Thursday, June 30, 2011

Garden Bloggers Death Day

Bring out your dead. Does anyone else really miss Kate from Gardening Without Skills? She created Garden Bloggers Death Day. A day to laugh at your mistakes and cry over how Mother Nature is treating you. But she hasn't posted since March. So this post is an ode to her.

I'll start with the easy things and then get into the really nasty. The first up is aphids. Oh my word do I have aphids. I have black aphids; I have green aphids. Above are my fava beans which are a sacrifice to the lady bug gods. I have found some ladies in the garden. This morning I found one right near these aphids on a leaf. It was one of the smallest lady bugs I'd seen. The other was on my chamomile and that sucker was huge. So far I haven't seen children, but I've got my fingers crossed. With zucchini I can hand pollinate, but with lady bugs all I can do to speed the process is provide a free meal.

The worst damage that the aphids have done so far is on my plum tree. If I'd noticed it earlier I could have helped it more. But the plum tree is not in the garden proper so doesn't get looked at every day. I noticed the leaves looked funny one day. Oh the poor tree. I took the hose and sprayed them down and checked the other trees. The apple tree had some too, not as much but enough that I needed to wash them off. I'll do it again in a week and every week after as long as I find a bad infestation.

Second up are my squash plants. They have some sort of fungus attacking them. I'm not sure what it is. So far no cucumber beetles, so I'm counting my blessings there. These will have to get sprayed, but the plants seem to be holding up OK.

The last is the worst. It is hard to describe how bad it is. Above is my pepper patch. It doesn't look all that bad does it? Yeah the lower leaves are all gone, but still things look green. I grew most of my peppers from seed, but I had germination issues. So I bought one six pack from Pemperton Farms down the road. Oh how I wish I hadn't. The plants looked fine. I really don't put them under a microscope since I've never ever had an issue with pepper diseases in the past. Peppers seemed safe.

Well it turns out they had bacterial spot, which whipped right through the peppers before I even noticed there was a real problem. Bacterial spot can wipe out the crop. I may or may not get any peppers this year. I'm trying to control it with two things. One keeping the peppers clean of any leaves that are infected. And two spraying with Serenade. Serenade and keeping infected leaves off is how I got a good harvest of tomatoes in 2009 when late blight went through the garden. I can only hope it works this time. Serenade is a biological. It is a bacteria that kills fungi and other bacteria. I read the list of which one it controls, but honestly I haven't a clue what bacteria it is that has infected the peppers. I speak Latin for plant names at times, but not so much for bacteria.

One of the reasons bacterial spot is not a big player is that it doesn't live long in the soil or on plant debris. It can last up to a year, but as long as you rotate your crops you should be fine. Except for one thing. The disease can be carried on seed and you can buy infected plants brought up from the South. So I won't be saving any pepper seeds this year. Which is too bad since I wanted to save quite a bit. None of the pepper plants will be put in the compost and the solanum rotation is every three years. So next year I ought to be fine. But I hope to get peppers still this year. I might not. Time will tell.


  1. For what it's worth, I offer my sympathy! It just reinforces my view that it's best to grow your own stuff as much as possible, and not rely on bought-in plants. It's also a reason why people like you(and me) tend to grow a wide variety of plants. If one thing is affected by a disease, maybe the others won't be.

  2. I am sorry about your loss. My latest post is a "death day" of sorts. I lost many of my tomatoes to "Tomato Leaf Wilt Virus." O the pain of it. It's hard to put your heart into plants and then watch them die.

    I agree with Mark Willis and if I don't get impatient like I did this year, next year it is seed and up for me.

  3. lol- death day! I could have lots of these posts! That aphid picture looks horrifying!

  4. I hate aphids, they creep me out. I don't get them until a bit later in the summer here. Do the aphids like your chamomile?

  5. That is a real bummer about the peppers. I had never seen that bacteria in action. I hope I never see it in person based on what happened to your peppers.

    At least maybe the aphids will give the ladybugs a chance to leap into action.

  6. There are so many pests and diseases I'm often amazed we can get ANYTHING from the garden. We're either extremely optimistic or fools...................

  7. I always thought that peppers were fairly disease resistant, until I just saw your pictures! My peppers are not growing well at all, but currently that's just a size issue (I think). I haven't seen any evidence of disease yet, but I'll definitely keep my eyes open for something like what you photographed.

  8. Daphne would you look at the photos I posted on my blog and please tell me if you can diagnose any of my problems with my basil and tomatoes?


  9. Oh no! Peppers DO seem safe to purchase from local sources. I am so sorry about the bacterial and the aphid invasion. One of my squash plants look similar to yours...I have a lot of flea beetles this year.

  10. Mark, I only use brought in plants for fill in, when my own plants fail for some reason. But even that is enough to gt you in trouble.

    Crafty Cristy, that is so sad. I've never had a tomato wilt disease and never even knew there were wilts for tomatoes. Until I've had a disease hit my plants I'm usually blissfully unaware of them.

    HolleyGarden, they are. I had some kids in the garden the other week and they were fascinated.

    elizabeth, no I don't get many aphids on my chamomile. I get some little worms that like the flowers but that is about it.

    villager, I wish I'd never seen it, but I'll see if I can control it or not. From what I've read it is doubtful. And yes I've seen even more lady bugs and saw some lacewing eggs right next to that patch of aphids. So the good ones are moving in.

    Melissa, in my last garden I rarely had tons. I just hope I can get the balance back in not too long.

    Melissa, yeah I miss her humor. She could always put a smile on my face.

    Sue, And every year there is something new to contend with. I've always held that gardeners are optimists.

    Thyme, me too. I've never had a disease in my pepper plants before. I've had insects, but never diseases. Luckily it isn't that common and now I know to pay close attention to pepper transplants and quarantine them for a while before planting. If I'd known about the disease I could have caught it before putting it into my garden bed. I'm certainly careful about tomatoes from garden centers.

    Marcia, I posted on your blog for that.

    GrafixMuse, That is one thing I'm blessedly free from this year. I'm sure the flea beetles will find me but for now I'm safe.

  11. I am losing some pepper leaves on one of my pepper plants - but it is a pest problem (slug to be exact). I have yet to find where the creature is hiding but he has been doing some real damage on one of the plants. The rest of them look good thankfully.

    I am going to hit my tomatoes with Serenade this weekend because we have been damp and cool and we are supposed to have a gradual warm up starting today. Perfect conditions for a bloom of fungi so I want to do some preventive application.

  12. I'm so sorry about the pepper plants, but thanks for posting. Now I know we're not alone in our fight against bugs and disease.

  13. A fungus is invading my melons and cukes as well. I'm sure it has something to do with the cool wet weather we've been having lately. I sprayed with a copper fungicide the other day but I think it's too late for that. It's amazing that our gardens have been so similar this year. From early bitter lettuce an now this. Just goes to show how interconnected local gardens can be.

    Hopefully, tomato blight won't be an issue this year as well.

  14. What a great idea, talking about disease and/insects! How helpful!

    Every year in the Pacific NW, we get powdery mildew on our cucurbrits. Its just a matter of time before it strikes. Perhaps it has struck your area as well.