Monday, July 16, 2012

Dealing With Problems in My Garden

When I write about my garden, I like to take pictures of what looks pretty and to celebrate successes. But my garden has problems, just like any other.

My heritage pole beans, "Lazy Wife Greasy Beans," are supposed to be flavorful, disease resistant, and prolific. They have grown tall and beautiful but have not produced many beans. And the beans I did get did not taste as good as my bush beans. I've read that it is helpful to "go vertical" to increase yields in tight spaces, but it didn't work as far as the beans this year. I am not sure if the pole beans are not getting enough sun or space, or if the soil is too acidic, or what. I pulled several of the plants up to make room and light for the tomatoes and peppers around it. I planted bush beans in their stead. There may still be time to get another harvest. Next year I'll try the pole beans in a different spot and add some extra lime, since beans like alkaline soil.

One of my three yellow squash plants never produced well, so I also pulled it up. There's no sense in it taking up space and nutrients if it's not producing fruit. What little it has produced has tended to go soft before I can harvest it. My watermelon will need more space soon, anyway. The other two yellow squash plants are a good size and producing enough squash for us, but  it is succumbing to powdery mildew, a chronic problem here in the hot, humid South. I should probably have sprayed my vines at the first sign of the mildew earlier in the year. I will probably have to pull the two plants up soon to prevent the spread of the disease, but I am loathe to do it, because the plants are still flowering and producing well, and we like to have the summer squash. My research says the best way to deal with powdery mildew is to plant resistant plants and to plant and to be sure plants get enough air circulation and enough sun. More ideas for next year.

I found squash bug larvae on one of my butternut squashes. I think I squished most or all of them with the palms of my hand. I didn't see any other bugs or eggs on the undersides of the leaves, but I'll continue to keep a look out. I need to find a board to put in the bed. Squash bugs like to hide underneath wood. If you get up early and go out in the cool of the morning, before they get active, you can flip over the board and kill as many as you can.

On a positive note, when I pulled up the pole beans I found a sweet bell pepper, the first of the season. It had been hidden behind the other plants, so I had no idea it was there. I harvested it and scrambled it with some other vegetables and tofu for breakfast. Yum!

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