Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Garden Update October 2013: Tomato disease identification and new plots!

Its been a while since I last made a post about my garden. Unfortunately EVERYTHING died over the summer. So I had nothing to comment about. I'm not sure what happened this summer. All my watermelons, cantaloupes, and squash just died out before producing anything. My sweet peppers and tomatoes made it through, but they are stunted in growth and have produced barely anything.

Some good news, I started compost teas, using liquid seaweed, and I got 2 new plots! I have 4 plots now. I gave one of my previous ones away to a friend, and I gained 2 more. Keep reading and I will get to all that.

So now its October and the weather has cooled down and is more consistent. I'm trying hard to nurse the tomatoes back to vigorous growth. They are Cherokee Purple tomatoes and the 2 I was able to harvest tasted amazing. I might be able to get more of a harvest before winter.

I cut back all the dead growth and trimmed them out to try and force it to grow. I also got rid of these small tomato cages and put a big circular cage so they can get bigger.

I also started foliar sprays of compost tea and liquid seaweed to try and boost the plants own immune system and to help it start growing back. I am very concerned that the stunted growth might be a root rot combined with verticillium wilt. Symptoms of verticillium wilt include wilting during the hottest parts of the day, and yellowed blotchy leaves that start on the bottom most leaves, which eventually die off. Sounds like exactly what I saw with my tomatoes and sweet bell peppers.

Yellowed leaves
Lower most leaves turned yellow then shriveled up. Only the upper most leaves are green.
The stems also have these brown lesions which I'm not sure what thats about. If you think you know what it is please comment on this post.
I did do the test to see if the inside of the stems have any white goo oozing out of them. Which as far as I could tell, testing on damaged stems and healthy ones, there was no white goo. If I remember correctly that is a sure sign of fusarium wilt.
This is what the main stem looks like. I just watered everything so the bottom looks darker from watering but it doesn't stay like that. To me, this looks like Canker. It was worse during the summer. The main stem looked all sunken and "skinny" for lack of a better term. I thought this was from lack of water. It looked way worse than this. Now it has swollen back up little. We have had lots of rain lately so maybe it was lack of water.

Anyways, I'm cutting down on deep watering to prevent root rot and trying the compost tea and liquid seaweed to naturally fertilize the plants and see what happens.

And guess what...its the first time I have ever made compost tea and used liquid seaweed. I have seen tons of youtube videos on the benefits of compost tea, just never got around to it. I bought a high quality compost that said it was great for making compost teas from our local Tom Thumb Nursery. I added about 2 cups of it into a 5 gallon bucket and added some diatomaceous earth and then filled it with water. I let it sit for 2 days then I watered the plots with it and the plant leaves.I plan to do this along with foliar sprays of liquid seaweed once a week. I hope this will not only help the health of my plants, but also improve my very sandy/clay soil, and help increase my harvest.

There is not exact recipe for compost tea. I would see all these crazy hard to find ingredients that people used in it such as bat guano and black strap molasses, things I cant easily find or want to spend money on. But in reality, all your really need is some good compost.

Ok, so now on to my plots and the new things I have growing in them for my fall and winter gardens.

 Plot 4: Full of Calabrese Green Sprouting Broccoli which I started from seed from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds back in September. In the back there are 3 sweet bell pepper plants I'm hoping will produce some more before winter. Also there is Kale "Redbore" and 'White Russian" varieties I found at Tom Thumb Nursery. Then there is a few "Giant of Naples" Cauliflower, "Long Island Improved" Brussels sprouts, and "Giant Red Re-Selection" Celery, all seeds from Baker Creek which I started myself.

This will be the first time I have every grown cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and celery. I had a fantastic harvest of broccoli last year so I expect these to do well.

Plot 3: Very back has carrots "Chantenay Red Core", "Amarillo", and "Muscade" all of which I grew last year and loved them. Then I have a lot of "Purple of Sicily" Cauliflower which I am so excited to grow. Then I have "Dragon Tongue" beans and "Little Marvel" peas towards the front. This will also be the first time I have ever grown peas. You can kind of see in the middle the "Dragon Tongue" bean sprouts.

Plot: 2 This is one of my new plots. All those little plants pictured is some "Bubbles" hybrid Brussels Sprouts that I bought from Wal-Mart....I had a very hard time starting seeds so I freaked out and bought some seedlings of stuff. Especially with the Brussels Sprouts. They take like 6 months to produce and be ready for harvesting, so I'm too late in the season to start over with seeds. In the center is some "Oregon Sugar Pod II" snow peas, which will also be the first time growing for me. Then in the back I have "Bloomsdale Longstanding" spinach and a bunch more of the same carrots I planted in Plot 3.

Plot 1: This is also one of my new plots. The back has "White Cloud" hybrid Cauliflower starts I bought from Wal-Mart. I also have some really cool cauliflower that I got from Tom Thumb. I found "Graffiti" a purple cauliflower, and "Cheddar" and orange/yellow cauliflower. I'm really excited for these colored cauliflowers to produce. You can see them in the back middle of the plot, they are the biggest seedlings in the photo. On the left side I threw in some more "Long Island Improved" Brussels Sprouts that I had. They were just a few weeks old, so hopefully they will make it. Then the rest of the front is "Blue Lake #274" bush beans, which I grew last year and harvested a ton.You can see those seedlings towards the front of the plot.

Since I have more plots, I can grow a lot more quantity of things. I hope I can grow a lot that I can share with others and freeze for myself.

Here is a close up of the Kale I have in plot #4. The top purple veined one is the "Redbore" and the bottom more green looking one is "White Russian".

Thats it for now :)

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