Last weekend I went out to my back porch to water and deadhead my container garden and came across some damage to my cosmos. The petals of most of the flowers had multiple small holes. I looked more carefully and noticed that the tomato plant next to the cosmos also had small holes in the leaves and in the fruit. Now I was curious! What was causing this damage to my plants? As I started turning over leaves and rotating tomato fruits, I spotted what looked like a yellow ladybug. A-ha! A potential pest! But who was this spotted critter?
As is indicated in the common name, Western spotted cucumber beetles and cucumber beetles in general are common on cucurbits, that is melons and cucumbers. But they also will feed on other tender succulent portions of garden plants, including the flowers and leaves. The life cycle includes several generations a year, with eggs laid at the base of plants or in soil cracks, larvae which burrow into the soil and eat plant roots, and adult beetles that attack the aboveground portions of plants. Adult beetles are shiny with black heads, long antennae, and yellowish bodies with black spots. There's also a related striped cucumber beetle that has stripes rather than spots, but does pretty similar damage in the garden.
For more information, check out the UCANR Integrated Pest Management information here and here. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog so that you receive an email notification when a new post goes up. If you have questions, contact us online, by phone or in person to get answers to your gardening quandaries!
If you've been wanting to start a garden but feel a little overwhelmed by the task, why not a container garden? You can start simply with just a pot or two and expand as you build your confidence. Why a container garden?
- You can grow a great variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers in containers
- You don't have to do nearly as much soil prep as you do for an in-ground garden
- Containers can be squeezed into small spaces where a larger garden won't work, for example, on a balcony or small porch.
Location, Location, Location
Choose your garden container location based on the cultural needs of the plant you plan to put in the container. Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day, as do a lot of annual and perennial flowers. Some varieties of flowers and foliage don't need as much sun or prefer it to be filtered through trees. If you aren't certain, read about the plant's needs before you choose the location.
- Anchorage and support
- Storage and supply of water
- Supply of air
- Storage and supply of nutrients
Make sure the pot will not damage anything when water drains out of it. It's better not to use a saucer if you don't need it. Why? Because irrigation water with fertilizer in it will leave soluble salts in the soil. If you don't leech these salts out of the pot by adding enough irrigation water so some water drips from the bottom of the pot, the salts will build up in the soil and could cause problems for your plants.
There's always a saturated zone at the bottom of the pot after the water drains out. The height of the saturation zone depends on particle size. The finer the particles in the soil, the more saturation occurs. That's important because if the soil is too saturated the plant will have difficulty taking up air through the roots. And although it seems hard to believe, adding gravel at the bottom of the pot only shifts the saturated zone up, leaving less unsaturated soil for the plant to grow in. So don't put a lot of gravel in the bottom of your pots, just a few broken shards to keep your potting mix from falling out the holes in the bottom of your pot. If you have poorly draining soil in your pots, here are a few solutions:
- Improve soil by changing it to a coarser mix
- Practice over-potting if necessary (use a larger pot than you need)
- Increase plant spacing to increase evapotranspiration (the water loss occurring from processes of evaporation and transpiration. Evaporation is when the water on the soil or the plant surfaces turns to water vapor. Transpiration is the loss of water through the leaves of the plant.)
- Irrigate at mid-morning when evapotranspiration is high
The rule for fertilizer is weakly, weekly. That is, frequent but low doses of fertilizer are best for container plants. Using a water-soluble fertilzer is an easy way to control the amount of fertilizer your plants get, because you can apply it when you water your plants, dissolved into your irrigation water.
Visit here and here for additional reading. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog so that you receive an email notification when a new post goes up. If you have questions, contact us online, by phone or in person to get answers to your gardening quandaries!
1 tbsp olive oil
1-3 garlic cloves, to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 c. shredded or crumbled cheese - Mozzarella or Feta are both great
Preheat oven to 300-350 deg F. Slice tomatoes and zucchini in rounds about 1/4" thick. Slice or mince garlic, whichever you prefer. Put about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and basil until you run out or you fill the casserole dish. Sprinkle layers with salt and pepper. Spread cheese over the top layer. Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and zucchini is soft. Spoon into dishes and eat with crusty bread or gluten-free juice-sopping alternative.
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Last week's planting guide was more appropriate for the southwest than our Central California climate. So here, for your reading pleasure, is a planting guide for August for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. This information comes from a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication entitled "Vegetable Garden Planting Guide for Santa Cruz County."
|Crop||Selected Varieties||Seeds or Transplants?|
|Basil||Genovese, Lemon, Red Opal, Siam Queen||Seeds|
|Beets||Detroit Dark Red, Chioggia, Golden, Little Ball||Seeds|
|Broccoli||Green Goliath, Packman, Premium Crop, Waltham||Transplants|
|Cabbage||Early Jersey Wakefield, Express Red, Savoy||Transplants|
|Carrots||Chantenay, Nantes Types||Seeds|
|Edible Flowers||Calendula, Johnny Jump Ups, Nasturtiums||Seeds|
|Endive||Batavian, Curled Types||Seeds|
|Kohlrabi||Early Purple Vienna, Early White Vienna||Seeds|
|Leeks||American Flag, Titan||Seeds|
|Lettuce - Leaf||Black Seeded Simpson, Little Gem, Mesclun, Salad Bowl||Seeds|
|Crop||Selected Varieties||Seeds or Transplants?|
|Peas, Garden||Maestro, Lincoln||Seeds|
|Peas, Snap||Sugar Snap, Sugar Ann||Seeds|
|Radishes||Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, White Globe||Seeds|
|Spinach||Bloomsdale, Melody, Popeye||Seeds|
|Squash - Summer||Scallop, Yellow, Zucchini||Seeds|
|Swiss Chard||Bright Lights, Fordhook Giant, Rhubarb||Seeds|
|Turnips||Purple Top White Globe||Seeds|
Visit the California Garden Web for basic vegetable gardening information including planning your garden, preparing for planting, caring for your vegetable crops, and much much more! Don't forget to subscribe to our blog so that you receive an email notification when a new post goes up. If you have questions, contact us online, by phone or in person to get answers to your gardening quandaries!
We're revisiting a post from a few years ago by PaulMcCollum. Thanks, Paul! Don't forget to subscribe to our blog so that you receive an email notification when a new post goes up. If you have questions, contact us online, by phone or in person to get answers to your gardening quandaries!
To all the lovely people,
Here are the recommendations from Mother Earth News of what to plant in our region for the month of August. I am preparing my cabbage bed now for transplanting cabbage starts in about three weeks. Write me if you have any garden questions.
Top Crops for the Southwest Region:
Here are the Top Ten crops for the Southwest region, followed by other recommended crops, as rated in our National Survey of Most Productive Garden Crops. (The criteria for selection include ease of culture, efficient use of garden space and time, ease of storage and desirability at the table.) The recommended crops are sorted by plant family to help you plan rotations so that the same plant families are not grown consecutively in the same area, as much as possible.
Top 10 Crops: Southwest Region
Other Highly Recommended Crops: