Controlling Mildew on Squash

If you should get mildew on your squash leaves, trim all affected leaves from the plant and do one of the following.

Spray the non affected leaves (after trimming bad leaves) with 1 tablespoon of wettable sulfur in 1 gallon of water, every two weeks. And spray in the evening so that the sulfur won’t burn the leaves. Most leaves need to cool off before you spray anything on them. Spraying on hot leaves might saute them. Be sure that you buy wettable sulfur NOT soil sulfur.

Another cure is to merely buy a gallon of skim (non fat) milk and spray it on the squash leaves. Follow the directions above for time of day and trimming all bad leaves off before spraying. You can also mix up your own non fat milk by using one part dry skim milk with 9 parts of water.

Just wanted to pass this along to those that are plagued with mildew and we here on the Southern California coast are and we deal with it constantly.

Joanne

What Grows Vertically – Problems with Canal Water and Manure

Q.  I connected with your web site after admiring the beautiful garden west of Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.  (my family was admiring the giraffes!)   I like the concept of vertical gardening.  My question is this:  Can you grow stuff like pumpkins, watermelons, squash, etc.  up a wire?  If you do, how do you support the fruit.  Even cucumbers seem like they’d be too heavy.   I’m excited to try the drip irrigation system this spring.  I feel like I’ve been knocking my head against a wall for 15 years because we water with canal water and fertilize with horse manure.  My kids and I could spend our whole lives in the garden and couldn’t begin to keep the weeds out of it.  This year we’ll be using well water and trying the Mittleider method. I hope we can manage to kill off all that grass and morning glory.  Maybe you’ve got some ideas for that as well. 

A.  we recommend fruits that are less than 6# each for vertical growing.  We grow indeterminate tomatoes and eggplant vertically, guiding them up baling twine strings that are fastened to strong wire strung between T-Frames.  Cucumbers are ideal for growing vertically, as well as any of the small indeterminate squashes. 

Any of the aforementioned plants need to be pruned, in order to have success growing them vertically.  You can expect to increase your yields by 3-4 times in this way.  Detailed instructions are included in several of the Mittleider gardening books and CD’s available at www.growfood.com.  Articles in this FAQ section also deal with vertical growing and pruning.  Look under Tomatoes for several.

Keep your fruits picked as they ripen, to avoid excess weight on the vines, which can sometimes drag the vines down if too many fruits are allowed to remain.

I’ve been “knocking my head against a wall for 15 years” also, telling people to avoid canal water (or filter it) and manure for the reason you cite, as well as the problems many have with pests and diseases.  Thanks for the testimonial.

Remembering that “one year’s seeds makes 7 years’ weeds”, I recommend you get a couple of 2-way hoes as shown on the website’s Store pages at www.growfood.com under Tools.   Follow the recommendations for “E & O” (early and often) weeding, and by leaving the aisles completely dry, you will get ahead of the weeds quickly.

 

 

Plants Not Growing – Being Detective to Find Out Why

Q.  I am writing in regard to some problems with the container “Grow-Box” method we are experimenting with here in southern Mexico. 

We built the box, mixed 3/4 sawdust and 1/4th sand, as well as adding the calcium and the fertilizer pre-mix before planting. 

At planting we added the first week’s fertilizer mixture and watered. 
 
We are experiencing problems with all our plants.  They just don’t look good at all.   The squash started good but then the older leaves seem to die prematurely.  
 
The female squash at flowering have the fungus that causes blossom end rot and many of the female flowers never reach the stage of opening up at all.  They start to get pale looking and shrivel up and die before they open. 
 
Our lettuce looks weak and isn’t growing well. It has good color but just seems to sit there and doesn’t grow.  We also planted green tomatoes that are not growing well.  They just seem to grow very slowly.  The Swiss chard is not growing as I had hoped it would either.
 
We have moisture and the plants have not wilted.  I don’t think there is too much water.  Other than the fungal problem on the squash we have had very little insect problem.  
 
Jim Wagoner, IMB Missionary to Oaxaca Mexico
 
A.  Let’s look at each element of the equation, to determine what is missing.

 
What are the materials being used – what kind of sawdust, and what kind of sand?  Is it new sawdust, or has it been used for something else before?  It can be new, but should not have been used for growing before.  Also, it should not be from walnut trees.
 
The program calls for mixing 2# of Pre-Plant mix PLUS 1# of Weekly Feed mix into the soil of an 18″ X30′ bed or box before planting.  Did you apply both, including Weekly Feed?  And are those the amounts you used?
 
You say you put Weekly Feed in when you planted – first of all is the Weekly Feed formula accurate?  Secondly, were you planting seed or seedlings?  When planting seed, you do not put any more fertilizer down until the plants are showing – then you feed 1# per 30′ bed.  Fertilizer applied at planting of seed, if it’s close to the sprouting seed, can kill the new seedling, or severly stunt its growth. 
 
When planting seedlings, we recommend applying 1/2# of 34-0-0 or other nitrate to a 30′-long bed immediately after transplanting, watering that in, and then starting the Weekly Feed regimen 3 days later.  Did you do that?
 
It is VERY rare to have a fungus disease in new sawdust/sand mix, unless it came with transplanted seedlings.  NEVER use seedlings grown by someone else!  If you’ve got it, you’ll have problems for sure. 
 
The problem is more likely caused by failure to be pollinated by the male flower, by stress, or lack of direct sunlight, water or nutrients.  A plant in stress will abort new fruit in order to try and stay alive.  Blossom-end rot is a classic example of stress due to uneven watering or lack of nutrients, such as calcium. 
 
If the leaves look healthy it’s very possible the squash problem is lack of pollination.  For squash plants, take a male blossom, tear off the petals, exposing the anther, and pollinate female flowers, by lightly touching the pistil.  Do this in the morning between 7:30 and 9:00, and only do it with blossoms that are wide open, as they are the only ones that are fertile.
 
How close to the plants are you applying the fertilizers?  And how are you watering?  Remember that sawdust and sand will allow the water to go almost straight down. 
 
Sometimes people apply the fertilizers 6″+ away from the stems of the plants, and the tiny roots never see any food, because it is washed down and out of the root zone, rather than flooding the root zone with nutrients, as should be done. 
 
Do you have full and direct sunshine all day long?  This is essential!  And are you really watering thoroughly?  You should see water coming out from the bottom of the box before you stop.  Remember, it’s almost impossible to water too much, but very easy to water too little.
 
Plants that are “just sitting there” and not growing vigorously are either sitting in the shade, where they don’t get direct sunlight for 8-12 hours each day as they need, or most likely they are lacking nutrients or water, or both.  Let’s get specific and see which of those three is in short supply.
 
By accurately following the illustrations and instructions in just one of Dr. Jacob Mittleider’s vegetable gardening books, such as Grow-Bed Gardening (available at www.growfood.com), you can avoid these problems and have a trouble-free and successful garden.

 

Some Veggies in my Grow-Boxes look pale

Q.  Some veggies in my Grow-Boxes look pale. These were transplanted on 4/15/ and fertilized with 21-0-0 three days later. Other than that I have been doing the weekly fertilizing. Can you let me know how to help them. One of the cucumbers died already, the rest look pale and wilted.

A.  Cucumbers and other melons and squash should not be planted until the weather is warmer – after May 15, in Salt Lake City. They do not do well in early spring.  Nitrogen should be applied immediately at the time of transplanting, and three days later Weekly Feed should be applied.  21-0-0 is not nearly as good as 34-0-0, especially in cool weather, because of the composition (NH4 vs NH3). NO3 is immediately available to the plants, while NH4 must be changed to NO3 in the soil before the plant can use it.  Did you put the proper Pre-Plant fertilizers in the soil before planting?  Fertilizing should begin after the plants come through the soil, however you must be careful not to get the fertilizer on the plant stems or leaves.  Fertilizers are salts, and will burn any plant if applied directly.  Apply four inches from the stems and then water in thoroughly.