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BONNIE'S GARDEN--A Little Prevention Goes a Long Way

I got a LOT of questions this past weekend about what to do to prevent vegetable garden problems, so I thought a quick DO/DON’T DO list might be appropriate.
  1.  Keep gardens free of weeds and debris.  Plants don’t like to compete for water and/or nutrients.  It’s stressful.  Stressed plants are a lot more likely to get attacked by insects or disease.  Plus, those weeds or twigs might be hosting insect eggs or mold spores.
  2. Rotate crops.  A lot of the diseases our veggies get can linger in the soil for up to three years.  If  you had a problem last year with your tomato, do not plant another tomato family member in that same spot this year (tomato family members include tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos).  You can plant a cucumber family member there, if you like (cucumbers, squash, melons, pumpkins) or green beans.
  3. Don’t over-crowd your plants.  I know—it’s so tempting to squeeze in just one more tomato/cucumber/squash but that just makes it easier for insects and/or diseases to spread from plant to plant.  Besides, with our high summer humidity, we’re just asking for fungal problems if we don’t have good air circulation.
  4. Water correctly.  Tomatoes, peppers, cukes, etc. do not like to get their foliage wet, so do not put your garden where they will get hit by in-ground sprinklers.  When you water, water at the base of the plant—not over the leaves.  A soaker hose can be valuable here.
  5. Spend a few minutes every day examining plants for anything out of the ordinary.  If you see a yellow leaf, stop to check it out.  If you see a tiny dark spot on your squash leaf stop to see if it’s the first of the summer’s squash bugs.  If you discover a disease on your tomato, particularly, (Google can be valuable here), then get the plant out of there before it spreads.  Do not compost; pull up the infected plant and destroy.  
  6. Use an organic fertilizer.  Organic-rich soil is teeming with beneficial microbes and micro-nutrients that can help keep your plants healthy and disease-resistant.  A healthy plant is more likely to have the innate resources to resist insect infestations and diseases.  Do not overfeed, however, as this can damage roots.
  7. If you do need to use a pesticide or fungicide, look for an organic control, if possible.  After all, you want to be able to eat the squash/cukes/tomatoes, at some point.  Be sure to get the problem identified to make sure you CAN treat it (viral and bacterial diseases on tomatoes are NOT treatable, however, fungal diseases can be.)  Remember our pollinators and spray late in the evening—right about dark to avoid killing honeybees, etc.
Benjamin Franklin said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  He was right.  It’s a whole lot easier to keep a problem from developing than it is to treat it once it happens.
Posted: 5/16/2016 by Bonnie Pega | with 2 comment(s)
Filed under: Bonnie's, Garden, Vegetables
Bonnie Pega
I've grown almost every vegetable there is in containers at some point. I grow regular tomatoes (don't bother with "bush" tomatoes)--just put a cage in there with it. Same for cukes--don't bother with bush cukes either. Grow viners--just trellis them. Lots more cukes in the same space!
If you grow pumpkins or melons, be sure you have the room to let them sprawl.
The only plants I've had trouble with are squash. So many varieties have hollow stems and the weight of a developing fruit can sometimes make the fragile stem break over the edge of the container.
I'll do a blog on veggies in containers the first Monday in June.
5/30/2016 10:07:34 AM

J. Myers
I would like to see more about container gardening with vegetables, melons,etc. I grow all my peppers, tomotoes, even bush cukes in large flower pots, I have had Tomotoes as tall as 6 feet not counting the pot, and huge green, yellow & red peppers. Extra large in size.
What veggie plants can you suggest for large container growers.
5/19/2016 7:53:39 PM

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