Archive for February, 2014

Protect Against Bacterial WiltIn Advance!

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Plants infected with bacterial wiltBacterial wilt, unfortunately, is very common. This destructive disease sometimes causes the complete loss of your cucumber, cantaloupe, squash or pumpkin plants before you've even had a chance to see one tiny fruit develop.

The symptoms start as leaves or groups of leaves wilt, followed by entire runners and then whole plants succumbing to the bacteria. Unlike many diseases, the wilting foliage may appear dark green and healthy, except for the wilt, but will eventually turn darker and blacken as it dies. Though not 100% reliable, you can test your cucumbers and cantaloupe plants to see if bacterial wilt is the culprit. Using a sharp knife, conduct a ‘bacterial ooze test.' Simply cut through one of the wilted vines near the crown. Once the cut is made, touch the knife to the cut end, slowly pulling the blade away. If bacterial wilt is present, you will see fine threads of bacterial slime as it is drawn out of the cut. This test is not as reliable for pumpkins and squash, probably due to the structure of the vine itself. For these particular fruits, place cut pieces of stem into a glass of water and the ‘ooze' will flow into the water.

The other, more obvious, indication is the presence of the spotted or striped cucumber beetle or evidence of their feeding. If you are in the habit of checking your vegetable plants regularly, you may see the chewed leaves before you see the beetles, though any sign of chewing or wilting on your leaves should encourage you to look further. The striped cucumber beetle is about 1/5 inch long, is yellow-green and will have 3 black stripes running the length of the beetle. The spotted cucumber beetle is just a little bit larger, about 1/4 inch long, with 3 symmetrical bands of 4 spots each going across the width of the body. The larvae, which feed on the root systems, are cream-colored with dark heads.

What organic measures can you take to protect against bacterial wilt?

  • Avoid planting susceptible crops near corn, which the spotted cucumber larvae will also feed on.
  • Plant vegetable varieties that are resistant to bacterial wilt.
  • Rotate your cucurbits. Beetles will hibernate under leaf clutter and in the soil through the winter, becoming active again once temperatures are regularly above 55° F.
  • Install row covers early and leave them on late.*
  • Remove and destroy any infected plant material; cucumber beetles can spread the disease from infected to healthy plants.
  • Plant trap crops 2 weeks prior to planting your cucumbers or melons; i.e., plant Blue Hubbard squash around the perimeter of where you will be planting your cucumbers, effectively directing the cucumber beetle population to what they like best.

*Studies, specifically at Ohio State University and Iowa State University, have found that leaving the row covers on 10 days longer than normal results in significantly better control. Put the row covers on as you plant or transplant. Most recommendations will say to remove the row covers when flowers appear, but the studies at these universities have found that the first flowers to appear are male, which means they are not necessary for pollination. Waiting until the female blossoms appear not only results in better cucumber beetle control but it does not negatively affect crop yield.

Striped cucumber beetle on cucumber leafSome growers will opt to use chemical means of control. Application of pyrethrin or carbaryl in April to June, before beetles have a chance to lay eggs, may help. There are also insecticide-bait combinations with both a beetle attractant and a small amount of carbaryl. We, however, do not carry these chemical options due to their negative impact on the environment and the harm they may cause to your family or pets.

One noteSimilar symptoms that can affect cucurbit vines are caused by the squash vine borer. Unlike entire groups of leaves or vines wilting, the damage is usually limited to single vines on plants that are otherwise healthy. The squash vine borer is a whitish-colored caterpillar with a brown head and can be found inside the stems of the wilted vines. You may also see a moist, sawdust-looking material around the runners infested by this pest. Cucumbers and melons are not usually first on their list of preferred veggies, though. Squash vine borers will go for squash, zucchini, pumpkins and gourds first; their favorite is Hubbard squash, while they will avoid butternut squash. If plants other than your cucumbers and cantaloupe are wilting, then the squash vine borer may be the perpetrator, not the cucumber beetle. You can look to this article for ways of controlling or deterring this pest: Invasion of the Squash Vine Borer

FUCHSIA FRENZY!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

FUCHSIA FRENZY!

Fuchsia_Double_RedHardier and easier to grow than you may think, Fuchsia Plants are actually a small woody shrub that produces colorful, tropical, delicate-looking blossoms in a myriad of colors. Sometimes called Lady's Eardrops, the botanical name, Fuchsia (FEW-sha), is most often usedthough it is often misspelled, has various pronunciations and has been the subject of numerous over-the-fence discussions, as evidenced here.

Fuchsias don't require a lot of sun; this plant is perfectly happy in partially shaded areas. However, as new hybrids are introduced, some are much more tolerant of heat and humidity. This is a good thing! One such heat-tolerant fuchsia is Angel Earrings® Preciosa. In fact, all Angel Earrings Fuchsias are bred for better heat tolerance.

Fuchsias also come in various forms. They can grow upright or trail up to 36 inches, making them extremely versatile. Their blossoms can be single or double and can look like anything from whimsical Japanese lanterns to petite, slender, flowery tubes to fantastically frilled dancing ladies. One of our newest cultivars has multi-hued, autumn-colored leaves with deep purple and red blossoms. It looks simply gorgeous for the entire season and is appropriately called ‘Autumnale'.

Although Fuchsias are an annual in all but the warmest climates, they can be overwintered indoors, which is a great way to have fuchsia blossoms earlier than ever next year and to set a more bountiful dining table for your migrating hummingbirds.

Where Will YOUR Fuchsias Grow?

This is the ideal time to think about spring and summer color

and to coordinate your outdoor décor.

Look out on your winter-browned landscape.

Picture these bright beauties hanging in partially shaded areas

In your entryway, under your awnings, in the breezeway, on your screened porch.

Imagine hummingbirds flitting from flower to flower.

Preciosa_Fuchsia_Plant_E

 Visualize the colors and the pendulous blossoms

And hear the sounds of spring and summer.

Now, fill in this portrait with your choice of Fuchsia Plants!

Browse our entire selection.

Pre-order enough plants to generously fill every space you have in mind

And look forward to delivery just in time for spring planting.

Here are our Spring Ship Dates.

Every blossoming plant, especially when grown in a container, will be a heavy eater.

Feed at 1/4 strength every time you water.

And then we'd love to see your Fuchsia photos next spring and summer!

What's Better: Open-Pollinated or Hybrid Vegetables?

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Open_Pollinated_VeggiesWhen buying seeds and plants, gardeners can choose between open-pollinated and hybrid varieties. In this newsletter we'll fill you in on the differences between the two, including heirlooms, a type of open-pollinated plant.

Open-Pollinated: Designed by Nature

Open-pollinated plants and seeds are those that occur naturally. Many gardeners choose open-pollinated varieties because sometimes Mother Nature does a pretty good job all by herself. Over many years, varieties that did not do well dwindled while those that thrived in their particular environment multiplied. But in addition to this process of natural selection, Mother Nature has been helped along by people. That's because gardeners who liked something about a particular variety would save the seeds and replant them the next growing season. Varieties that no one cared about literally fell by the wayside.

When you buy an heirloom plant or seed, you are getting a variety that some particular family or community made a point of preserving over generations. However, all open-pollinated varieties that have been grown by gardeners over the years have been subject to this process of human selection, as well as the process of natural selection that happens automatically.

Advantages of Open-Pollinated Varieties

brandywine_pink_tomato_MBesides the fact that they are 100% natural, one main reason people choose open-pollinated varieties is because they can save the seeds and plant them the following year. This is not true of hybrid seeds, which can only be used for one growing season. People also like open-pollinated varieties because they are sometimes as good as or better than anything plant scientists have been able to come up with through grafting or crossbreeding. The superior taste of Brandywine heirloom tomatoes for example, is something that many people know about from articles, books, and word of mouthor from having had one in their mouth! Though not as disease resistant as most hybrids, people buy them for their flavor.

Finally, open-pollinated varieties are better for the environment because they encourage species diversity. As they continue to pollinate through the open air, new variations spring up, because that is what happens in the natural life cycles of open-pollinated plants. Some of these variations turn out to be improvements. In this way, plant diversity is increased, and Mother Nature gets to give us new gifts of superior varieties.

Hybrids: Better Living Through Science

Bee_Pollinating_CukeAs plant science developed, scientists came up with increasingly sophisticated ways of improving on Mother Nature. The earliest hybrids were done by selective plant breeding that simply involved controlling which varieties pollinated each other. For instance, scientists would take one variety of corn and pollinate it with another. They found that in almost all cases, crossbreeding made the resulting plants hardier. They referred to this as hybrid vigor.

Simple cross-pollination gave way to double crossing, and ever-more sophisticated techniques. Plant characteristics were carefully analyzed and it became possible to tweak a plant in order to increase disease resistance, or the size or amount of its yield. Time to maturity could be shortened, and even its color could be adjusted.

People buy hybrids because of all these advantages. Certain hybrids such as the tomato varieties Big Boy, Early Girl, andBig Beef, have become enormously popular because of how hardy they are, how big they get, and how quickly they mature.

As science has advanced, scientists found they could do everything on a microscopic level by identifying and splicing genes. This was the beginning of bioengineering and led to GMOs (genetically modified organisms), a subject we will discuss in a future article. Suffice it to say that we do not carry any genetically engineered seeds or plants.

Happy Gardening from Garden Harvest Supply!

If Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Monday, February 10th, 2014

How Many Pickled Peppers Did Peter Piper Pick?

Let's find out!

Right now you can pre-order enough pepper plants to create a peck (1/4 bushel), though you'll fit more in that peck if they're pickled.

You just have to decide if you want hot or sweetor both.

Hot peppers come in a number of varieties. Which peppers to grow should be determined by exactly what you want to do with them. Color may be a consideration, and size, although the most common distinction to be drawn between hot peppers is the number of Scoville heat units (the accepted measurement for pepper heat) assigned to each variety.

If you're pickling them, you're likely to choose a Jalapeño. Ours is considered a medium-hot variety, with a Scoville rating between 2,500 and 8,000.

For Chile Rellenos, you'll want to grow Poblano(1,000 to 2,000 Scoville units). These mild peppers are large enough to stuff but are also ideal for roasting and peeling, and then freezing or canning. You can also use the Anaheim Chili to make Chile Rellenos. It can be slightly warmer than Poblano, but can be used when red. The Poblano is too ripe for stuffing when it has turned red. The Anaheim Chili can measure as low as 500 on the Scoville Scale while green, and as high as 2,500 once it has turned red.

If you want hotand we mean really, really hotyou'll want to grow the Habañero or Ghost. The habañero used to be considered by most to be the hottest hot pepperuntil Ghost hit the market. Let's compare Scoville units: Habañeros will range between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville heat units, while the Ghost Hot Pepper can measure from 855,000 to 1,041,427 Scoville units. Now, THAT IS HOT!

Your decision on what sweet peppers to grow may be a bit easier. Sweet peppers, a.k.a. bell peppers, are used fresh, in basic everyday cooking, in stir-fry dishes and for stuffing. If you are not stuffing them, your decision on which variety to grow will likely have to do with flavor and color. If, on the other hand, you are stuffing them, you will want a sweet pepper with a thick wall and blocky shape. Aristotleand Colossalbell peppers are grown most commonly for stuffing. Early Sunsationwill be replacing Admiral this year, this yellow pepper maturing quite early and having thicker and juicier walls. You can stuff these even when fully ripened to bright yellow.

For sweet flavor, especially in crisp, fresh summertime salads, you may want to grow our Sweet Banana pepper or Merlot.

But, if you want to set records at your local county fair, grow our Super Heavyweight sweet pepper. Humongous and lushly gold when fully mature, you can stuff one to feed two people!

  • Just browse our entire selection
  • Add a quantity of each type of pepper plant to your cart
  • Wait for healthy, ready-to-grow plants to arrive on your doorstep just in time for planting.

And finally

  • Pickle some peppers to enjoy long after your harvest!

Do YOU Ipomoea? Vining Plants Don't Trail In Popularity

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Decorative vining Ipomea plants

We Have Ipomoea Plants for Sale

 

Ipomoea is pronounced many ways, but the most common is ihp followed by a long ‘O', the emphasis on ME and then an ‘uh', as in duhih-poh-MEE-uh. It's kind of fun to say, isn't it? But we won't judge you if you just call it by its easier-to-remember name: Sweet Potato Vine.

We are talking about the ornamental type of sweet potato vine, which does produce tubers, although these more decorative vines do not result in the tastiest sweet potatoes. Look to the sweet potatoes developed specifically for consumption, such as these, if you are looking to harvest the edible varieties.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vines are a fantastic annual (except in the south where they grow as a perennial) ground cover, as well as the ideal pot filler and spiller, with foliage available in a wide range of colors, shapes and sizes. Relatively easy to grow, they require plenty of water, especially in dry, hot weather. They will grow in full sun to partial shade and are widely adaptable to many soil types. For the best results, especially when growing them in pots, we recommend a good all-around plant food like Espoma Plant-tone® or Jungle Flora. Ipomoea plants are heavy feeders.

Sowhere do you want to grow your Sweet Potato Vines?

A sunny spot? Our BlackieIpomoea plant performs well in partially sunny to fully sunny spots, although our BronzeIpomoea is the truest sun-worshipper. Both of these will trail to at least 36 inches and up to 72 inches. If you're looking for something a little less enthusiastic, look to Compact Margie: she only vines to about 24 inches.

A shady spot? Our BronzeIpomoea will also grow well in fully shaded areas, but it won't grow as fast as it does in the sun. Marguerite'sbrightly colored foliage will light up your shadiest areas. In fact, Marguerite is prone to sunburn and should avoid afternoon sunlight.

A hot spot? Our Ace of Spades Ipomoea has exceptional heat tolerance, in the sun or shade, although the darker and usually most desirable coloration occurs in partially shaded areas. And, in addition to loving the sun, our BronzeSweet Potato Vine is also immune to the heat.

Now that you've decided where you want to grow your Ipomoea plants,

And which ones you'd like to grow,

It's time to go shopping!

Just add your selections to your cart and when you are prompted for a Discount Code,

Enter 2SWEETVINE14 to

Get 15% Off

Sweet Potato Vines

Your Sweet Potato Vines will be shipped right to your doorstep according to our

Spring Shipping Schedule

just in time for planting in your area.

Want More?

We want your Ipomoea plants to grow like crazy, so we are also discounting

Espoma Plant-tone and Jungle Flora

Enter 2SWEETVINE14 to

Get 15% Off

Food for Your Ipomoea Vines
But hurry: this sale ends at midnight on February 9!

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to call us or to Ask Our Master Gardener.

We want you to thoroughly enjoy your gardening experiences and we want to help you do that.

Happy Gardening from all of us at Garden Harvest Supply!