’t really start noticing a problem until the first infected leaves start to turn yellow and die.
The disease spreads from splashing water, which is why it is usually worse when we get rain. It also requires humidity and warm nights, which we have had in spades the past week! We have also had lots of dew, which is great for disease development.
As with most garden problems, the best thing to do is to try to prevent the disease from starting. There are a number of cultural practices that can help prevent these diseases or reduce their spread.
1. Mulch under plants to prevent water splashing from the soil onto lower leaves. (The disease overwinters on plant debris, often in the soil. No, there isn’t any soil treatment.)
2. Use cages, staking, or some method to help your plants grow upright rather than sprawling on the ground.
3. Space your tomato plants 2-3 feet apart to promote airflow.
4. Water the soil and avoid getting water on the leaves if at all possible when watering.
5. Prune out suckers below the first flower cluster (especially on indeterminate tomatoes) to promote airflow.
6. Scout regularly for signs of disease and remove infected leaves right away.
7. Rotate where you plant your tomatoes as much as possible.
8. Remove infected plants from your garden every year at the end of the season and do not compost them.
Sometimes, even if we do everything “right” we still end up with these diseases, especially when the weather conditions are ideal for disease to develop.
The good news is that these diseases usually do not kill the plants, and they will not spread as quickly if it turns hot and dry. The worst damage (other than a weaker plant that is more susceptible to spider mites) is that if there is too much defoliation, then there is a much higher risk of sunscald on the fruit.
If you want to try to prevent development of these diseases, now is the time to start spraying a fungicide. You will probably need to spray once a week as long as we are experiencing this type of weather pattern.
If you are looking for organic options, you can use a copper-containing fungicide, such as a Copper Soap. There is also a biological fungicide that contains Bacillus subtilis, usually sold under the name Serenade. The key with the organic options is to use them regularly, especially before you have lots of disease, because they will work better if the disease pressure is low.
Conventional fungicides that are commonly used are chlorothalonil and maneb, which are found in several different garden products. They are a little bit stronger, but will still be most effective if they are used preventatively.
Fungicides are not usually curative, they just prevent the further spread of the disease. None of them are perfect either – the weather and how you apply them affect the efficacy of the treatment.
On that happy note, I hope your gardens all got a good drink this morning! We had about 1.5″ in the rain gauge, so no watering for us for a few days.