Friday, August 04, 2006

What's Growin' On: 8/4/06

Realization Of The Day:
My salad plot plan has a rapidly growing glitch in it.

If you've been reading about my garden for a while, you might recognize this lettuce bed from previous posts. But then again, maybe not. It keeps changing all the time. Every day for weeks and weeks last spring it provided me with the most delightful salads. When the temperatures began to soar into summer, I took a pair of scissors and harvested two humongous colanders of lettuce (plus a giant bucketful for the chickens) before they turned bitter. I stored the lettuce in a cooler with ice packs. (My ice packs are plastic liter and two-liter seltzer bottles that I fill most of the way with water and freeze. They work better than any purchased products I've tried, and this is coming from a girl who never leaves the house without at least one cooler in the car--and usually uses a couple of coolers for refrigerator overflow throughout the spring and summer months. If you have unused space in your freezer, they are a good way to fill it up, as freezers operate more efficiently when they don't have a lot of empty space in them.)

I actually have photos of the lettuce harvest, but I never got around to posting them (or the handy harvesting tips I discovered). I did write an article back in April all about growing your own gourmet salad greens called "Sublime Salads For Those Who Are Short (On Time, Space, & Sunlight): From Seed To Salad Bowl In Less than A Month."

After the final lettuce cut, I decided to let the entire 4' x 8' bed go to seed rather than pulling everything up and planting something else in it. That's when it started to look like an alien landscape. (If you're wondering why there is PVC pipe running over the bed, click here and look in the comments section for my explanation.)

Right now it is quickly turning into a volunteer lemon cucumber bed, but that is just fine with me. It's hard to believe that happy mass of vines was just a couple of leaves a month ago. (Well, no, it's not. I take that back. These are cucumbers after all! Once they start growing, they usually can't be stopped. But now I'm getting ahead of myself.) Anyway, at this point I'll take my cucumbers any way I can get them in the garden--even it means obliterating my experimental plans for an autumn bed of self-seeded salad greens. (And I haven't completely given up hope on that idea yet.)

The only cucumber plants I have growing in the garden this year are volunteers, as the seeds I started in containers never made it into the ground (along with a bunch of other things like the tomatillos, but that is just how it goes sometimes). Besides the ones in the lettuce bed, there are these two plants growing alongside it--despite a couple of brushes with death. When they were just little sprouts, Cary sat on (and nibbled on) them. They managed to survive and started to spread, only to be overcome by some unknown disease/insect attack/whatever that, practically overnight, made nearly all of the leaves turn yellow and then shrivel up and die.

I thought I took a photo when that happened, but I guess it was too depressing. I did take this current picture of one remaining sickly leaf (which looks better than the others did). Referring back to my point above about unstoppable cucumber plants brings me to. . .

Realization #2:
For every awful thing that happens in the garden, there is usually (if you look hard enough) a wonderful surprise to balance things out.

This time it was these cucumber plants that I was sure were goners. But while I sulked I continued to water them (lack of water was not the reason they shriveled up), and suddenly one day the plants were back and bigger than ever. And that brings me to. . .

Realization #3:
The Great Lemon Cucumber Glut should soon be here! I can't wait.


  1. You will probably find LOTS of baby lettuce seedlings under the cucumber - sheltering from the nasty hot sun, and thriving.

    It certainly worked for american land cress for me over here, with courgettes as the culprit (Ronde de Nice - otherwise known as the triffid - if anyone cares)

  2. Lucky you, volunteer cukes are better than weeds.

  3. Hey I just had some of that same stuff (is it some type of fungus or virus?) on my pumpkin leaves. It also appeared suddenly and over night. I plan to prune the bad leaves off, but it is good to know that my crop probably won't suffer. Anyone know what it is?

  4. I've already pestered Steven about this but...

    This happened to me earlier in the season and effectively killed off my Big Max pumpkin plant. I thought for sure it was bacterial wilt, so I pulled the plant before it could infect every other cucurbit in the beds.

    One honeydew got it, and I pulled that out of the ground and let it dry up in place (so as not to accidently transfer the cootie to the other honeydew) and the other two honeydews have survived and are now prospering.

    One lemon cuke got it and effectively croaked. One spaghetti squash got it and croaked and the other lived. A slicing cuke is managing ok - with new fruit on it now.

    I'm not sure if it was actually bacterial wilt (as the plants didn't have the telltale stringy juice when sliced at the base), but the progressive and fast wilting was enough for me to start pulling.

    However, the whole incident coincided with a massive heatwave in NorCal and since the heat has passed the remaining plants have bounced back.

    Sorry this is so long, just wanted to pass on my experience. More of the sordid details are also on the blog.

  5. Someone just told me that you can combat bacterial wilt by spraying with epsom salts water. Anyone tried that? Is it true?


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!