Moreau Community Garden Family Gardening Program Update

MCGAUG6When I arrived this morning, the garden was serene.

Soon gardeners arrived and started to tend their plots. MCGA6.13

And when the participants in the Family Gardening Program at the Moreau Community Garden arrived, things got even busier.

On today’s agenda:
• learning about a new garden pest
• harvesting beans, peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and basil
• monitoring our experiment with powdery mildew remedies

You may remember that last week we sprayed a milk mixture or a baking soda mixture on different plants infected with powdery mildew. Our goal was to see which of these home remedies worked the best.

Today, the gardeners walked back and forth between the two test beds and made an evaluation. While both remedies seemed to have an impact, the baking soda sprayed plants looked better this week, meaning they had less powdery mildew. We repeated the experiment and sprayed again with both mixtures and will report our results next week.

Tomato Hornworms

Last season’s gardeners warned me that tomato hornworms were a problem in the garden in 2012. And just this week, gardeners are reporting finding them again.

Today, about 15 gardeners learned what tomato hornworms look like, how to spot them on a plant and what to do if you do find one.

A few of the adult gardeners were surprised at how large these pests are. The four we found ranged in size from about four to six inches. They have good camouflage, but you can find them on a plant by looking for an area missing its leaves. And, then look on nearby branches. They are voracious eaters and can strip the leaves off an entire branch overnight.

What do you do if you find one? If it is parasitized with wasp eggs, just move it off your plant. Otherwise, remove them off the plant and place them in the trash.

Harvest Time

Every week we have been harvesting the vegetables we grow and sending them over to the Moreau Community Center and today was no exception.

At the community center, adults have been preparing the vegetables as a snack for the young gardeners. This week they made zucchini bread. One of the counselors told me that the bread was a huge hit and one youngster said he never heard of the vegetable before but loved the “ZOO ZOO bread.” I love that he tried it.

They may make some more because we sent many, many fistfuls of zucchini, peppers, beans, cherry tomatoes and herbs to the center today.

If you haven’t visited the garden recently, here’s an image of its beauty for you to enjoy.MCGA6.4

Tomato Troubleshooting

I’ve been in contact with gardeners in both the Saratoga Springs and Moreau Community Gardens who are experiencing tomato troubles.

The main question was how to distinguish between Septoria Leaf Spot and Early Blight and what to do.

Screen Shot 2013-08-04 at 11.50.22 AM The problem on this plant is Septoria Leaf Spot and the solution is extreme cleanliness and careful watering.

A Septoria Leaf Spot shows itself as many small spots on the lower leaves of the plant. The spots get larger, have dark borders, tan centers and often a halo of yellow. Infected leaves wither and die and often drop off onto the soil. Don’t leave these leaves in the garden. Prune off infected branches plants, pick up infected leaves and throw them in the trash not the compost bin.

The best way to control Septoria is to clean thoroughly and water only at the bottom of the tomatoes. Don’t let water splash around as you will spread the disease.

Another good strategy is when you plant in the Spring, leave room around tomatoes for good air flow. That will help keep fungal issues in check.

Some of you have asked how to tell if it is Early Blight. These spots have a grayish cast with a dark border and appear on the stems and fruit as well as leaves. Look carefully at the spots, if there are concentric rings (like a target) in the spots then it is Early Blight.

Early blight infects tomatoes, potatoes, and sometimes eggplant and peppers.

Another gardener discovered a tomato hornworm on her plants. This hornworm had white, capsule-shaped eggs protruding from its back. She left it in the garden. She did the right thing.

The hornworm was carrying the eggs of a parasitic wasp. As they mature, the wasp’s larvae literally eat the hornworm eradicating not only this hornworm but future tomato destroying hornworms as well.

They are a gardener’s friend!