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Worst Garden in YEARS!

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Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  timwardell on 6/7/2010, 8:37 pm

I don't know where it went wrong. This year's sfg started out so well. The lettuce and spinach this spring were great. The tomatoes, zukes, cukes, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, and potatoes were looking fantastic. ...But in the last 4 weeks I've lost:
2 squash, 2 zucchini, and 2 watermelon to squash vine borers,
2 tomatoes to blight,
2 tomatoes to gray mold,
and was forced to harvest 4 potato plants early because of white flies - the others will probably be harvested soon.

My cucumbers and cantaloupe are hanging in there (for now) but the cucumber beetles are out of control. I kill a dozen by hand every night but their numbers seem unaffected. Something is eating holes in my eggplant leaves as fast as it can and today I saw the first potato beetle I've seen in years. (Why not, every other bug is in my garden.)

I'm may loose two more tomatoes before it's all over.

My onions and tomatillo are looking very sad and I have no idea why. I'm sending some of my Mel's Mix to the county ag office for analysis but I'm sure that will take forever and by the time I hear back it will be too late. I was trying to go organic but that seems impossible. I understand why farmers have to grow hundreds of acres of a crop and douse it in pesticides. It's the only way to ensure SOME of the food will actually make it.

This is the 2nd straight year squash vine borers have destroyed my garden. I'm at a loss as to what to do. After all the hours of planning, planting, and nurturing... to seem them go from lush and healthy to dead in less than a week. I got a total of 4 zucchini, 0 squash, 0 watermelon. I'm in my garden EVERY SINGLE DAY - and still this happens. All that work for a few bowls of salad?! ARRGHHHHHH!!!!!

Sad I may well be done for the year.

I think I'll stick with flowers from now on. Nothing seems to eat them.
😢
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Megan on 6/7/2010, 9:14 pm

Oh Tim, that is just heart-breaking. Hang in there! Maybe your extension office will have some answers? Are other gardeners in your area having similar troubles?
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Garden_State on 6/7/2010, 9:24 pm

Tim - So sorry to hear about your troubles. Hang in there...it will get better! Once you figure out what the problem is, hopefully you will be able to take measures to prevent in the future.

Pete
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Jay Bird on 6/7/2010, 9:32 pm

guineas are the answer I have over a 100 come and get some they will eat all the bugs
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Don't give up

Post  ander217 on 6/7/2010, 9:41 pm

Oh, Tim, don't give up. You're such an inspiration to the rest of us mortals. I hope you can figure out what you can fix, what you can change for the better, and use the rest as learning experience for next time.

I think everyone is having a crazy year with pests. I've never seen so many different ones this early. And I'm already seeing lots of tiny grasshoppers, too - not good. I just plucked a tomato fruitworm from a watermelon plant - so now do we have another name for them? Watermelon worms?

I don't know if you want to hear suggestions - if not just ignore the rest of this post.

About your blighted tomatoes - do you think they possibly succumbed to verticilium, fusarium, or tobacco mosaic? Were you growing heirlooms that succumb easily to V and F, or did you grow resistant hybrids? I love the flavor of heirlooms, but a lot of them are very susceptible to diseases. If you think it was V or F, you might try replanting with a resistant hybrid variety. (I've never heard of gray mold, but speak softly about it in case my own tomatoes are listening.)

Squashes are just born to die, IMO. The best I think we can hope for is to get a few fruits before the little monster beasties do them in. People keep saying not to plant the varieties the squash bugs really like - zucchini, yellow summer squashes and pumpkins, - but the problem is, those are the varieties I really like, too. My beautiful Black Beauty zuke wilted overnight. Do you think a vine borer got it? How can you tell?

White flies are one of the few things that marigolds are actually supposed to repel. You might try setting some marigold plants out around your potatoes. Handpicking controls potato bugs.

The onions we grew in Mel's Mix didn't do well, but the ones grown in rice hulls and grass clippings are monsters. The cabbages grown in the same box with the onions were huge, however. So I can't blame it on a bad mix. I think we got a bad batch of onion plants. Their tops looked burned when we bought them. I should have known better than to buy them in the first place. Our monster onions grew from sets. Have you tried those?

You might try replanting with something that's not as likely to have bug damage - do you like green beans, shell beans, or okra? I've never seen anything bother okra. Peppers don't get a lot of insect damage here, either.

I'm sorry you're so discouraged. I wish I could give you a big, grandmotherly hug. (I'm really good at those.) Hang in there, and live to fight another day.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Jay Bird on 6/7/2010, 9:54 pm

I read the rest of your post Big Tim , come on over to east texas and you can pick some of mine or just plant somthing else thats the beuty of SFG one square at a time buddy !
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  RoonieRoo on 6/7/2010, 10:05 pm

I've been battling the squash borers. I don't know if I will win or lose but I've got a plan that seems to have me on the winning side at the moment. My garden isn't huge so that makes it easier for me to do.

1) I go over the leaves undersides every couple of days and scrape off eggs.
2) I've discovered they hatch frequently in the early evening and I squish them when a group hatches.
3) Each morning I go out with my super sharp knife and dig out the borers in any plant showing the signs of having one. Then I bury the portion of the vine I slit open to dig out the the disgusting grub.

I've only seen one full on adult in the garden since I started my extermination at every stage I can identify of this particular one.

Our cucumber beetle problems haven't been horrible. We usually squish maybe 2 or so a day.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Paintedlady on 6/7/2010, 10:08 pm

Oh, that stinks! I always say I want to go organic as well, but I totally understand why we have to give up our ideals sometimes. I hope you can salvage what's left.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Retired Member 1 on 6/7/2010, 10:35 pm

Tim, I'm so sorry you are having such a terrible gardening year. I've lived in Texas for most of my adult life and I've never seen so many problems either. I gave up today and got some Sevin dust. I hate the fact that I'll probably be killing beneficial insects, but it was that or lose too much of the harvest.

Hang in there -- grow what you can this year and plan for a fall garden. But please don't give up completely. Some years are just worse than others.

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Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  janefss2002 on 6/7/2010, 11:04 pm

This is my first post after discovering this forum last fall and beginning our SFG.

I just felt compelled to make a post. Tim, you have been so inspirational to others (myself included). You need to step back and consider what belfrybat said:

belfrybat wrote:Tim, I'm so sorry you are having such a terrible gardening year. I've lived in Texas for most of my adult life and I've never seen so many problems either. I gave up today and got some Sevin dust. I hate the fact that I'll probably be killing beneficial insects, but it was that or lose too much of the harvest.

Hang in there -- grow what you can this year and plan for a fall garden. But please don't give up completely. Some years are just worse than others.

I've lived in Texas ALL of my life. It is what it is. You have benefited from your Garden before it took a dive. And you can in the future.

I have spent the last 3 nights in our garden (in Garland) with a flashlight, toothpicks and a pocketknife going after the SVB in my 2-serving spaghetti squash. I have performed "acupuncture" on the worms I could see using the flashlight shining through the hollow stems on the worms I couldn't reach with my knife (didn't want to butcher the poor plant). It wilts during the day, I water twice/day for 45 minutes with soaker and it is beautiful and blooming in the morning. It is a survivor with its beautiful single fruit trying to grow. I just don't know for how long it will last. We will see.

I am no expert by any means. But I know I will read and learn and replant for fall or read and learn and try something different next spring. Ditch some plants, try others, etc. It is a game. Here in Texas it can be heat, freeze, hail, winds (my goodness, they did a number on me lately), bugs, fungus, you name it.

I, too, have been committed to try to grow organically. But I know the other stuff is there if I really need it. I know, too, that I will be extremely careful if I do decide to use it.

As has been said before, you have been too inspirational to others. Take a deep breath and a break.

Jane
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  jenjehle on 6/8/2010, 12:04 am

Tim,


Your post is heartbreaking. But unfortunately, I'm not surprised. There have been SO many bugs this year; it will be a miracle if anyone gets through this season without some sort of pest invasion! The bugs are out in droves this year. Not sure why but it is a reality.

Good luck and hang in there!
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Chopper on 6/8/2010, 12:14 am

So true! I have found cucumber beetles and I have NEVER had them before. But, I am not a purist and am willing to put up a fight.

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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  jenjehle on 6/8/2010, 7:29 am

@Chopper wrote:So true! I have found cucumber beetles and I have NEVER had them before. But, I am not a purist and am willing to put up a fight.

I agree... Ultimately, it's US against THEM!!!!!!!!! I say do whatever you have to do to take them down!


There have been a few unwanted bugs that have had the AUDACITY to show up on my turf and I've shown no mercy.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  happyfrog on 6/8/2010, 9:25 am

all of my root crops (sans carrots - hybrid) have been attacked by white 'worm' things.

so this afternoon after we get home from our medical appts, we're gonna hit the garden hard with diatamaceous earth and see if that solves it. i figure if it's good for my pet to eat, it'll be ok for our garden. and will kill all the creepy crawlies. sadly good and bad, but i want a gardenmore than i want creepy crawlies of any kind. ('real' worms will be ok. . .)

bettyann
very frustrated - last night i had hopes of turnips iwth our dinner of peas, carrots, onions, garlics and sausage (sausage not from garden, lol)

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worst garden in years

Post  janetgouvas on 6/8/2010, 10:01 am

I know just how you are feeling. I'm so sorry.

My local gardening guru says all the bugs we are getting here in Az. this year and last year are because of the extra rainy winters we had. Did you have more rain than usual in your area last winter?

Try the sticky traps for the white flys. They are easy to make (or buy) and so far the one I put in my zucchini plant last night is full of little white bodies. So I'll start on some for the rest of the garden, although they work so fast it may be too late for some plants, at least I've learned something. So far the squash and beans are the only things affected. OK, so that's mostly what I have left after my latest disaster, but I do have some pretty good looking tomatoes and the watermelons made a nice comeback. My onions never made a good showing either.

Good luck. I'm rooting for you

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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  nancy on 6/8/2010, 10:40 am

A neighbor gardener told me last night that the magic date is June 10 for planting squash. The story she told me is that the moth that produces the svb is finished mating by then so there should be no more eggs. Has anyone else heard this? If true, replant! Best wishes!!
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Retired Member 1 on 6/8/2010, 1:35 pm

Yes, the squash borer only lays it's eggs in a short time-frame, but what is true in Cincinnati as to planting dates is much too late for here in Texas. We are a full month to 6 weeks ahead of you. Replanting right now won't help as the summer heat will prevent the squash from setting fruit. We plant again in August for a fall squash crop.

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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  LaFee on 6/8/2010, 2:19 pm

Tim, keep on keepin' on...I came back from a weekend away to find the cutworms had excavated the stems on 3 of my gorgeous red oak leaf lettuce...I just wanted to cry.

So...lesson learned. I've bought some Bt (a bacteria that kills them) and will get it put down tomorrow...

It's so frustrating to lose things...but there's the health benefits of gardening (both for eating and for being outside -- we'll ignore the blood pressure of finding pests for the moment!) -- it looks nice, and it keeps us off the street.

Every bad experience is a good learning moment...but it's so hard to keep that perspective when you're looking at wilted leaves and chewed holes.

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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  junequilt on 6/8/2010, 4:50 pm

Tim,you have my sincerest sympathies. We start out with such great expectations, and the losses can be devastating -- not to mention expensive! I feel your pain as I look askance at all the baby grasshoppers in my yard. Grasshoppers are a fact of life in my neck of the woods. DH would like to nuke them all, but I won't let him.

As others have said, Tim, please keep on keeping on.

Has anyone tried putting collars on their squash plants? I've never done it -- just wondering if others have, and if so, how effective it actually is.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Megan on 6/8/2010, 5:51 pm

@janetgouvas wrote:
Try the sticky traps for the white flys. They are easy to make (or buy) and so far the one I put in my zucchini plant last night is full of little white bodies.

How do you make them? Share please!
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  martha on 6/8/2010, 8:35 pm

this year



next year.

I'm sorry though for your losses.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  camprn on 6/8/2010, 8:49 pm

@Megan wrote:
@janetgouvas wrote:
Try the sticky traps for the white flys. They are easy to make (or buy) and so far the one I put in my zucchini plant last night is full of little white bodies.

How do you make them? Share please!
I have read in numerous writings of using a product called Tanglefoot spread on yellow paper and hung near infested plants is an effective trap. i have never use it.
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  valientor on 6/8/2010, 8:58 pm

Here in the nw, I have mostly just started the garden, and there are at least three squares that I've replanted three times because bugs have eaten what sprouts pop up! I doubt I will have peppers this year at the rate things are going! I just planted squash seeds, I wonder how things will go after seeing all your posts. And yes please post how to do sticky traps!
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Megan on 6/8/2010, 9:20 pm

My peppers are only a couple inches tall, I'll race ya! ;-)
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Re: Worst Garden in YEARS!

Post  Odd Duck on 6/9/2010, 11:32 am

I have been using a regimen recommended by Christine at NorthHaven Gardens. I use an organic foliar fertilizer every other week (Liquid Seaweed, Hastagro, or Medina Plus) and the other weeks I use either Bt or Spinosad.

I am also growing some sort of allium in very close proximity to EVERY curcurbit plant (garlic, onions, leeks, or chives) and EVERY scrap of unused tops of any allium gets laid down around the base of the curcurbit plants. It looks messy, but so far, so good (knocking wood furiously for luck). Even if I don't harvest all the alliums, I'm hoping for some protection.

I am ALSO growing some sort of herbal companion plant in close proximity to all the curcurbits (nasturtiums - although the heat will be putting an end to them soon, I suspect, marigolds or borage).

I never got around to getting the tanglefoot stuff or getting or making the yellow traps (my squash was absolutely decimated last year), but again, so far, so good (knock, knock, knock, throwing salt, rubbing an imaginary rabbit's foot - I wouldn't do that to a rabbit).

And Tim, I would also recommend to try replanting, even this late. You may be surprised at the production you will get from the squash, at least.

Sharon

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