How To Eliminate Snails & Slugs From the Garden

Q. Our garden has slugs! About the time the tomatoes started getting blossoms the slugs started feasting!

I tried many methods to get rid of them – cornmeal in a jar, egg shells, sand around the plants, soapy water spray, picking them off, drowning them in beer..just to name a few.

Right now the slugs are eating the cauliflower and broccoli
(the only things left growing in the garden under the hoop house in winter).

How can I get rid of these critters once and for all?

A. The growing procedures and cultural practices as taught in the Mittleider Method are the best solutions to your problem as follows:

1. Maintaining a weed-free garden.
2. Keeping the soil bare, with no mulch or other coverings.
3. Using level, raised, ridged soil beds.
4. Using wide aisles that are kept bare and dry.
5. Watering only the root zones of the plants.
6. Pruning and removing all leaves that touch the ground.
7. Growing tomatoes & other vining crops vertically.

What to Plant Around the Garden to Discourage Animals

Q.  What do I plant around the garden to keep animals out

A.  Fast-growing tall hedges – about 10 years ago!

Seriously, I don’t know of anything – short of a tall fence – that will discourage animals.   Even an electric fence won’t keep deer out, unless it has several strands – as we’ve discovered in the Utah Hogle Zoo garden in SLC, Utah.

And smaller animals aren’t deterred even by an electric fence.  The best solution is a fence with small enough squares to keep even the rabbits and squirrels out.  Anything less is just a paliative measure, and a waste of time.

Will Floods Bring Diseases, etc. to our garden?

Q.    As you have probably read,  California received over 35 inches of rain this winter and as a result, our Community Gardens flooded and were under a foot of water for quite some time.  The soil has taken a very long time to dry out and still is quite moist.

My question is this.  Since we had run off from surrounding areas, like a storage yard and a nature center, I am wondering what we should do to be sure our soil is not contaminated with bad bacteria.  Someone suggested that we use lime at a rate of 3 pounds per garden plot (600 square feet).  I know that lime will change the PH of our soil.

What would you suggest in regard to dealing with contaminated soil?  And, what should we use if PH is changed?  We have sent a sample of our soils to a lab for analysis regarding toxins.  They are planting radishes and wheat grass to see what those plants take up from our soil.  But, it is time to plant things here and I was wondering what options we had to take care of any bad bacteria in our soil.

A.   As it happens, radishes are an excellent thing to plant in your situation.  They are hardy, will grow quickly, and show symptoms of deficiency, disease, etc. very well.

Do you have The Garden Doctor series?  Watch your plants and see what they tell you.

Meanwhile, apply the Pre-Plant fertilizer mix in the recommended dosages of 2# in each 18″ X 30′ soil bed or Grow-Box (more than 10 times the rate someone suggested).  And add Weekly Feed to each bed at the rate of 1# in each 18″ X 30′ bed or box.  By the way, it takes 1000# of lime per acre to raise the pH one point.  That’s 1# for every 4.365 square feet, so 2# in 600 square feet won’t do anything for or against your pH.

Ordinarily you do not receive more than 20 inches of rain each year, do you?  One flooding shouldn’t change the pH and make your soil acidic, so as to require lime.  If you normally receive under 20″ of rain per year, the Pre-Plant mix should have gypsum, instead of lime, so since gypsum is pH neutral, it won’t raise your pH, but it does everything else lime will do for you.

I believe the chances are slight that you will suffer harm from disease, etc coming from your neighbors as a result of the rain.

Will the lab tell you your pH?  Let me know what they say.

If it was my garden, I’d prepare the beds as recommended above, build the ridges, and plant.  Planting won’t HURT you, and most likely will be a benefit.

Cutworms, Aphids, Moths, Hornworm, and Tomato Hornworm

Q.  Can you give me the Pesticide Protocol from day one to harvest for leafy veggies, tomatoes, and corn.  We went to Johannesburg for a week.  When we returned – the leaves looked like knitted doilies!  Someone told me that Diamondback Moths flew in while we were gone.  Our tomato leaves are curling up in spite of using micro-nutrients.  My lowest tomatoes had holes pecked in them (birds?).  What’s these little black things I see crawling around my corn stocks when I part the big leaves? 

You didn’t tell me about all these secret combinations and the Gadianton Gophers!  Growing seems to be the easy part (preparing, chemicals, planting, watering, and weeding) it’s keeping them alive and looking good that’s got me stumped – right now!

A.  Early damage to vegetables often comes from cut worms aka soil maggots, which live just under the soil surface.  Mix Diazanon crystals with sawdust at the rate of 1/4 teaspoon per 16 ounces.  Place the mix around the stems of your plants.  When the cutworms surface to feed at night they will have to get past the diazanon, will ingest it and die.

To eliminate pests on your vegi’s when you get a build-up, such as the black aphid you describe (they come in several colors), mix whichever of the folling you can get, Diazanon, Sevin, or Malathion, at the rate of 1 ounce per 3 gallons of water, and spray your crop.  Because the effectiveness of these materials wears off quickly (3 or 4 days), you may have to do it several times, and you don’t want to do it in the last few days before harvest.
 
If the holes you mention are square, it’s probably mites.  You need to spray them also.
 
You mention moths.  They don’t eat your vegi’s but their larva do, and would need to be sprayed as well.
 
To protect corn from the corn borer and the corn ear borer, drop just 3 or 4 crystals or a small amount of diazanon, Sevin, or Malathion powder into the whirl (the growing tip of the plant), and on the silk as it first appears and is just 2-3″ long.
 
Tomato hornworms are big enough that the most effective control is to pick them off the plant and kill them.  Evidence of their presence is stripped leaves on the plant.  Look carefully, as they are so similar in color they are almost invisible.
 
Up-turned curling tomato leaves most often are the result of nitrogen, potassium, or magnesium deficiency.  Look in the Garden Doctor and correct for those, and you’ll probably cure the symptoms.
 
Some people advocate the use of mineral oil to stop some pests.  However, mineral often stops pollination, and we don’t recommend it.
 
I hope this helps.

Control of Phitopthora – “Late Blight” – a Crown and Root-Rot Disease. OR NOT!

Much has been written, and much hand-wringing has been done trying to avoid, understand, and control the disease commonly known as Phitopthora, which often affects potatoes.

A question was asked in the Mittleider Method Gardening Group about the subject, so I asked The Garden Doctor to share his experience and, if possible, give us a solution to the problem.

His answer was so simple it was shocking, until I remembered an amazing book I am reading about human health and nutrition called The pH Miracle, by Robert O. Young, Ph.D and Shelley Redford Young.  I recommend it highly, and will try to explain why below.

Dr. Mittleider said the prevention and cure for Phitopthora is simply lime and boron, in the ratio of 5 pounds lime to 1 ounce boron, and applied 2# to a 30′ bed of crops.  He assured me that he has avoided and cured crops of this disease in many lands, over many years, by this simple procedure.

So, why does lime and boron solve this big problem that vexes so many growers around the world?  The primary ingredient in lime is calcium, and dolomite lime also has substantial amounts of magnesium – both very important essential plant nutrients.  Boron is also an essential plant nutrient, and deficiency of this nutrient has been found to cause “black heart disease” in root crops. 

The answer I would have expected from Dr. Mittleider would be primarily that the nutrition from these elements was lacking and needed to be supplemented.

But there is something more, which Dr. M understands at the plant level, and Dr. Young understands at the human level, and that is that diseases thrive in an acidic environment, and cannot live in an alkaline environment.  And guess what!  Both lime and magnesium are base elements, meaning they raise the pH (power of hydrogen), and change the environment from acidic to alkaline.

Apparently the lack of boron creates the condition for black heart disease, and an acidic environment allows it to proliferate and destroy the crop.  The nutritional aspects of calcium (and magnesium) may also contribute to the equation, but the pH factor really caught my attention from reading The pH Miracle.

Dr. Young’s and other scientists’ research gives strong evidence that human diseases cannot live in an alkaline environment, and the book teaches us how to feed ourselves so as to always have that alkaline environment, and thus live long with strong and healthy bodies.

I know the principle works in the plant world, with phitopthora and many other “diseases” that are avoided or cured by proper nutrition and adjusting the pH of the soil.  And I am beginning to see in my own body the same effects, as I am changing my eating habits to assure I have healthy food and an alkaline environment that is hostile to our common human ailments.

I suggest you consider checking it out for yourselves – in your garden and your kitchen.

Jim Kennard

Preventing Late Blight, etc. on Tomatoes and other Nightshades – by JOANNE RICE (2)

You have my permission to use this information in any way that you see fit.

Below is the write up that I made for our Board of Directors.  I have included a lot of questions and answers that Dr. Michael Coffey, plant pathologist and Dr. Thomas Perring, entomologist exchanged with me.  The list of host plants is at the end.  Dr. Coffey states that all solanaceous plants are host plants and should be eliminated for a period of two months each year. Also, do not ever grow volunteer tomatoes.  As soon as they emerge from the ground, pull them up and discard them.

It is interesting to note, that the mite and blight have the same hosts, that is why I am lumping them together.  We had to do a very difficult clean up and it is important that gardeners pay attention to keeping their gardens weed free, host plants out and keep all leaves that do not look perfect on a tomato plant, cut off.  If left, of course, the spores blow on to other leaves and then you are off and running with a big problem.  Never compost any of the night shade plants–potatoes, tomatoes, egg plant, peppers, tobacco.  Composting may not kill the spore.  In fact, I never compost anything that has any insects or disease, just in case.

One other thing I would like to pass along.  One spraying with sulfur does not do it.  Ortho has a wettable sulfur sold in most nurseries and two tablespoons per gallon of water sprayed on tomato plants every two weeks preventably will handle mildew, mite and possibly blight.  Best way to handle blight is the clean up, clean gardens, no potatoes of any kind, including sweet potatoes and a very watchful eye.   Once we started using the wettable sulfur, our tomato plants were simply awesome.  I had some plants start to go down early on and thought I would lose them and the minute that I used the wettable sulfur, they came back and were simply beautiful.

It is good to note that most of the commercial tomato growers in California dust with sulfur beginning in early M ay. Theydoitforthemite.BR Dusting is not an option for us because if you inhale sulfur, it becomes sulfuric acid in your lungs and burns your lungs.

Yes, Daconil can be used for blight.  Best to be used early to prevent.  Treating after infection is more difficult.  Soap Shield from Garden’s Alive is also an option.

After so many years of struggling with blight and mite, I am so heartened that these two specialists from UC Riverside have shown us the right path to healthy tomatoes.  We are now in our first month of no host plants and have one month to go and then will allow tomatoes, egg plants and peppers to be planted again.  We demand that all gardens and pathways be weed free. 

I hope that this will help some garden people to have a better handle on tomato diseases.  Until last year, we were struggling.  Now we are not.

Here is the website for our gardens.
   www.lbcga.org

Most sincerely,
Joanne Rice

See below:

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION HAS BEEN SENT TO ME BY DR. MICHAEL COFFEY, PLANT PATHOLOGIST AT UC RIVERSIDE WHO IS GOING TO HELP US MANAGE OUR TOMATO BLIGHT PROBLEM  AND BY DR. THOMAS PERRING OF UC RIVERSIDE WHO IS A TOMATO RUSSET MITE (TMR) SPECIALIST.  THEY HAVE REALLY BEEN VERY SUPPORTIVE AND WHEN E MAILED,  REPLY WITHIN MINUTES.

WHEN ASKED WHAT WE SHOULD DO ABOUT THE BLIGHT AT THIS TIME OF YEAR,  DR. COFFEY SAID THIS.

“REMOVE AND DISCARD EVERY VOLUNTEER TOMATO PLANT.
REMOVE AND DISCARD EVERY VOLUNTEER POTATO PLANT.
LATE BLIGHT IS NOT A SOIL BORNE DISEASE SO TREATING THE
SOIL WOULD BE OF NO CONSEQUENCE.
REMOVE ALL SOLNACEOUS PLANTS AND WEEDS, ESPECIALLY
HAIRY NIGHTSHADE.
YOU WILL HAVE TO HAVE THE COOPERATION OF THE ENTIRE
MEMBERSHIP
AS THE TOMATO SEASON APPROACHES,  I WILL INSTRUCT YOU
FURTHER.”

DR. COFFEY SAID TO CONVEY TO THIS BOARD THAT “YOU HAVE
A PLANT PATHOLOGIST NAMED MICHAEL COFFEY WHO IS
WILLING TO HELP YOU.”

DR. COFFEY LATER WROTE THIS:  ”  REGARDING LATE BLIGHT OF TOMATOES,  I AM IN THE PROCESS OF WRITING A REVIEW ARTICLE FOR PLANT DISEASES ON THIS TOPIC.  I WILL SHARE MY THOUGHTS, FINDINGS AND EXPERIENCE WITH YOUR GARDEN COMMUNITY PRIOR TO THE NEXT TOMATO GROWING SEASON.  I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO DONATE ABOUT 200 TOMATO PLANTS OF DIFFERENT VARIETIES AT THIS STAGE.

LATE BLIGHT DOES NOT SURVIVE IN THE SOIL.  IT DOES HOWEVER, OVERWINTER ON VOLUNTEER PLANTS, POTATO AND TOMATO AND ON CERTAIN SOLANACEOUS WEEDS, NOTABLE HAIRY NIGHTSHADE.  THE DESTRUCTION OF VOLUNTEERS AND HAIRY NIGHTSHADE IS HIGHLY DESIRABLE.

LATE BLIGHT CAN ALSO BE INTRODUCED ON YOUNG TOMATO SEEDLINGS/TRANSPLANTS BOUGHT AT THE NURSERY SUPPLIER.  THIS IS A QUITE COMMON METHOD OF INTRODUCTION AND SPREAD.  YOUNG PLANTS NEED TO BE INSPECTED CAREFULLY ONCE THEY ARE PLANTED AND ANY SHOWING SYMPTOMS, DESTROYED AND SURROUNDING PLANTS TREATED IMMEDIATELY.”

DR. COFFEY DID NOT MENTION EGG PLANT OR PEPPERS IN REGARD TO LATE BLIGHT BUT I READ THAT PEPPERS AND EGGPLANT ARE IMMUNE TO THE DISEASE BUT CAN HARBOR THE SPORES OVER THE WINTER. 

WHEN I ASKED MANY QUESTIONS REGARDING THE TOMATO RUSSET MITE,  DR. THOMAS PERRING HAD THIS TO SAY.

QUESTION: AFTER THE RUSSET MITE FINISHES DEVASTATING THE LEAVES OF A TOMATO PLANT,  WHERE DOES IT GO?
ANSWER:  MOST OF THEM DIE.  THE ONES THAT MAKE IT TO ANOTHER SOLANACEOUS HOST WILL CONTINUE LIVING, PRODUCE EGGS, ETC.  THE POPULATION GROWTH SLOWS CONSIDERABLY IN THE WINTER BUT IS STILL PRESENT.

QUESTION:  LITERATURE SAYS THE MITE OVER WINTERS ON CERTAIN PLANTS.  I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE LIFE CYCLE OF THE MITE.
ANSWER:  IF YOU SEND ME YOUR ADDRESS,  I WILL FORWARD SOME LITERATURE ABOUT THIS MITE. (HE DID AND I AM INCLUDING THE IMPORTANT PARTS IN THIS DOCUMENT).

QUESTION:  I UNDERSTAND THAT MAY AND JUNE ARE THE BEST MONTHS TO DUST/SPRAY THE TOMATO PLANTS FOR THIS MITE.
WHY?
ANSWER:  THIS IS THE TIME BEFORE THE POPULATION LEVEL REACHES SUCH HIGH NUMBERS, SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO KILL SO MANY INDIVIDUALS.  ALSO, IT IS THE TIME OF YEAR THAT THE TEMPERATURE IS STARTING TO GET WARM, A CONDITION THAT DRIVES MITE DEVELOPMENT.

QUESTION: ANY COMMENTS ON SULFUR DUST VERSUS WETTABLE SULFUR?
ANSWER:  DUSTING SULFUR WOULD BE PREFERRED BECAUSE YOU GET BETTER COVERAGE WHERE THE MITES LIVE, BUT WETTABLE  SHOULD ALSO DO THE TRICK.

QUESTION:  ARE WE ON THE RIGHT TRACK FOR CONTROL OF THIS MITE?
ANSWER:  YES, TRY TO REDUCE THE OVERWINTERING SOLANCEOUS PLANTS AND DUSTING WITH SULFUR IN MAY AND JUNE SHOULD DO IT.

QUESTION: 10/08/03   I AM WONDERING IF THERE IS ANYTHING THAT WE SHOULD BE DOING AT THE PRESENT TIME THAT WOULD HELP CUT DOWN ON THE RUSSET MITE POPULATION?  I NEED A PLAN OF ATTACK.
ANSWER: “AN AGGRESSIVE WEED CLEAN UP WILL GO A LONG WAY TO REDUCE MITE HOST PLANTS.  IF YOU SIMPLY HAD A STRATEGY FOR GARDENERS TO REMOVE PLANT MATERIAL IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THEIR LAST HARVEST, THIS WOULD HELP A LOT.  TYPICAL GARDENERS WILL HARVEST UNTIL THE VERY LAST FRUIT IS TAKEN FROM THE PLANT, EVEN IF THE PRODUCTION IS PRETTY MUCH OVER.  THE MITE IS ALSO ON TO THE NEXT CROP, AND ABANDON THE OLD PLANTS.  THIS ALLOWS THE OLD PLANT TO BECOME A BUG FACTORY.  IF YOU HAD A RULE FOR REMOVING USED-UP PLANTS, IT WOULD REDUCE SOME OF THESE PROBLEMS.

IF YOU HAVE A ‘HOST FREE PERIOD’ BEFORE TOMATO PLANTING, TOMATO RUSSET MITE WILL BE ELIMINATED FROM THE GARDENS.  THE SOURCE OF INFESTATION THUS WOULD COME FROM OUTSIDE AND BE SIGNIFICANTLY LESS THAN FROM INSIDE THE GARDEN.”

WE NEED TO IMPLEMENT THE THINGS THAT DR. COFFEY AND DR. PERRING HAVE SUGGESTED THAT WE DO TO GET OUR GARDEN ENVIRONMENT BACK TO NORMAL.

KEVIN HOLMAN IS PRICING THE COST OF SPRAYING OF ALL TOMATO PLANTS IN MAY AND JUNE AND IT MUST BE MANDATORY OTHERWISE ALL OF THE ABOVE IS FOLLY.

IF WE DO NOT TAKE CARE OF THIS PROBLEM,  WE WILL NOT BE GROWING TOMATOES AS IT WILL BECOME AN EVEN BIGGER PROBLEM WITH EACH ENSUING YEAR,  IF THAT IS POSSIBLE.

CLEAN UP SHOULD BEGIN IMMEDIATELY AND ALL TOMATO VOLUNTEERS, POTATO VOLUNTEERS,  TOMATO PLANTS, PEPPER PLANTS, EGG PLANT, POTATO PLANTS,  PETUNIAS, NICOTINIA AND OTHER THINGS LISTED BY DRS. COFFEY AND PERRING PULLED OUT BY NOVEMBER 30, 2003.   ALL GARDENS SHOULD BE WEED FREE, ESPECIALLY THE MORNING GLORY (FIELD BIND WEED).  A BIG JOB BUT HAS TO BE DONE AS PART OF THE CLEAN UP.  THIS SHOULD BE COMPLETED BY NOVEMBER 30 2003.  WE SHOULD ASK FOR EIGHT VOLUNTEERS TO MONITOR THE CLEAN UP.

HERE IS THE LIST OF HOST PLANTS THAT HARBOR THE MITE and BLIGHT.

TOMATO  (LYCOPERSICON ESCULENTUM)
HAIRY NIGHTSHADE  (SOLANUM VILLOSUM)
MORNING GLORY  (CONVOLVULUS SP.)
POTATO  (SOLANUM TUBEROSUM)
BLACK NIGHTSHADE(SOLANUM NIGRUM)  Being grown by our Oriental
Members.
JIMSON WEED  (DATURA STRAMONIUM)
CHINESE THORN APPLE  (DATURA FEROX)
CAPE GOOSEBERRY  (PHYSALIS PERUCIANA)
WILD BLACK CURRANT
PETUNIA  (PETUNIA HYBRIDA)
TOMATILLO  (PHYSALIS IXOCARPA)
POPOLO  (SOLANUM NODIFOLIUM
NIGHTSHADE  (SOLANUM DOUGLASII)
SMALL FLOWERED NIGHT SHADE  (SOLANUM NODIFLORUM)
WILD GOOSEBERRY  (PHYSALIS MINIMA)
TOBACCO  (TOBACCO NICOTIANA SP)
AMETHYST  (BROWALLIA AMERICANA)
BELL PEPPER  (CAPSICUM ANNUM)
CHERRY PEPPER  (CAPSICUM ANNUM)
TOLGUACHA  (DATURA METELOIDES)
LYCOPERSICON CHEESMANII
LYCOPERSICON CHILENSE
LYCOPERSICON  GLANDULOSUM
LYCOPERSICON  HIRSUTUM
LYCOPERSICON  PERUVIANUM
LYCOPERSICON PIMPINELLIFOLIUM
WHITE HORSE NETTLE  (SOLANUM ELEAGNIFOLIUM)
SOLANUM LACINIATUM
EGGPLANT  (SOLANUM MELONGENA)
JERUSALEM CHERRY  (SOLANUM PSEUDO-CAPSICUM)
FIELD BINDWEED  (CONVULVULUS ARVENSIS)  (OUR MORNING GLORY)
BRINJAL

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED
JOANNE RICE
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
LBCGA
10/14/03

Early and Late Blight on Tomatoes

Early blight is an air and water dispursed fungus! It’s got the beautiful name of Alternaria, and under the microscope it is a truly beautiful-looking fungus. Yet these small little fungi can cause so much destruction on plant cells. Late blight also develops on potatoes during long wet weather spells; this fungus was responsible for the Irish potato famine of 1845.

Warm conditions with high moisture promotes early blight. The spores are
dispersed by wind and by splashing water . With little wind you can see how the disease spreads from one plant to the next where infected leaves of separate plants touch each other.

Late blight is caused by Phytophthora. This fungus can destroy an entire
tomato or potato crop within a week. Controlling late blight is difficult once the disease is established. Remove and destroy diseased plant parts as they appear. Apply a fungicide such as chlorothalonil (Daconil 2787) or mancozeb as a preventative at the first sign of disease or when conditions are favorable for disease development.

To prevent late blight in tomatoes keep strictly to these cultural
practices:

1. Don’t water overhead.
2. Don’t water in the evening.
3. Give your plants plenty of space.
4. Don’t work around your plants when they are wet.
5. Don’t plant tomatoes in the same place where tomatoes, potatoes, peppers or eggplants were grown last year if they were diseased.
6. Clean up all debris.
7. Prune out diseased branches promptly and destroy.
8. Keep weeds at a minimum.
9. Plant resistant varieties when available.

Sadly we have had some very unstable weather in our area the past few weeks with lots of thunder showers almost every afternoon with high humidity and temperatures during the day. What initiated the disease on my otherwise very healthy tomatoes was two seperate unexpected hail storms shortly after each other. This caused bruising on the tomato leaves and by the next morning the first lesions started appearing (this whilst spraying preventatively – trying to be prepared for the worst (last year I lost my whole tomato crop within 3-5 days after a similar hail storm!). Now going through a repeat of last year my tomatoes are standing up a lot better by I have to go and remove new lesions on leaves every day to try and save as much as I can.

A personal observation is that the tomatoes receiving full sun all day show more resistance to the disease than the ones closer to my wall where they only get sun slightly later.

Hein Van Kralingen, Plant Pathologist, Durban, South Africa

Preventing Diseases on Tomatoes – Late Blight, etc. – By Joanne Rice, Long Beach Community Garden Assn

I read with interest Hein’s e mail regarding early and late blight.  I have
been involved in a large community garden in Long Beach, California for 22
years and pretty much take care of all of our Trials and also vegetable diseases
for our Garden Association. 

In the early 90’s when Late Blight reared its ugly head in earnest again, 
our tomato crop went down big time.  I sought the help of a plant pathologist
from UC Riverside.  The first thing that he said was “stop growing potatoes”. 
We did and fared well.

A couple of years ago, despite my warnings, our board of directors decided
that they wanted to grow potatoes again and guess what, we lost all of our
tomato crop again to late blight and the tomato russet mite.  In a community
garden, you cannot grow potatoes and tomatoes.  One or the other.  I again sought the help of a plant pathologist  from UC Riverside and also the help of an entomologist from UC Riverside.  Their advice was to get rid of all of the host
plants for blight and mite for a period of two months prior to the tomato
planting season.  It was a very big job and there are a lot of host plants for these two conditions.  Amazingly enough, the host plants for both of these
conditions are one and the same.  Their thinking is that if you can rid yourself of all the host plants that the blight spores over winter on and also that the
russet mite over winters on, you will be home free.

We did just that.  We made sure that every host plant was removed and kept
out of our 300 garden plots (8 1/2) acres and also did not allow anyone to plant tomatoes until late March.  We monitored all of the tomato plants to watch
for blight.  Out of thousands of tomato plants,  we only found three with late
blight and those were removed and destroyed.  They had been brought to the
gardens and planted with the disease already on them.

All of what Hein says in his post is true.  You must trim off all leaves that
do not look perfect and keep the tomato plants trimmed of every leaf that
does not look perfect.  In May, we start using a wettable sulfur spray which
takes care of the russet mite and which also takes care of any mildew spores. 
Those of us, and especially trial garden which I oversee, had beautiful disease
free plants.  The secret is keeping the host plants out of your garden area so
that late blight spores cannot over winter.  And, for goodness sakes, do not
plant potatoes.  The late blight spores blow onto your tomato plants and in 10
hours you can have blight. 

Late blight does not seem to affect the other members of the night shade
family–egg plant, peppers, tobacco, however, these plants should also be removed for a period of 2 to 3 months before the tomato season as they too are considered host plants as are many flowers and weeds.  If anyone is interested in a list of host plants, you can e mail me at PathaJ@aol.com and I will be happy to forward the list to you.  From the list you can go to Google and type in the name and get info on each host plant and also a picture.

I know this is a long post however, we have been through the blight problems
and they have been very bad.  This past growing season has been such a
revelation as to what good, clean growing conditions can do to promote a perfect tomato patch.

Sincerely,
Joanne Rice – First VP, Long Beach Community Garden Assn.

Eliminating Gophers

Q.  I’m distraught over what is happening to my garden and watching it occur in my neighbor’s, as well.  For some reason, individual plants are dieing. One day they look fine, the next day (or even later in the same day) the leaves look wilted, like they’re not getting water, and by day 2, the plant is completely dead.  They are getting plenty of water and nutrients(watering twice a day and fertilizing each week).  It seems indiscriminate.  First it was a single squash (out of 4), then my only zucchini.  Next it worked it’s way over to my neighbor’s garden, where ALL of their pumpkin plants are affected.  Then back to mine where one pepper plant just died (leaves literally fell off).  This morning I went out to water and everything seemed fine, but this afternoon one of my honeydew plants is exhibiting the exact same signs.  With the pepper plant, I pulled it up and it appears that the roots were ok, but they might have been a touch too short for how long they have been planted (I didn’t think to check the squash or the zucchini, unfortunately).  I have noticed small holes in the
ground every so often, about 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter, with what looks like a small mound next to it.  I had a gopher/mole which I took care of already this year, but this one seems different – smaller holes tell me something else, but I have no idea what.  HELP!  I don’t want to lose my whole garden in the next couple of weeks to whatever it is that is doing this!

A.  You have the classic symptoms of moles or gophers eating your plants’ roots. Go buy gopher pellets from Lowes or Home Depot, etc. Take a rake or hoe, walk your garden, pounding the HANDLE on the ground near to where plants have
been killed. When you hit a gopher run, immediately pour about 1 tablespoon of pellets into the hole, then cover the hole, so the gopher won’t know it has been opened.  Do this everywhere you can find their runs.  And good luck.

Preventing and controlling Diseases in Your Garden

There seem to be many questions about plant diseases; sometimes ones without marks on the leaves or other lesions.  Have any of you had bacterial diseases yet?  Here is one way for testing for a bacterial disease in your dying plant.
 
Remove a diseased plant and slice through the stem with a sharp knife.  Then place the stem into a clear glass filled with clear water.  leave it for a minute or two.  Then hold the plant against the light.  If it is a bacterial disease, bacteria will ooze out of the wound.  You will quite clearly see a transparent or milky stringy substance coming out from where you made the cut.
 
There are also many other soil-borne diseases.  Many of them are fungal diseases where the mycelium of the fungi grow inside the cells. Most fungi thrives in moist warm conditions.  Therefore drainage is quite important in your garden. Soil borne fungi like pythium and phytophthora will infect plants through their roots or around the crown of the plant when free water is around. Typical symptoms include general wilting and yellowing of the whole plant.  Raised beds can help with drainage.
 
Don’t overhead water your plants unless you have no other choice, and if you do, water early enough in the day to allow the water to evaporate again before night comes.  Ensure good air circulation (one good reason for having 3 1/2′ aisles!) between plants.  For example, prune tomatoes and stick to correct plant spacings as shown in the Mittleider resources.
 
An integral part of disease management is to REMOVE diseased plant materials from your garden site!  If you are serious about getting rid of the disease, burn the diseased plant materials.  Fungi are designed for survival; during adverse conditions they produce survival or overwintering structures that can survive for a very long time until conditions improve again.  These can survive on old and dying plant materials and other WEEDS in the garden.  Therefore the big emphasis on removing weeds promptly (besides serving as a scrumptious food source for cutworms and other insects).
 
When you have handled diseased plants with scissors, a knife or other implement, you should sterilize it by spraying it with some ethanol, or other alcohol source like denatured alcohol, before using that tool on healthy plants again. This way you stop the spread of disease between plants.
 
Diseases and pests are here to stay, and they can take over our lives (gardens) unless we subdue them!  Promptly remove leaves that show signs of disease. Example:  Older  tomato leaves (closest to the ground) usually start showing leaf lesions as the season progresses and disease pressure builds up in the area. Remove these promptly to stop the spread to other leaves and plants.
 
Insects are sometimes the carriers of viral diseases. By keeping insect pests under control you may thus control plant diseases!  However, some insects are good, like lady bugs, which have a healthy appetite for plant aphids, and so too do their larvae.  Bees are our most famous pollinating insect.  If you spray for pests in the garden, do so early or late in the afternoon when bees are not forraging for nectar and pollen.
 
We work very hard to grow a delicious variety of veggies in our gardens.  I have thanked Dr Mittleider and Jim many times over in my mind when I have relied so much upon my home-grown veggies in times of need.  I have never had a failed crop when following these “recipes” to the letter.  By ensuring cleanliness in our garden and following a few other important steps we can even subdue the pests and diseases.