I spent the first ten years of my life on a farm in the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas. Everybody had farms back then, yet they all had kitchen gardens for their personal use. I imagine that stemmed from the Victory Gardens during World War II. When we moved to Southern California I can’t recall knowing anyone with a backyard vegetable garden. I met and married my late husband in Northern California and he just happened to write vegetable garden books, among other books, and he introduced me to small space, French intensive, biodynamic gardening. From then on I was hooked on developing small space kitchen gardens for our favorite recipes. I loved Mexican cooking, Duane loved Italian. Growing these specialized gardens became a labor of love and of course forced me to try new recipes and new vegetable varieties.
Today, as yesteryear, growing a kitchen garden has become a necessity for many families. With a kitchen garden these families are now eating far healthier than ever. I prefer postage stamp size kitchen gardens, which are small gardens that put the fresh ingredients that cooks’ need at their fingertips when they need them. Kitchen gardens are very special places designed by, and for, people who love to garden and cook healthy foods. While others are designed by good cooks who are constantly looking for a variety of vegetables to add to their dishes that let them express their personality.
Unfortunately, many people today complain that they are short on both time and garden space. The postage stamp kitchen garden solves both of these problems because it 1. Produces tremendous amounts of vegetables in a small space using intensive techniques; 2. Requires much less weeding, watering, and effort; 3. Maintains ecological balance using intensive organic methods that create a vigorous, healthy vegetable garden; and 4. Often combines in-ground gardens with containers, or raised bed gardens. I also recommend using heirloom seeds in your kitchen garden, because those saved seeds will remain true to the parent plant and are exactly the same each year. My favorite size of in ground raised bed is 4 x 4 feet. It’s easily managed, grows tons of vegetables and can be placed near the kitchen. If you have a large family then design a bigger bed, 4 x 8 feet is another good size, or even larger. Or, plant several postage stamp beds with different vegetables in them. Give the kids their own postage stamp bed to grow things they like.
A postage stamp kitchen garden bed does not plant in rows, but the seeds (or plants) are spread across the bed and allows all plant’s leaves to touch each other. Even planting some things beneath the leaves of growing plants. I’ll be writing more about this in later blogs.
Don’t be afraid to try something new. Grow an Asian vegetable bed, a salsa bed, a salad bed, an Italian bed, or a soup bed. Whatever your family likes to eat and you like to cook can be grown in a specialized kitchen vegetable garden. If you choose to plant heirlooms, make sure you plant one species of any variety in a single bed, so there is less likely a chance of cross pollination. If you choose to plant hybrids, don’t plant with heirloom varieties. Regardless of what you plant, have fun with it.
Ellen's Kitchen Garden
My latest book The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden Book by Ten Speed Press will be released February 2014.
© Copyright by Karen Newcomb
Starting a new garden blog is always a bit intimidating because I don’t want to leave any reader out. I have beginning gardeners to long time gardeners who may or may not enjoy the basics of gardening. All gardeners start out the same, by deciding what they want to grow and by looking through seed catalogs. I’ve spent years getting acquainted with vegetable seeds and the catalogs that offer them. Over the years I always ordered from the same big name companies. Then I began writing vegetable garden books and soon discovered many catalogs that offered specialized seeds. These catalogs are usually my favorite because they not only offer heirloom seeds but a history behind the seed.
Years ago I began experimenting with garden beds, using a particular theme to each bed. I’m known for my postage stamp gardening and my books reflect that small space gardening. My late husband, Duane, was the one who started my love for small space gardening. He, then both of us, wrote about using the French intensive biodynamic small space garden beds.
From this love of gardening and the need to know where I could find seeds that my local nursery never heard of, I created a vegetable garden website, postagestampvegetablegardening.com.
When the new seed catalogs come out I work on this site almost daily to include the latest varieties they have to offer. This site was created for someone like me who likes to browse yearly seed catalogs yet doesn’t know where to begin and they may not know about the smaller seed companies. To make life easier go online and find all the seed companies you may be interested in and go to their website, see if they have varieties you’re interested in and order a print catalog (of course you can order online, too). As you can guess, by now the space below my desk is a stack of 2013 seed catalogs measuring close to 2 feet high. I love the information I find in these catalogs, and I do a lot of clipping for article ideas, but at the end of the year I begrudgingly have to toss them all and order the next year’s edition. And it’s getting to be that time of year where I have to purge the stack before ordering new current catalogs.
Let me give you a brief synopsis of each catalog and their web site so sometime later this year you too may want to send for a copy of their latest offerings. When I list seed varieties in my blogs there will always be a source with a code listed. Each of these seed companies has a code.
Annie’s Heirloom Seed AnniesHeirloomSeeds.com This was a new find for me and one I will continue to order from year to year. All heirlooms this charming catalog and the owner are wonderful people to deal with. Code: ANN
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds rareseeds.com A beautiful catalog with lots of colored pictures. All their seed is non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated and non-patiented. This is a must have catalog in any gardener’s collection. Code: BAK
Botanical Interests botanicalinterests.com Another new catalog in my collection. It is a magazine-style catalog with lots of vegetables listed. Code: BOT
Bountiful Gardens bountifulgardens.org This is the continuing effort of author, John Jeavons to offer heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated seeds for sustainable growing. Located in northern California the sustainable mini-farm proves that Ecology Action (now in 40th year) works. Jeavons offers not only seed grown right there, but internships, workshops and tours. Very informational catalog. Code: BOU
Burgess Seed and Plant Co. EBurgess.com This company has been in business since 1912. The catalog has lots of color photos of vegetables. They also have garden supplies. Code: BURG
Burpee burpee.com Everyone knows the name Burpee, it’s the standard in the industry and has been around a long time. I love getting it each year. It has lots of colored pictures and garden supplies. They carry mostly hybrids, but are now offering heirlooms. Code: BURP
Comstock Seeds comstockferre.com Another very old seed company (200 years old) that is always beneath my desk. They carry heirlooms, non-GMO, non-patented and non-hybrd seeds. Their catalog is chocked full of colored pictures. Very interesting catalog that is a must in ordering. Code: COM
The Cook’s Garden cooksgarden.com They offere hybrid and heirloom seeds and organic plants for gourmet gardeners. Colorful catalog offers may different varieties, along with herbs and flowers. Very nice catalog. Code: COO
Gourmet Seed International gourmetseed.com They offer hybrid and heirloom seeds. Noted for their Italian varieties (Bavicchi Italian seeds) and garden supplies. If you are a lover of Italian food and want to grow with authentic Italian varieties, this is the seed company for you. Code: GOU
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. Gurneys.com Another old established seed company that offers hybrids and some heirlooms. It is a large format catalog with tons of colored vegetable pictures. You can order a climate zone map from this catalog. Code: GUR
Harris Seeds harrisseeds.com Lots of vegetable varieties, hybrid and heirloom. They also have garden supplies. Code: HAR
Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co. HenryFields.com In business since 1892 they offer hybrids and heirlooms. Lots of colored pictures. Code: HEN
Irish Eyes Garden Seeds irisheyesgardenseeds.com Large selection of potatoes, garlic, shallots, onions, and organic vegetable seeds. Code: IRI
Johnny’s Selected Seeds Johnnyseeds.com Catalog full of colored photos, information and garden supplies. Code: JOH
John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds kitchengardenseeds.com 2013 was the first year I discovered this catalog, a company that has been in business since 1908. They carry both hybrid and heirlooms. Have a variety of herbs and flowers. This one stays on my yearly must have list. Code: JOHN
Kitazawa Seed Co. kitazawaseed.com I will always be grateful to this company for teaching me about Asian varieties. If you love Asian food and want to grow a kitchen garden this is the company you need to go to. They have been a California based business for 94 years. They not only offer individual seed varieties but specialty garden seed packets and even recipes. Code: KIT
Native Seeds/S.E.A.R.C.H nativeseeds.org I found this seed organization this year and am pleased to recommend it to you. This is a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of ancient crops by gathering and working to preserve their uses. A wonderful resource for the Southwest gardener. The seeds are a full diversity for arid lands. All true heirloom of ancient varieties. Code: NAT
Neseed neseed.com Another seed catalog I found this year. No GMO seeds, organic seed, flower seed, herb seed, Italian gourmet seed and gardening supplies. Code: NES
Nichols Garden Nursery nicholgardennursery.com Lots of garden information, vegetables and garden supplies. Widely adapted varieties that grow well in the Northwest. Code: NIC
Park Seed parkseed.com Park Seed has been around since 1868. They carry hybrid and some heirloom seeds. Very nice catalog. They also have garden supplies. Code: PAR
Plants of the Southwest plantsofthesouthwest.com New Mexico based that offers a few vegetable varieties. Wonderful source for native southwest plants. Code: PLA
Potato Garden PotatoGarden.com If you’re a potato lover you’ll enjoy this catalog. All varieties of potatoes, hybrid and heirloom. Code: POT
Seed Savers Exchange seedsavers.org This is an heirloom seed catalog that is a must in your collection. Beautiful catalog with colored pictures and seed stories. All heirloom, open-pollinated seeds that are saved and passed on from family to family or friend to friend. They also have seed saving supplies. Code: SEED
Seeds From Italy growitalian.com An American distributor of Italian seeds. Another fine source for your authentic Italian kitchen garden. Code: SEE
R.H. Shumway’s rhshumway.com 142 year-old company that produces an old-fashioned large illustrated garden guide in newsprint paper. It’s like stepping back in time visually, but up to date in products. Catalog tends to be confusing to read, but fun. Hybrid and some heirloom seeds. Also has garden supplies. Code: SHU
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Gardens@SouthernExposure.com Their mission is to ensure that people retain and control their food supply, that genetic resources are conserved and that gardeners have the option of saving their own seed. Lots of heirloom seeds and seed stories. They also carry hybrids. Catalog choked full of information. Code: SOU
Stokes Seeds StokeSeeds.com A seed company since 1881. Hybrid and some heirloom seeds. Lots of colored pictures. Has garden supplies. Code: STO
Territorial Seed Company territorialseed.com A Northwest seed company the catalog has lots of pictures. Carried hybrid and open-pollinated seed. Has garden supplies. Code: TER
Terrior Seeds underwoodgardens.com Very nice company to do business with. Located in Arizona they carry heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Subscribe to their newsletter for garden information. Code: TERR
The Pepper Gal peppergal.com Specialist in hot, sweet and ornamental peppers. Some tomatoes, pumpkins and supplies. Code: THE
Thompson & Morgan tmseeds.com Lots of colored pictures. Hybrid and some heirloom varieties. Code: THO
Tomato Growers tomatogrowers.com A tomato lovers catalog. Lots of colored photos. They carry more than tomatoes, they offer peppers (hot and sweet), eggplant and garden equipment and supplies. Hybrid and heirloom seeds. Code: TOM
Totally Tomatoes totallytomato.com Another tomato lovers catalog. Lots of colored pictures. Heirloom and hybrid varieties. They also offer other salad vegetables and garden supplies. Code: TOT
I’ll be adding new catalogs as I come across them. In the meantime, why not try a new variety or two in 2014.
Kitchen Gardening with Karen is for cooks who want a smaller garden to grow new varieties right outside their door.
Copyright by Karen Newcomb
For some reason I never think about ants this time of year, until I see a trail of them moving in. It’s like they have automatic radar to where it’s dry, warm and cozy for them during winter months.
The first defense against ants getting close to your house is by keeping your outdoor plants and mulches one foot away from walls, windows, foundation and roof. Look around the outside of your home. If the walls have cracks, use caulk to seal them. Are there any holes cut into walls for any electrical work or pipes?You’ll need to seal these too.
Inside the home, keep the kitchen clean by wiping up food spills; ants love sweets and fats. And always be on the lookout for a single ant because you just know that’s a scout ready to put out the word and wait for a swarm to invade.
If you find you are suddenly surprised by a fall invasion, you want to use a pesticide such as Terro Ant Bait. It’s liquid, organic and comes in pre-filled, ready to use ant baits. You can also use other organic ant pesticide such as Safer Ant Killer.
Pyrethrins are broad-spectrum contact-kill insecticidals made from an extract of the dried flowers of Chyrsanthemum cinearifolium, a perennial daisy like plant from Kenya. It is harmful to fish and has some ill effect on beneficial insects. In fall, the beneficial insects are long gone and if there is no runoff into a fish pond, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, it is one of the safest botanicals available. These products can be found at your local nursery or home improvement center.
© by Karen Newcomb
Viruses are complex single molecules that act like living organisms. There are more than 200,000 of these marauding molecules to an inch. To identify viruses, plant pathologists usually group them together by what they do to the plant. Viral diseases often show up as a distortion (puckering or curling) of leaves, flowers, or fruits; stunted plants; yellow streaking; or mottled leaves.
A few of the viruses that affect vegetables are aster yellows (plants are stunted and yellow), curly top (dwarfed plants with bunched, curled leaves), mosaic (leaves have mottled yellow or light green areas), ring spot (yellow or brown concentric rings), and yellows (plants are uniformly yellow, may wilt and die).
Curly Top Virus. Courtesy T.A. Zitter, Cornell University
Mosaic Virus. Courtesy T.A. Zitter, Cornell University
Ring Spot Virus. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden
There is no chemical control for a virus. Good cultural practices and use of virus-resistant vegetables provide the best protection. Since many viruses are spread by sucking insects such as aphids and leafhoppers, you can also limit the viral disease in your garden by controlling insects that spread the diseases.
Parasitic nematodes that attack plants are vigorous, slender, tiny roundworms. They are generally included under diseases because the symptoms they cause are similar.
Most nematodes are harmless because they feed on decomposing organic material and other soil organisms. Nematodes that attack living vegetables suck the green color and cause stunting of vegetables, wilting, dieback, and similar signs.
The root-knot nematode causes galls to form on the roots of many vegetables. The first indication of nematode injury in a garden or field is often the appearance of small circular or irregular areas of stunted plants with yellow or bronzed foliage. This area gradually enlarges. There are a number of chemical and nonchemical ways to protect your vegetables from nematodes.
Root-Knot Nematode. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden
Vegetable Diseases at a Glance
(Chemical control was discussed under each of these diseases in previous blogs.)
What to look for: Dark green spots or streaks that later turn gray, brown, reddish; can ooze gelatinous fluid.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Rotate crops; keep plants vigorous by fertilizing.
Soft bacterial rot
What to look for: Infected areas on leaves, branches, or fruit bordered by yellow or tan area; advanced infection causes large sunkened dark areas, frequently oozing gelatinous fluid.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Avoid planting in undrained soil; rotate crops on long rotation.
Bacterial wilt (spread by insects)
What to look for: Plants wilt and die; symptoms identical to fusarium and verticllium wilt.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Destroy infected plants; grow resistant varieties.
What to look for: Grayish patches on upper surface of leaves (powdery mildew); pale green or yellow areas on upper surface, light gray or purple below.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Rotate crops; avoid overhead sprinkling; plant resistant varieties.
What to look for: Yellow, orange, red, or brown pustules on underside of leaves and stems.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Destroy nearby weeds that show rust; collect and destroy infected plants when first seen.
What to look for: Stems, leaves, roots, and/or fruit become mushy and spongy.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Plant in well-drained soil; collect and destroy infected material and plant debris; keep fruit off soil.
What to look for: Sunken or swollen discolored dead areas on stem that sometimes girdle stem.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Destroy infected plants; use four-year rotation; purchase healthy-looking plants.
What to look for: Roughened crustlike raised or sunken area on surface of leaves, stem, fruit, roots, and tubers.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Practice long crop rotation; plant resistant varieties; remove weeds.
Fungal Leaf Spots/Blight
What to look for: Spots on leaves; centers may fall out; spots may enlarge to form blotches.
Prevention and/or natural controls: When severe, collect and burn infected material.
What to look for: Leaves turn pale green to yellow; plants wilt and die.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Use resistant varieties; practice long rotation; collect and destroy infected plants.
What to look for: Dark brown to black sooty-looking masses inside swollen white blisters.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Pick off and burn infected parts before blisters open; grow resistant varieties.
What to look for: Distortion of leaves, flowers, fruit; stunted plants; yellow streaking or mottling.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Destroy diseased material; keep down weeds.
What to look for: Yellowing, stunting, wilting, dieback; knots on roots.
Prevention and/or natural controls: Destroy infected plants; plant resistant varieties; rotate plantings.
© Copyright by Karen Newcomb
Plant pathologists consider a vegetable to be sick (diseased) when it doesn’t develop or produce normally because it is being attacked by some living organism.
A typical leaf or stem infection has the following appearance: a sunken, brown center is bordered by a tan or yellow area that is surrounded by a pale green border into which the disease is growing. Infected fruit also shows similar color zones. Although leaf and fruit discoloration may occur with insect damage, the discoloration does not appear in definite zones.
Bacteria are typically one-celled plants that swim through every inch of your soil. By estimate, 1 pound of garden soil contains over 2 million bacteria. Fortunately, most bacteria are harmless, and many are beneficial in helping to break down organic matter in the soil. Some, however, kill vegetables or make them inedible. The most visible characteristic of bacterial infections in vegetables is an oozing, gelatinous fluid flowing from the infected area.
You might find any of the following three kinds of bacterial damage in your garden: bacterial spots, soft rots and wilts.
Bacterial spots, or blight, may start as dark green spots or streaks on the leaves and stems, then later turn gray, brown, or reddish-brown, and ooze a gelatinous fluid. The spots may even drop out, leaving ragged holes, and the leaves may wither and die. Scabby or sunken brown spots or blotches caused by bacteria are generally called blights.
Bacterial Spots. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information.
Prevention and control: Rotate crops; keep plants vigorous by fertilizing.
Chemical control: Fixed copper sprays help control rot and blight.
Soft bacterial rot may infect the leaves, branches and fruits of plants. The infected area is generally bordered by a lighter yellow or tan area. Advanced infection causes large sunken dark areas on the fruit that frequently ooze a gelatinous fluid.
Soft Bacterial Rot. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information.
Prevention and control: Avoid planting in undrained soil; rotate crops on long rotation.
Chemical control: Treat soil with diazinon before planting to control insects that spread rot.
Bacterial wilt occurs when the bacteria invade and plug up the water-conducting tubes of the plant. If you slice the stem of an infected plant, it will ooze a gelatinous fluid. To the gardener’s dismay, often seemingly healthy, vigorous plants simply dry up and wilt overnight.
Bacterial Wilt. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information.
Prevention and control: Destroy infected plant; grow resistant varieties.
Chemical control: Use organic chemicals to destroy insects that spread bacterial wilt. Certain insects such as the flea beetle and cucumber beetle carry bacterial disease in their digestive tracts. When these beetles have lunch in your garden, they spread the disease.
The next blog will cover viruses, parastic nematodes, plus Vegetable Diseases at a Glance.
© Copyright by Karen Newcomb
Fungi are minute non-green plants that exist everywhere in the garden soil. One pound of soil contains up to 225 million of them. Like bacteria, some fungi break down organic matter into nutrients that can be used by vegetables. In contrast, other fungi attack live plants. With the exception of rots, fungal diseases tend to start with a sunken dark area that is later bordered by yellow, tan or light green.
You will find eight general types of fungal infections in your garden: mildews, rusts, rots, cankers, scab, spots, wilts and smuts.
Mildews fall into two groups – powdery and down mildew. Powdery mildew shows up as superficial white to light grayish patches on the upper surfaces of leaves and on buds. Plants infected with downy mildews have pale green or yellow areas on the upper leaf surfaces, with light gray or purplish patches below. The leaves wilt, wither and die. Seedlings may wilt and collapse. Both mildews affect a wide number of vegetables. Mildew attacks are most severe in cool, humid or wet weather and are common in areas with cool nights and warm days.
Mildews. Courtesy David B. Langston, University of Georgia
Prevention or natural controls: Rotate crops; avoid overhead sprinkling; plant resistant varieties.
Chemical control: Downy mildew needs a copper base product to get rid of it. Use Actinovate, a high concentration of a patented beneficial bacterium on a 100% water soluble powder. Effectively suppresses/controls a wide range of soil borne diseases. Found in Bountiful Gardens seed catalog. Also found in Totally Tomatoes catalog. Bonide Copper Fungicide QT is a copper fungicide to control early and late blight, leaf spot, downy mildew, anthracnose, and other fungal diseases. Found in Park Seed catalog. Also found in Totally Tomatoes catalog. Powdery mildew needs to have a sulfur spray applied when mildew first appears. Safer Brand 3-in-1 Ready to use Garden Spray works as a sulfur-based fungicide, insecticide and miticide. Can be found in Harris Seeds catalog.
Rust sometimes appears as bright yellow, orange, red, reddish-brown, or black powder pustules (blisters) on the underside of the leaves. This is a complicated disease, since the forms that attack vegetables require two different plants (called alternate hosts) to complete the life cycle. The rust that attacks corn completes its alternate life cycle on oxalis. In extreme cases, plants attacked by rust wither and die.
Corn Rust. Courtesy Meg McGrath, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Prevention and natural controls: Destroy nearby weeds that show rust; collect and destroy infected plants when first seen.
Chemical control: Safer Brand 3-in-1 Ready to use Garden Spray works as a fungicide, an insecticide and a miticide. Harris Seeds catalog.
Rot is not one general disease but several. Plants with root rot may gradually or suddenly lose vigor, and their leaves will become pale or yellow. The actual root decay may be mushy and spongy, caused by both fungi and bacteria. In many cases, nematodes (microscopic worms) provide the wound by which root rotting fungi and bacteria enter. When seedlings rot, wilt, collapse, and die before or after emergence, it is called damping off. Fruit rot often starts as one or more spots that enlarge to include a portion or all of the fruit. Rots can attack practically all the vegetables in your garden.
Tomato Bottom-End Rot. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information
Prevention, natural controls: Plant in well-drained soil; collect and destroy infected material and plant debris; keep fruit off soil.
Chemical controls: You can treat seed with captan or use in seedbed before planting.
Cankers are dead areas on the stem. They are oval or irregular in shape, often sunken or swollen, and typically discolored. Some completely girdle the stem. The plants are often stunted. Blackleg of cabbage falls within this category and is probably one of the most serious vegetable diseases.
Bacterial Canker Spots. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information
Prevention, natural controls: Destroy infected plants; use four-year rotation; purchase healthy-looking plants.
Scab, as the name suggests, usually appears as roughened, crust-like raised or sunken areas on the surface of leaves, stems, fruit, roots or tubers. The leaves may wither and drop early. Scab is caused by a few bacteria and a wide range of fungi.
Scab. Courtesy T.A. Zitter, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Prevention, natural controls: Practice long crop rotation; plant resistant varieties; remove weeds.
Chemical control: Use Liquid Copper Fungicide as a preventive measure preceding a rain to prevent fungal spores from landing on leaves and establishing themselves. Can be found in Johnny’s Seeds catalog.
Fungal leaf spots vary in size, shape and color. The centers of the spots may fall out, and they may also enlarge to form big blotches. Wet seasons, high humidity, and water splashed on foliage increase the incidence of leaf spots. Certain leaf spots have special names such as black spot, tar spot, and anthracnose.
Fungal Leaf Spot. Courtesy Iowa State University Plant Disease Clinic
Prevention, natural controls: When severe, collect and burn infected material.
Chemical control: Safer 3-in-1 Ready to use Garden Spray is an insecticidal soap with sulfur-based fungicide. Approved for organic gardening. Harris Seeds.
Wilt may seem like one disease, but it is basically three. Each type invades and plugs up the water and food conducting vessels inside the plants. Bacterial wilt will be discussed in my bacteria blog. These wilts are sometimes confused with root rot. Fusarium and verticillium wilt are fungi. Don’t let these names bother you; just wilt will do. Plants attacked by both verticillium and fusarium wilt are usually stunted and yellow. The wilting starts at the base of the stem and proceeds upward. You can buy fusarium and verticillium wilt-resistant seeds in most seed catalogs.
Bacterial Wilt. Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden plant information
Prevention, natural controls: Use resistant varieties; practice long rotation; collect and destroy infected plants.
Smuts and sooty molds produce massive amounts of black sooty spores. Smut is a fungus disease that produces dark brown to black sooty-looking spore masses inside swollen whitish blisters. Sooty mold shows up as unsightly superficial dark brown or black blotches on leaves, fruit and stems. It can be removed easily by rubbing and causes little damage to most plants.
Corn Smut. Courtesy T.A. Zitter, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Prevention, natural controls: Pick off and burn infected parts before blisters open; grow resistant varieties.
My next blog will talk about bacteria.
Cornell University scientist Meg McGrath is studying basil downy mildew and is asking any gardener who has had this problem to be a “citizen scientist” and help in her research. Meg is trying to find out how wide spread this disease has become. If you have experienced basil mildew in your garden, and you want to help in Meg’s research, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basil Downy Mildew. Courtesy Meg McGrath, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Basil Downy Mildew. Courtesy Meg McGrath, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Basil Downy Mildew. Courtesy Meg McGrath, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
Basil Downy Mildew With Sporulation. Courtesy Meg McGrath, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
© Copyright by Karen Newcomb
Even though it’s only August you may already be too late to plant a fall garden. But keep in mind that some vegetable varieties can overwinter, while many of the root vegetables do well when covered with a thick layer of mulch or straw and stored in the ground until you need them. Oriental vegetables thrive in fall and winter and are more flavorful.
Fall vegetables that do well are Asian greens, beets, broccoli, broccoli raab, Oriental cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, Swiss chard, collard greens, radishes (especially Asian radishes), endive, escarole, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, meslun, mustard greens, peas, radicchio, all salad greens, sorrel, spinach and turnips. In warmer climates all of the above can be grown, but you can also plant all cabbages, cardoon, celeriac, celery, fava beans, lima beans, okra, parsnips, rutabaga, salsify and shelling beans. If you live in really warm areas, like the Imperial Valley of California, Southern Arizona, the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Southern Florida, you can grow eggplant, peppers, tomatillos and tomatoes.
To determine when you should start a fall garden you must first know your first fall frost date. An easy way to do this is go to the Noaa Satellite and Information Service. Select your state and click. They list the spring date, the fall date and freeze free days. Seed Savers Exchange also had a Fall Planting Guide in their newsletter with vegetable and plant-by dates, with frost dates included. You can also calculate the number of days from planting seeds to harvest (outside):
- Number of days from planting seed to transplanting (if you grow your own)
- Add average days to maturity (harvest time)
- Add fall weather factor (about 2 weeks)
- Equal the number of days to count backwards from first frost date
I am a vegetable garden book author who believes in year-round gardening. There is nothing quite like going out to the garden in the coolness of fall and pulling up veggies to put in a homemade soup. Make enough fresh soup to freeze, and you’ll be a happy camper during those cold nights.
Karen’s Favorite Vegetable Soup
I like to use my 6-quart cast iron Dutch oven, but any large pot will do. Collect whatever vegetables you like from your garden. I like carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, spinach, Pak Choy, Michilli or Napa cabbage (or any cabbage available), sometimes a turnip or two, or even a little kale, and peas (either snow or regular). I use either chicken broth or beef broth to start (if you are a vegetarian like my son, use only water or vegetable broth). I then dice/chop vegetables and toss in the pot, add 1 can of diced tomatoes, then salt and pepper to taste. Once it starts to simmer, I add 1 or 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and check for flavor now and then. That’s it. If you like minestrone, you can add kidney beans, cannelloni beans, pasta and basil. If you like chicken or beef vegetable soup, just toss that in too. The important thing is the ingredients you harvested from your own garden. That fresh taste makes all the difference in home cooking.
Visit my website to find vegetable varieties suitable for fall planting and which seed catalogs offer them. You can select from heirloom or hybrid varieties.
© Copyright by Karen Newcomb