26 June, 2010

Downy Mildew a Permanent on Basil?

It looks like something in nature has a thing about pesto and salad. Last year tomatoes were ruined in the east by late blight. Late blight turned up already this year in Louisiana and parts of Maryland. Growers had 1,000s of acres wiped out by the disease. Now the main component in  pesto, basil, is under attack by a grayish fungus called downy mildew. Downy mildew often attacks squash and cucumbers along with many ornamentals. Now it has begun an assault on basil the mainstay of summer gardens around the U.S.

First signs of affliction include a band of yellow haze on the upper surface followed by small grayish black spores on the under side of the leaves. While not toxic to humans the mold is quite unsightly. Removing leaves infected in the home garden is the only well suited control. However on commercial farms this labor heavy activity is not practical.

The disease is currently spreading through New Jersey. Unfortunately sweet large leaf basil, the most popular variety, is most susceptible. Lesser known varieties like lime and lemon are not easily affected by the disease.

More information in the Washington Post

10 June, 2010

Japanese Beetles Ready to Attack

Sooner or later we knew it would happen. Summer is just a week away even though we have had glimpses of hot humid weather now and then since April. Plants got ahead of themselves by several weeks at the onset of April only to be put back in check by a hard dose of normal reality, a hard freeze. By the time May came to town the whole weather scenario seemed to even itself out. The early blooming in April did not extend into May. Finally what was supposed to bloom in May bloomed in May and the final frost date of May 15th came and went without cause. And now it is already the second week of June. I always thought time went faster as one got older for the simple reason that each passing year represents a smaller percentage of your total life. For a five year old one years is a whopping twenty percent of their existence. But at twenty years of age that percentage drops to five. For us midlife crisis sufferers? A year dwindles to a measly two percent of our existence when you hit fifty! But just ask a high school kid and they too are seeing time fly by.
Back to gardening, my intended topic. Mid June also announces the arrival of bug season. We see the crowds drift back to the bug juice section of our stores this month. May is spent in the plant departments. June is remedy month.  Time to fix problems hitting the plants placed in the ground in April and May. The problems run the gamut of mildews, weeds, slugs, bugs and other thugs that can ravage a garden if left unchecked. Though the trend is towards organic and natural controls these products are still pesticides and deserve respect from the applicator. We in the garden industry cannot say it enough, "Always read and follow label instructions". I have been in the garden business for thirty years and I always read the application rates on the label for the simple reason that one label looks like every other after.
Of all the pests we will see this month the one with the most voracious appetite is the Japanese beetle. About the size of a dime and the color of a shiny copper penny, these beetles launch their attack on almost everything in the garden in mid June. The calling card of a Japanese beetle is a leaf surface decimated leaving only the skeletal appearance of its' veins behind. Preferring to munch in the sun beetles devour cannas, basil, birch trees, egg plant, potatoes and dozens of other ornamental species. Not to eat and run beetles lay eggs in our lawns by mid July that when hatched become those little milky white grubs that destroy lawn roots as fast as their parents ate your snapdragon leaves!
Controls for Japanese beetles that work well and quickly are few with organic controls being even fewer. Sevin, the maligned but effective, insecticide is still my first choice when beetles strike. Sevin kills beetles on contact and leaves behind a decent amount of residual control beetles that are sure to come around later.  I have no problem hitting my tomato and pepper crop with Sevin for beetles. These are long term crops that are nowhere near ready for harvest in June. Basil, other herbs and leaf crops such as spinach and chard are a different matter.  Sevin is not a good choice for these crops because they are ready to eat just as the beetles attack. The best mode of attack on these tender leaf crops is a combination of hand picking the bugs off and botanical sprays like pyrethrins and other plant made oils. Botanical controls like pyrethrins can be applied up to one day before harvest.
One way to prevent Japanese beetles from attacking in the first place is to apply Milky Spore to your lawn areas. Milky spore is Bacillus thuringensis, a natural pesticide, and stops grubs from maturing into adult beetles. When the grubs ingest Bt they stop eating and die within a few hours.
Milky Spore is best applied in a powder form. It takes two to three years to spread throughout the lawn but will remain effective for 15-20 years. Although the initial outlay is more than the cost of using Merit the long term cost is much lower.

09 June, 2010

Farmers Market in Philmont Opens Sunday June 13th

What a great thing. farmers Market in Hudson on Saturday and another in nearby Phimont on Sunday. Philmont is an old mill town undergoing somewhat of a rebirth. Excellent irish pub in town as well as  farm to table Restaurant Locall 111

Burpee Giving Out Free Veggies

To promote their new line of quality veggie plants Burpee recently gave out free seedlings to commuters in Chicago. Here is the story from Garden Center News

04 June, 2010

Conard Pyle Ceasing Most Operations Effective September 30

Conard Pyle a PA. nursery long known for quality plant material has announced it will cease most operations in early fall. Famous for Star Roses and ornamental shrubs under the Star name, Conard will keep only its' rose division. Most of it's sales force will be terminated as well.
Their web site reads: 
"Since our founding in 1897, The Conard-Pyle Co. has evolved from a retail mail order firm specializing in roses, to a wholesale container nursery. Today, we grow an extensive range of perennials, ground covers, grasses, woody ornamental plants and roses".
There is no information on their web site or in the media as of this morning regarding this news. 


Organic Gardeners Now Exceed 10 Million According to Survey

The green movement has hit mainstream with the number of gardeners exclusively using natural products in their gardens new exceeds 10 million. In fact the number has more than doubled since 2005. The article appears on the National Gardening Association web site.
What this means may not all be good news. It seems whenever a trend goes mainstream the knowledge base diminishes. I mean the more regular gardeners get GREEN the less the garden public collectively really knows or understands what they are doing. The lemming effect is what I call it. In theory there is not a major issue when millions are gardening naturally and not knowing why.
The problem comes in when marketers get hold of it,as they already have, and label everything remotely green as being green. The practice is called GREEN WASHING and is alive in many industries not just gardening..............................................
For more information read the article here: http://www.gardenresearch.com/index.php?q=show&id=2896

Albany Farmers Connected With Consumers Online in Albany County

Farming goes hi tech....kind of. This is kind of a double edge sword. Farmers markets popping up all over are said to be bringing back the feeling of community. And they  do that function well.  Well now enter the digital age to the farm market scenario. Consumers in Albany County searching for fresh eggs, greens, corn etc can now, instead of searching out famers markets, log on to a new web site that connects farmers and consumers. Good idea......or a blow to the new weekly community gathering place.
This story is in the Albany TImes Union Friday June 4th:
No more standing in lines on sticky summer mornings at the farmers market just to get some local berries.
Get school closing alerts on your mobile device.
Rensselaerville Meeting Center  
An Albany woman will bring the finest farm offerings from the Hilltowns to customers' laptops, so they can order honey, eggs, grass-fed beef, pork, poultry, seasonal produce and other products and have it delivered to their homes. Consider it the Amazon.com of local agriculture.
The Heldeberg Market opens its virtual doors today, with the first deliveries going out June 10, says Sarah Avery Gordon, the owner of the market who also runs an environmental consulting business in Albany.
"I've seen so many of the farms up in the Hilltowns shut down because they haven't had enough local sales and enough profits to keep their farms going, and it's really heartbreaking to see because some of these people have had these farms in their family for generations," said Gordon, who helped her father move sales of the grass-fed beef he produces at Gordon Farms in Berne online early this year with much success. "They're producing fresh, local, healthy food, and I want to see them be able to make a livelihood off of that."

Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=937641#ixzz0psewAEMx

02 June, 2010

Late Blight Moving Into Maryland

First Louisiana and now Maryland gardens and greenhouses:
From industry trade publication Garden Center Magazine

Tomato plants in a St. Mary's County, Md., greenhouse found to be infected with late blight caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans have been destroyed. Some of the plants which had been planted in Charles County have also been destroyed.
Univ. of Md. extension plant pathologist Kate Everts reported that the grower who had the original outbreak did keep some high tunnel tomato production. Plants were found to have active sporulation on May 13 despite two fungicide applications.
Extension personnel have extensively monitored neighboring growing operations for additional infected sites and found none. The disease pathogen favors cool wet weather so the concern remains that it might spread to surrounding growing operations.
Commercial tomato growers in St. Mary's and Charles counties and in nearby counties are being advised to apply a protectant fungicide such as chlorothalonil, Gavel or mancozeb. Growers should also scout aggressively looking for late blight symptoms. Growers should submit samples of suspect plants to a university or commercial diagnostic lab.
Univ. of Md. pathologists are conducting studies to try to determine where the disease originated and how it was introduced into the grower's operation. The grower did not have any live plants that could have allowed the pathogen to overwinter. Officials are hoping that genotype information will provide some clues. 

Heirloom Tomatoes at Adams Kingston New Arrivals

Just received the following varieties of heirloom tomatoes at Adams Kingston location!
Park's Whopper:  4 inch fruit earlier than regular whopper, 65 days to maturity long harvest up until frost
Consuluto Fiorentino: Italian beefsteak type from Florence 12-16 oz. fruits good for fast sauces 75 days to maturity
Pantano: Italian type 12 oz or more fruit, beefsteak type 80 days to maturity, sweet juicy
Japanese Black trifele: potato like leaves, burgundy fruit 74 days to maturity
Mortgage Lifter: from the 1930's, a classic tasty tomato that paid off M.C. Byles mortgage! 8 oz 85 days to maturity


01 June, 2010

Garden Expo at Adams Kingston Store

Join me Saturday July 31st for a Garden Expo day at Adams Fairacre Farms Kingston store. I will be speaking on Slugs Bugs and Other (Garden) Thugs.
This is the second Garden Expo at adams Kingston. Take a break from the summer heat and enjoy demonstrations from Scotts, Mark Adams Greenhouse and other garden industry experts

A "Tweet" From Your Potted Plants

Have your potted plants Tweet you when they need water...............................
Yes it's true GEEKS have discovered gardening too
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