Posts Tagged ‘garden’

I’m so glad that it’s finally Spring again. Last year I replanted all my flowerbeds with mostly transplants from my mom’s house. My goal is to have resilient plants that look nice, low maintenance, and come back every year. Since it took last year for them to get established and find out if they could survive the move, I was very unsure about how many would come back this year. The jury is still out on several of them, but there’s good news for most!

Wild Iris in bloom again

Wild Iris in bloom again

Someone told my mom that if you transplant Wild Iris they won’t bloom for seven years. Her’s bloomed the next year, and so did mine! They grow much taller and thicker on the morning sun side of the house. Those that I planted in the hottest part of my yard are half as tall but pretty nonetheless.

Dianthus' are back fuller than ever

Dianthus' are back fuller than ever

I love Dianthus’. They’re pretty and so easy to take care of. Just don’t ever fertilize them! They will die. Mine survived the winter in every bed I planted them in. They shrunk up to little nubs during the winter, but they’ve come back thick and beautiful. They look great for low plants in the front of the beds and look great next to all the tulips I planted everywhere for my wife.

The Hosta's are bursting thru the ground

The Hosta's are bursting thru the ground

Last year I planted about six Hosta’s in the shadier beds that I have. They’re so pretty and come in so many different varieties. They did so great all year but completely died in the winter. I was wondering if they’d come back in the Spring, and I was so surprised this morning to find the first one popping through the ground!  They like shade and a little water but are as self-sufficient as my cat.

Little herb garden taking off

Little herb garden taking off

I’ve never had any luck planting an herb garden from seeds. I’ve tried and failed twice. I found herb plants last week and already they’ve doubled in size. I think they might make it. I’ve got them in a big pot in a semi-sunny area of my yard. There’s a Mandeville in the middle of those by the way. The jury is still out whether it’ll come back up. If it doesn’t I’m going to replant Jasmine instead. If the herbs do well and keep getting bigger, I’ll transplant them each to their own pot. In case you’re wondering it’s Thyme, Sweet Basil, and Oregano. Spaghetti anyone?

I’ve been getting a number of hits from search engines on vegetable plant problems, some of which I’ve blogged about along the way this summer. I thought I should sum up my experiences and what I’ve found that worked. When the internet didn’t turn up answers, a call to our local cooperative extension office was very helpful in troubleshooting diseases. If you’re not sure who to call, try your local community college and ask around.

Tomatoes I experienced problems with blossom end rot and early blight (yellow/black spots, wilting leaves).  First of all, don’t water your leaves during the day. Water early or late if you have to spray the plants. I use soaker hose on a water timer set to water either early in the morning or at dusk.

Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot is exactly what it sounds like. The bottom of your tomatoes begin to rot on the end where the blossom falls off, usually dark dry decay. I found that this could be caused by fungus or by calcium deficiency. I tried a product specifically named for stopping blossom end rot, which was supposed to replenish the calcium level. Well, it didn’t work. A general fungicide that I sprayed on the plants seemed to solve the problem easily.
Early Blight Early Blight – This was a little hard for me to figure out. Mid-way thru the growing season, around late May and early June here in Louisiana, my tomato leaves developed yellow/black spots and wilted rapidly. It seemed that any healthy leaves that came into contact with those leaves became affected quickly. Early on I kept the problem under control by quickly pruning any leaves that showed the slightest symptoms. While away on vacation for a week, nearly half my tomato plants were ruined. I pruned all the affected leaves and branches then applied a fungicide according to the instructions for a few weeks, and the problem is now under control again. Next year I’ll remember to begin regularly applying a fungicide in late May when the heat really intensifies.

Cucurbits: Cucumbers, Squash, & Zucchini – I had problems with Powdery Mildew, Blossom End Rot, and Yellow Vine Disease (caused by cucumber beetles).

The Powdery Mildew looks exactly like it sounds, a white powdery coating on the leaves or underside of the leaves. My cucumbers were not affected much, but my zucchini and yellow crook-necked squash were constantly affected. Again, applying a fungicide reguarly according to the instructions once the plants get large and begin putting on fruit will help keep the problem under control, if not eliminate it. I found that it was worse in May-June but began dissipating in late June.

I had Blossom End Rot on my zucchini and squash similar to what affected my tomatoes, except that rather than black and dry rot, the fruits would get mushy and rot near the blossom end of the fruit. The same fungicide worked well to stop the rot much quicker than the powdery mildew.

Yellow Vine Disease The Yellow Vine Disease gave me a harder time than any other diseases this season. It affected my cucumbers terribly. Apparently, it is caused by cucumber beetles very early in the season, and often by the time symptoms appear nothing can be done to stop it. Apparently, there are treatments available to use prior to or right after planting. This is a very good article that you might find helpful: Cucurbit Yellow Vine Disease.

Corn Stalks but No Corn? – My neighbor just planted a 30′ row of corn in his front yard with each plant spaced 3′ apart. I don’t try to tell people what to do and offer unsolicited advice, but he won’t be having much corn this year. I know because I made the same mistake a few years ago, only I spaced my plants closer together. My grandfather and a local farmer told me that corn has to cross polinate in order to produce. By planting multiple shorter rows side by side the plants will cross polinate much better than if you plant one long sparse row. This is the first year that I’ve tried corn since then, and I planted a 12′ by 12′ square in four rows at the end of my garden. We’ll see how much better it does.

As you can see, most of my problems were related to fungi. I’ve read several articles that suggested planting a garden in an area that has not been planted before can have a higher than normal problem with fungi. I had tilled up very thick St. Augustine grass to make my new garden and tilled 13-13-13 fertilizer into the soil. There are apparently a number of things that can be done during the winter to help prepare the soil better for planting. I’m going to be spending much more time in the off season preparing ahead of time. Contrary to what you might think from reading this post, this was the best garden I’ve ever had, and I learned so much. Good luck with your garden. I hope you might have found some answers here that I looked for. Please comment and share what worked for you. I’m always ready to learn new things.