It's songbird's fault

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Heh. Songbird suggested this group might be of interest so here I am. :) I've been reading for awhile and finally got a chance to post.
Short intro: dear husband and I are in zone 7b/8a (depending on whose zone map you read) and have been gardening for 30+ years. We moved to our new home less than two years ago and have been working our tails off trying to put in orchards and gardens, having to amend this horrible rocky soil. We had a good harvest last year from the raised beds where we put peas and lettuces, then tomatoes and peppers. The fig and blueberry transplants didn't do much but we didn't expect they would. Neither did the two-year grape vines we planted. Now, there's fruit on the Canadice and Concords vines so we shall see if they survive the birds. The dwarf container blueberries are already producing on the deck and several of the rabbiteye varieties in the orchard are close to being ripe. Did I mention the need for bird netting? :)
One problem we're having this year that we never had until now is wilt. One day our peppers were fine, the next day they looked like they needed water. I knew they didn't, but put it down to the heat of the day getting to them. They never rallied and just got worse. Some basil nearby had the same problem. The basil was common Genovese and the peppers were three Bonnie green bells, Bonnie's Big Bertha bell and another variety of golden California Wonder. Oddly, there's a Bonnie red bell that is unscathed and it was next to one of the afflicted green bells. Everything I've read points to a fungal wilt, possibly from contaminated soil, even though the soil was "new". These peppers and basil plants were in small raised beds and large containers. Other large planters and other raised beds were unaffected. I've had plants affected by wilt before now. I have destroyed those plants and haven't planted anything else in the two planters and that small raised bed that were affected. Don't know what else to do. :(
Well, I'd better run and deal with the aftermath of the torrential rain and wind that just swept through here after two weeks of no rain. One massive oak tree bit the dust. It's amazing that the power didn't go out.
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wrote:

Ack! That last line should read "I've _never_ had plants affected by wilt before now."
Just got in after inspecting the garden for hail damage. Several tomatoes were topped. My San Marzoni plants lost at least a dozen wee tomatoes between the three of them. :(
Just goes to show, be careful when you ask for rain. You may get more than you hoped for, in liquid and frozen form!
bluechick
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bluechick wrote:

heehee! welcome. :)
from rec.food.preserving as it gets pretty quiet in there these days. George keeps the welcome mat out and the light on and a few others chime in from time to time too, but it's pretty light traffic there most of the time.
songbird
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On 29/05/2014 10:07 AM, songbird wrote:

I didn't do any preserving at all this past summer other than the making of some jam and some marmalade. Actually I realised I just lied, I did make some plum puddings of winter use. Now it's getting colder, I must drag one out.
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wrote:

Thanks! :)

Yep. George is a lot of fun to talk to. And Gloria said hi too. Maybe one or two more will pipe up this summer when canning jars need to be filled. :)
But I'll yak here about my tomatoes being topped by hail (grrrrr!) and my wilted peppers. I'd grown most of those tomatoes from seed and they were starting to bear fruit. *sigh* We have 41 tomato plants so maybe one of them will bear a ripe tomato before the next catastrophe strikes. :)

bluechick
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On 29/05/2014 8:36 AM, bluechick wrote:

Welcome bluechick. We won't hold your association with the 'bird against you :-))
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Fran Farmer wrote: ...

:p
songbird
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On Thu, 29 May 2014 17:34:59 +1000, Fran Farmer

Ha! Well, birds and chicks must flock together so...beware! :D
Thanks, Fran! Glad to finally be here. I hope to become active here. I might even have an answer or two to some questions, after being a gardener for as long as I have. Of course, I don't claim to be a Master. Even after 30+ years, one is always learning. :)
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On 29/05/2014 10:42 PM, bluechick wrote:

Yup.
What sort of things are you interested in growing?
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bluechick wrote: ...

aw. hard to say from such a distance. it would be very sad if you brought in diseased garden soil. all i can really recommend is to avoid small raised beds as the soil temperature fluctuates probably a lot more than some plants would prefer.
i have heard of vascular collapse being caused by hot weather driven evaporation from the leaves exceeding the plant's ability to take up new moisture, but i'm not sure if that is what happened to your plants or not.
as to remedies for diseased soil, worms, good compost, rotate to a different crop and time. i sure hope it isn't diseased.
songbird
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On Fri, 30 May 2014 12:01:46 +1000, Fran Farmer
Right now we have a couple of varieties of peaches, lots of rabbiteye type blueberries, Celeste and LSU Purple figs, several thornless blackberries (and about a zillion wild blackberries with mean thorns :) and dewberries), 1 raspberry as a test, all sorts of tomatoes (mostly heirlooms), several types of peppers, and bulbing & bunching onions. We're getting the tail end of the English peas now though some are still trying to flower even though it's getting way too hot for them. The sugar snaps just finished producing. Most of the blueberries were transplants of bushes we had at the old house and they had to recover last year from the ordeal. Same for the Celeste fig scions we dug up when we moved. I don't know if the figs will do anything this year because they were frozen back in February and are coming back from the root. The blueberries seem to have recovered completely from the move and are covered in berries. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that another calamity won't hit them. The hailstorm and small tornado we had Wednesday didn't bother them at all though the hail tore up several tomatoes.
We had a fall garden with spinach and many types of lettuces. Didn't bother with broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage last fall though we've grown them in the past.
We also finally finished the big herb bed and have several types of basil, common chives, flat-leaf parsley, French rosemary, borage (in the herb bed and also next to the tomatoes), several varieties of thyme, Bergamot and pineapple sage, and Texas tarragon because I gave up on French tarragon a long time ago in this climate. The smaller herb bed won't be finished until the tiller comes back from the tiller hospital and then I'll stick the container-bound spearmint in there.
On the deck, we have some container-type blueberries (Jellybean and Peach Sorbet - both corymbosum types, which are new to us, and they're the first to produce ripe berries this year) as well as some lemons, oranges and limes. Those citrus trees did surprisingly well last year, even though they took over the sunroom in the winter.
The rest of the stuff we're growing this year are mainly to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
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On 31/05/2014 12:28 PM, bluechick wrote:

It sounds like you manage to produce a lot of food from your garden and have done a lot in the time since you've moved.
I try to grow citrus but in my climate it's a bit iffy. I've managed to get some lemons but each year lose my mandarins and it's too cold here for oranges. I should do what you do and put some in my sunroom - it's certainly big enough to take big pots of citrus.
I do grow figs and I've planted 3 blueberries which I hope will produce next summer. I have lots of different varieties of raspberries but can't get to them before some animal eats them. I suspect mice or rats. I have lots of strawb plants and yet only got about 3 berries this year - same suspected mongrel animal getting the ripe fruit - either mice, rats or possibly blue tongued lizards.
I too grow lots a herbs largely because I like to cook.
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On 5/31/2014 4:00 AM, Fran Farmer wrote:

I've eaten mice and rats and know what they taste like (think military survival course). How does a blue tongued lizard taste? Anything like iguana? <G>
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On 5/06/2014 12:24 AM, George Shirley wrote:

Reminds me of the movie King Rat.
Dunno what a bluey might taste like. If I had any Jack Russells still alive I'd ask them because they used to like to tear them apart and only eat the tail - probably it's full of fat. Mind you, the Jack Russells would tell lies and say they'd never even seen a blue tongued lizard let alone killed one.
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On 6/5/2014 4:54 AM, Fran Farmer wrote:

My Rat Terrier lies about what she's eaten too, until she burps and gives it away.
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On 10/06/2014 1:01 PM, George Shirley wrote:

:-)) So you too know that disgusting habit of the rotten little liars!
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On 5/30/2014 9:28 PM, bluechick wrote:

Our blueberries were hit by a late frost in early May and dropped their blossoms. We planted them last year and harvested about a gallon of berries that year.

We've got so much broccoli and cauliflower still in the freezer from the garden we had in Louisiana, we moved here in November 2012 so you can imagine how full that freezer is.

What are you calling Texas tarragon? Would that perhaps be Mexican Mint Marigold? I took the Mexican Mint Marigold out and bought a "Russian tarragon" from a local nursery, seems to me it tastes more like real tarragon than the other ones. True tarragon doesn't like the weather here. I grow both Greek and Spanish oregano, the Spanish version is what you find in the grocery stores. Always grow lots of big leaf basil, rosemary, common thyme, flat leaf parsley, fernleaf dill (I use the fernleaf in dill pickles or anything that requires dill as the seeds are to strong for my taste.) Lots of scallions, aka bunching onions. This year we bought several Texas 1015 sets and they are bulbing nicely. Lots of garlic and onion chives, we plant them around fruit trees to keep peach borers away.

Our only citrus is a kumquat tree, still rather small but heavily in bloom at the moment. I miss my old fifteen year old Meiwa kumquat, it was very prolific, so much so that we ended up composting about ten gallons of fruit as we had eaten and made marmalade and jellies from many more pounds, still eating some of it two years later.

My lovely wife grows salvia near the vegetable gardens, salvia attracts bees of all sorts. Our biggest pollinator this year are bee flies, there's hundreds of them in the garden every day. Here's info on bee flies: http://www.cirrusimage.com/flies_bee.htm when bees are scarce these little guys really help out.
Your gardens sound like what we used to have until we got old and decrepit. I started gardening with my parents during WWII, as did my wife, in the family "Victory Garden," didn't garden while I was in the military but as soon as we married we were building gardens again. Keeps me sane most of the time.
George
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wrote:

The more I examined what may have gone wrong, and what may have been the true culprit, I'm beginning to suspect the plants themselves had a problem, even though they looked fine when we bought them, and the heat may have tipped them over the edge. For one thing, I had two peppers in a whisky barrel. The green bell wilted while the red bell wasn't affected. I checked my gardening database after I posted here and I noted that all the peppers that died in the whisky barrels and all but one in the small bed, were bought at one garden shop. Same for the basil. The red bell was purchased elsewhere. The monkey wrench in my logic is one plant that died in the raised bed was purchased elsewhere. Yet, the basil I grew from seed, planted next to the store bought basil plants, is perfectly fine. We used the same soil mix in the herb bed, the raised bed in the veggie garden and in the planters. So, it's still a mystery.
We could have brought in a grub or two from the compost bin but we tried to screen it pretty thoroughly before mixing it in and I didn't see any this time. We've seen a few grubs survive the heat of the compost process before. Must be Super Grubs. I hope they weren't munching on the poor plants' roots but it's another possible culprit. The "small" raised bed isn't actually small. It's small compared to the big bed that is now up to 20 feet long (has been extended twice). Both are over two feet high, to save my back, and both are just over 4 feet wide. The small bed, new this year, is about 8 feet long. Also, we have to use raised beds. We can't easily plant directly into the soil here because we hit rocks after digging down more than a few inches. It was hell getting the fruit trees in, not to mention the bamboo we planted several other places as a screen. The soil at our old house was gorgeous, black loam. The stuff here is lousy. All we can do is bring in garden soil and work in compost and other amendments every time we plant anything.

I'm not sure either. I wouldn't be surprised if the heat played some part. But more plants than the ones we lost should have been affected, seems to me. Who knows? I'm keeping a close eye on all the other peppers and the tomatoes to see if this is a troubling trend. So far, so good. Nothing looked wilted today even though the tomatoes are still shell shocked from the hail storm that hit Wednesday.

Pretty sure our compost is good. It's the first thing we did when we bought the new house. My husband started several compost bins of chipped up leaves and grass clippings even before we moved in any furniture! You can tell what he thinks is important. :)
Thanks so much for all the suggestions and tips. I'll see if I can narrow down the culprit(s). I hope it's not diseased soil, too.
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Fran Farmer wrote:

You could have an oragerie. They were all the rage in the royal houses of Europe. The odd thing was they mainly liked the smell of the flowers not the fruit. And you don't have a bunch of beefy footmen to schlep them about. The sun king had one 150m long with thousdands of trees!
D
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On 1/06/2014 1:24 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

I cna't say that I blame them. I love the smell of orange blossom.
And you don't have a bunch of beefy footmen to schlep

I'll settle for one footman and only one maid and I'll move the orange trees myself with the aid of my trusty trolley.
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