How many of you have been discouraged after planting a garden to find out some of your vegetation is not thriving? From brown spots to yellow leaves to weird looking bugs on your tomato and broccoli leaves, gardening has challenges that can make you want to quit immediately or run to your computer and google “Why are my pepper plant leaves turning yellow?” (If I haven’t googled it once I have googled it five times and that can be in one day.) I want quick answers to salvage what is left of the plant from diseases that will NOT go away on their own! Because I garden in a very large self-watering container, the most common diseases I run into usually come from existing plants that I purchase from nurseries or from organisms that arrive via wind first class. I have had to pull one cucumber plant and one tomato plant as well as some nasturtiums this garden season due to a few significant reasons. Here are three gardening issues that I have had to deal with when gardening in the Eco Garden System.
Yellowing of leaves
This can be on just about any plant that is growing in the garden. It is common in just about every garden and can be caused by one of three main factors: water, nutrients, or pests. A process of elimination of these three factors and problem solved! My first thought is watering. In a self- watering container this should be the easiest to eliminate. I know our first reaction is not enough water or too much water which with the Eco Garden system this should not be the case! Overwatering gives you wilted plants and under watering gives you shriveled up dry plants. A good way to test is to poke your finger down in to the soil about an inch and if it is moist there is enough water and if it is dry than water is needed. The Eco Garden System has an overflow valve and a one inch gap between platform and water to ensure your plant roots receive oxygen and are not sitting in soggy soil, so this is easy for me to rule out; however it is not impossible for these to be the reason. My second thought is to look under the leaf to see if there are any aphids or white flies making camp on the leaf. If this occurs spraying with a force of water or removing manually will help keep them at bay. Spraying neem oil at night will also help in keeping these and other pests away. Spraying neem oil during the day when the sun is out can damage the leaves so it is best to do it when the sun goes down. I learned this lesson with geraniums! And last I consider a lack of nutrients. I amend the soil with nutrients and water thoroughly so it can reach its roots. Yellowing of leaves can have many reasons and what I have found out, in my case, it is usually a nutrient deficiency which can be remedied by feeding the plant.
Holes in the leaves
This without a doubt is a pest! Looking on the underside of the leaf will disclose the little nuisance or it will be there right in front of you enjoying dinner. The most common ones I deal with are Japanese beetles, aphids, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. They can do a lot of damage if not dealt with right away. I lost my strawberry patch last summer from the Japanese beetle that just got out of control. Using the neem oil works but again spray at night time! This works with beetles and aphids. Planting companion plants next to certain vegetables helps as well. Picking off by hand is also a good method but time consuming. Throwing them in soapy water will kill them. Eventually you will see the population die down. Don’t give up! There is an end!
Soil fungus and bacteria
Now this one is interesting because it can include a number of diseases from Verticillium Wilt, Downy Mildew, Bacterial Wilt and Root Knot Nematodes. It is important to know that if you purchase an existing plant from your local nurseries it is possible that the plant already has the fungus and it has nothing to do with your gardening skills! However, if you plant from seed than it very well can be caused by temperature and soil moisture combined as well as infected by pests that make your beautiful seedling their home. If caught early you can take some measures to remedy the problem but usually pulling the plant is your best defense. As I mentioned earlier I had to pull a tomato and cucumber plant when signs of Bacterial Wilt showed in the cucumber plant and Verticillium Wilt in the tomato plant. These are casualties of gardening and reflect very little on skills of gardening. It is the luck of the draw! Amend your soil and replant in another location! I should mention that I did purchase both these plants and have since replanted the cucumbers and the plant is beautiful!
Don’t get discouraged it happens to every gardener! With each garden season I have learned something new and interesting about pests and of course about soil pathogens. Gardening in the Eco Garden System has allowed me to learn so many new things about gardening from how to fix a problem to how to grow something I have never grown before, which brings me to the pulled nasturtiums! This came down to overplanting in a certain area in the garden where the nasturtiums were not getting enough light from the quick growing tomato plants. So I had to pull them but later on I found out they do not grow well in a self- watering garden. They tend to like periods of dry soil to thrive. So, lesson learned and on to the next new plant to grow.
Mother Nature knows and we just need to learn to work together!