Wednesday May 22, 2013
Your vegetable garden is probably looking good right now. Yay! The usual problems often don't show up until summer sets in and brings the insects and fungal spores with it. But if you experience the same problems year after year, now is a good time to start keeping watch for the culprits.
One problem I hear a lot about is cucumber plants with leaves that go limp and vines that eventually die back. This usually happens around mid-season, just when you expect to start harvesting cucumbers. The problem is usually cucumber bacterial wilt. This disease is transmitted by the cucumber beetle. There's the perpetrator at right.There's not much you can do once the vines are infected, but you can take some measures early in the season to protect your young cucumber plants. Here's help for cucumber bacterial wilt.
Photo Courtesy of the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Used with Permission.
Tuesday May 21, 2013
The lilacs are finishing up and the Lily of the Valley are kicking into gear. My garden smells wonderful. There are a lot of fragrant flowers, but most of them are old fashioned varieties that have become hard to find. Fragrance has yet to make a comeback. Breeders are still focused on lots of blooms and disease resistance.
I appreciate those efforts, but I'm still swept away by scented flowers. You tend to need a lot of them to really get the scent wafting, but it can really be worth it.
Photo: © Marie Iannotti
Monday May 20, 2013
There are a lot of dairy and horse farms near me and manure used to be free for the taking. If you had a truck and a shovel, you could have a nice pile of manure, slowly rotting and getting ready to enrich your soil. We also have a lot of gardeners in my area, and these days several stables charge a fee for their manure. Not everyone was pleased about being charged to clean out the barn, but it was the periodic E. coli scares that had gardeners wondering if it was worth it.
No matter how many precautions are taken, contamination can happen. Does that mean you should avoid using manure in your garden? I don't think so. It should be composted first, but once it is, it becomes an excellent soil conditioner. What's your experience been? Any favorite type of manure?
Photo: Goat Girl / stock.xchng
Sunday May 19, 2013
You've probably heard of adding a dash of Epsom salts to the planting hole for peppers. Epsom salts provide some supplemental magnesium which is thought to help peppers set flowers and fruits, especially during hot weather.
Another old trick for growing peppers is to plant a book of matches in the hole, too. Peppers like a relatively acidic soil of about 5.5 to 6.0. Matches contain sulfur and it's just enough to lower the soil pH near the pepper plant's roots and make it easier for the plant to access nutrients in the soil.
To test this out in your garden, fan out a book of matches and place them in the bottom of the planting hole. Cover the matches with a couple of inches of soil, then plant the pepper on top of them. (You don't want the matches in direct contact with the plant roots.) Let us know the results.