Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bacterial Spot

I've been struggling with bacterial spot on my peppers since I was stupid enough to bring in an infected six-pack from the garden center. I always hate finding a new disease because I don't know yet how to fight it. Or if it is even possible to fight. Everything I read about the disease says my yields would be severely reduced. And the pepper fruit could be affected by the disease.

One control strategy was to pick off all the leaves that I saw that had any sign of the spot. I was doing this once a week, but it seemed that I was doing the plant more harm than good. It is hard to tell if the disease spread to new leaves is fast enough to warrant defoliating the plants once a week.

I would often get pepper drop after picking the leaves off and often not small little ones just setting, but half sized ones. So this week I left them on. I think next week if I haven't seen any massive spread, I'll pick out only the ones that are severely infected, but leave the rest.

Wednesday is always spray day provided it doesn't rain, which is my main line of defense against bacterial or fungal diseases. The typical spray that people would use for such things is copper sprays. Constantly using copper sprays in the garden can upset the micro nutrient balance of the soil. I tend to stay away from them. In addition the research that I've been doing says that bacterial spot is no longer controlled much at all by copper sprays. The bacteria has developed a resistance to it. I use Serenade. It is a bacteria that fights off other bacteria and fungi. I like it because it is non toxic. You will notice however that I use a respirator when applying it. And a full body covering that gets washed afterwards. And safety glasses (after spraying myself in the eye once, I always use eye wear when I spray). Though the spray itself isn't toxic, anytime you are exposed to large amounts of protein, especially inhaled, you can develop allergies to it. The last thing I need is another sensitivity. So I'm a good girl and spray safely. Though I always wonder what my neighbors think as they watch me in this get up.

Scotch bonnet with perfect leaves

Interestingly enough this bacteria is species dependent. Most of my peppers are Capsicum annuum - sweet and chili peppers. All of them have spots. But I also have scotch bonnet peppers which are Capsicum chinense. These are not affected at all. I have not one little spot on them. And I don't even spray them any more. They are immune. The Tabasco peppers on the other hand are Capsicum frutescens and are affected. In addition some peppers are just plain more resistant. The serrano peppers are growing well. The early jalapenos are having more problems.

Tabasco peppers, spot can be seen at the bottom left leaf

I also discovered that spraying with fish emulsion seems to help them out. It could just be because they grow faster that way and outgrow the disease a bit. But it could provide a bit of assistance. So I went to the internet to see if there have been studies on it. And lo and behold, someone did a study with neem oil and fish emulsion. Fish emulsion helps just a little, but neem oil is more helpful. Now I don't have any neem, and buying a lot of sprays to put on my peppers is not all that worth it. The peppers just aren't worth tons of money to deal with. And I like to keep my life simple. Though I am interested to see what Regalia might be like. It seems like a very interesting spray. It turns on disease fighting genes in the plants and works on all the things I have problems with. It is an extract of the giant knotweed. Hey knotweed is good for something! But like the aspirin I spray on my tomatoes early in the season, it is a better preventative than a cure. Maybe I'll get this next year to deal with my fungal issues. I like the idea of making the plant fight its own battles. And I don't have to spray every single week.

So the peppers are doing OK. They sure do look pretty, but so much foliage has been removed already. Many midsized peppers have been lost. I see some peppers starting to get bacterial spot on them. I don't like green bell peppers. I like red peppers. Though some are starting to turn, that process can take weeks and weeks. Do they have weeks? I don't know.

And now they have a new threat. The leaves of the Anaheims (mostly) have started to show signs of something. Mosaic virus? The neighbor that shares that side of the house with me does smoke, but I usually think of mosaic virus as mottling the leaves too not just puckering them. He also sprayed Roundup along the fence. But I didn't notice any of the leaves near the fence with any issues. I think he was pretty careful about spraying. And these are in the middle of the patch not near the fence. What else can cause this type of puckering? Well soon it might be time to rip them out.

And just to put the icing on the cake last night it hailed on us. At least we got almost an inch of rain to go with it. Of course it was after I had already watered the garden. The hail wasn't that bad as it didn't last long. The sunflower leaves seemed to get the worst of it. The poor peppers got a few shredded leaves. My first thought when I saw the hail start was, "what can I throw over the garden?" I really wanted to protect everything. I should look at the bright side of it all. The lettuce usually gets it worst and the lettuce was all dead from the heat already. Some days you just have to laugh.


  1. Holy Moly, woman! You've got some serious crop action there. Can you shoot a wide-angle photo of your garden so I can see it? I went through your canning photos and let me tell ya... I am IMPRESSED! You rock, Daphne! And you teach me plenty!!!

  2. I have new neighbors who smoke outside. Sigh. It's amazing how far smoke travels.

  3. Are those peppers on your pepper plants!!! I say that because while I have pepper plants I wouldn't say I have peppers! They look great with the issues anyways.
    I always thought the mottling/puckering leaf was caused by aphids. Don't know if its them eating the plant and or carrying the virus.

  4. I have yellow spots on beans both pole and bush. Is it the bacterial disease? I haven't done anything, other than pick off a few leaves. My pepper plants look great but no peppers, ok, maybe a couple have 1 tiny one(: Yours are loaded, how do you fertilize them? Beans, tomatoes and peppers all have puckered leaves, saw them about a month ago, but plant is growing fine, producing blossoms even setting a few fruits, did not find anything under the leaves either, maybe something in the soil? Not sure. But they aren't dead so far, so that is a good sign..

  5. I had puckered pepper leaves early this spring, but they seem to have righted themselves now. I had puckered leaves on my lemon tree last winter, too. I thought, in both cases, it had something to do with the cool weather they were experiencing....that certainly wouldn't be the problem with yours. I did an inspection for aphid, but found no sign of any insects at all. It's still a mystery.

  6. Sorry to hear you are fighting bacteria in your garden too. It makes for an interesting summer doesn't it. Good Luck!

  7. I can't believe all the work and research you have to do with sprays. I don't spray anything. I imagine we must have some kind of garden fungus, but apparently either I don't have it or I just don't notice. It will be an interesting topic to research this winter.

  8. Thanks for all the helpful information. We used copper spray for the first time this year. Next year we'll try Serenade. We're still befuddled about how to deal with brown rot on our peaches.

  9. Wendy, the garden is long and thin and there is no place to take a photo where you can see it all. Probably from my neighbor's front door is best,but it is on the other side of the fence so you can't see a lot. I usually do aerials from the second floor about once a month. I need three photos to get it all.

    Karen Anne, it does. I usually don't smell it though.

    bakingbarb, yes they are. Whether they turn red before the spot gets them is another matter. But I have been getting come chilies that I pick green. Aphids can cause it too. But if it is that bad the aphids are really easy to see as they coat the plants. These have no insects on them, so it wasn't one of the issues I looked at.

    RandomGardener, maybe. For all I know beans get their own kind of bacterial spot. But I've found beans usually don't have much of an issue except with rust. I lose some leaves, but usually not plants or fruit. I fertilized all the beds with greensand, bone char (like bonemeal but the animals don't go gaga over it and the charcoal part is good in holding nutrients in the soil) and an organic 7-3-3. I used more bone char that I usually would since the soil test said my soil was low in phosphorous. I usually don't side dress either or spray them with fish emulsion, but this year they are getting fish emulsion on a regular schedule from now on.

    Granny, Well I hope mine is just something like air pollution from the hot weather we had or maybe just stress and it will get all better soon.

    Mrs. Pickles, sadly I always have that Chinese curse going in the garden.

  10. I hate that, when you wait to water hoping it will rain and then you finally water and what does it do the next day? Rain!

  11. I am sorry your peppers are suffering this season, but it looks like you will still get quite a few! I love the varieties you have planted. Your discussion of preventions and controls is helpful too!

  12. Gardening can be a real chore sometimes caring for all the plants, deterring the pests, and treating the diseases. I hope things improve for your peppers.

  13. Same exact thing going on here with the bull nose peppers. They are finally looking better, I had to pluck them to death. I mixed up a fungicide form household stuff, I will try your suggestion next time though. I just noticed some blooms on them today. Who knows how it will end with them. It was 107 here yesterday. I have never had so much fungal trouble as I have this year.

  14. Love how the lettuce stuck it to the hail. "HA! You can't kill me. I'm already dead!"

  15. Sorry about your pepper problems, Daphne! I hate to bring home any diseases/bugs from store bought plants.

    Every year I always have a few pepper plants that have puckered leaves. It doesn't kill the plants or affect the fruits. I never figured out why. This year the leaves on the yard long beans started out that way, too. But, they are fine now. I didn't know smoke could cause that. None of us smoke though, but I don't know if the neighbors do or not.

  16. I have a strainer I bought years ago called a Squeezo. Honest. It has 3 screens - all stainless or aluminum. Spendy, but the smallest screen will take out strawberry seeds. I link to you thru Deb Fitz, On Paradise Cove in Shelton, WA.

  17. Wow. I wonder if I should consider Serenade for my stone fruit trees? I know they need something for the brown fungus the apricots get. I'm tired of getting no fruit.

  18. Gayle, it certainly is easier to just not spray things. I used to only spray with aspirin/worm tea, but in 2009 when late blight struck so early I started using Serenade. Anything for a good tomato. Last year I didn't spray at all except an early spray of my typical aspirin/worm tea. But this year I just didn't want to lose all of my peppers. And I think I'll probably buy spray every year for my fruit trees anyway. The peach can live without it, but the apple trees around here get so many diseases and I want to keep them healthy.

    Jody, I don't know much about fruit yet. But I'm going to have to learn when the trees get big enough.

    Vanessa, sadly I watered that morning and then had rain in the afternoon. The predictions were for scattered thundershowers like the day before. The day before we got nothing. But Tuesday it hit us right on the nose. Good to get it anyway. The landscape needs it, but if only I had known.

    Sarah, thanks I do have a lot of varieties this year.

    The Sage Butterfly, I hope so too. The poor things are trying so hard.

    Deb, Good luck with your peppers. And wow that is really hot. Our heat has broken so we are back to fairly normal temps for a while. I'm so happy.

    Ribbit, lol

    Sherry, well I guess unless I see some different symptoms with them, I just won't worry. I've never had them pucker before, but enough people have.

    Penny, I have a berry screen too. I love that screen because I can make raspberry jam and not have seeds.

    Stefaneener, It can't hurt to try. I'll probably be using it on my apple trees since if you don't spray apples here they get so many fungal diseases.

  19. Luckily my peppers have done well this year expect for one pepperoncini plant that started developing some sort of weird brown fungus that traveled up the blossom end of the fruit. I quickly yanked it out of the ground and the disease hasn't spread.

    My poblano peppers are over 4 feet tall now but are just starting to set fruit. I wonder if excess fertilizer causes more foliage than fruit.

  20. My peppers are getting a little bit of fungal issues (normal in my region) but mostly I am fighting some sort of bug that has periodically been munching on the leaves. I lost a few pepper fruits to drop and rot - but the majority are doing fine and I typically lose several every year just because fungus and molds are a pervasive problem in the cooler and damper climate we are in. In fact, growing peppers and tomatoes to maturity in my area is something of a miracle. :D

  21. Our garden has been a challenge this year also. We have been using neem and it has helped. My husband read that baking soda would help kill fungus on your vegetables so he tried that the other day so we will see how that works out!!

  22. Thomas, wow four feet is pretty tall. Most of mine are 2-3 feet. I hope they set a lot at least to make up for not doing it earlier.

    Laura, I lose a few to rot too, which I expect. The ones that are dropping though are totally unblemished. It is usual for me to have the tiny ones drop when the plant sets too many. I've never had midsized peppers drop though.

    Alicia, I've heard a lot of good things about neem. And I've thought about baking soda too, but never tried it.

  23. Neem has become one of my favorite defenses against several things, including flea beetles. Somebody (Safers maybe?) markets a fungicide with neem oil as the main ingredient. I used the Serenade this year for some septoria spot on my tomatoes and it worked quite well. Fortunately my peppers are doing ok.

    We had 3 hail events this spring while the lettuce and other tender leaf greens were growing. It ripped Fun Jen leaves up pretty bad. You were lucky it wasn't worse!

  24. How frustrating that you have a new disease to contend with! Your peppers do look great though. Our pepper plants are growing slow as molasses. We have lots of Early Jalapeno plants growing from the seed you gave me but no peppers as of yet. Hopefully real soon!

  25. You grow such beautiful tomatoes! Peppers....OMG what a quirky species they are. I used to yank them when they looked weird but now I'm more patient. I get these same symptoms and if I let the peppers alone they tend to out grow some of this. I'm not sure what causes the puckering - some one at the local nursery said it was mites but after 3 years of growing lots of peppers I'm not convinced. Peppers are so individual in their characteristics and growth cycles. So many things look like mosaic - it's difficult to determine without a degree in plant pathology! Yellow splotches/pucking can be due to the heat and sun too. I usually give the plant some time and if deformed leaves and fruit start to show up then I pull it.