Watering : Moist and Well Drained
Moist and well drained means exactly what it sounds like. Soil is moist without being soggy because the texture of the soil allows excess moisture to drain away. Most plants like about 1 inch of water per week.
Soil: Amending your soil with compost will help improve texture and water holding or draining capacity. A 3 inch layer of mulch will help to maintain soil moisture and studies have shown that mulched plants grow faster than non-mulched plants. Add a handful of organic 5-5-5 all purpose fertilizer to hole at time of planting.
Trellising Cucumbers If, like us, you are space challenged in your garden, consider growing your cukes vertically. There are several benefits to growing a vine this way. When you grow cucumbers on a trellis, you not only save space but create a healthier environment for the cucumbers to grow. There is better airflow around the plant, which helps prevent powdery mildew and other diseases. Growing cucumbers on a trellis also helps to hold them out of the reach of garden pests that may damage the fruit. Some studies suggest fruit quality is improved by growing this way. For a design that suits you just Google “trellised cucumbers” and view the image results.
Diseases : Verticillium or Fusarium Wilt
Wilts may be contracted through infected seed, plant debris, or soil. This fungus begins and multiplies during the cool, moist season, becoming obvious when weather turns warm and dry. Plants wilt because the fungus damages their water conducting mechanisms. Overfertilization can worsen this problem. Able to overwinter in soil for many years, it is also carried and harbored in common weeds.
Prevention and Control: If possible, select resistant varieties. Keep nitrogen-heavy fertilizers to a minimum as well as over-irrigating as they encourage lush growth. Practice crop rotation and prune out or better yet remove infected plants.
Pest : Cucumber Beetle
Cucumber Beetles have a greenish-yellow cast to their hard wing covers, which have a dozen black spots. The western spotted cucumber beetle is orangish with 3 rows of black spots. The most destructive of the cucumber beetles is the western striped cucumber beetle – it has greenish yellow stripes. The larvae of these beetles have legs, are white and slender and about 1/4 – 1/2 of an inch long and have brown heads with brown patches on the first and last segments. Adult beetles chew holes in leaves and flowers and are notorious disease spreaders of such things as mosaic virus and bacterial wilt. This is transmitted through their mouth parts.
Prevention and Control: If you can find resistant varieties, plant them. Floating row covers help to keep out adults, but should be removed at the onset of flowers. Birds, tachinid flies, and handpicking are the safest control.
Pest : Thrips are small, winged insects that attack many types of plants and thrive in hot, dry conditions (like heated houses). They can multiply quickly as a female can lay up to 300 eggs in a life span of 45 days without mating. Most of the damage to plants is caused by the young larvae which feed on tender leaf and flower tissue. This leads to distorted growth, injured flower petals and premature flower drop. Thrips also can transmit many harmful plant viruses.
Prevention and Control: keep weeds down and use screening on windows to keep them out. Remove or discard infested plants, keep them away from non-infested plants. Trap with yellow sticky cards or take advantage of natural enemies such as predatory mites. Sometimes a good steady shower of water will wash them off the plant.
Pest : Whiteflies are small, winged insects that look like tiny moths, which attack many types of plants. The flying adult stage prefers the underside of leaves to feed and breed. Whiteflies can multiply quickly as a female can lay up to 500 eggs in a life span of 2 months. If a plant is infested with whiteflies, you will see a cloud of fleeing insects when the plant is disturbed. Whiteflies can weaken a plant, eventually leading to plant death if they are not checked. They can transmit many harmful plant viruses. They also produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface fungal growth called sooty mold.
Possible controls: keep weeds down; use screening in windows to keep them out; remove infested plants away from non-infested plants; use a reflective mulch (aluminum foil) under plants (this repels whiteflies); trap with yellow sticky cards, encourage natural enemies such as parasitic wasps in the garden; and sometimes a good steady shower of water will wash them off the plant.
Pest : Aphids are small, soft-bodied, slow-moving insects that suck fluids from plants. Aphidscome in many colors, ranging from green to brown to black, and they may have wings. They attack a wide range of plant species causing stunting, deformed leaves and buds. They can transmit harmful plant viruses with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. Aphids, generally, are merely a nuisance, since it takes many of them to cause serious plant damage. However aphids do produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface growth called sooty mold.
Aphids can increase quickly in numbers and each female can produce up to 250 live nymphs in the course of a month without mating. Aphids often appear when the environment changes – spring & fall. They’re often massed at the tips of branches feeding on succulent tissue. Aphids are attracted to the color yellow and will often hitchhike on yellow clothing.
Prevention and Control: Keep weeds to an absolute minimum, especially around desirable plants. On edibles, wash off infected area of plant. Lady bugs and lacewings will feed on aphids in the garden.
Fungi : Powdery Mildew is usually found on plants that do not have enough air circulation or adequate light. Problems are worse where nights are cool and days are warm and humid. The powdery white or gray fungus is usually found on the upper surface of leaves or fruit. Leaves will often turn yellow or brown, curl up, and drop off. New foliage emerges crinkled and distorted. Fruit will be dwarfed and often drops early.
Prevention and Control: Plant resistant varieties and space plants properly so they receive adequate light and air circulation. Always water from below, keeping water off the foliage. Go easy on the nitrogen fertilizer. Sanitation is a must – clean up and remove all leaves, flowers, or debris in the fall and destroy.
Fungi : Leaf Spots are caused by fungi or bacteria. Brown or black spots and patches may be either ragged or circular, with a water soaked or yellow-edged appearance. Insects, rain, dirty garden tools, or even people can help its spread.
Prevention and Control: Remove infected leaves when the plant is dry. Leaves that collect around the base of the plant should be raked up and disposed of. Avoid overhead irrigation if possible; water should be directed at soil level.