While walking through a friend’s garden last week, I noticed a problem just getting started in her cucumber vines.
The leaves were beginning to show signs of Downy Mildew, a fungal disease that often plagues cucumbers. If left untreated, the disease can defoliate an entire crop in just a few days. The developing fruit then become stunted and sun scalded because no leaves are left to provide growing energy for the cucumbers or protection against the direct rays of the sun.
Downy Mildew can be recognized by the appearance of light-green spots on the surface of the leaves. A couple of days later the spots turn yellow and angular following the pattern of the veins on the leaf. The yellow spots die back and turn brown eventually killing the entire leaf.
Spraying a broad spectrum fungicide can help control the disease. There are several conventional and organic sprays out there to choose from.
Today I spotted early signs of Downy Mildew on my cucumbers. I treated it with a potassium bicarbonate product I found last year. I have never used this product but I’ll let you know how it works.
This disease develops more rapidly during periods of high humidity and moisture. By watering your plants early in the morning, you give the excess water time to dry off of the leaves. Watering late in the day keeps the plant from drying completely and creates a humid environment for the disease to progress.
It’s a little late for this season but keep in mind when ordering seeds for next year that some of the newer varieties are resistant to Downy Mildew.
Downy Mildew will attack zuccini and other types of squash as well as melons and other related crops.
Earlier this week I was asked to look over a bee hive that had not been attended to since last fall. For a number a reasons the owner was not able to care for the hive.
Opening it up I found just a few bees and very little honey. There was however a serious infestation of Wax Worms.
Wax Worms are the larval stage of a moth that sneaks into weaken hives to lay its eggs which then hatch into larvae. A strong healthy hive will keep Wax Worm moths from entering a hive.
Something had happened to this previously healthy hive. Upon closer inspection, I was unable to find any bee larvae or eggs indicating that the Queen bee had died. With no Queen around to lay eggs, the remaining bees will simply live out their lives and with no young bees to replace them the hive will eventually be completely empty.
In the natural world, Wax Worms play an important part in the honey bee population. If a wild bee hive succumbs to a disease, the Wax Worms will move in and eat the remaining wax combs and other debris left over from the dead bee colony. This is good because the infected wax is destroyed and will no longer be able to infect other bees that may want to move into that space.
Wax Worms are the only organism that can consume and digest beeswax and thrive on it.
When beekeepers store their extra empty bee hives, they have to be careful to protect them from Wax Worms moths because the worms will destroy those hives too. They not only eat the wax combs but can chew through the wooden parts of a hive as well.
I will probably go back next week and clean up that hive and try to salvage what I can from it.
Here we are, well into July and have progressed this far in the garden with all of our planting, fertilizing, controlling pests and so on. It takes a lot of work to keep up a garden and it’s easy to get distracted by other summer time activities… the pool, the lake, golf.
Make sure you are diligent in keeping up with your weeding because weeds grow extremely fast this time of season and can overtake your garden if you are not careful. This is especially a problem for those who take a week or two vacation during the summer only to return home to find their formally spotless garden full of weeds once again.
Many garden crops cannot compete very well with weeds and need to be kept weed-free throughout the season if you hope to get a crop this fall. Onions are an example of a crop won’t produce well under weedy conditions.
Mulching your garden will go a long way in helping to keep the weeds down even if you don’t get all of the garden covered. If you do decide to mulch, remove the existing weeds to keep them from growing and pushing up through your mulch.
There are many types of materials that can be used for mulch such as straw, shredded leaves, hay, grass clippings, paper, plastic, old carpeting etc. The idea is to cover the soil so that no sunlight will reach the surface of the garden. Since most weed seeds need sunlight to sprout, they won’t grow into a problem for you.
Perennial weeds such as quack grass or morning glory are harder to suppress with mulch but even they can be greatly reduced.
The main idea is keep up with your weeding, don’t let it get out of hand and it will stay manageable.
Oriental Poppies, once established reliably bloom year after year, sometimes for decades. They don’t like to be disturbed or moved unlike some other perennials that need to be divided every couple of years or so. Those other perennials can be handled more easily for moving.
There are times when plants need to be relocated for one reason or another, maybe you’re moving to a new home and want to bring your plants with you. If you have ever tried to move poppies in the conventional manner, that is in the spring or fall, you probably have been disappointed in the results.
The secrete to moving Oriental Poppies is to dig them after blooming rather than in the fall or spring as you would most other perennials. Once Poppies have finished blooming they enter into their dormant period which starts at this time of the summer and usually lasts until the middle of August.
Carefully dig the roots and divide them if needed and place them into their new spot about 18 inches apart with the buds about two inches below the soil. Poppies need plenty of sunlight to thrive so be sure their new location gets full sun. Other that that, they are quite happy under ordinary garden conditions.
You have plenty of time to move your Poppies so you don’t have to be in a big hurry to do so. Keep in mind that it may take a year or two before the plants bloom again after moving.