Category: Linda Gilkeson

Plant Diseases, Garlic Harvest, Sad Tomatoes

Diseases du jour: With this prolonged damp weather, the proliferation of plant diseases has been quite remarkable. Conditions for rusts (garlic, raspberries), apple scab, Botrytis diseases (strawberries) have been perfect. [Photos of these diseases are shown on my web site]. The best defense against disease is choosing disease resistant varieties whenever possible. True immunity to disease is rare and varieties listed as resistant to certain diseases vary in how well they stave off infections. When conditions are not particularly favorable for a particular pathogen, such as the fungus that causes apple scab, disease resistant varieties produce a crop without a speck of scab. When conditions are perfect for repeated generations of the scab fungus, however, even resistant varieties may have some apples with scab spots, usually in parts of the tree with dense foliage and the least air circulation. Under such conditions, apples of scab susceptible varieties can be so covered with scab spots that the fruit is stunted and cracked. A few scabs on apple skins are no problem and it is safe to consume juice from scabby apples, but scab infections do shorten the length of time apples can be stored fresh (so use up scabby apples for applesauce, cider, dried apples, etc.).

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Linda’s List for May 6: Tricky May Weather Vs. Eager Gardeners

It finally looks like night time temperatures will be reaching the comfort zone (10oC/50oF) for planting out well-grown squash and tomato plants this week (don’t rush to plant small plants that can wait awhile). In some inland gardens it might even get hot enough by this weekend that seedlings and seed beds may require shading in midday. With forecasted highs of 25-27oC (up to 80oF), very young plants and seeds in the process of germinating could easily be killed by the hot sun because their tiny roots are so close to the surface. For temporary shade, use anything you have: upside down pots or latticework seedling trays, newspaper or lightweight fabric supported on stakes or hoops. If you are using opaque materials for more than 2 days, only cover plants for the hottest part of the day (11:00 to 3:00 or so) so they receive light in the morning and late afternoon. For a long term investment, you might want to buy horticultural shade cloth or build wooden latticework to shade plants. These let in enough light for growth so can be left in place for the entire heat wave. Also, try to work mulch around small plants to cool the soil. Lawn clippings are excellent for this because they are soft and fine enough to use around tiny seedlings.

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Linda’ List For April 5: Save Seeds, Help New Gardeners

Finally, the forecast is for a warm, sunny week of seasonal temperatures. I was more than a little put out by the frequent snow showers that fell on my garden last week—and had to apologize to the peas I planted outdoors the week before [in these strange times, talking to your vegetables is OK, right?…as long as you aren’t hearing them reply, of course…

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Linda’s List for Mar 22: Gardening Info Wants to be Free

I am getting emails from first-time gardeners wanting to grow food in this year of the pandemic, yet my gardening classes, workshops and talks in the region have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. SO, I am making my Year Round Harvest gardening course slides available to everyone. These are pdf files of the PowerPoint slides that I show in my two 10-month gardening courses and are normally only accessible by the people registered in the classes. The two courses are sponsored by the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific [ ] and the Salt Spring Garden Club [ ] and I appreciate their support for releasing these presentation to anyone who wants to see them.

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Linda’s List for Feb. 13: Starting Seeds–or not; Sweet Potato Update

Don’t be in a hurry to plant: A lot of garden failures come from trying to plant seeds or set out seedlings too early. Plants grow slower in cool weather, especially while the soil is still cold, and they are more vulnerable to root diseases, slugs and other pests. You don’t really gain much time by forcing an early start unless you are using a greenhouse. Plants started weeks later outdoors soon catch up to earlier sown plants because growth is so better in warmer conditions. Also, the earlier they are planted, the longer seedlings are at risk of being chewed up by climbing cutworms (caterpillars of the Large Yellow Underwing Moth ). These cutworms spend all winter in the garden and by now they are quite large and can consume a lot of leaf material every night. They reach full size in mid- to late April, then stop eating when they become a pupa, which looks like a dark brown bullet (see photo under the link, above). The adult moths emerge later in the summer. By simply waiting to set out seedlings until late April you can avoid cutworm damage entirely. Cutworms also chew the leaves of overwintered vegetables, but those plants have large, well-established roots and grow leaves quickly when the weather warms up. You will still see ragged holes in leaves until the cutworms pupate, but the plants can withstand the damage and rapidly outgrow it.

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Linda’s List for Jan. 7: Seeds, Weeds, Rodent Deeds

As the days are noticeably lengthening, thoughts of garden plans begin to dance in our heads. I usually start pruning fruit trees in a few weeks, but it is not too early to start now, especially of the early blooming peaches and cherries. With the mild weather so far, people are wondering if buds swelling buds on fruit trees, garlic that has come up and other early growth will be harmed by cold. Some people already have snowdrops in bloom! IF we have several more weeks of mild weather, then a really severe cold period occurring after that could injure them, but usually early buds and shoots are hardy enough to withstand late cold spells. Just keep an eye on the forecast and beef up mulches or throw a tarp over plants if the weather looks dicey.

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Cold Snap Coming; More on Leaf Mulch

Our unusually warm and sunny November is over with the first of the winter’s cold snaps predicted to start dropping temperatures tomorrow. Time to finish mulching the garden! Lows of -4 to -6oC [20-25oF] may materialize by the end of the week and that is getting pretty nippy for winter lettuce and salad greens. Be ready to throw a tarp or plastic sheet over those beds if you are in colder inland or higher elevations locations. The shoulders of carrots, beets and other roots showing above ground can be damaged if they are exposed but will be fine if they are mulched. Winter varieties of cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks, etc. are hardier to lower temperatures and will be fine.

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Linda’s List for Oct. 8: Plant garlic, stake crops, trap pests

With the colder weather this week some gardens may get overnight frost, which means fall really is here. If you were holding out hope of more tomatoes, peppers, etc. ripening on the plants I think it is safe to say that the season is over. Mature tomatoes that have turned from dark green to lighter green will continue to ripen fully off the vine, however, so it is not the end of your fresh tomato eating. Store the unripe tomatoes and peppers in flats or boxes one layer deep, not touching (to avoid one spoiled fruit infecting another) in dark, cool (10-15oC/50-60oF) conditions. Bring them out to ripen at room temperature on your windowsill as you need them.

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