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Posts Tagged ‘Muskmelon’

Strawberry Tips for Tasty Super Berries!

  • Strawberries are in the Rose family.
  • The average berry has 200 seeds, the only fruit whose seeds are on its exterior surface!  The seeds are really the fruit!
  • Usually grown from runner daughters, they will grow from seed.  Just throw down caps you bit the berry from.  Sooner or later, you will have a plant you didn’t ‘plant.’  Strawberry seed saving is simple.
  • Eight out of 10 strawberries grown in the U.S. are grown in California!
  • Strawberries came in second to blueberries in the USDA’s analysis of antioxidant capacity of 40 fruits and vegetables. They are also rich in dietary fiber and manganese, and contain more vitamin C than any other berry.

Image courtesy of StrawberryPlants.org

When do I plant strawberries?  Not now, NOVEMBER 1 to 10!  Yes, it’s that specific for winter chill at the perfect time!  They start producing runners now, but cut them off until early July!  Then let them grow, and cut off the new baby plants mid October for November planting.  Or, just let them grow to fill spots where, for one reason or another, a plant has gone missing, needs replacing, and/or another could fit in.  When those needs are taken care of, cut off the rest of the runners.  These runner plant babies will grow so fast you will be getting berries from them late summer and fall if you have everbearers/day neutral types!!

My plant isn’t producing….  

Variety
 – If it is an everbearer, day neutral, variety it will produce almost all year.  June/spring bearers put out a prolific batch in June, then it’s over.  No amount of care or feeding is going to make that plant have berries after June.  Sorry.  Best to get the varieties your local nursery carries.  Or talk with them about special ordering well in advance, so they can get the ones you want.
Temps – cold weather slows down pollinators.
Shaded – believe me, strawberries like all-day sun!  If you are going to tuck them in among other plants, be sure to put them on the sunny side!
Hungry – think about it!  A strawberry plant is often pumping out several berries at a time!  They are using up soil nutrition, so feed them!  Try a light solution of fish emulsion/kelp every other week over some sprinkled seabird guano or a well aged manure.  Give your strawberries a little fertilizer in the 0-10-10 proportions; that’s lots of phosphorus and potassium for strong roots and uptake of nutrients, blooms and fruits!
Water – don’t let them dry out, they will stop producing.  This month they tend to grow more leaves, send out runners.  Clip off the runners for now, so they don’t take your plant’s energy away from producing berries, unless you want more plants right away.
Mulching is good.  They love pine needle mulch, if you have some about, because they prefer slightly acidic soil.  Drape your berries over pine cones to keep them off the ground, out of the slug zone.
Age – First year plants and 3rd year plants don’t produce as well.

My berries are really tiny! 
Strawberry varieties vary from mammoth chocolatiers, to midget but mighty tasty alpines.  If it isn’t a variety issue, it may be diseased.  See below please.

Misshapen berries or split in two sections with a hole in the center 
Irregular watering  Your berry grows fast when it has water, then is restricted when it doesn’t….
Western Tarnished Plant Bugs,
feed on the flowers and developing surface seeds that stimulate growth causing misshapen berries, hard clusters of yellow seeds on the tip of the fruit.  Clean up debris.  Once you see this, you are too late to prevent it any further.  Bummer.  UC Davis IPM Integrated Pest Management on Lygus Hesperus.  Image of typical cat-faced berries.
Pollination Strawberry flowers are usually open and attractive to bees only a day or less.  Temperatures below 60F, low night temperatures, & high humidity result in inadequate pollination, low yields of small or misshapen fruit.  Strawberries require multiple pollination for perfect fruit formation. Generally, as the number of pollinator visits increases, there will be an increase in fruit set, number of seed per fruit, fruit shape, and fruit weight.  ABOUT BEES:  per NCSU ‘Bees rarely fly when the temperature is below 55°F. Flights seldom intensify until the temperature reaches 70°F. Wind speed beyond 15 miles per hour seriously slows bee activity. Cool, cloudy weather and threatening storms greatly reduce bee flights. In poor weather, bees foraging at more distant locations will remain in the hive, and only those that have been foraging nearby will be active.  Pumpkin, squash, and watermelon flowers normally open around daybreak and close by noon; whereas, cucumbers, strawberries, and muskmelons generally remain open the entire day.’  So if the weather isn’t right THE DAY OR MORNING your flower opens…..

Whole plant has yellow leaves.  The most common cause is nutrient deficiencies due to overwatering.  Overwatering causes poor root growth making it difficult to move enough water to the leaves during hot weather.  Lay back on watering; give your babies some Nitrogen –fish emulsion/kelp.

Strawberry Pests
Pecked   If birds are pecking your berries, put bird netting or a wire dome over them.

Rebecca & David Barker, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, Plot 41, staked the chicken wire in place, push it up to harvest, down to just the right height when done!

Holes in them, Chewed  Silvery slime trails are the giveaway!  Use the pine cones to drape your berries over to keep them off the ground.  Put down some Sluggo or the like, to kill off night-time nibblers, slugs, snails.  Harvest regularly before the berry gets soft and smelly, just before the buglets are attracted!  Those little black pointy worms?  I’m trying to find out what they are.  If you know, let me know, ok?!
Uprooted  Sad to say, that sounds like ‘possums, raccoon, or skunk.  They are looking for your earth worms or grubs.  Just like bunnies, these critters won’t jump a low barrier.  They just go around it.  So install a foot tall perimeter of wire pieces, black plastic plant flats, old trellis parts, whatever you have around, or go get something that looks good to you so you will be happy.  Relocating the critters is a good choice because, they do have children, that have children, that…

Strawberry Diseases  StrawberryPlants.org for full list of diseases.  Here’s a link to the 3 Most common leaf diseases with images.

Angular Leaf Spot – exactly that.  Spotted leaves.  A cosmetic problem until it isn’t.  Your plant will produce, but it won’t thrive.  Spread by water, harvest before you water, water under the leaves, remove badly spotted leaves, don’t use them as mulch, wash your hands before going on to another plant.
Strawberry Blight – the fungus is often confused with angular leaf spot, overwinters in old leaves, remove them.  Remove old leaves from runner plants before setting.  All day sun, well-drained soil, in an area with circulation, equals less fungus.  For good air circulation, plant far enough apart, remove weeds, remove, replant and/or give away runner baby sets.  Plant resistant varieties for your area of your state.  Discussion of SoCal varieties.  When you buy new plants be sure they are certified from a disease-free nursery.  If you use a fungicide, spray the underside of leaves as well as the tops.

Successful SoCal varieties!

Chandler is the most widely commercially grown strawberry in California.  High yield, early producer, large southern berry.  It’s a June bearer, so if you want year round supply, this is not your berry.
Seascape is an ever-bearing, big day neutral, all year strawberry, harvests are more abundant in late spring. High yield, resistant to most diseases except leaf spot.  Reliable producer in fall, performs well in hot, dry climates.  Berry is bright red inside and out!
Oso Grande Another June bearer, high yield big berry, good in warm climates.

Eat your red  plump strawberries!  Fresh from your garden, strawberry Sundae, strawberry sauce, strawberry pie, cake, bread, strawberry ice cream, whipped cream, yoghurt, cream cheese, cheesecake, strawberry shake, chocolate dipped, strawberry lemonade, strawberry Syrah, and, as always, the traditional, Strawberry Shortcake!! 

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Powdery Mildew on Peas

Select powdery mildew resistant or tolerant varieties!

Disease Resistant Varieties Right from the Beginning!

  • Green beans:  Provider – (Green/Bush): Bean Mosaic Virus Race 15, Common Bean Mosaic, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew. Contender – (Stringless Green/Bush): tolerates heat and powdery mildew, resistant to common bean mosaic virus.
  • Cucumber: Diva, Cumlaude, Media F1. Larry Hodgson lists no less than 71 PM resistant varieties! One of the old standards, Marketmore 76 and 97 are on the list. He doesn’t specify what kind of cucumbers they are, but you can have a ton of fun looking some of them up! I see several familiar names.
  • Muskmelon:  Ambrosia F1 – Downy & Powdery Mildew. Primo (western type) – Tolerance to Powdery Mildew 1 & 2, and Sulphur. There are many melon possibilities. Take a little time looking them up.
  • Pea:
    • Ambassador – Resistant to powdery mildew, entation virus and fusarium wilt
    • Cavalier – Good resistance to powdery mildew.
    • Greenshaft – Resistant to downy mildew and fusarium wilt
    • Rondo – Resistant to fusarium wilt
    • Downy Mildew resistant peas:  Kelevdon Wonder, Oasis, Twinkle, Avola, Hurst Greenshaft, Ambassador, Cavalier and Peawee.
  • Pumpkin:  Per SFGate – ‘Large varieties include “Alladin” and “Gladiator.” Try “Hobbit” and “Scarecrow,” for medium-sized pumpkins. Small, mildew resistant varieties include “Pure Gold” and “Touch of Autumn.” ‘ In 2015 the Ashland Garden Club posted this great list Powdery Mildew-resistant Pumpkin & Squash Varieties compiled by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.
  • Winter Squash:  almost all varieties
  • Yellow Summer Squash: Success, Sunray, Sunglo
  • Zucchini: Ambassador, Wildcat

Clearly there are many more plants and many more varieties than covered by this sampling. Things change each year as some supplies dwindle, new strong varieties are presented! Enjoy a scan around the net for the latest info!

Healthy Practices Make a Difference!

  • Plant in full sun!
  • Plant so leaves of one plant don’t touch another and spread the spores.
  • Have plenty of airflow. If the plant is too dense in its interior, thin it.
  • Remove any debris or dead leaves breeding habitat.
  • Remove and don’t compost infected leaves. If you don’t remove them, you reinfect your plant each time you water.
  • Wash tools and your hands before you go from one plant to the next.
  • Water in the AM, at ground level.  No overhead watering.

Prevention is the key word!

BEFORE you have mildew, while your plants are still babies, here is a natural homemade remedy. Drench the leaves with a baking soda/milk mix.  Tablespoon Soda, ¼ cup nonfat milk powder, 1 regular aspirin crushed, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish detergent in a watering can. Baking Soda alkalizes your plant, inhibits germination of the spores. Milk and Aspirin boost your plant’s immune system. Please also see IPM Powdery Mildew on Vegetables including tomatoes!

Drench weekly with your mix before the sun gets on the leaves and dries it. You want to give the solution time to be absorbed. Be sure to apply to both tops and bottoms of leaves and the stems. See Keeping Your Veggie Garden Happy – Foliar Plant Care! This is excellent for Roses too!

Roguing. When a bacterial or viral infection is suspected, if you think it’s too late, experience tells you that you aren’t going to be able to get rid of the mildew, sadly, do the one cut prune. Rogues are removed from the fields to preserve the quality of the crop being grown. Remove that plant asap so it doesn’t spread mildew to uninfected plants – yours or your neighbors’. Trash it, don’t compost it.  Mildew is windborne, so the more mildew, the more is spread.

Mildew is a temperature related disease – warm temperatures between 70 and 80F. And when plants are older in the season they are more likely to get it. They have been working hard producing and no longer have their youthful vitality, spent. I see that as a natural part of their life, a signal to thank them and let them go.

Mildew is usually not fatal, but it can bring your plant to a standstill. No production, suffering plant. Sometimes a change of weather will revive it. A lot depends on the strength of your plant. Choose the most resistant varieties, feed them the best and enough. But if no immediate recovery, let yourself grieve, you had high hopes. Then get on with it, get a better variety, start over. Be a good plant keeper. Pay attention to it, keep it watered per its needs.

Best of luck. Thank you for caring. Plants are dear living beings.

Updated 5.16.20


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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