BATTLE PLANS … BY GLADYS JEURINK
Now is when you
should begin planning and drawing up your “Battle Plans” to combat
all the pests and problems that may plague you this spring and summer.
One problem is getting small seeds planted and germinated. You can make
your own seed tape to get your plants even when dealing with these small
seeds. Stretch out toilet
paper and mist just enough to make it lay flat. While standing up you
can place the seeds at the right distance.
I keep radish seeds around as they are big and strong enough to
break the soil if it gets crusted over. So plant the radish seeds with
your small ones that take longer to get started and space them out along
the paper. Now you can fold the paper over on itself and mist again just
enough to make it stay until you can carry it to the row you have made
in your garden. Since the seeds we are dealing with are small, barely
cover them with soil. Another helping idea is to lay a lath or light
board on top of your row to keep it from drying out. Watch carefully to
see when your seeds start coming up and then remove the board.
When I plant
such seeds as squash or cucumbers, I make a good sized (18 inches wide)
shallow depression and then plant the seeds down in the center and place
a clear pot or jar over the seeds to keep moisture in.
Sometimes I even plant Sevin Dust or Eight Dust with the seeds to
keep bugs out. Squash especially have trouble with worms (borers) in
their stems. The borer
adult is a little moth that lays its eggs on your plant soon after it
comes up. So if you have row covers you can put those over the plants.
Row covers work very well to protect until runners need pollination.
You can cut sections to fit your hills and hold it down with soil
and staples. If you have scrap wood you can make small “houses” to
cover your plants, then staple the row cover on the frame. Leave on
until the plants start flowering and need pollination. I have a few
plastic covers about 12 inches square that I push down in the soil.
The moths like to lay their eggs near the soil line so the borers
can tunnel in, but by this time your plants are in a depression and you
can put soil over the stems for some protection. Try not to plant your
vine crops in the same area two years in a row as insect eggs over
winter in the soil and debris.
When I was
working, people saved their gallon sized (3 pound) coffee cans for me.
By cutting both ends out they make excellent protections for the
new plants you are setting out. The
new plastic coffee cans will also work and do not rust. However, they
are not quite as sturdy. Before you put your plant in the soil, check
for the cutworm larvae that spends their winter in the soil and in the
plant debris. They look like grubs and the can keeps them from cutting
off your new plants right at ground level.
These protectors can also be filled with water during the summer
and can also keep the rabbits away from cabbage, cauliflower, and
brussel sprouts until they grow above the top of the can where rabbits
are waiting. Some years I
plant my ornamental kale and cabbages in whiskey barrels either with or
without the plastic liners. I start them in pots on a bench and then
later put them in the barrels. Since they tend to get “leggy” I can
wait until later and set them down in the barrels when I remove them
from the pots and fill in around their naked stems with soil.
This way the barrels have 2 crops-pansies in the spring and
cabbage or kale for late fall.
One of the
first “Battle Plans” to combat disease organisms you need to
consider is the use of resistant varieties. Tomatoes are a good example.
Often you will see after their name what looks like college
degrees and in a way they are. You will see F, V, N, T, and other
letters. (The F means the plant is resistant to Fusarium Wilt. The V
stands for Verticilium Wilt, the N for nematode, and the T for Tobacco
Mosaic.) Planting disease resistant varieties is especially necessary if
you have a small garden and cannot plant a good distance away from where
you planted the same plant last year. Other plants also have disease
resistant varieties. Crab Apple trees get cedar apple rust and new
varieties are now disease resistant. Remember, they are disease
resistant not disease proof.
I have seen a
few people buy potting soil and fill 5 gallon buckets or whiskey barrels
and grow their tomatoes in these. Five
gallons is the minimum size and a larger container like a whiskey barrel
is better. Another method I have noticed is bags of potting soil on the
ground and a slit made to insert the plants.
Still another way to combat disease organisms is to scrape the
topsoil off that might contain the disease organism and make a tower of
old tires. Fill with a good potting mix. Don’t use a cheap potting mix
as this is usually not very good soil and many do not drain well. These
last two requires careful attention to watering.
demands the taste of home grown tomatoes in the summer and some will go
to great lengths to make sure the plants grow.
When we had the
big garden in the country, I divided it into six sections and planted in
different areas each year just like farmers rotate their crops. One of
my sections was always bare to crops. Weeds and pests were tilled under
as well as a “green manure” crop. This area had my best crops the
next year. In each area
when I got ready to plant, I pulled up the soil with a broad hoe (cement
hoe) into rows about 3 feet across and put a leaky hose (sometimes
called a soaker hose and usually made from recycled rubber) down the
center and planted on both sides. This
way I did not wet the leaves. Wet leaves encourages fungous diseases so
watering on the ground and keeping your leaves dry is another good
“Battle Plan”. The healthier your plants are, the less damage
insects and disease can do, and the fewer chemicals you need to use.
Both you and the environment benefit.