Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trouble and Triumph in Bean Town

No, not Boston, but the mass of bean plants in my backyard! The trouble is from a common mistake newbie gardeners make: over watering and watering at the wrong times. I was watering my veggies too often and, as a result, the ground wasn't drying out enough. I was also watering in the heat of the day or before the day heated up, but not enough that any water that splashes onto the leaves would dry before the heat of the sun got to them. As a result, the plants got burned and also developed rust.

To combat the rust, I sprayed a product called Plant Wash on the leaves, then I put down horticultural cornmeal and dry powdered garlic (from the kitchen) on the ground under the plants. Both the cornmeal and the garlic help curtail fungal infections. Garlic also helps deter pests, too. The following evening, I sprayed the leaves with a concoction of Garrett Juice (compost tea, apple cider vinegar, liquid molasses, and liquid seaweed). While doing this, I found a cabbage looper (ick!) and quickly sent it to worm heaven. I also quit watering them, but tested the soil daily with my water meter to check moisture level. I went for about a week before God sent some rain my way to take care of my watering needs. I really didn't need to water, but apparently God thought it was time, so He watered everything for me. Despite the rain, they seem to be doing well.

During the week with no watering, I checked the plants daily for more infection. I finally made the difficult decision to cut off affected leaves on plants that I felt would make it and yank the ones that were way past gone. The ones with new leaves made the cut. The ones with no new leaves got pulled. In the picture above, the plant at the bottom got yanked, the plant in the middle became a "maybe" and was watched, and the plant at the top got to stay. Because I didn't really know what the problem was with the beans, the ones that were pulled got put in the yard waste bag that goes to the curb rather than thrown in my compost pile. I lost almost all of my pole beans in the big bean bed!

A survivor of the great bean tragedy. Fortunately, I was able to save some of the pole beans from total ruin.

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