Powdery Mildew = Take Action!

P1040721This is powdery mildew, a fungal disease, and I’ve spotted it in our garden.

Not only is it unappealing, it can reduce a plant’s production of vegetables and impact flavor.

What can we do?

We can control it, but not cure it once it appears. To start, remove the leaves most affected on the pumpkins, zucchini and squash. Throw them in the trash bin next to the rec building not the compost bins.

Don’t compost diseased leaves of any kind.

Next,  spread the vine or leaves so the air circulates around the plant. Good sun exposure and good air circulation should inhibit spore germination.

An Experiment

Last year participants in the Family Gardening Program tried an experiment and compared two methods touted online as slowing the spread of powdery mildew.

In one plot, we sprayed the remaining leaves and stem with a cow’s milk spray made with 3 parts whole milk and 7 parts water.

In another plot, we sprayed with a mix of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 quart water.

Both methods reportedly create an environment that inhibits the spread of this disease and are best started before powdery mildew appears.  In our experience last year, the milk was effective is slowing the progression of the disease.

For Future Reference: Gardeners can purchase resistant varieties at the start of the season. While resistant doesn’t mean the plant won’t get powdery mildew, it does mean they are less susceptible.

Basil Downy Mildew

The weather can be blamed – at least in part – for the occurrence of basil downy mildew in the garden.

If you aren’t sure your plants have it, here are the signs:

You notice the leaves are yellowing and then the plant gets brown areas. The underside of the leaf appears to be dirty with some white spots you can see with a magnifying glass.

For more information: http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/BasilDowny.html

If your basil plant has it, harvest what you can and throw the rest of the plant in the trash….not the compost bins.

Next year, plant basil somewhere else in the garden.

Deadheading Knockout Roses

deadheadingrosesYes, I know you don’t HAVE to deadhead Knockout roses. “Their self-cleaning,” marketers say.

I know. I’ve heard that, too. And while it’s correct, it is only part of the story.

Knockouts will do fine with no deadheading. However, when you remove the roses that are past their prime, it signals the plant to begin the next bloom cycle. And that’s what I want, plenty of blooms. I don’t want seed heads.


Pleasant Morning

I was out in the garden early with a scissor and a basket. I chatted with neighbors walking their dogs, jogging and biking. The time went by quickly as I snipped off – on an angle – dozens of faded red rose blooms. When I was done with one side and moving to the next, I noticed how pretty even the faded blooms looked in the basket. Thus this photo…deadheadingknockouts

I’ll let you know when the next cycle of bloom begins.

June 22: In the Garden

The Moreau Community Garden was very peaceful this morning. I could hear turkeys off in the distance and that’s about it.

I went about my business of taking care of the 10 plots I maintain for the Family Gardening Program that begins soon. And, I made some notes in my journal of what I did, what I saw, and any other information that helps keep track of what’s happening in the garden.

WEEDING

It’s a toss up right now for which is our most prevalent weed. It might be smart weed. It’s everywhere. Fortunately, it is easy to spot as it has a distinct reddish mark on the leaves.smartweed

I swear this weed can hide because when I am done weeding and start to water, I always find some that escaped my first round of weed patrol.

Our next most prevalent weed is this one. Lamb'squartersKnow what it is?

If you said Lamb’s Quarters, you’re right.

We also have red root pig weed and pictured below, crabgrass. crabgrassStay on top of the weeding and please pull out weeds from pathways, this is a favorite hiding place for insects.

INSECTS

I refreshed the spray bottle of neem oil this morning. I saw that some of you have cucumber beetles on your squash. Remember to spray the adults directly to eliminate this problem. Don’t spray when it is above 80 degrees. And check for reddish eggs on the underside of leaves. If you see these, remove them immediately and destroy.

GROWING STRONG

Here are some pictures to enjoy.

Kitpeas

6.22.14

kale.spinach

carrots6.22

tomato.peas

Thank you to Sara McKay for her help spreading wood chips. It is appreciated.

Hope to meet you in the garden, Natalie

What was that in the Bug Jar? Answer: A Millipede

Milliped2e copy

We used to call them “thousand-leggers” when I was growing up. But they don’t really have THAT many legs. The record is 750 legs.

Generally, in small numbers they do no real harm in the garden even though they may nibble a live plant here and there. If you find another, let it be. If you find dozens, then let me know.

When, Where and How of Fertilizing

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 7.45.05 PMIt’s time to start fertilizing vegetables.

We have Plant-tone in the shed in a blue bucket that can be used by all community gardeners.

Directions: Sprinkle One Tablespoon of Plant Tone for each plant in a circle about three inches from the stem of the plant and gently scratch it into the soil. You can do this every other week throughout the summer. Never let the fertilizer touch the stem. Water well.

More is Not Better

If you’re tempted to add more, remember too much fertilizer will produce an abundance of leaves but few fruits. Not what you want in your tomato patch.

Also bear in mind that we added composted manure – a fertilizer – to our beds in the fall, the nutrients of which are already feeding our plants. If your plants are growing strong, you don’t have to add a thing.

See you in the garden, Natalie

Busy Time in the Garden

I spent some time in the garden yesterday doing various tasks.

Here’s what I noticed:

The cucumber beetles are on the attack. If you look at the plants growing nearest the parking lot you will see the damage they do. The leaves have many holes and sections are chewed.

These plants were treated 6/10 with Neem Oil. There were many beetles flying about, so if you are growing a cucurbit, you will want to check your garden plot. Neem oil is mixed in the shed. Look for the labelled spray bottle and spray the beetles in the evening when they are most active. Neem oil needs to contact the beetle to be effective.

Gardeners should look for yellowish eggs under the leaves at the base of the plant. If you find them, squish them.

If there is still a heavy presence of beetles later this week, I will put diatomaceous earth (DE) down around the stems to keep the larvae from entering the soil. DE can be used for cutworms as well and I sprinkled it around tomatoes, celery, kale, beans, peas and other plants bothered by cutworms.

DE is in the shed if you want to use it. Use care when applying as it is very light. All you need to do is sprinkle it around the stem of the plant you are trying to protect. It is not effective once it rains.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Placing cardboard between rows and covering it with wood chips cuts down on the need to weed.

Pathways

You’ll notice that I placed cardboard down in the pathways to smother the weeds. The cardboard will be covered with wood chips. This should reduce the amount of weeding that needs doing.

If you find you have many weeds in the paths around your plot, rake back the wood chips, put down a sheet of cardboard and then replace the wood chips.

Thinning

It is time to thin your crops. I thinned out the kale yesterday and will be doing the carrots later this week. When thinning it is advisable to water the plants first. This makes it easier to remeve the plant you want without disturbing any others. In the case of carrots, I will thin with a scissors. This avoids the possibility of uprooting its neighbors.

I ran into some other gardeners while there:

Sara found a cutworm that was disturbing the peace in her garden. She put down DE to protect the rest of her plantings.

Bill raked back the wood chips and put down cardboard around his plot to smother weeds. He still needs to pull out a few weeds nearest the bed and replace the wood chips.

Gina was there taking care of cucumber beetles.

It was a good day.

I hope to run into you next time, Natalie

Right Place, Right Time, Lucky Find

I was driving home from the supermarket and saw a pick-up truck loaded with large pieces of cardboard heading for the dump.

Just the night before, I was thinking how if we could rake back the wood chips on the weedy pathways, put cardboard down and then add fresh wood chips, we could eliminate the weeds that are taking over in some areas.

So I did what any gardener would do. I followed the pick-up into the dump and put the cardboard in my car. They are the height of patio doors and twice the width each! Perfect. (Isn’t it amazing what can make you happy!)

Let me know if you want a piece for the pathway around your bed. It is important to keep the weeds out of the paths as weeds harbor both insects and diseases. By smothering the weeds, we eliminate the issues.

See you in the garden later today.

Natalie, Master Gardener

Cucumber Beetles Spotted

cucumber beetle

Striped cucumber beetle adults have arrived in our garden plots. If you are growing squash, cucumber, zucchini or other cucurbit you should be looking for eggs under the leaves closest to the soil.

The eggs are oval and yellow to amber-colored. If you find eggs, remove and destroy them.

The beetles – which are yellow with black stripes – are currently feeding on leaves. Soon, if not already, female beetles will lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch the larvae will feed on the roots and pupate in the soil. Come August, the cycle will be complete and what are now eggs will be adults.

What Damage Do They Do?

They eat leaves and roots. Mature cucurbits can handle some damage. If beetle numbers are high the damage can mean reduced yields. A secondary problem with cucumber beetles is that they are vectors to a disease known as bacterial wilt. If you notice leaves turning a dark green, wilting and then dying, this is a symptom of bacterial wilt. Some plants – such as pumpkins – are more susceptible than others to this disease.

How Do I Know if My Plants have Bacterial Wilt?

Cut a section on the stem. Hold the stem together and then slowly pull it apart. If bacterial wilt is present the sap will appear string-like between the cut ends.

How to Control and When

Striped cucumber beetles are most active evenings and through the night. Since it is most effective to spray the beetle directly this would be the ideal time to apply a spray of Neem Oil. If you find beetles on your squash apply neem oil in the next two weeks. In addition to aiming at the beetle, be certain to spray under the leaves at the base of the plant where eggs and larvae are likely to be located.

A labelled spray bottle of Neem Oil will be placed in the shed in the next few days for everyone to use.

Never, Never, Never spray in the heat of the day. This can kill a plant. Wait until evening and aim for contact with the beetle.

If you have questions, leave a comment below.

Cutworms in the Garden

Several plots at the Moreau Community Garden have been visited by cutworms.

If you see a ring of yellow paper around your tomato plant, it was put there last night by fellow gardeners in an effort to keep cutworms from destroying your plants. If the cutworms already ate one of your plants, we replaced the dead tomato plant with another tomato plant we had on hand.

What are cutworms?

They are the caterpillars of night-flying moths. They are called cutworms because as they feed on stems and can cut down young seedlings of a variety of vegetables including bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato.

What do they look like?

Cutworms vary in color and can be brown, tan, green or gray and black. If you touch one, it will curl up. It is important to clear weeds from your plots and surrounding pathways as this is where the adult moths lay their eggs. The emerging caterpillars (cutworms) feed on the foliage or small roots of weeds or crops.

What can I do?

Most cutworm damage happens when the plants are small. Check you garden plot. If you can be there in the evening this is ideal as that is when they are most active. Sometimes, you can find the culprit in the morning if you run your hand over the soil near the chewed plant. They don’t travel far. Handpick them and get rid of them.

Pulling weeds helps eliminate egg-laying sites and the food source young larvae need to survive.

Another control is to make collars for the seedlings. The cardboard, aluminum foil, or paper barrier keep cutworms off the plants. Some gardeners recycle toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for this purpose. Cut the rolls in three inch long sections and place around the stem, burying one end in the soil.

If you find cutworms in your plots, get on top of the problem swiftly as they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

If you have other questions, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Natalie