Calling All Organic Gardeners and Producers!!

February 4th through the 6th is the 2016 Missouri Organic Association Annual Conference, University Plaza Hotel and Conference Center, Springfield MO. Those attending will be from Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and Kansas.

University Plaza

2016 MOA Annual Conference

The topics will include: Grain production, Livestock production, Commercial  Vegetable production, High-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, Sustainable living skills, Culinary and medicinal plants, and a whole lot more!

The “Top Chef competition”, featuring 6 of the premier chefs from St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, and Columbia, scheduled for Friday, February the 5th, is by now a tradition of the MOA Conference.

One of the surprises prepared for this year is the “Consumer Health Education Seminary”, scheduled for Saturday, February 6th and open to the general public. The discussion will focus on organic foods and their connection to a healthy diet and balanced nutrition. The session will be presented by dietitians and medical physicians and will include definitions and discussion regarding “health food terminology”. Our guests will learn about the difference between organic, non-GMO, natural foods, free range, cage free, etc.

I will be one of the speakers on Thursday, February 4th. My topic will be “Making a Seed Saving Garden” from 11 am to 12 pm.

2016 MOA Annual Conference

This will be my third year attending this incredible conference. This is a well organized conference including friendly vendors and volunteers, relevant topics of the day, organic meals as well as a beautiful conference center and hotel with free parking.

Hope to see you there!!

Papa

Crazy Weather!! Spray Those Fruit Trees!

Amazing, 60° (F) on January 15th in the Missouri Ozarks. The flower buds are swelling due to the warm weather. It is definitely time to start spraying your fruit trees.

P1040109

Neem Oil is the perfect choice to spray fruit trees. Neem oil is both a fungicide and an insecticide. 100% Neem Oil tends to solidify in its’ container. Place the container in a bucket with hot water to liquefy the oil to use in a sprayer. Two tablespoons per gallon is the usual rate to get the job done.

P1040110

Neem oil is made from the seeds of the Neem Tree (Azadirachta indica). The oil mixed with water and dish soap is sprayed at temperatures below 80° (F). Neem oil has fungicidal and bacteriological properties to either prevent or control certain types of bacteria and fungus.

Neem oil is effective to control fire blight which is a major issue on apple and pear trees.

Neem oil offers good control against powdery mildew, black spot, downy mildew, scab, anthracnose,  rust, leaf spot, botrytis, tip blight and alternaria. These are a sample of fungal diseases which plague fruit and ornamental trees.

As an insecticide, Neem Oil is detrimental to aphids, mealybugs, scale, different types of beetles, true bugs and caterpillars by disrupting their growth patterns. Most of the above insects will not reach adulthood and therefore no offspring. The oil itself smothers some of the insects by cutting off their air supply and eliminating insect eggs.

While standing upwind, spray the fruit trees from ground level to the branch tips.

Make sure the entire tree is thoroughly covered to insure control and effectiveness.

In a week to 10 days the trees will be sprayed again, using wettable sulfur.

Continue the process in another 7 to 10 days using elemental copper.

Spraying between intervals with seaweed emulsion and compost tea will strengthen the trees by building up the trees immune systems and handling stress.

The benefit is clear by enjoying healthy fruitful trees!

Papa

 

Late blight on Tomatoes and Potatoes. Is there a Cure?

Late blight, which is caused by a fungus Phytophthora infestans, is one of the most destructive and contagious plant diseases directly affecting the fruit and killing the plant. (Phytophthora means ‘plant destroyer’ in Latin)

Late Blight1       Tomato LB

Late blight spreads like a wildfire. This fungus produces spores in abundance and with the help of moist wind they will travel up to 30 miles. It is imperative to destroy infected plants as soon as possible as this disease is easily spread.

This disease shows up in late summer as the hot and warm humid days may be followed by cool and moist nights with accompanying rain, fog and heavy dew. This is a indicator to the home gardener to become watchful for the signs of late blight.

What to look for:

  • Leaves will develop water soaked spots.
  • The spots will enlarge and quickly turn from brown to purple to black.
  • Shoots of the plant will turn black and eventually the plant will collapse.
  • As the plant rots there is a foul odor; a whitish mold may be present.
  • Tomatoes will show grayish water soaked spots, enlarge and turn dark. They may have additional rot, an unpleasant foul odor and be mushy.
  • Potato tubers will show purplish or brown corky spots. There may be additional rot, an unpleasant foul odor and be mushy.

Late Blight2        Tomato LB1

Potato LB1         Potato LB2

Potato LB

Can this disease be prevented?

  • Check your potatoes and tomatoes daily following cool, humid and prolonged wet weather followed by warm/hot humid days. Sign up to receive alerts (www.usablight.org) for immediate notification when late blight is confirmed near you.
  • Copper fungicides (Elemental copper as cupric oxide) can be highly effective if applied as a preventative (before infection) and with complete coverage of all plant foliar surfaces, including the undersides of leaves where the fungus typically produces spores. Follow the label and use as prescribed.
  • Neem oil is an alternative fungicide. Follow the label and use as prescribed.
  • If symptoms are found remove the plant(s) immediately in plastic sealed bags.
  • Remove the plant(s) when the leaves have dried to decrease the dispersal of spores.
  • Dispose of this diseased material in plastic sealed bags with your household trash. Burning the diseased plant material is equally effective.
  • Change your clothing and wash your hands/change your gloves before entering the garden again. (Spores from late blight could be reintroduced from your clothes, hands and gloves) Remember this is a highly contagious disease.
  • Hill your potato plants to stop spores from draining down to the tubers.
  • Some gardeners will cover their tomatoes with an old tent frame or swing set and place plastic over the frame. The frame must be higher than the planting and permit air movement as there cannot be condensation on the leaves. High tunnels have been very successful.

Are there blight resistant tomatoes?

An article in growveg.com (January 17, 2014) by Barbara Pleasant offers a list of 9 blight resistant tomato varieties offering excellent to very good resistance.

They are:

  • Defiant PHR
  • Lemon Drop
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Mountain Magic
  • Mountain Merit
  • Plum Regal
  • Mr. Stripey (AKA Tigerella)
  • Iron Lady
  • Jasper

Are there blight resistant potatoes?

  • Elba, most resistant
  •  Kennebec
  • Allegany
  • Sebago
  • Rosa
  • Defender
  • Jacqueline Lee
  • Ozette
  • Island Sunshine

Harvesting potatoes:

  • If there are symptoms as harvest approaches remove all potato foliage from the garden and wait 2 weeks before digging the tubers.
  • Wait for dry conditions to dig your potatoes.
  • Remove all potatoes from the soil. ( the spores of this fungus will overwinter in unharvested tubers, in the soil and living crop debris)
  • Check your harvested potatoes for spots and cull if spots are present. Do not store spotted (culled) potatoes with unaffected potatoes.

Harvesting tomatoes:

  • Any fruit that rot after picking should be put in a trash bag and disposed with household garbage.
  • Unaffected parts of fruit can be consumed, but fruit from affected plants should not be canned due to concern that the pH may not be sufficiently low.
  • Tomato seed is not a carrier of this disease.

A photo gallery of this disease:  http://www.hort.cornell.edu/lateblight

Cleaning the garden of all living debris, tomatoes and potatoes is essential. Burn or bag this debris for disposal. Do not compost. Again, this is a very contagious disease.

Is there a cure?

Late blight has been with us a long time. The potato famine in Ireland of 1845 was caused by late blight. As you have read this disease is highly contagious and your daily observations are necessary to spot the symptoms and act accordingly.

Papa

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Russeting? What’s that?

Russeting is characterized by multiple micro cracks in the tomato skin which are often concentric; also called cuticle cracking.  This disorder is caused by fluctuations of soil temperature and  soil moisture.

russeting (1)

This is a physiological disorder – a problem caused by the growing conditions rather than by a pest or disease agent. Inappropriate levels of water ( drought, fluctuations in watering/rain, flooding), light, temperature (stop and start growing) and nutrients can all cause a variety of  physiological disorders in tomatoes.

russeting

The fruits are especially vulnerable as they are at the growing tips and have to compete with the new shoots for water and nutrients.

The cuticle, the very outside, transparent layer, of the fruiting skin may become less elastic. As the fruit grow, the cells of the fruiting skin loose their elasticity and small cracks start to appear.

Excessive temperature changes during the daytime and nighttime cause the skin of the fruit to react to the air around it. Water condensation within the skin of the fruit may expand and contract causing cracking.

These suggestions may remediate tomato russeting:

  • Apply adequate mulch in hot weather to keep the soil cool and decrease evaporation.
  • Consider raised bed gardening for better drainage.
  • Water in mid-morning.
  • Use shading material to enhance a cooling effect on the entire.
  • Pick tomato early when fruit shows color.

Papa

Floating Row Covers? Let’s Learn How!

I just uploaded a new video documenting how to make and install floating row covers.

Supplies you will need:

  • Rebar – 3/8″ x 10′, cut into 5 – 2′ lengths
  • Electrical PVC – 1/2″ diameter pipe x 9′
  • Floating Row Cover fabric
  • Angle Cutter or equivalent for cutting lengths of rebar
  • Hack Saw or PVC Pipe Cutter
  • Gloves and Safety Glasses

Low tunnels using floating row covers is of great benefit  for several reasons.

  • Floating row cover is a light weight, breathable fabric that allows air, moisture and sunlight to pass through the material.
    • There are various fabric weights to meet different needs.
      • Agribon 15 is lightweight fabric that is used for insect protection and shading.
      • Agribon 50 is a heavy cloth used for freeze and frost protection. This cloth will protect a crop down to 26° (F)
  • Insect protection – when properly sealed, insects cannot penetrate the covering which protects the crop from damage and disease.
    • Problem insects such as Japanese beetle, squash bugs, squash vine borer, cucumber beetles and flea beetles are blocked from doing their usual mayhem.
  • Isolation chambers – Low tunnels are ideal for seed saving of crops such as squash, pumpkin, melons and watermelons. Bumble bee hives may be inserted at one end of the enclosure to insure proper pollination. Plus, there is not a chance of cross pollination. You may grow several varieties side by side. That is a huge advantage.
  • Season extension – row covers placed over a crop will allow for early planting by trapping 2° – 8° (F) higher temperature. Likewise using a row cover late in the season will protect the crop from early frost. By using this method you can easily extend your growing season by one month!!!!
  • Hoop houses, high tunnels and greenhouses – row cover gives added protection and benefits the grower with lower fuel costs. The insulatory value of the row cover will block some of radiant cold that may damage a crop.

This is another method and tool for your gardening arsenal!!!

Papa

Little or No Flower Heads On my Broccoli! Huh?

I’ve grown broccoli for the last two years and all I get are huge plants with either little or no flower heads. What seems to be the problem?Broccoli

Timing is key!! Broccoli likes to stay cool.

Causes of no or poor flower heading:

  • Alternating periods of abnormal high temperatures followed by abnormal low temperatures stresses the plant  and causes heading to come to a complete halt.
  • Stress brought on by drought or inadequate moisture.
  • Excessive nitrogen can cause huge healthy plants with little or no head production.
  • Transplanting too late with root bound plants will keep the broccoli from heading.
  • Transplants when exposed to temperature of 40 degrees and below for 1 – 2 weeks triggers heads to form too early or not at all.
  • Transplants not properly hardened off will be stressed and perform poorly. https://papasgardens.com/2015/04/24/what-does-it-mean-to-harden-off-seedlings/
  • Overcrowding results in either little or no head formation due to competition for adequate water and nutrient.

Prevention:

  • Proper timing of transplanting for your specific area. Your County Cooperative Extension Service will supply the dates for planting.
  • Proper planting of transplants 2 feet apart.
  • Even supply of moisture. Drip irrigation is best.
  • Balanced nutrition/fertilization. Avoid excessive applications of nitrogen.
  • Proper hardening off of transplants.
  • Cover planting when temperatures drop below 50 degrees. Low tunnels with floating row cover or cloches will provide protection. Drawing low tunnels
  • plastic-bottle-clochesPlant in Fall.
    • Decreased pest pressure.
    • Plants are usually stronger. The flower heads are bigger.
    • Plants grow better into cooler weather.
    • Sow seeds for transplants 10 – 12 weeks before first frost.
    • Set transplants 2 feet apart for extended season planting.

Broccoli are sensitive to their environment. When treated with care, they will reward you!

Papa