Row cover protects tomato plants and more

Here is what my garden looks like right now. Just about everything is covered with a material called row cover (also called Remay). My tomato cages are covered from top to bottom with it. This acts as a physical barrier to keep a bug called the beet leafhopper from biting them and transferring a disease called Curly Top Virus (CTV). I’ll take it off my tomatoes when the monsoons arrive.  The bug leaves when the monsoons come.

I also put row cover over my other veggie transplants while they adjust to the heat and wind when I transplant them into the garden. And I put it over other veggies that I plant by seeds like beans, cucumber and corn. I just plant the seeds in the ground and put a sheet of row cover over them tacking it down with rocks so the wind doesn’t blow it away-but don’t make it too tight.  Give the plants some room to grow under it. When the seeds germinate, row cover keeps the birds from eating the sprouts and I don’t have to replant seeds as often. Plus you can water right through it. Row cover comes in 3 weights. A heavy weight (1.0) for fall-winter, a mid-weight for summer (.5) and a light weight (.3) which does not work well here because of the winds-it rips easily. I use a mid-weight in the summer in my garden.

So basically I use row cover in the beginning of the growing season on almost everything. You can get it at most nurseries.  And you won’t have to keep it on all summer. Once your corn and beans grow up about 4 inches, and your transplants adjust to outdoor growing and the bugs leave, you can take it off and enjoy watching your garden grow. Another plus is it gives some protection against hail. Great stuff. I highly recommend it to be a more successful gardener.

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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!

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!

Holy Cow! Hail the size of quarters and bigger!

hail

Wednesday we got two huge storms where hail was between the size of quarters and ping-pong balls in some places. I’ve never seen hail that big here in Santa Fe. Sorry for the blurry picture but our hands were shaking! Lots of damage was done in many people’s gardens, destroying or severely damaging many vegetables and fruits. Whole leaves were torn off or plants shredded. Most of mine were spared as I had the vegetable plants covered with row cover, and it took the hit instead of the plants.

Believe it or not some plants will come back and be ok for those of you hit hard. We will be a couple of weeks behind but the season is not necessarily over. Check your plants and if the center of it where new growth comes from is intact, it will probably grow back so don’t be so quick to pull it. I will wait for about a week to see if they show signs of new growth. If they do, I will trim back the damaged foliage but not before. Remember their root systems were not hurt so they have a good chance to recover.

Meanwhile I would spray a fungicide on them as they are weakened and more susceptible to disease, especially fungal diseases like early blight and powdery mildew with all this wet weather. You could use Neem, OR Copper spray OR Serenade to help ward off fungal diseases. All are organic.

No Giant Pumpkin This Year :(

Courtesy of pumpkin pic_history.org

Pumpkin picture courtesy of http://www.history.org

So disappointing. No giant pumpkin this year-not even a little one. I started with 3 plants. Two died of a wilt. I checked to make sure they didn’t have a squash vine borer in them-which they didn’t. I pulled both by the end of July. I just pulled my third and last giant pumpkin plant and sent it to the State Lab last week to see if they could diagnosis what disease it had. The leaves were weird – they were stiff and broke easily, the stems were weird with galls and the blossoms wouldn’t open or stayed small and dropped off—all of them. I didn’t even have one to pollinate. This is the first time since I started growing giant pumpkins that I’ve had this kind of trouble. Some years I’ve grown great pumpkins, some years not so great but I’ve always had at least one giant pumpkin. Not this year – nada and no annual pumpkin bash! What a bummer.

The results just came in from the State Lab. They had to send  it to an independent lab to confirm their diagnosis. They both came to the same conclusion-CURLY TOP VIRUS!! No. no. I know Curly Top Virus is transmitted to tomato plants via the beet leafhopper but didn’t know it could transmit this virus to giant pumpkin plants as well. And I even had it covered with row cover until July but I guess that wasn’t long enough as it only takes one leafhopper to infect plants. 😦

Tomato Disease-more info on Early Blight

Early BlightSomeone replied to my last post on Early Blight, “Will this contaminate the soil (for next year)?” Great question. Here is more info on this subject.

If you have a garden, it’s pretty much in the soil. One key is to provide a barrier between the soil and your plant, hence I add straw as a mulch around them to act as a barrier and use fungicides to catch it early or before it starts.

Some years are better as they are drier but when you have a wet summer, it can be a problem. I’m not sure if you took out the soil if that would help because who can remove all the soil? Unless you put them in pots-maybe that would work.

You should consider crop rotation, not growing in the same spot for 2 years and then coming back to it 3 years later. Crop rotation is used to control diseases that can become established in the soil over time. Changing your tomato crops to a new bed or area tends to decrease the population level of the pathogens.  That is why I have 3 sections in my garden so I can rotate the tomatoes to a new section each year. If you have raised beds, you could rotate the tomatoes to a new bed each year coming back to the original bed 3 years later to get the same effect.

I don’t look at Early Blight as a major killer of tomato plants if we do close monitoring and take action. By using fungicides early on and crop rotation every year, we can usually control it.

Also good clean-up in the fall after the garden is done is important. Do not compost the dead plants but bag them and put in the garbage.

You can read the first post about Early Blight here.

 

Curly Top Tomato Virus and Beet Leaf Hoppers

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

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

Curly Top Tomato Virus
Last year, the Beet Leafhopper which transmits ‘Curly Top Tomato Virus’ was rampant in our gardens and devastated many tomato plants. I lost 50% of my tomato plants. The Beet Leafhopper flies in on the winds in early June through July, jump on the tomato plants and taste them. They don’t even like to eat tomato plants but sample them, transmitting the disease in the process.

Identifying Beet Leafhoppers
You will know if they are here as they come in waves and when you walk around your garden, you’ll see a lot of 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—here today, gone tomorrow. By the time you notice something is wrong with your plant, they are long gone. It takes about 2 weeks for symptoms to show up.

Symptomscurly top virus_helthy plant
Your tomato plant leaves will start to curl and the underside of the leaves will turn a purplish color 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. ‘Curly-Top’ is only transmitted from bug to plant is NOT transmitted from plant to plant hence you will see a healthy plant next to a sick plant.

Remedies
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.

Leafhoppers do not like shade and if your plants are partially 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

Row cover over the tomato plants in my garden

Another thing you can do is create a physical barrier between the bugs and your plants. This year, I’m covering my tomato plants with row cover until the bugs pass. Wrap the row cover around your tomato cage and put a piece on top of the cage BEFORE they come.

Lastly you could put out some tomatoes later in the season after the bugs leave. Last year 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!