• Jill

Cucumber and Snap Pea Update!

I think that this is mostly a good news report! I had very low expectations, so maybe that’s part of the success, but still, I’m happy with the results that I will share.

Cucumbers first. My cucumbers had a strong start and then, I think, fell prey to a kind of powdery mildew that caused the leaves to brown and yellow, the stems to dry, and the blooms to stop producing. In this video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=8&v=rzL00aqIErQ&feature=emb_title you can see what I did early on to prune back, and rid plants of diseased leaves. I cleaned out the soil beneath and I sprayed with Neem Oil (an organic insecticide that helps with bugs and powdery mildew). Neem Oil has been hard to come by during the pandemic, but nurseries are starting to have normal stock as the days go by. But last week I was at the nursery looking for a pot for my iris garden, and the pot selection was so scant, that it was shocking! And what was there, was really old stock. Oy. And when I was at Home Depot in the outside nursery, I was browsing the seed selection – and really mostly all they had was wildflowers! This pandemic has affected things that you never expected.

Anyways, I did notice that during the day when the temperatures were really high the cuke soil was dry, so I would water them. But cukes can fool you, and too much water can also be damaging. So I was in a quandry. However, the cucumbers that were produced from these diseased vines were pale, almost white – and that is a sure sign that powdery mildew is the culprit, AND that the nutrients in the soil are not balanced for the vine. So I started feeding the plant, re-structuring my watering scheduling, and allowing the cuke soil to dry so that I hand watered only every other day – but I left the automatic drip on.

Ok, well this is just too much information and makes me sound crazy. The end result of all this attention was that the cuke in the full sun seems to have been rejunevated! It’s mostly green, has loads of flowers, and lots of tiny green cukes. The only difference is that this new generation plant, does NOT want to climb on the trellis. No sir. This little one wants to spread itself all over the gravel walkway near my raised beds. That’s ok. I’m proud that he pulled through and I’m going to be a very lenient parent and let him do what ever he wants. The OTHER cuke bed which got just a tiny bit more shade, continued to be diseased, despite my efforts, and was producing deformed, and pales cukes. So, I 86’d it – and am planting a late summer/fall flower called amaranth. More on that later.

The snap peas – which I said at the beginning would be a miracle if they survived…have survived! Snap peas are an early spring or late summer crop because they like temperatures of 75 degrees or cooler. Well, here it’s been 90 degrees or hotter for multiples days since I planted them, so I knew I was in trouble. Yet, despite the weather obstacle, these brave little guys have hung on, and I can see little pea pods forming! (I did venture out in the 100 degree heat and mist them during the day just in case that might help them cool down!) They’re a little dry at the bottom, and they’re not the lovely green robust vine that you dream of, but I’m still proud of them. This is not the crop that I would have had if the weather had been more cooperative, but still, I’m tickled to see the little blooms and pea pods forming, and I’ll pop them into a dinner salad when they mature. Plus, I’m going to try again in the late summer/early fall, because I love snap peas, and if they succeeded in these very difficult circumstances, imagine what they will do when the weather is right.

Maybe that’s a lesson for us too – if we survive in these most difficult times, imagine what’s next for us, when the conditions are ideal! Just like my peas, I’m going to be ready to go!

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