Post #G14: Garden update

Posted on July 30, 2020

Source:  My garden.

If you have no interest in gardening, skip this.

Squash Vine Borer.  Looks like the SVB season is over.  I spend a lot of time walking around my garden, and my last sighting was 7/25/2020.  My first was 7/5/2020, making the SVB season just about exactly three weeks long.

My spraying regimen — I would term it spinosad with a side order of neem — appears to have worked so far.  In the sense that none of my many cucurbits is showing symptoms of SVB infestation.  Yet.  So that’s 0.008% spinosad solution (made up from concentrate), sprayed on the stems of my cucurbits every five days or so.  In the late evening, to avoid the bees.  Plus one random spraying with 100% neem (the variant that contains the insecticides, not the “hydrophobic extract” that’s just oil), more out of paranoia than from any thought-through plan.  I’ll have to keep up the spray for another week or so to account for the lag between egg-laying and hatch-out.

Powdery mildew.  I have that on nearly all my cucurbits now.  I should have been taking preventive measures, but I didn’t, so now I’m playing catch-up.

I tried baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution, once.  Recipe given in earlier posts.  I tried potassium bicarbonate solution, once.  Just substitute K for Na in the recipe.  If those had an effect, it was fairly subtle.

So I’m pulling out all the stops and following the hydrogen peroxide regimen as outlined on The Rusted Garden blog.  See the video above.  (Seriously, look this guy up on Youtube.  He’s in Maryland.  If you’re not envious of his garden, you’re a far better gardener than I am.)

This involves pruning out any leaves that are badly hit with powdery mildew, then spraying daily with a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide.  (Around) 4 to 6 ounces of 3% hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water.)

If nothing else, this is certainly cheap.  A quart of 3% H2O2 is $1.29 at the grocery store, and is enough to treat my entire garden four times.  I’ll post in a few days and report back the results.

Ongoing, I’m also pruning my squash and pumpkin plants.  It never even occurred to me to do that.  (I’m kind of a laissez-faire gardener, which is another way of saying, I do as little as possible.)   But after listening the the logic behind it and seeing the results on The Rusted Garden, I’m all in.  As with the mildew issue, I’m running behind, so this will be an ongoing process.

I’m planting mid-season replacements for some of my cucumbers.  That’s another thing I’ve never done before.  To me, you plant in the spring, you harvest in the fall.  But apparently that’s not what smart gardeners do.  In this case, my Spacemaster 80 cucumbers were incredibly productive, until the simultaneous effects of bacterial wilt and powdery mildew got hold of them.  They are now such a mess that I’m pulling them out and replanting.  Apparently, with warm soil and a bit of fertilizer, there’s plenty of time to have them grow up and produce cucumbers before first frost.

Cucumber beetles and bacterial wilt.  Today I was 4/4 (attempts/kills) when inspecting my squash and pumpkin blossoms, long-nosed pliers in hand.  (As described in Post #G13).  I think that I have seen no new cases of bacterial wilt these past few days, but it’s hard to say, as it takes some time for the plant to die off.  In any case, I’ve gone from finding dozens in one pass through the blossoms, to consistently finding maybe four or five.  Tentatively, I think I’m winning.

Timing is fairly key to this operation.  The limiting factor is grumpy bumblebees.  If I get out there at 7 AM, there are bumblebees  just kind of sitting in the squash blossoms, zoned out.  My wife swears that bumblebees sleep in squash blossoms.  (Aww!)  I, by contrast, thought that was way too cute to be real.  A quick google search shows that she’s correct.  Not only do they sleep in flowers, but squash blossoms are preferred due to size and configuration, and squash blossoms provide considerable protection from the cold.  Snug as a bee in a blossom, no joke.  The upshot is that I have to wait for them to get up and go to work before I can patrol for cucumber beetles.

Tomato ripening is now occurring generally across my tomato plants.  Slowly.  My cherry tomatoes are ripening a few at a time, and some Rutgers tomatoes are finally turning pink.  Still going slowly, though, that’s for sure.

And the deer have not yet returned. As evidenced by the fact that I still have standing sunflowers, above.  On net, I’m crediting Bobbex deer repellent.  It really stinks!  I think the motion-activated radio comes in a close second (Post #G07).  I don’t know if it scares the deer, but it sure manages to scare the pee out of me every time I inadvertently trigger it.