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Disappointed again after year 2

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Disappointed again after year 2

Post  1airdoc on 8/30/2012, 10:45 am

Well, this is my second SFG garden year, and my second year of disappointments. I started out gangbusters this spring, implementing all the suggestions from forum members from last year, and my spring garden was wonderful. I had lots of produce and glorious plants. I continued to water regularly and use organic methods, but as the season progressed, things changed.

Despite my best efforts and an aggressive response, early blight ulitmately wiped out my beautiful tomatoes. Insects, I think cucumber beetles and stink or shield bugs, and their complications wiped out my lush zucchini, squash, and cucumbers despite regular use of organic products. My late planting of green beans (as suggested to avoid japanese beetles) failed. Voled have now stolen all my carrots and beeets, somehow riddling the garden with tunnels despite a bottom layer of 1/4" hardware cloth. My mid-summer planting failed. The new strawberry plants are wilted from mildew (as you can tell, we have a real fungus problem).

I'm not sure that organic gardening is practical for somebody with a full-time job outside of the garden. I just can't spend every day manually picking off bugs (and I'm not sure that even works). I definitely need a real solution for fungal disease (it affects everything on our property, even my brand new beds made of fresh compost, and not just the SFG, so it must be endemic here).

I've spent a lot of time and $$ on this SFG, and really want it to be successful, so any advice would be appreciated.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/30/2012, 11:27 am

I hear ya on the mildew/mold issue. It's taken down my zucchinis and is working on my spag squash, cucumber and melon gardens now.

Squash moths everywhere around here and the youngins are sure hungry. Took down my whole collards garden & now working on my broccoli. (shoot, meant to cover them this morning but it's probably too late anyway since they are already in there):

Next year I plan on covering most everything with tulle, as well as doing prevention spraying of ....mmm...1 tsp baking soda, couple drops dish soap, 1 qt water I think is the formula (correct me if I'm wrong people) on the leaves of my zuccs, etc BEFORE the mildew takes hold.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  plantoid on 8/30/2012, 11:56 am

One of my small holding/farming friends has had similar probs earlier this year in late July wrt blight both outside and in the glasshouse where blight is often a big problem due to humid stale air being retained.around the plants.


After thinking about things a while I suggested and helped them cut off as many tomato leaves as permitted ( all those leaves below a fruit cluster so there are none below the fuits on the way to the ground level ) .

I also said why not double your spacings between plants so you can get more moving air around them and only water when the compost below the 2 " down level starts to show signs of drying out.
I also hepled him errect two sheets of wriggly tin ( galv sheet ) to direct a bit more air flow from his barnside over the veg plot.

I seems to have worked fairly well . As I've been away on 15 days holiday I'll find out if it has continued to work when I go and visit him next week .

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  CharlesB on 8/30/2012, 1:37 pm

Can you post pic's of your garden layout?

What varieties of plants did the best?

Where did you buy your seeds? Did you buy varieties stated to do well against fungus issues? Did you try any native varieties?

I've found each year I need to go through eliminating certain varieties because they are just too much trouble in terms of bugs and diseases. While new varieties I try surprise me and I add them to the permanent mix. Takes a while to see what comes through strong consistently.

What does you local extension office suggest as best for the area? If you give your zip code we can look all that up for you.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  1airdoc on 8/30/2012, 1:56 pm

zip code 37043

Not much to show photos of now, as I recently pulled up all the infected, wilted stuff and tossed it (NOT anywhere near the compost pile).

I previously posted some photos of my original 12x4 bed in the spring covered with tulle. In that bed, I had spinach (spring), lettuce (spring), brocolli (spring), leeks (holdover from last year), carrots (spring + summer), beets, chard, limas, green beans, cukes. Of these, only the spring stuff and the limas did well. I don't have the specific varieties at hand at the moment - will look for those.

Tomatoes were grown in an 8x2 SFG on string trellises - there are photos posted previously from pre-wilt; I'll see if I can find the link. Most of those were grown from plants I purchased locally - I'll look for the varieties.

Had a single 8x4 bed with 2 zukes and 4 squash (trellised). Also had some sweet potatoes in that bed between the zukes and squash (waiting to see how they turn out).

Have one 4x4 bed with all strawberries, and one 8x2 bed with herbs, peppers, and blackeyed peas (they all did well).

In addition to fungal woes, I was very frustrated with the cucumber beetles and stink bugs. Despite diligent attempts to pick them off, use insecticidal soap, and use organic spray, nothing seemed to diminish their numbers until they finally killed the plants.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  GloriaG on 8/31/2012, 3:09 am

Hi airdoc,

I'm sorry you're having so much trouble. Cucurbits are prone to fungus and mildews and once those diseases get started they're really difficult to control. Therefore for me, prevention has been the key. I'm not sure this will help, buy here are a few things that seem to work for me.

I water early enough in the day that my plants aren't "going to bed wet". Also, when I water, I make sure the leaves don't get wet and that water isn't accidentally "splashing" up onto them. Mildew and fungal spores are present in the soil so lots of fungal and mildew problems start when spores are splashed onto the plant. Then when leaves don't dry out quickly, it gives the spores time to grow on the plant.

Once each week I spray my plants. I use a variety of products mostly a combination of purchased compost tea plus liquid seaweed. To this I add BT if there are worms, garlic/pepper oil/dish soap if there are chewing or sucking insects, or powdered milk/baking soda if I suspect mildew. I make sure to spray the underside of leaves and the top of the soil too. It's my understanding that the compost tea/seaweed blend acts as a shield to prevent mildew or fungus spores from gaining a foothold on the leaves.

Once a plant is infected I remove damaged leaves to try to prevent the disease spreading and mulch under the plant to shield it from the exposed soil. At that point I become less organic and use a copper spray on the plant.

I hope this helps. Good luck!
Gloria



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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  No_Such_Reality on 8/31/2012, 12:23 pm

AirDoc, I know you're busy, but any chance to check in with the neighbors that have gardens?

How are they doing?

In my prior place, I could do a count down to when my plants were going to get wiped out by mildew and something else that killed the same way but coated the leaves in a fuzzy stringy white something. I just watched in come rolling down the street from the HOA that insisted on watering after sundown.


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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  1airdoc on 8/31/2012, 12:33 pm

Once the tomatoes got going, I primarily used a soaker hose for them and covered the mulch with straw to minimize splashing and evaporation. I'm afraid that the blight got going before then, however, when there may have been some splashing from less careful watering. The MM in that bed was brand new, with compost I made myself and which heated sufficiently to have killed off most pathogens.

For the squash/zukes, I watered at the bases, carefully avoiding any splash. Fungus was not much of a problem there, mostly bugs. I just sprayed water directly on the strawberries, which were also mulched with straw. With 4 plants to a square, hand watering is just too meticulous. Once I noticed the mildew in the strawberries, I pulled the mulch out and decreased my watering to allow things to dry a bit, and that seemed to help (maybe).

My usual watering time was afternoon - about 4-5pm, when there was plenty of time to dry before sunset (especially in the heat of this past summer) and sun was low enough to avoid scald. I already get up at 5:30 in order to get to work, so I don't see watering in the morning as a viable option for me. I don't have any gardening neighbors, and our homes are pretty scattered apart (we live in a rural area), so I don't think I can collect much intell there.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  1airdoc on 8/31/2012, 12:36 pm

Does anyone know: If I remove all the plants from a bed and cover it now with clear plastic (while it's still in the 90's), will the solarization heat be sufficient to wipe out the fungal spores that are in the bed from this season?

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  camprn on 8/31/2012, 12:56 pm

If you are trying to get rid of blight spores, I think it's the freezing temps that actually destroy the spores. Also, it needs living tissue to survive (potato tubers for example).
http://nysipm.cornell.edu/publications/blight/

or were you asking about a totally different fungus?

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  No_Such_Reality on 8/31/2012, 1:36 pm

I've had failures two years running in the raised bed at the new place so I understand the frustration.

How is the bed located? Any structural issues? A northside wall, large bed/small bed etc?

The density of planting really accentuates any disease problems. I'm assuming you've carefully followed the recommended planting levels. I myself and chronically bad about over planting and then having problems compound.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  1airdoc on 8/31/2012, 1:48 pm

No structural issues. Other than locating the beds farther from the house than Mel recommends, everything else is straight "by the book;" good sun, good air movement. No nearby plants/trees/buildings to shelter damp, mildewing debris or block the wind.

Planting the tomatoes 1/square as the book describes is very dense. Non SFG gardeners were shocked at that at the beginning of the season when the plants were shooting up like Jack's beanstalk. They did well and thrived until the blight crept too far up the vines, however. I suspect that the 4/square prescribed density of strawberries really cut down on air circulation and promoted mildew, too.

My tomatoes had early blight which can persist in the soil and be carried by water/splashing or wind. I responded aggressively to the blight, cutting off leaves as they became infected and disposing of them remotely. It might have slowed the disease, but clearly didn't change the end results. It relentlessly marched up the plant and once it reached the level of the blossoms, I got no more fruit.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  GloriaG on 8/31/2012, 2:29 pm

1airdoc,

I've taken a very aggressive approach to handling insects and diseases. My theory is that I don't want to contaminate my growing area in any way. Therefore, If I can't control a disease using the organic methods I already described, I pull the plants out and put them in the trash can (not compost). I know I lose a bit of harvest that way, but I'd rather lose a few tomatoes than not be able to successfully plant again in that area. Also, I replant immediately with a different crop.

When I plant, I very carefully arranged my garden to put companion plants together and incorporate some flowers that attract pollinators and some that deter harmful insects. I believe this helped since I had much more bee activity and fewer chewers.

Despite a huge spider mite and aphid infestation in the early spring, SVB in every squash plant, blight on the early tomatoes and orangedogs eating up my baby citrus trees we've been able to pick about 340 lbs of produce from our 235 squares so far. Over the year, that's enough production to keep our family supplied with home grown veggies most of the year.

I don't know if this helps, but I just thought I'd share.
Good luck,
Gloria

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  floyd1440 on 8/31/2012, 9:49 pm

airdoc

Last year I only had part of a season so no problems but this year I had some problems with tomatoes and cukes in one area and though it might have been compost or bug related, but after looking at my planting diagram I think it was self inflicted.
This spring I tried some brocolli and cabbage and they did great but they were beside the tomatoes and cukes, which I had just transplanted, but they never grew and finally died. The others in different boxes are fine so perhaps the shade and pests from these spring plants kept them from growing properly as they never got any sun as the brocolli shaded them out..

Always learn the hard way don't we.........

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  plantoid on 9/1/2012, 4:06 pm

@1airdoc wrote:Does anyone know: If I remove all the plants from a bed and cover it now with clear plastic (while it's still in the 90's), will the solarization heat be sufficient to wipe out the fungal spores that are in the bed from this season?

Tomato blight and potato blight is an airborne nasty that thrives in warm humid conditions . If your plants are over crowded it can spread like wild fire
In all the books I've just peeked into they say :-
Early control is essential, remove affected part & burn it , wash your hands before moving to the next plant.
Spray asap with a copper based fungicide or mancozeb fungicide .
It also says watch the weather forecasts for still humid air and spray as a preventitive mesasure.

These books are for the UK , they say nothing about treating or leaving the soil to lay fallow.. ( this might not be the way in your area ).

With my friends glasshouse I noticed the start of blight so I got them to cut off all leaves below the top fruit cluster ..( so long as the flowers had set and a miniscule swelling was taking place .

I also told them to stop watering every day but to check the moisture level two inches below the top and only water it when that was starting to dry ,in one good soaking session .

I also got them to use a big 16 in ch adjustable sopeed auto oscillatiing fan for two day to dry the place out and to make provision for two roof high autovents and an autovent inlet low down on the cool side of the glasshouse.

I think these techniques will apply to outside toms unless you're in a high humidity region.

Re watering :-
I water at 0500 every morning and don't get up till at least 07.00 ..I use a 9 volt battery operated timer set up with a web of fan spray heads set to coarse spray

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  thegreatcob on 9/1/2012, 7:36 pm

as for blight and fungus the the tradition solution is copper spray it is organic and works well. As for resistant tomato variety they may get you harvest but they may only last at most 2 weeks longer and there taste is not as good.

As for insects you need to use the proper organic spray for proper insect.
Since most organic spays are selective of the insects they kill.

As for squash and cucumber when come to insects damage there as solution but it requires that you use a cloche and water at soil level v ooze hose. the solution
is self fertile varieties that require no pollination, since if bee can pollinate them the insects can get to plant to. diva and Puccini cucumber the first a slicer ,the second a
pickler,in squash zucchini Parthenon' F1 Hybrid,Courgette 'Cavili' F1 Hybrid,Perfect Pick Hybrid Zucchini
http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/westchester/Homeowner%20Newsletter%20Links/PARTHENOCARPY.html
in english cucumbers there several parthenocarpic variety to choose from but i don't have list of varieties of those.

As for mildew on squash and cucumbers a milk solution is best organic approach i have seen.

sorry i went bit wordy hope the above helps.


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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  CapeCoddess on 9/2/2012, 3:42 pm

It helped alot, Cob. Thank you!

I noticed yesterday that the mildew has hit my tomatoes. It was happening so fast that when I went inside for breakfast, but by the time I came back out I could see more mildew. Mad

Soooo...the race is on...get the green ones to ripen before they die. I cut off all infected leaves and I sprayed all the plants with the baking soda solution, since I don't know anything about the milk solution. Today it appears to have been halted...for now.

I saw that squash come in PM resistant varieties. How is their performance & flavor, do you know?

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  walshevak on 9/2/2012, 8:28 pm

@thegreatcob wrote:as for blight and fungus the the tradition solution is copper spray it is organic and works well. As for resistant tomato variety they may get you harvest but they may only last at most 2 weeks longer and there taste is not as good.

As for insects you need to use the proper organic spray for proper insect.
Since most organic spays are selective of the insects they kill.

As for squash and cucumber when come to insects damage there as solution but it requires that you use a cloche and water at soil level v ooze hose. the solution
is self fertile varieties that require no pollination, since if bee can pollinate them the insects can get to plant to. diva and Puccini cucumber the first a slicer ,the second a
pickler,in squash zucchini Parthenon' F1 Hybrid,Courgette 'Cavili' F1 Hybrid,Perfect Pick Hybrid Zucchini
http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/westchester/Homeowner%20Newsletter%20Links/PARTHENOCARPY.html
in english cucumbers there several parthenocarpic variety to choose from but i don't have list of varieties of those.

As for mildew on squash and cucumbers a milk solution is best organic approach i have seen.

sorry i went bit wordy hope the above helps.


Does anybody know how these varieties taste. I'm thinking next year I may plant 2 beds with these veggies and the other 4 in favorites. Then I would hopefully have a more predictable crop and take chances on what may be tastier crops.

Kay

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  arla on 9/23/2012, 12:35 am

Very interested to know about the mildew solutions, my Spaghetti squash got hit by mildew, and died out, which sucks because the one squash it produced before it got hit was SOOO good.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  camprn on 9/23/2012, 7:46 am

@arla wrote:Very interested to know about the mildew solutions, my Spaghetti squash got hit by mildew, and died out, which sucks because the one squash it produced before it got hit was SOOO good.
Hi Arla there are a few older threads about powdery and downy mildew. Did you try the search feature at the bottom of the 'Latest Topics' list?

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  arla on 9/23/2012, 11:19 am

Think I'd missed that search feature, always saw the one at the top (the google one), thanks.

Will have to wait for next year now to see if any of the suggested solutions worked, but bookmarks have been made, and preparations will be had.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  No_Such_Reality on 9/25/2012, 1:26 pm

@walshevak wrote:
Does anybody know how these varieties taste. I'm thinking next year I may plant 2 beds with these veggies and the other 4 in favorites. Then I would hopefully have a more predictable crop and take chances on what may be tastier crops.

That I don't know. I do know that improved telegraph cucumbers are self pollinating and taste great. They're the ones you see in the plastic wrap as hothouse or english cucumbers in the grocery in the States.

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  ezzirah on 9/26/2012, 4:09 pm

Hello! New to the forum. I am sorry you are going through this! It is so disappointing when you are doing everything you know to do and it does not come out right!

Like you I work a full time job, and I don't have the time for a lot of what organics call for. I know it is the ideal, but it just is not possible for me, so I don't. I don't just spray everywhere now, I use it very judiciously, but I do use Sevin dust on my squash plants, and Sevin spray on some the plants if I find bugs on the plants.

I never had to battle blight, or fungus, but don't be ashamed to use non organic means if you have to. I rationalize it like this, it is bound to be not as sprayed as in the grocery store!

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Re: Disappointed again after year 2

Post  Pollinator on 9/27/2012, 5:34 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:
That I don't know. I do know that improved telegraph cucumbers are self pollinating and taste great. They're the ones you see in the plastic wrap as hothouse or english cucumbers in the grocery in the States.

There's no such thing as a self pollinating cucumber. There are parthenocarpic cucumbers which set fruit without pollination, and are seedless. Parthenocarpic cukes are generally grown in greenhouses or under row covers, because the quality is degraded if they are pollinated - they produce fairly coarse seeds.

In a situation where insect pests are a serious problem, parthenocarpic cukes under row covers can be a solution.

I find that dwarf French marigolds interplanted with cukes and squash keeps away the squash bugs and the cucumber beetles, but they do not help with squash borers and pickleworms. We have some stink bugs, but they seem to be pretty much controlled by our wasps, assassin bugs and other predators.

For me, disease is generally a much bigger problem than insect pests. We have tried to develop biological control methods - and they are mostly working and self sustaining, for our insect pests.

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