John Dromgoole vegetable problems: Central Texas Gardener

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Hello gardening friends, this year I've meethundreds of new gardeners, more than hundreds really, maybe a thousand, I don't know.

And these new gardeners are growing vegetables, a lot of good reasons to be growing vegetables these days.

We never know what is going to happen to ourfood supply and we can buffer it a little bit a least by growing vegetables.

Kinda like the old victory gardens.

I like to call it a prosperity garden.

So you are going out there with your new transplantsright now and you're putting them into the garden and some of you have already planted.

Well there are some problems we are goingto run in to so expect some problems in the garden.

Not everyone will have them but one of theones that I run in to probably more frequently than many of the insect problems during theseason is blossom end rot on tomatoes.

Now this has to do with the water in the soilfluctuating quite a bit.

Getting very dry and then real moist againand so this uneven watering is what leads to this problem.

It has a lot to do with the calcium in thesoil and the movement of calcium in to a stressed plant puts it in to the foliage and not thefruit and the fruit needs it.

So this stressing of going back and forthwith the watering kind of throws the calcium out of balance.

And so what happens we get on the bottom ofthe fruit this soft brown spot and that is the blossom-end rot right there.

If it gets a lesion in it then some organismsget in there and begins to rot.

And so it's call blossom-end rot.

Well you've got to manage this and one ofbest the ways of doing this is to put a nice mulch on there.

I like to use a pine straw mulch and becauselater on in the season it works into the bed better than some of the hard wood mulches.

So I'll use the pine straw out there.

And so this will keep the moisture even inthe soil thus eliminating or certainly reducing this problem.

A plant going in early and getting stressedmay lead to this problem so this whole cycle of planting is very important.

Eggplants also get involved in this; of coursethe tomato is the big culprit.

You'll see it on peppers and also on somesquash and watermelons.

So this is something to be looking forwardto in the garden unless you keep some even moisture out there.

That's really, really important.

Another problem that you might run in to wouldbe the squash vine borer.

This is an ugly little creature that reallycan destroy the squash plant.

Which you take a knife, you open up the stemwhere it is and remove this little critter.

Now one of the things that we like to do toprevent it is that we build these hoop houses over the garden.

And then we can put a screen on top of that, it's available in nurseries, it's a very light weight screen and that keep the moth out ofthere that lays the eggs.

We'll also use our white fabric that we usein the wintertime but the key to this success is the bees need to pollinate the squash.

So every day in the morning or in the eveningyou need to open it up a little bit and allow the bees to get in there to do the pollinatingfor you.

But it really does work, it does keep thesesquash vine borers off of there while that major first crop comes in.

During the second crop, which I call the Bcrop, it may occur it and that's when you'd be looking for it.

So another one of the problems that's outthere is if you are growing corn it's the corn earworm borer.

And this guy gets into the top of the corn, organic gardeners are used to this and we just cut the top of the corn off but if youare surprised by this worm in there you might prevent it by taking a little bit of the Bt, the caterpillar killer, and squirting into the top.

I like to use an eyedropper and squirt itinto the top of the corn and that'll get rid of the corn borer right away.

There are some other things out there youmight find like spider mites.

This little guy causes the leaves on manyplants to get kinda of mottled with yellow spots.

And the spider mite can be washed off of there.

The other thing you can do is use some seaweedin your sprayer and wash it off.

If you do it once a week you will really reducethe spider mite problem.

And so aphids are another one of these problemsbut beneficial insects will do the job at managing these aphids.

Now you want to make sure that you've gotsome lady bugs out there.

And we recognize the ladybugs who is the posterchild of the organic gardener.

But at the juvenile stage most of us don'trecognize her.

We may even think it's a harmful insect becauseit's next to the aphids.

Well these little guys are now doing therejob better than the mature lady bug and they're eating all of the aphids that are on the plant.

So these are some of the kinds of things thatyou might be looking for this season.

Maybe a fungicide out there for some of thefoliar diseases that occur, certainly use that seaweed to control spider mites and tonourish the plants and make them much more vigorous.

And then there are some natural insecticidesif some things are really out of balance and there's no beneficial insects there you mighthave to call on one of these.

I like to avoid these but sometimes it's necessaryin that new garden.

So for you new gardeners you'll find someproblems along the way.

It may affect production but I just showedyou some great ways of managing these types of problems.

For Backyard Basics I'm John Dromgoole.

I'll see you next time.

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