Some rookie gardener questions
I've been back into vegetable gardening for about 2 years now and have a few questions. I have straight neck and spagetti squash, zuccini, pole beans, bush beans, cucumber, cantalope, melons, okra, egg plant, asparagus (just started this spring), 5 kinds of peppers, and 6 kinds of tomatos growing in a 30'x50' garden that is partially shaded.
1. I am having a heck of a time with powdery mildew on my squash and zuc plants. My garden is partially shaded and only gets 6-7 hours of sun a day. I have been spraying Daconil every two weeks but now the mildew is coming back within one week. I have now started removing the leaves and stems that are affected but I am afraid to remove many more. Any suggestions? Would it help to remove more of the large leaves to help dry the soil under the plants?
2. I am getting plenty of squash, but very few zucs on the same size plants. Appears that the zucs have mostly male blossoms. Any suggestions?
3. All my plants are being eat up with mealy bugs. Have been spraying with Malathion but as soon as new growth appears, the start on it. Any suggestions?
4. I have 60 feet of the nicest pole bean vines that you have ever seen. Giant leaves and healthy vines. NO BEANS or bean blossoms! The have been in the ground since May 1. Any suggestions?
5. General question on fertilizing. When exactly do you know to fertilize? All of my plants are growing better this year than in past years as I have been able to get a lot of humus into it. I sent a soil sample off last fall and have followed the instructions on lime and nitro to the letter. I am kinda scared to add more fertilizer now that is it growing so well.
Thanks for your help in advance.
There are some general practices which help to control powdery mildew, such as:
- Crop rotation.
- Use resistant varieties where available.
- Good air circulation/low humidity.
- Good soil drainage.
- Use water sprays and maintain optimal soil moisture for the crop.
- Eradicate crucifer weeds and volunteer plants.
- Plough down debris from diseased plants or remove from garden area.
- Use pathogen free seed. Peas may be treated by soaking for 30 min. in 50o C (122o F) water.
- Foliar fungicides may be used. Be sure to read labels carefully for their use on specific crops.
THis website also has some great organic info. about controlling powdery mildew too. http://www.whitneyfarms.com/guide/faqs/faq_veg.shtml#3.
In our area (Seattle) Malathion was banned in certain areas because of it's extreme toxicity to fish (it's found in high levels in our waterways). I would consider another alternative.
Your beans might be getting too much Nitrogen - that causes great foliar growth but little food.
I'm sure that someone will post with info. about the diseases but I wanted to know how you could possibly think about eating your veggies after using all those sprays on them!
Before we make other suggestions, let us know where you are located...
I'm in the Triad area of NC. We have been getting heavy downpours about every 5 or 6 days.
Since I have a lot of shade, the ground in the area of the squash never really gets a chance to dry out. Plus, I think I have planted them too close together. I planted them in rows 3'6" apart and planted the plants 4' apart. I alternated the squash and zucs to make sure at least some of them get more sun closer to the edge of the garden. These plants are now at leat 6' across and are full of blooms. About 1/2 of the bady squash end up with blossom rot.
Next year, I hate to do it, but I am going to remove some trees and limb out some other ones. I can't eat the trees, so they will have to be sacrificed for something I can eat.
Do you think it would help to remove the larger leaves of the squash and zucs to help circulation/evaporation, or would this damage the plants?
On the beans, last fall I sent a soil sample to the ag ext agency and they came back with the recommendations. I was lacking nitrogen and the soil was at about 5.6 PH. I immediately added the recommended amount of lime. The second week of April after I finished tilling, I added 16- fertilizer at the recommended rate. Finished my tilling and two weeks later planted the beans.
I have always been confused as to exactly when to fertilize. I've got so many different plants in the garden that require different %'s, its tough to get a handle on it.
The test is on. I mixed 1 gallon of milk, 2.5 teaspoons of baking soda, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil with a gallon and a half of water and sprayed the heck out of them. Will let you know within the next couple of days.