martes, 29 de septiembre de 2009

Garden 911

I don't mean to alarm anyone, but some of my plants need HELP!!
Please pardon my departure from cheery pretty plant posts to lament some of the tough realities in my organic garden.
Maybe you've experienced one of these issues, or you are an accomplished gardener, or perhaps you are simply a nice person with an idea, please feel free to TELL ME WHAT TO DO!

First, have a looksie at my pipian--it is a local variety of squash, soft skin much like a zucchini. This is what keeps happening :(
The leaves develop a white moldy-looking hue, eventually yellow and die, as do any developing squashlings.
In the past my zucchini and yellow squash was decimated by several pests; for educational purposes i will relive these painful moments wherein my cucurbits were prey to striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and vine-borers. Yesterday i found evidence of vine-borers once again AND i caught this sneaky lady bug look-alike chomping away.

I am now wondering: Is it the pests causing an untimely demise to my pipian,,,,or is that white stuff a tell tale mold/fungus problem?
My garden, though pest-ful, is pesticide free ;) so spraying toxins is out. I do have a concentrated neem oil that i am more than willing to use. I have also employed companion planting and beneficial plants (nasturtium, mint, marigold, borage, garlic) to discourage pest infestations.
And here, with my pumpkin plantitas (probably started too late for Halloween), is a cute preventative method i read about:
shiny aluminum foil wrapped around the base of the stem, with the intention of foiling those vexatious vine-borers. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Next up in my Plagued Plant Tour, a disappearing leaf incident. Congo chiles are the spiciest type of local chile you'll find in Nicaragua. they are tiny but pack a punch. My congo bush was thriving, until......
one day it had NO MORE leaves! Nada. And this has happened before with another congo, which subsequently shriveled up and died. ¿que paso?

Finally, assuming you are not too depressed to keep going, may i submit one more sickling:
Scarlet Runner Bean
Again, not a new issue. The bright scarlet beans sprout and grow about this much before the leaves yellow, curl up a bit, and die. I have not seen any pests. and pole beans have done well in the same area. hmmmmm...
That's the sob story. FYI we are in the middle of the Wet Season, buckets of rain almost every day.
I appreciate any advice, suggestions, tips a kind reader might have! or commiseration, or just good-old fashioned pity....
con mucho gusto,

13 comentarios:

Jonna dijo...

Buenas, I am not sure about the others so I'll let someone who knows answer but the chili is clearly the victim of leafcutter ants. They are nocturnal so if you go out in the garden at night with a flashlight, you will see their armies carrying your plants away tiny bit by bit. They can completely strip a mature citrus tree in one night. I had them in my pond, using one leaf of a lily to get to another and cutting and carrying away from the middle out. I have no qualms about killing whatever and however I can in cases like that so I can't help you with a natural cure. How do you feel about following them and pouring gas in their nest and lighting it?

Liz dijo...

Gracias Jonna! you've confirmed my fears. We do have leaf-cutters here on the farm and they are currently harvesting all my citricos! I took a peak at your blog, i see they have attacked your place also. Do you call them zomopopos in Mexico? Also i'm totally with you on the MOP issue! These 3rd world mops are USELESS; i am all for american mops. ok, looking forward to exploring your blog more. thanks again for your comment!

Ancel dijo...

Hi Liz,
I concur with Jonna, looks like leafcutters. Gasoline works, but you have to keep on top of them, be prepared to do it every week until the nest stops producing more ants. Here 7pm is a good time to go out and find them on their trails - they'll have several leaving the nest in spokes like a wheel. Back at the nest some holes will be entries, others are for air, others to remove waste . . . it's so strange to see small parrumphs of smoke and hot air exploding from holes some many meters away from the nest.
I know those ladybug imposters!!!!! They killed my papaya and chayote last year. They have a small yellow grub that comes at night and eats a hole in the plant and then disappear during the day. The leaf turns yellow around the hole, then spreads to the entire leaf, then stem, then your beautiful prized, happy plant is some putrid pile of decomposing goop. Again it means a nightly excursion with flashlight to remove the pests from the underside of the leaves and stems.
I went for weeks thinking it was a nitrogen problem, or lack of minerals til a local took a look and said "You come out at night and see what yellow worms you find." He was right.
The mold, I don't know, perhaps because of the stress and crumbling immune system?
Good luck!

Mary Delle dijo...

The zucchini have a leaf mold or mildew. In the wet weather you have it can overtake the plants. When you are near the plants try not to touch them and then touch others, so that you don't spread it. I don't know of a natural solution. So sorry for your plant woes. It comes to all good gardeners.

Liz dijo...

Thank you thank you for the input! Ancel, it is comforting to know i'm not the only one with the fake lady bug problem; they are also working on my chayote :( I'm currently trying neem.
Mary, thank you for the clarification! i was suspicious of mold. I read you can prevent it by spraying milk on young plants, so that's my next plan. Live and learn!

Anónimo dijo...

I too have an organic garden this year I had potato bugs --I sprinkled just plain old flour on top of all their leaves -heavily
It worked all the bugs fell off.
Maybe it might work for you?

Scott & Liz dijo...

Setcreasea pallida or Purple Heart is the name of the purloined plant you started as a cutting. As for the powdery mildew on your squash google garlic sprays as an organic fungicide, it's been awhile since I fought powdery mildew so I could be wrong. Check it out.

Meredith dijo...

It sounds like you and I have similar sagas when it comes to our vegetable garden, though I'm glad I don't have leaf-cutter ant problems at the moment. What I do have are fire ants -- and while they aren't hurting my plants per se, they are hurting ME! Boiling water is what I use to tackle the colonies, provided they aren't at the root system of my plants.

Live Simply Love Strongly dijo...

I had powerdy mildew on my zuchini plants this summer. I read on the internet to put a mixture of milk and water in a sprayer ( I think 9 parts water and 1 part nonfat milk because they said whole milk will smell). I didn't have a chance to try it, well by that time I was so sick of zuchini I didn't really care that much. Since this was my first year gardening, I planting way too many. Anyway, the other gardeners on the forum seemed to think it would work.

Live Simply Love Strongly dijo...

Anónimo dijo...

This is really good , thought you might like to read this. Sincerely Chris :

Rock Dust!personal experiences

If you are interested in using rock dust and its many applications then I would highly suggest that you subscribe to Remineralize the Earth available at

Being a hardened rock dust man , I was delighted to find these folks and their information on demineralization of the earth. For more info on these folks see their web page at

Here are some of my personal experiences with rock dust.

I first started using rock dust very early in my childhood. I started gardening on my grand parents farm in PR and in Cuba, and in Costa Rica. As a child I started using finely ground sand or dust as a way to control bugs from attacking my plants. I noticed that by dusting my vegetables and flowers that less bugs attacked them. I was not aware at the time that I was also feeding them (the plants not the bugs). I learned that ocean sand was also very effective against bugs so I started using a li us ocean sand around the base of the plants about two feet away so not to burn them from the salt in the sand. I would make a barrier around the area I wanted to keep the crawling bugs out (it didn't work against the flying ones unless I dusted the plants directly). I also learned how to spray sea water on plants without hurting or burning the plants.

Grinding rocks into a fine powder became an obsession with me. It took many years of trail and error before I finally developed my own grinder that worked! What I did what turn a fifty gallon drum into my grinder. Inside I placed a large rock or several large round river rocks which when the drum was turned would crush the other softer rocks into a fine rock powder. I hooked the drum to a bicycle and peddled to turn the drum. Good exercise too!

It wasn't long before I found out that I could get rock dust for free in large quantities from my local rock quarry. So it wasn't long before I was bagging rock dust and taking it home. There are so many things that one can do with a good rock dust that I thought I would make a list and work from there...

1....Rock Dust controls many diseases! The high mineral levels is the key. Also the high energy levels of the rock dust provides a boost to the plant or tree or even the soil! By learning how to best apply the rock dust , you will begin to take giant steps in the control of fungus, diseases as well as many pests can be controlled by properly using rock dust.

2....Rock Dust restores trees to health! The application of rock dust during the spring once per year will encourage the root systems of trees , lawns, roses, vegetable gardens. Apply rock dust just before the rainy season to take advantage of mother natures rain.

3....Rock Dust makes a great lawn additive. By applying rock dust 4 times per year once each season if possible otherwise spring, summer and fall. Approx. 50 lbs. should take care of 5,000 sq. ft.

4......Rock Dust applied to fruit trees in the spring will produce large abundance of sweet fruit for you come summer!

5...Roses love rock dust! Apply rock dust several times per year, approx. 1 cup rock dust per plant, watered in well. For best results add 1 cup rock dust to 1 gallon filtered water then water base of rose. You can also make a rock dust milk by adding 1 cup rock dust to a panty hose, tie into a ball and suspend in a gallon of water. Allow to sit over night. Pour into sprayer and spray leaves.

6..Vegetables love rock dust! Add rock dust to your gardens soil at least once per year, seasonally would be better if you are able to. Also apply rock dust as a spray once per month.

Anónimo dijo...

Hello again, I couldn't figure out how to add a comment other than "anomino" my spanish isn't so good, so maybe that's why I couldn't decipher it all. I will be coming to Nic. this year and I do find the growing things and the pest and such, all very interesting. I'll be figuring all that out too and it's nice to see someone who is doing the same and ahead of me for that matter. I will be 4 hours from Jinotega.
Sincerely Chris(Christine)

Liz dijo...

Hi Chris!
thanks so much for the info--the rock dust idea is fascinating! What will you be doing in Nica? do you know exactly where you'll be?