Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The good, the bad and the ugly Part One

Today I thought I would show you some of our successes and failures and some of the things that have just run their course since we are reaching the end of summer. I am going to try and put helpful links in where I show you some of our problems so you can try to avoid and manage them in your own garden.  

Here's a look at the front garden as if you were just walking by
The garden from a distance really looks beautiful, as if everything is perfectly healthy and getting along just fine. Most of it is healthy but if you get up close to certain things, you'll notice some of it is not looking as healthy as it should be.


This eggplant got off to a very slow start and the fruit was not pretty at first
I think one of the biggest mistakes I made this warm season was starting certain things a little early. This eggplant is recovering and looking great now, all of our eggplant is doing well now, but we probably should have waited until late April or early May to put them in. We started ours in March and I think they needed more heat to really start thriving.

We started the sunflowers in March too and I think that was okay. We have had some issues with them though.

Here are a couple of our Mammoth Russian sunflowers
Most sunflowers supposedly do not need to be supported but many of ours do need support this year. I had to cut one off completely because there wasn't a way to support it without it interfering with other plants in the garden. One thing to keep in mind with sunflowers and other annual plants is that they will not look perfectly pretty all the way through their growing cycle. The plants priority is to make seed that will ensure the next generation. The energy of the plant goes to doing that, not to keeping the plant looking perfectly gorgeous.

With that said, this sunflower is beyond the normal wear and tear that you would expect to see on a plant through it's life cycle. I do not know what happened here. It may have been mites, it could have been fungal or something else. I am still investigating. The plant is still alive believe it or not. The seeds from it will not go to market and will not be saved for planting again next year. I might try them for our own consumption if they end up looking and developing okay. We still have a few more weeks before it will be time to harvest the seeds.

Good sunflowers
You may wonder why I think these napping sunflowers look good, they are falling over but I think all I need to do is hoist them up using plant tape and the fence behind them. The leaves are healthy, the heads are not deformed, and the seeds are forming well. We started these in late April. I think. 


Good strawberries
We are finally having success with getting strawberries to take off in this bed. When I wrote about them in the middle of June I was having trouble with them. Part of the turn around may be that the newest plants are ones that we propagated ourselves from shoots that came off plants that were already acclimated to our garden. We also installed irrigation here which I am sure helps.  


Two good looking lemon boy tomatoes in an EarthBOX
Good looking black cherry and boxcar Willie tomatoes, in an EarthBOX  on roof
We started planting our tomatoes diagonally in our EarthBOXES to give them more room and air circulation. 

Good looking lemon boy tomato in ground
All of the above tomatoes were planted with our second warm season planting in July and they are all doing well. They do not show signs of blossom end rot or fungal disease like we experienced with the first go round.. 

Bad better boy tomato
These plants look great from this angle but they are way too crowded. There's a couple of tomatoes, a tomatillo, and eggplant all contained within this photo. I'm glad it all looks good on top because as you look at the leaves underneath, there are signs of fungal issues which thrive where air circulation is poor. The better boy tomato has also been one of the worst for blossom rot which I think is partially due to the fact that their are too many plants competing in this area for nutrients. Next time I will not plant a tomatillo in the same bed with anything else that needs a lot of space and circulation. They get huge.

Ugly champion and yellow pear cherry. 
These plants have not been very happy from the beginning. They are producing some good fruit but I think they have some fungal disease so the plants are not as lush as they could be and we also started with some blossom rot issues but that has resolved now after giving them some more calcium.  

Ugly champion and 3 sisters tomatoes 
These are some of the first tomatoes we planted in the early spring. They produced well for quite awhile but then they got infected with early blight and struggled a little. The tomatoes were plentiful and tasty over the past several months but it is time for these plants to move on. We plan to replace them this weekend with a late crop of beans after we harvest the last of these tomatoes. 

Fleck is extremely bored by this post but I'm moving on anyway
Cucumbers are another plant that is affected by fungal disease. We don't have a single cucumber plant that does not have leaves that are showing signs of fungal distress. I am not sure if I have a single cucumber that I could call good when it comes to the health of the foliage but the cucumbers themselves are not affected and some of them are doing really well if you look at overall production and quality of the food. Vegetable plants aren't always pretty which is one of the problems I encounter when I am encouraging others to grow their own vegetables. People like pretty.

This is one of the best sets of cucumbers that we have growing in the garden right now, a slicing variety
We put these in our garden in July and we are starting to get some nice cucumbers off of them even though they are showing signs of powdery mildew already.

One of our lovely new slicing cucumbers
Some of the leaves on our Japanese cucumbers are are looking unhealthy 
I think our front garden is not airy enough and that is one of the reasons why fungal disease has been more of an issue downstairs than it has on the roof. These Japanese cucumbers were planted in early May so they have done well considering they have been there for 3 and a half months. The fruit still looks and tastes amazing. 

Aremenian cucumber
The rooftop Armenian cucumbers just started showing signs of disease within the last month or so. We are treating all of the diseased plants regularly with milk by diluting 1 part prepared powdered milk with 9 parts water and it does seem to help prevent the disease from spreading. The cucumbers that are coming off this plant are some of the best I have ever eaten.

Our lemon cucumbers did really well but now it's time for them to go
The lemon cucumbers that we planted in the front garden did great for quite awhile but now I think it is time to pull them out after the current fruit reaches maturity, another couple weeks or so. Vegetable plants don't last forever. I plan to start peas here in the next month or so.

Upstairs lemon cucumbers
The lemon cucumbers upstairs did significantly better, I believe that is due to better air circulation but as of late even they have some signs of fungal disease. Thankfully this does not affect the food in any way except it may reduce the amount of food the plant is able to produce. 

Fungal disease in San Diego is very common and I believe difficult to control, because it is airborne and we are in a breezy area. Milk is my first line of defense and then neem or copper might be employed for certain plants in severe cases. 

When the plants are stressed from fungal disease they also become more susceptible to insect infestations and other issues.  

"Umm, here's your hat, I think you have some work to do. With all these issues it's no wonder we haven't attracted any rabbits!"

Gidget is right. I do have some things I need to do in the garden but I will continue showing you the good, the bad and the ugly in Gidget's Garden tomorrow with squash, volunteers, flowers and other ornamentals.    

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