Tater Update Three!!!

The potatoes are growing very well! The plants are starting to get flowers! The extra drainage is paying off, despite the heavy rains.

So far no sign of Potato Beetles. Plus, I’m on the look out for fungus!

The next step is to feed the potato rings with seaweed emulsion and watch for critters and disease. When the plants die back and turn brown, then the potato harvest will begin (probably in late June).

It appears this is working so well, I’m going to try this with sweet potatoes.

Talk to you soon!

Papa

 

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Spring Tater Update!!

The potatoes are growing. Another layer of tires were added, compost was installed between the growing plants and topped with straw.

 

The compost used was from last year! Dark and rich with almost no smell!! Hopefully the plants will take off and turn darker green.

Pots of basil and other aromatic herbs will be placed between the tire rings to deter insect pests. Colorado Potato Beetles can be a challenge.

I’ll keep you posted.

Papa

It’s Tater Time Again!!

When my son Nathan was here, we planted potatoes in used tires with the sidewalls cut out. Three tires were planted with Red Norland and three tires were planted with Yukon Gold.

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We have an issue with standing water from time to time. Piles of composted tree trimmings were leveled out and covered with weed cloth. The tires were placed and the bottoms were filled with sand. The hardened off potato cuttings were placed in the bottom of each tire on top of the sand. Compost mixed with soil was placed on top of the cuttings to cover the cuttings. Subsequently, composted grass cutting were placed on top.

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I will keep you posted on the continuing results of this Spring project.

Papa

Cold Frame Beauties!

Cole crops, Swiss Chard and pansies (started in January) were started in early February using heat mats and LED lights. (BTW, Cole crops are veggies like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and the like). Mid March the transplants went out to the cold frame. Subsequently, most of the plants took off like a rocket!

 

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The cold frames are made of landscape timbers, lined with one inch foam board. Weed cloth is placed on the ground bottom and the top is hinged 1/4 inch poly carbonate panels.

I use bricks to prop open the top panels when weather allows. All of the crops in the cold frame are now hardened off to moderate cold temperatures 27° – 32° (F).

Fertilizing with seaweed emulsion is the only additional feed used to enhance growth and to immunize for stress.

All of these transplants will be in the ground shortly. They should take off quickly in the cooler soil!

More new info to come!

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

There are White Spots on my Peas! Uh Oh, it’s Powdery Mildew!

The daytime temperatures are getting warm and it’s cool at night. It seems like the perfect scenario for great growing weather. Your peas are up and growing like a storm. What’s that on the leaves and pods? There are white fuzzy spots growing on my peas. Powdery Mildew strikes again!!

peapm

Powdery mildew is the most common occurring plant fungal disease. Its appearance, when first noticed, is characterized by spots or patches of white to grayish powdery growth on the upper surface of leaves and their stems.

  • It impairs photosynthesis
  • Stunts growth
  • Increases the rate of plant decline

Advanced stage of powdery mildew:

  • Foliage turns to yellow, leaves curl or turn brown.
    • D-TO-LTAU-FO.001h        D-SP-EPOL-FR.001h

How does this happen? There are three requirements for disease to flourish. A host, the pathogen/disease and the right environmental conditions.

  • Powdery mildew (thin layers of fungal tissue on the surface of the leaf which produce spores) requires new and young living plant tissue to grow.
    • The disease grows as mycelium (fungal tissue) on the surface of the affected plant as white patches where the spores are produced.
      • Spores make up the white/gray powdery growth visible on the leaf surface.
      • Spores  of powdery mildew are carried by the wind, splashing rain drops and/or insects to new plant tissue.
      • The spores can produce in 48 hours.
  • Warm, humid days and cool nights are the perfect conditions for the fungus to grow.
    • Moderate temperatures of 60° to 80° (F) are favorable temperatures for powdery mildew growth.
    • Temperatures of 90° (F) and above inhibits the growth of the disease.
  • High humidity for spore germination common in crowded plantings, where air circulation is poor and damp shaded areas invite this plant fungal disease.
  • Crop debris and host weeds are important to the survival of powdery mildew.
  • The spores of powdery mildew over winter attached to plant parts and plant debris.

These are the common preemptive strategies to avoid/combat powdery mildew.

  • Plant powdery mildew resistant varieties if available.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Properly space plantings to allow good air circulation.
    • If plants are overcrowded, prune to allow increased air circulation, reduce humidity and cross infection.
  • Arrange your rows or beds east to west to eliminate shade possibility.
  • Tallest plantings should be to the north.
  • Avoid overhead watering. Best time to water is mid morning allowing the plants to completely dry.
  • Stay out of the garden when wet!!! Otherwise, you become a carrier of the disease.
  • Avoid the late summer application of nitrogen fertilizer (fish emulsion, composted poultry litter, ammonia nitrate, urea) which limits new growth the disease attacks.
  • Remove ALL diseased plant parts and burn or bag and remove from property.
    • If possible, remove diseased plant parts on a sunny, hot, wind free day.
      • Spores are killed by heat and direct sunlight.
      • In the absence of wind there is less of a chance for spore dispersal.
  • Remove ALL plant material and plant debris (mulch included) in the fall.
    • Survival rate of any overwintering fungal spores is decreased.
  • DO NOT COMPOST ANY PLANT MATERIAL OR DEBRIS where this disease was active.

When fungus pressure/threshold is too great you can pull all diseased plants or are there fungicides to use? The answer is YES!!

  • Horticultural oils – Saf-T-Side Spray Oil®, Sunspray Ultra Fine Spray Oil® – follow label directions
  • Neem Oil (plant based), Jojoba Oil (plant based) – follow label directions
    • Never apply when temperatures are 90° (F) or above or with drought stressed plants.
    • Never apply an oil spray within two (2) weeks of a sulfur application as plants may be damaged.
  • Wettable Sulfur is most effective when applied before disease symptoms appear. – Safer Garden Fungicide® – follow label directions
    • Never apply when temperatures are 90° (F) or above or with drought stressed plants.
    • Never apply within two (2) weeks of an oil spray.
    • Be careful when spraying squash and melons as there may be damage.
  • Baking soda ( Sodium Bicarbonate)
    • Combine with horticultural/dormant oil with liquid/insecticidal soap
      • 1 TBS Baking Soda, 1 tsp horticultural/dormant oil, 1 tsp insecticidal/liquid soap to 1 gallon of water.
      • Spray every one to two weeks.
      • Use sparingly to avoid sweetening (alkaline) the soil.
  • Potassium Bicarbonate – Kaligreen® – contact fungicide killing spores of powdery mildew quickly.
    • Approved for organic use. Follow label directions.
  • Mouthwash – generic ethanol based – spray 1 part mouthwash to 3 parts water.
    • Caution use on new foliage as it may be damaged.
  • Vinegar – spray 2 -3 TBS apple cider vinegar (5% acetic acid) mixed with 1 gallon water.
    • Caution use on new foliage as it may be damaged.
  • Milk – natural occurring compounds in milk attack the disease while improving the plants immune system.
    • Spray 1 part milk to 2 parts water weekly.

Biological Fungicides – beneficial microorganisms when sprayed on plant tissue destroy fungal disease. Serenade®, Actinovate AG®, Cease®

  • Active ingredient  – Bacillus subtillis – prevents powdery mildew from infecting the plant. Follow label directions.
    • Non toxic to people, pets and beneficial insects
      • Not proven to be as effective as oils or sulfur

Here are a few examples of powdery mildew.

powdery_mildew_tomatoes      carrot-powdery-mildew-1L

9-4PM-on-grape-leaves-1ANNEMIEK (1)       PMSquashBHedlundHerndonVA2006-1y47tkc

PM watermelon

Remember, fall clean-up is essential!! Be on your guard!

Papa

Planting Potatoes Made Easy!!

Planting potatoes using the long sprout method (allowing the seed potatoes to develop long sprouts prior to planting) is another way to get bigger yields of potatoes. Irish potatoes are actually modified stems. The longer the stems, the more surface area for potatoes to form. This method produced a tremendous yield of red skinned potatoes.

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I used compost mixed with rotted wheat straw as my growing medium. More rotted wheat straw was added to fill the tire ring.

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Now the sprouts are popping out above the straw.

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Soon I will be adding another tire ring as the sprouts grow longer.

Here is another method of planting potatoes. It is called the trench and hill method. Till your soil and open a trench or furrow. Plant the seed potatoes about a foot apart and hill up the soil, compost and rotted wheat straw over the trench and watch them grow!

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I can hardly wait to experience these blue potatoes!

Papa