Gardeners Learn New Skills, Enjoy Salsa and Sunshine

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We accomplished so much in the garden yesterday and had fun too.

In addition to the usual chores of weeding – so easy with the stirrup hoe – I taught the gardeners how to thin Swiss chard, beets, cucumbers and how to trim tomato leaves to create healthier plants. We also transplanted at the proper spacing for continuous harvest throughout the season. Thank you Roger for your input.

I also planted a giant pumpkin. It doesn’t look giant now, but it was planted in a mix of composted cow manure and soil and I have high hopes. 3-mcg

The trellises for our vining plants were made by Bob and Gina LeClair and painted in bright colors. Thank you. They are sturdy and colorful. Soon they will be dripping with tomatoes, tomatillos, cucumbers and other climbers. 5mcg

Bill was there building teepee trellises for his tomatoes. Basically, you take three sticks and tie the tops of them together to form a support for all the juicy, red tomatoes we will have in the months to come. Bill MCGbill2mcg

Fran brought a jar of home-made salsa. Yummy. The ingredients came from her garden last season and she made and preserved the salsa. It was delicious. And best of all, Fran has agreed to teach us all how to make it when peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos ripen. Believe me, you won’t want to miss that demonstration.

The insects we covered in the lecture were aphids, flea beetles, squash bug and squash vine borer. Aphids and flea beetles are in the garden. If you find aphids in your plot – look on the underside of leaves – use a spray of water to dislodge the aphids. This should do it.

Flea beetles can be dealt with by knocking them into soapy water, spraying them with water with a drop of dish detergent added, or using a spray of tomato leaf water which is made by shredding two cups of tomato leaves in an equal amount of water and letting it sit overnight. In the morning, remove the leaves, and add a second cup of water. Strain into a spray bottle. I have read this works because tomato plants contain alkaloids in their leaves. When this compound is released through shredding and added to water, the spray becomes effective in flea beetle and aphid control.

Squash bugs and squash vine borer are more difficult. We haven’t seen them in the garden but mid-June is when they show up, lay eggs and do their damage. Be observant. If you find eggs near the base of squash, pumpkins, etc. remove them with your fingers and throw them away. It is the best way to keep our garden healthy.

If you don’t know these insects, come to the next meeting!

The group will meet next Thursday at 4 p.m. PLEASE NOTE Starting June 25th, we will meet at 11 a.m. Tuesdays since school will no longer be in session.

All community gardeners are invited to attend the lecture and work alongside other gardeners. It is a wonderful opportunity to ask questions of a master gardener and learn how to grow food.

I hope to see you next Thursday at 4 p.m.

Natalie

Squash Vine Borer Eggs

A fellow gardener let me know that she found squash vine borer eggs in her plot.

This is a serious pest of crops such as summer and winter squash and pumpkins, and a lesser problem on cucumbers and melons.

Next time you are in the garden, check the leaves and stems of the above plants. If you see tiny reddish brown spots ¬†– the eggs – remove them completely. Don’t put the eggs in a compost bin…these should be placed in the trash.

Thank you.

Dead, Dry and Diseased

If you haven’t been watering or tending your plot, you may want to go and check on it.

Powdery mildew and squash vine borer damage are visible in several plots. Please remove the dead and diseased leaves promptly.

Many gardens look dry, too. Gardens need about an inch of water per week. When you water, really soak the ground.

Check that the water reached the roots by turning over an area with a trowel to see how deeply the water has penetrated. In order for the plants to produce well, consistent watering is key so visit regularly to water and weed.

Squash Vine Borers

I noticed some pest activity today on cucumber plants.

The plants have been attacked by squash vine borers and when I looked closely, there were reddish-brown eggs here and there on the plants which means more damage will be done if the pest isn’t dealt with by the gardener.

If you are growing cucumbers, summer or winter squash, watermelon, pumpkins or muskmelons inspect your plants as these are all susceptible.

Most gardeners notice the damage to the stem caused by the borer. You will often see frass near the opening (near the base of the plant), sometimes oozing, and the stems have tan streaks. If you cut into the stem, the larva can usually be found. You can remove it and bury the wounded part of the vine in the soil – often a plant will recover.

Before you call it a victory, however, look the plants over carefully checking each leaf and the stem. Little reddish-brown dots can often be found and these are the eggs waiting to hatch and begin the cycle again.

Check out the photos below. If you have any questions, use the “Leave a comment” to get in touch with me – Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener