Posts Tagged rust

The good, the bad, and the tasty

Spent a few hours out in the garden yesterday. We had our biggest harvest yet:

A couple pounds of green beans, a couple pounds of lima beans, and handful of blackeye peas, five spaghetti squash, five tomatoes, two zucchinis, and 5 serrano peppers, not pictured here as I gathered them later in the day. All together it was just shy of eight POUNDS of food! 😀

Those are the last of the spaghetti squash. After the heavy trimming a few weeks ago, the vines stopped setting new fruit but everything still on them ripened quickly. The rust was back in full force, so I harvested what was left and pulled out the vines. I also trimmed the zucchinis again, removing the infected leaves and leaving what looked healthy. I think they’ll hold out a while longer for me. Where the spaghetti squash had been, I spread a layer of coffee grounds and mulched to prep the bed for the next big thing. Later this week, I’ll plant soybeans there!

I pulled out some of the green bean plants too. I am confident now that my green beans have common bacterial blight. I’m also confident that it has started spreading to my lima beans.

I feel conflicted. I think I ought to pull all the green bean plants to protect the limas and tomatoes… but they’re still producing and I’m reluctant to rip out plants that are creating a couple pounds of food a week! I pulled out the row closest to the limas, the row where the plants are sort of falling over each other, and for now I’ve left the rest of them. When everything is spent – green beans, limas, tomatoes – I’ll solarize this bed through the hottest weeks of the summer and hopefully will head into the fall and winter with healthy disease free soil.

So this is two garden beds that have already experienced disease. Some of that is just life in Florida as hot and humid as it is. But next year I’ll do more to mix different vegetable types together and avoid the big solid patches I have here now, which should help.

In happier news, the new summer crops are doing beautifully. Here are my cowpeas just two weeks after planting:

 

The calabaza all sprouted, and I thinned them yesterday to one plant per mound.

The sweet potatoes are all growing nicely too.

The okra is doing beautifully, but I neglected to photograph it for you. I suppose that will give me an excuse for another post soon.

The peanuts I planted haven’t sprouted. I suspect a squirrel dug them up. I haven’t decided for sure whether I’ll try again, since I know the squirrels will still be there if I do.

Herbs I started a while back are doing well. Here are baby lemongrasses:

 

The passionvines that I’m allowing to run wild are blooming.

I haven’t seen many honeybees in the past couple of weeks. There’s still a constant flurry of activity from wasps and solitary bees, and all my veggies are getting pollinated. But I do miss the honeybees and I’m hoping whatever colony had been visiting me before is okay.

I think this is a solitary bee.

I think this may be a yellow jacket.

I try to do most of my harvesting and cultivating in the beds when the pollinators are less active. Sometimes I can’t help being out there when they’re busy. So far, none of them has stung me (and I’m really hoping they don’t… last time I got a wasp sting I had a welt that lasted a couple of months, so I suspect I’m mildly allergic). I make a point of moving gently and while I’m cautious, I’m becoming less frightened of them as time goes on, which is good.

The gnats are less willing to coexist with me. They insist on flying up my nose when I’m hunched over picking beans. I doubt any of them has survived the vigorous nose blowing that ensues. Not. Fun.

Last but not least, I think my Brandywine tomatoes are beginning to ripen. Very excited about that!

See that slight tinge of color? I think we'll start seeing the gradual fade to red soon!

That’s it for the time being. We’re feasting on fresh veggies and I’m already plotting my garden plans several months from now, as I think through where I’m planting now and what I’ll be ready to turn over in the fall. Good stuff. 🙂

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Rust

At a glance, my squash plants have looked more and more lush and lovely as time goes on and they continue to grow.

But closer inspection reveals that fungal diseases are beginning to spread. Lots of rust, and some powdery mildew in some spots as well.

Rust on leaves

And more rust...

And even more

I have been debating how to proceed. I sprayed with an organic fungicide a couple of times, but even organic I don’t want to overdo it. I trimmed back the most damaged growth a week or so ago, but it has continued to spread. It’s spreading really quickly, in fact. All of the cantaloupe vines (that have only just started growing at last) contracted rust in a matter of two days.

*sigh*

From what I’ve read, this is normal. It’s Florida. It’s humid, and it’s hot, and these are ideal conditions for fungus to grow. I’ve read in a few places that, for my area of Florida, “Northern” squash varieties can only really be expected to perform midway through June in a good year – and it got hot early this year.

I had halfway planned at this point, so close to the end of the squash season, to just let it run its course. The zucchini have slowed production and the spaghetti squash are all being attacked by pickleworms before I can get to them, and I thought perhaps I’d just shift my focus to the new bed across the garden until I had time to pull the squash plants out.

Then, this morning, I saw four new female blossoms on my zucchini plants, and a couple of baby zucchinis as well. And so, for the sake of another round of zucchinis, I decided to fight the fungus while I can. 🙂

More zucchini? Yes, please!

So I trimmed them. Agressively. Not just the worst-hit leaves, but every single leaf I saw with the smallest hint of rust or powdery mildew. For the zucchinis, it meant about a third of their leaves. I pulled the cantaloupes out altogether. And the spaghetti squash – lost about 90% of their leaves. That’s a lot. I have no clue whether the vines will survive the shock, but I figure even if they don’t I’ve only shortened their lives by a few weeks. And I may have extended my zucchini plants in the process.

Here it is now… not nearly so pretty. Kind of disappointing to have all that work make it look worse, but hopefully it will mean there’s more for me to eat!

I would have harvested what I could and pulled the spaghetti squash plants altogether, but it seems the pickleworms prefer them to my zucchinis, so for the time being I am keeping them around as a decoy.

And in a few weeks or another month, I’ll pull them all out, add a new layer of manure and more mulch, and let the bed rest a couple months, until it’s time for the earliest cool weather crops to start going in.

At least, that’s the plan for now. 🙂

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