Tips

Composters

When putting plants in the compost, please check the signs

  • no sign = open, put stuff in
  • closed = don't put stuff in
  • use me = compost ready to go on plots

Please also try not to put weeds with seeds in our composters, nor diseased or mouldy plants, but put these into the city green bins on site. Thanks to our composter volunteers for managing these all summer!

Cucumber Beetles

Are your cucumbers, squash, melons or zuchnini getting eaten? Look for cucumber bettles (yellow with stripes or spots). The adults eat the leaves and they aren't too bad, but the main problem is that they lay their eggs near the roots of the plants and then the larve suck nutrients from the plant. There isn't really an effective organic way to get rid of them, except to keep the adults from laying their eggs, as best you can.

Mulch and Water Conservation

Raised beds are notorious for drying out faster than regular gardens. There is more exposure and places for the water to evaporate. Plants then get stressed, more water is used, and it take more of your time. What to do?
Mulch, mulch, mulch! By covering the soil with a 'insulating layer', less water will be lost to evaporation. Use newspapers, grass clippings, straw or anything else to build up a layer.
Some things to keep in mind:

Soil Blocks for seedlings

"Plastic pots reduce air flow and make seedlings root bound. A compact, air pruned soil block does not limit oxygen to the roots." (http://www.pottingblocks.com/) On Sunday, March 25, a dozen or so of us gardeners made 40 blocks each to try out with our seedlings for this year.

Powdery Mildew

Watch out for powdery mildew on squash and zucchini plants. Spots of white fuzzy are indicators; dying / wilting leaves mean it's spreading. To counteract:

  • if leaf is wilting, cut it off at the vine and put in the green bins (not the compost - don't want to spread it to next year's plants)
  • if only some spots, spray every 2-3 days with a mixture of one part milk and 9 parts water. This seems to change the pH of the leaf so the mildew can't grow

If you leave you plant alone, it will die - so keep a watchful eye, especially when it is hot and humid.

Homegrown Lettuce

(Courtesy of Raymond, everyone's favourite gardener!)

Homegrown lettuce is so tasty and tender for salads. But special tricks are needed to pick lettuce from the garden now, when it’s hot.

This time of year, lettuce tends to bolt — that is, to flower and make seeds. Once a flower stalk starts pushing up through the whorl of leaves, those leaves turn bitter and tough.

Tomato suckers

large suckerBushy tomato plants are lovely, aren't they? However, it is important to sucker your tomatoes as tomato suckera bushy plant will actually have less tomatoes. A sucker is a non-bearing branch that grows out of the stem at a 45 degree angle off the branch that will have tomatoes (these grow straight out). Pinch these off as soon as you see them started (idealy before they get an inch long). [Picture credits: finegardening.com and about.com]

 

Roquet and Flea Bettles

If anyone wants to reap the benefits of rape, sai sai, roquet, etc. I suggest the investment in garlic and pepper spray as a natural/organic deterrent and a shade-cover system to send them packing. (They are not a flea at all but are named such for their jumping ability)

Harvesting Squash and Pumpkin

These are ripe when:
- you see a colour change
- they have a hard skin (can't puncture with fingernail)
- they sound jollow when knocked
- the stem is hard and dry

To harvest, cut off the vine leaving as much stem as possible. Wash them to remove bacteria that might cause them to rot (spray with peroxide if you don't want to use bleach). Store in a cool, dry area out of sun. If they are not quite ripe, but you have to pick them, you can let them cure / ripen in a dry, warm place (80F / 27C).

Powdery Mildew on plants in squash family

When there is lots of rain and high humidity squash, pumpkin and cucumber plants are susceptible to powdery mildew. You'll quickly see the white spots on the green leaves to know if you have it.

This will continue to spread, so take action as soon as you notice the signs:

1. Cut off the most diseased and dead leaves. These shouldn't go in the compost pile as they can infect next year's crop.

2. Spray the remaining leaves regularly with any of these: