Weeds-Not all that bad?

Photo courtesy of Permaculture Reseach Institute

Purslane-Photo courtesy of Permaculture Research Institute

I just read an article about weeds and how they are not all bad and in fact serve a purpose. I know this and yet I still do pull a lot of them but I leave some as well, like purslane which is a great food source and has more Omega 3’s than salmon. I just try to pull it before it flowers and goes to seed. I have friends which come by regularly and we harvest them. I pull the other ‘weeds’ around them but leave them.

We define ‘weeds’ as a plant growing in the wrong place. Now I still have my share of weeds to pull from my gardens (and am doing so right after I write this) but this article opened my eyes about the benefits of weeds too. I really enjoy reading the info sent out from the Permaculture Research Institute and became a subscriber. Check them out. So in the meantime, if you want a great excuse to NOT to pull weeds, read this article from them, written byJonathon Engels, WORKING WISELY WITH WEEDS.

Organic Pesticide and Disease Control Class Review

class pests picToday I taught the Organic Pesticide class and added Disease Control too as we are or will  be dealing with pests and disease soon in the middle of the gardening season. The class was great and we had good comments from some of the attendees. I talked about what’s going on the our gardens now and what insect and disease controls we can implement. Attached is the pdf from the class for anyone who wants to know what I do.

ORGANIC PEST and DISEASE CONTROLS

Also attached is the pdf with photos of certain insects that may be attacking our plants now as well. This is in color so it would be a great reference for you to keep when you need to identify a bug you may think is a pest.

CLass pests pics

I recommended the book, Good Bug, Bad Bug for everyone to get which is a great ID book that will show which ones are good beneficial bugs and which ones we consider pests and what crops they attack.  I got mine at Amazon.

Good Bug Bad Bug book

Then we walked around the community garden and looked for plants that are being attacked or are sick and I showed everyone the plants so hopefully it will help them go back to their gardens and look at their plants and see what is going on.

Other than the heat, I thought the class was great. Thanks to all 20 of you that attended!

What’s wrong with my tomato plant?

This has some excerpts from an earlier post in 2015 in June and new info as well in 2016. We are experiencing heavy pressure from the Beet Leafhopper which transmit a virus called Curly Top Virus (CTV) to tomato plants now in 2016. Please read below.

Photo credits: curly top disease - photo courtesy of http://ucanr.org/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=3352

Curly Top Virus (CTV) on tomatoes
Last year, the Beet Leafhopper which transmits ‘Curly Top Tomato Virus’ was rampant in our gardens and devastated many of our tomato plants. I lost only 1 plants out of 125  in 2015 to it but only because I take extraordinary measures to protect them. Here is some information on the beet leafhopper, how to identify it, symptoms and how to protect your plants.

The Beet Leafhopper flies in on the winds in early June through early July, jump on the tomato plants and taste them. It is a big problem in the Southwest and inland in California where it is hot. They don’t even like to eat tomato plants but sample them, transmitting the disease in the process, then fly off to visit other plants.

Identifying Beet Leafhoppers
The beet leafhopper is very small-about 1/8 inch long, pale green to light brownish green and has wings that look like a tent when folded up vs spread out like a moth. See photo on left. They come when conditions are dry, hot and windy. Sound familiar? This is typical June-early July weather here in the greater Santa Fe area.

You will know if they are in your garden as they come in and when you walk around your garden, you’ll see jumping little green bugs that fly off when you walk by. Then they leave—flying to the next garden. Because of this, you can’t really spray anything to get them because they hop so fast and only stay in the garden a short time—here today, gone tomorrow. By the time you notice something is wrong with your tomato plant, they are long gone. It takes about 2 weeks for symptoms to show up.

 

Symptoms
Your tomato plant leaves will start to curl and the underside of the leaves and veins will turn a purplish color.

curly top virus_helthy plant

Tomato Curly Top Virus-beginning stages on left and advanced stages on right


The leaves then start to wilt and the plant will look stunted. You might think it needs water but it doesn’t, it is sick and won’t recover. There is no cure for tomato plants with this disease. ‘Curly-Top Virus’ is only transmitted from bug to plant and is NOT transmitted from plant to plant hence you will see a healthy plant next to a sick plant. The pictures above show 2 plants with curly top. The first one is beginning to be sick with curly leaves and the veins will turn purple.  The second plant in the picture is advanced.

There is NO CURE for this virus and if your tomato (or pepper for that matter) shows signs of the disease, you should pull the plant. You could leave the plant in BUT if another wave of leafhoppers come by and a healthy leafhopper bites your sick plant, it only takes 10 minutes in 90°F weather for it to be able to transmit the disease to one of your healthy plants. The best thing to do is pull any sick plant and dispose of it. I don’t compost ANY tomato plant that shows disease.

Here are some remedies:
• Leafhoppers do not like shade and if your plants are partly shaded, that may help keep them off but since most of us grow tomatoes in full sun that might be difficult.

Create a physical barrier with row cover

Put row cover over tomato plants

• The main thing I do is create a physical barrier between the bugs and the plants.  I now cover all tomato plants with row cover until the bugs leave. Wrap the row cover around your tomato cage and put a piece on top of the cage BEFORE they come. I observe they either leave or are suppressed after the monsoons come in July when it is cooler and wetter. After the monsoons roll in, I take off the row covers BUT NOT UNTIL THEN.  I hope they come in soon as they are late right now. Tomatoes are self pollinating so they aren’t pollinated by bees or other pollinators. Another thing I’ve noticed is many of my purple or black tomato varieties seem to get hit hard. I wonder if they give off something that attracts the leafhopper? Right now all of my tomatoes are covered.

• Lastly you could put out some tomatoes later in the season after the bugs leave but you’ll have to put in early season varieties so you can still harvest before the season ends. I buy gallon size at that point so as not to be too far behind. Agua Fria Nursery still has 1 gallon tomatoes as of now. A couple of years ago when I was out at the Santa Fe Community Garden, I noticed many rows of sick tomato plants but one row of perfectly healthy plants and when I asked about them, it turned out they were put out about a month later than the rest of them and by then the leafhoppers were gone.

Dry, sunny, windy weather are perfect conditions for the leafhoppers so look out this summer-conditions are ripe again until the monsoons come!

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IMPORTANT NOTE:Now there are three cases where you may think you have curly top virus but may or may not have it.

Denver Downs Farm, Anderson, SC; High temperature on black plastic; lower leaves only.

Physiological Leaf Roll-Photo courtesy Clemson University

The first condition that may not be Tomato Curly top Virus is Physiological Leaf Roll that can happen on some tomatoes and could be caused by various factors including stress and that is not necessarily curly top-if you plant has rolled leaves but no purple veins as shown above, it possibly has physiological leaf roll and look for why it may be stressed. It is getting enough water, too much water, too much nitrogen? Also drought, pruning, root damage and transplant shock can all be reasons for leaf roll. For more info on this condition go here.

purple tomato_purlple leaves

Phosphorus deficiency in tomatoes happen when the weather is still cold-not in June.

The second condition is early in the season, not now. Sometimes the leaves turn purple when it is still cold outside. This is a phosphorus deficiency. This never happens in June or later when it is warm but more in May if you plant early and it is still cold outside.

The third condition (no pic) is if you are growing a purple or black variety of tomato your plant may have purple veins  so don’t pull it unless it start to looks sick with the curly leaves and looks like it needs water.

 

Organic Pesticide Control class-this Sunday July 10

I’m teaching a class on Organic Pest Controls this Sunday, July 10. I will ID some of the plants in the garden with damage and go over many organic methods and organic sprays we can use to control many bugs now attacking our vegetable plants. Below is the info provided by Milagro Community Garden which is hosting the event.

flea beetle damage

Can you guess which pest is attacking this plant? (see answer below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN: SUNDAY JULY 10

WHERE: MILAGRO COMMUNITY GARDEN (Off Rodeo Road east of Sam’s Club-Turn north onto Legacy Court. Garden is behind the church, ‘Church of the Servant’, on corner)

TIME: 12-2:00 PM

Taught by Jannine Cabossel, Master Gardener and the Tomato Lady at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.

This Educational class was requested by members of the Milagro Community Garden. This class is also open to the Santa Fe Master Gardeners (they will earn 2 CE credits), Home Grown New Mexico members and the PUBLIC.

Please come and bring a hat, sunscreen, water, a folding chair and of course your questions. No need to sign up but should you have questions, email CAROLE at cowens505@comcast.net

ANSWER: The damage in the above photo was from the flea beetle!

Hot! Hot! HOT!!

hot sun pic

Yesterday was a new record high for Santa Fe for Sunday, June 19, 2016. It hit 102°F  in Santa Fe but it hit 104°F (40°C) here at the garden. Too hot to work outside unless it is in early morning or later towards sunset when it starts to cool down. So I am waiting today till about 5-6 pm and praying we get a few clouds overhead which would cool things down a bit and I can get a few hours in outside. Photo courtesy of http://cliparts.com

 

Giant pumpkins in 2016?

giant pumpkin

One of my giant pumpkins in 2011. Wasn’t she beautiful?

I am trying to grow giant pumpkins again this year and haven’t talked much about them as I have not had good luck growing them the last 3 years. I broke the NM State Record for giant pumpkin in 2010 and broke my record in 2011 and then my record was broken in 2012 by someone else. Since then, nobody has set any records here for New Mexico as far as I know. It is not as easy as I first thought. I must have had beginner’s luck.

This was back in 2008-my first year of growing giant pumpkins

If you can get one to take and keep growing, nothing is more beautiful in the garden than seeing these huge orange globes in a sea of green leaves!

This year, I bought some seeds from the world record holder 0ver 2300 lb and both of them never germinated. Arrgh! So now I’m down to 2 pumpkin plants that came from a 2009 lb pumpkin and 1 pumpkin plant from an 1879 lb pumpkin and 1 pumpkin plant from an 1135 lb pumpkin. The 1135 pumpkin plant had some animal dig by it and it got buried for a while but might come back. Actually doesn’t look too bad but should be growing a little faster-it might have been set back from the incident. That’s why I grow more than one-sh*t happens. And the last 3 years, it’s happened a lot regarding giant pumpkins.

giant pumpkin plant from 2009lb pumpkin

giant pumpkin plant from 2009lb pumpkin

So far, one of the 2009 (grower-Langevin) pumpkin plants looks very good, growing nicely, the other one is a little slower but still good and the 1873 (grower-Steil) plant is looking pretty good too. A glimmer of hope! I fertilized all of them on Monday with a cocktail that had fish fertilizer, mycorrhizal, Azos, kelp emulsion and 2 fungicides-Rootshield Plus and Companion.  I give them some fungicides because I’ve had some die from some fungal wilt before so I’m trying to be preventative. I always say I’m giving them some juice which really is a cocktail of a mix of things all at once and all must be compatible. All giant pumpkins are BIG EATERS so fertilize them 1x a week with at the least fish/seaweed fertilizer. My first year I only did that and got some 200-300 lbers. This is not like the ‘Biggest Losers’ show where you starve the pumpkins in our lousy soil but more like the ‘Biggest Winners’ by feeding them a lot and giving them a lot of water too. You don’t get to be 500-1000 lb+ in 4 months without feeding them every week.

Except for the 1138 pumpkin plant, all giant pumpkin plants are in section 3 of my main garden. I have a mantra I say every time I look at them, “Grow nangua, grow!” It means pumpkin in Chinese. I guess I hope it brings me good luck this year! Time will tell…

What’s up in the garden!

20140403122458-Meraviglia-di-venezia-a-grano-biancoStill catching up on what’s up in the garden. I planted a new bean called Climbing pole French Bean – Meraviglia Venezia that I bought from Franchi Seeds. It’s a Romano type of bean only yellow in color. I wonder what it will taste like. I also planted Emerite french filet pole bean from John Scheepers Vegetable seeds and a Chartreuse leaf colored scarlet runner pole bean which I grow for looks as the bright yellow-green leaves look fantastic against other greens.

 

Detroit Red beets, Craupadine beets and Atomic Red carrot seeds were planted directly in the garden. I put row cover over all of them to keep the birds from eating the bean seeds and to keep moisture in the ground for the beets and carrots.  If you’ve had trouble with birds eating germinating seeds, put row cover over them till they get about 3 inches tall. The Detroit beets and carrots are coming up nicely but the Craupadine beets are not. They are so hard for me to germinate compared to other beet seeds-still I try as I love the flavor of them.

cuke transplantsCucumber seeds planted in 2″ pots in the greenhouse at end of May, have germinated and will go into the garden today-June 15. The varieties are: Poona Kheera cucumbers (best tasting slicing cuke ever-never get bitter), Parisian cucumbers (I will make Cornichon pickles out of them), Boothby Blonde cucumber seeds will become Bread and Butter pickles and National Pickling cucumber seeds which will become dill pickles. Can’t wait to make pickles!

Pillbugs_(Armadillidiidae)Last year and every year before, I planted cucumber seeds directly in the ground but roly polys ate my cucumber seeds as they germinated last year in the soil. Roly polys, sow bugs, pill bugs, potato bugs are sort of interchangeable names for Armadillidiidae. They are actually good composters of horse manure so they are great in a compost pile but can damage small seedlings as they germinate in your garden when you plant seeds. Last year, I thought it was a cut worm eating all my seedlings, but found the roly polys instead to be the culprits. I had to plant 3x before I could get enough up and only after I sprayed them with Neem did I have success. This year I pre-started them in the greenhouse in 2″ pots to get them a little bigger. I find when seedlings are bigger, the roly polys don’s bother them anymore. They only like the young tender seedlings as they emerge.  If they do eat some of my other seedlings that are direct seed planted, they will be toast as I will spray Neem Oil on the roly polys on the soil where they live to get rid of them.

Rogosa-Violina butternut

Rugosa Violina Butternut Squash

The winter squash varieties I’ve planted are Rugosa Violina Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I grow Butternut squash because it doesn’t attract squash bugs! It’s the winter squash to grow if they are a problem.

 

 

 

 

calabacitas squash pic

Calabacitas squash

I’m also growing ‘Tahume’ Calabacitas squash which is really a winter squash picked very immature-we eat it like summer squash out here in Santa Fe especially in the dish called Calabacitas, which is a mixture of sauteed onions, corn, Hatch green chili and calabacitas squash. I got this from Botanical Gardens seed company. Very yummy!

 

 

 

costata romanesco

Costata Romanesco zucchini

Summer squash varieties I started are Costata Romanesco zucchini (best flavor ever) and ‘Bennings Green Tint’ patty pan. If I hadn’t had such trouble with the rolly polys last year I would just plant the seeds in the ground and you should too if they are not a problem for you. The soil has warmed up nicely—over 70°F which is perfect for squash seed germination.

 

bennings-green-tint-scallop-squash

Bennings Green tint summer squash

Should be done with all veggies planted this week. So if you think you are behind in the garden this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!