Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Squash bloom

The garden is beautiful right now!  The squash has a gorgeous sunset orange flower (pictured left) and the bell pepper has sprung up a dainty white blossom.  The eggplant has three beautiful purple flowers and the cucumber plant is numbering nearly three dozen small sunny yellow blooms – you can see those, too, in the photo to the left.  On top of that, the tomato plants have produced a few more lovely yellow tomato flowers.

These flowers mean good things!  After the flower has had its time to show off its beauty and charm, the fruit will begin to emerge from each of these plants – and then the harvest begins!

But let’s be real.  Getting these beautiful plants to this place hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies.  First, there were the squirrels.  Large holes dug into my bed three nights in a row leaving baby lettuce plants strewn around the back yard.  You, dear readers, suggested a number of helpful solutions but ultimately I determined that giving up those two squares to the whims of nature was only fair.  After all, those pesky beasts only ruined a few small lettuce plants and have since left all of the remaining residents of the garden perfectly intact.  I conceded the battle to win the war.

Now, however, we’re faced with a new kind of beast.  A beast of the microscopic variety.  There is, in fact, fungus among us.

Gardeners living all over the mid-Atlantic are facing an onslaught of fungi known as “blight” in their gardens this summer, namely because the great amount of rain we have been enjoying has kept a good deal of moisture in the air and stagnant water sitting on the leaves of the plants – great breeding grounds for fungus.  To read more about the northeast blight epidemic you can read here.  My garden is currently facing two types of deadly fungi.

Septoria leaf spot

Photo: Iowa State University, Dept. of Plant Pathology

First, the tomatoes.  They’re dealing with Septoria leaf spot (pictured right, courtesey of the Iowa State University’s Department of Plant Pathology).  Essentially, the fungus grows in the conditions we now have – moist air and heavy rains.  The fungus develops on the lower leaves first (the older leaves) and as the wind blows, the fungus moves up the plant.  Eventually, it could defoliate the entire plant – leaving the tomatoes to burn under the intensity of the direct sunlight.  Or “sunscald” as they say.

Second, the cucumbers.  She’s dealing with Powdery Mildew.  This fungus also likes the wet conditions.  The mildew essentially does the same thing that Septoria does – it eats through the leaves and eventually defoliates the plant.  This, again, leaves the fruit vulnerable to sunscalding.

As many of you know, I’ve set out to make this urban patch an ORGANIC garden.  Thus, I refuse to just spray chemicals on the problem, although this has been the urgent suggestion of nearly every gardener I’ve spoken to thus far.  Instead, I’ve decided to turn to the equivalent of alternative medicines.

For the tomatoes, I’ve chosen not to spray them down with Chlorothalonil or Liquid Copper – the generally-recommended course of action.  As for the cucumbers, the recommended non-organic course of action would be a regular dousing of the plants in Quinoxyfen or myclobutanil.  Instead, I’m going with a somewhat unproven (OK totally unproven) organic fungicide – ground cinnamon.

CinnamonI’ve sprinkled ground cinnamon on the leaves and in the dirt directly beneath the tomato plants, and on the affected leaves of the cucumber plant.  I remain optimistic that this will work, though I’m thoroughly committed to keeping the plants alive – even if this means trying out several other organic remedies further down the line if the cinnamon doesn’t get the job done.

That being said, the garden DOES look beautiful right now!  And the fungus has a ways to go before the plants are destroyed IF the cinnamon doesn’t prove to be effective.

And now – Calling All Readers!  If you have any fungicidal innovations, proven or unproven – please send them in.  We’ll try out your ideas in the order they are submitted, assuming they are all based equally on the “Hm, maybe this will work” principles that the cinnamon effort has been born of.  If you have real science to back your organic solution, assume it will be bumped up to the top of the list!

The flowering garden as it looks now:

Vegetable Garden


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I was playing in my garden this afternoon and had to take a picture of these BEAUTIFUL yellow cucumber flowers that have appeared over the past few days.

Cuke flowers

My cukes are “burpless hyrbids,” which means they were created with a milder flavor than most American varieties and therefore ease digestion of the fruits.  In addition, “burpless hybrids” are supposed to contain much less of a burp-causing compound commonly found in those other varieties.  To read more on the studies conducted and the concept behind the now popular “burpless hybrids” available on the market, check out this report from North Carolina State University Horticultural Science Department.

And if you look at that photograph you’ll see that my storage onions have shot up!  They’re now standing tall at over one foot.

More playing in the garden (and reporting back to you!) later this week.  Also, look for my creative solution to the Beast issue.

Squirrel (Credits unavailable - please let me know if this is your photo and I will provide credits for you)

What will happen to our furry enemy!? Find out next week!

Relax & enjoy your Sunday!

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