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THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Problems? Questions? Let’s Troubleshoot!

The Growing Challenge

It’s Your Turn To Ask Anything!

I am out today dealing with a broken toe. Laugh. Laugh.… Ok, stop laughing now! I can’t believe how much a toe can hurt… sigh…

So, today, I’m opening it up for you to ask questions, report problems with your garden, troubleshoot with all of us, and in general check in! Any weird bugs, diseases, germinating problems, questions about new plants you haven’t grown before, gardening techniques? Anything and everything flies here.

If nobody here can answer your questions, I’ll look it up and see if I can’t answer it for you. We’re all friends here, and we’re all learning. So have at it! There must be something you’ve been wondering about…

What’s The Growing Challenge?

There are currently 164 people who are a part of this challenge. Head on over to The Growing Challenge Page and check out what it’s all about.

Ok, Go For It!

Don’t be shy…. Ask away! Feel free to leave links to your recent posts, or posts with pictures of problems you’d like to talk about. And those of you who have recently joined the Challenge, please introduce yourselves!

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28 comments to THE GROWING CHALLENGE: Problems? Questions? Let’s Troubleshoot!

  • No problems.. borage is growing fine …about ready to bloom, Broccoli is driving me crazy- it is definitely challenging my patience. Still at the sprout stage. But since I did plant it for fall- I don’t think I can complain! No weird bugs, no two-headed worms, no broken toes here.

  • I do have a problem, with some weird fuzzy stuff on my apple tree. In this post: there’s a picture of it (the last one). I’m not sure what it is, and I’ve tried everything I could think of.

  • Looks like a fungis samantha. i would take a sample and visit a nursery or arborist.

  • monica

    I have a question:
    The birds (robins and cowbirds) love to scratch through the garden. I don’t really mind–except now they are eating my green bean seeds. They have also devoured my carrots. Any advice to keep them out? The beans loose their appeal after they are about 2 inches above ground.

    I agree that it is a fungus Samantha and Robj.
    Thanks and I hope your toe feels better!

  • Okay – here’s my question…
    How do you know when to harvest Ichiban Eggplants? I’ve got several, they’re a lovely color – about 5 or 6 inches long, about an inch wide. I’ve never grown this variety before, and it would be most helpful to know when they’re ready! :) Here’s a link to a post that has fairly current pictures:
    BTW – I’ve broken the SAME TOE about five times – it’s permanently deformed resultantly – and I’ve lived through *many* surgeries – breaking a toe ranks right up there with childbirth. OUCH! Apply ice until it’s numb – it really does help!

  • Okay I posted a pic of the borage on my blog for anyone who might be interested.

  • Monica- We used to have a problem with birds flying into our open air farm market and stealing grapes. We got a fake but real-looking owl and hung it up, and it scares the birds away for the most part. We still have an occasional one come in, but it’s much less often.

    My garden’s doing well. I just collected seeds from my Cosmos, so I’m excited about saving them for next year. I’ve harvested pumpkins and squash, and tonight I made a butternut squash pie, which is my specialty. Here’s the link to my recipe and a picture of the pie:

    Happy gardening everyone! :)

  • OK I have a question…. I have just planted the first of our spring/summer seeds. We’ll get frost here right into November and I am wanting to put some early tomatoes and others in the ground with some kind of frost protection… a cloche maybe? Any ideas on what materials we could use (recycled and/or cheap would be good) and tips and tricks on how to do it???

    Here’s the list of the first round of seeds we’ve planted…

  • Monica – bird menaces… going to suggest flash tape or those aluminum pie pans tied to poles in your ground. Strips of aluminum foil tied with string to the poles has the same result.

    Another trick we used was to put up a small row of inexpensive garden fencing around our newly planted beds and then weave the tops with thin bamboo canes. Weave them loosely enough and they will rattle around when the birds (or the neighbor’s cats!) try to get to the sprouts and seeds. Seemed to work for us in keeping the feline and fowl pest away.

    Katef – LOVE the tip on your website about starting your seeds in t.p. tubes… never occurred to us before!

    Check out the book “Four-Season Harvest” for cloche and cold frame ideas. Can’t wait to see what you work out!

  • Oh… btw… I believe we are the only gardeners in the history of gardening who aren’t going to have even ONE zucchini on our HUGE zucchini plants… ggggrrrrr… Suggestions??

  • Technically I’m not part of the current growing challenge but I never stopped being a part of the last one in spite of my failure to report.

    My kale is taking off!!! That’s all I have to report. But I’m excited.

  • Hi ShibaGuyz,

    Sounds like your problem could be too much nitrogen.. that tends to cause really lush leafy plants with little to no fruit growth.

    A bit of wood ash or potash in a watering can just might even things out a bit and maybe prompt some fruiting.

    Kind Regards

  • curiousalexa

    Yay, I’m not the only one with zucchini problems!!

    I’ve gotten ONE. Another one appears to have rotted on the vine (same plant). Theres a small one starting on another plant, but the last two haven’t produced anything (yes, I put in 4 zucchini plants. crazy, I know!) And now the plants look like they’re dying off. Of the four butternut squashes, only one tiny squash so far. The acorn squashes have produced on two of the four plants, but one already rotted on the vine, a few more look good, and one fell off in my hand while checking them! I’m hoping that one is mature enough to eat.

    But why do my squash plants appear to be dying? The other plants seem to be fine, so it shouldn’t be a rain issue…

  • One thing – I used to work at a nursery and the owner would have a fit if people brought in diseased items for identification…
    (eta – she wouldn’t have a fit to their faces, just after they left hehe)
    It’s kind of like taking a person with the plague into a room of healthy people. ;o)

    Sorry to be a damper.

    As for our garden, I can see that the powdery mildew is coming back this August just like clockwork. I am so annoyed :(

  • OH MY GOSH! We’re having the same problem – almost no zucchini! We make certain to move locations in the garden each year – we make sure to companion plant appropriately. We’ve NEVER had a year where the zucchini production was this paltry. It’s so WIERD! My yellow crookneck are producing – but, honestly, not as abundantly as they have in the past. Is it just the wacky PNW weather this year?

  • curiousalexa

    p.s. i’m [too!] close to Chicago.

  • I had a fair crop of zucchini for a few weeks – but now, nothing. I get tiny ones that start, then whither up and die. Same with the crooknecks. We did have a problem with powdery mildew, so I wonder if that put a damper on the production?

  • Katef- I buy used sheets, preferably flannel, at the resale shop and toss them over the entire garden bed if I expect a frost.

  • Rob, Your broccoli is just slow germinating? Is it taking longer than the seed packs say? Here are some general maturity times, in case it helps. Here are germination times for broccoli. Our darn cold weather here is not much help! Your borage looks nice, though.

    Samantha, It’s difficult for me to tell from the pic… but I looked through my several pests books (I studied to be a Master Gardener), and I wonder if they might be wooly apple aphids…. Look them up in a Google search and see if it looks like that might be it. Report back if it is, and I’ll tell you what my books say to do!

    (Other common apple problems that it could possibly be are leafrollers, fruitworms, tortrix, rosy apple aphids, apple aphids, and powdery mildew.)

    Otherwise, contact an arborist as Rob suggests, or your state’s Master Gardener program – they will usually allow you to send in a sample and they’ll tell you what they think it is and how to treat it. (Tell them specifically that you’re interested in organic control.)

  • Monica, Birds… Yes, they do love beans and peas in particular! Build a little row cover with wire hoops if you have them, or anything you can make a hoop out of. Then cover the hoops with burlap or bird netting. If you have frost cloth, you can use that instead.

    I haven’t tried Abbie’s owl approach, but lots of people do it. The Shibaguyz have some great suggestions, too – flash tape is common among farmers. The bamboo idea is particularly interesting!

    Dina, Oh poor you – yowsa – 5 times! It does hurt…

    I don’t know much about growing eggplants, but maybe someone else here does?? My quick and dirty google search sent me to eHow: 10-12 inches, it says.

    Abbie, I’m so jealous of your squash! Like others here, ours are not doing well in all the cold rain we’ve been having! My your pie looks scrumptious. Mmmmm!

    Katef, It’s going to be so fun to watch your garden grow as the weather turns colder here! I’m going to be writing a post this week about season extension options, so I’ll reserve my answer until then. ; ) I’ll make sure to include info for beginning crops early.

    Guyz, Love the bamboo thingy – what do you call that contraption? Sounds great!

  • Squash questions… Yeah, I am having the same problems!! We have had only a couple of zucchini. The stems are too wet and the bees aren’t coming out because it’s too cold so nothing is getting pollinated. Sonnjea and Alexa, when the squash die when they’re small it’s usually because they weren’t fertilized. This is what is happening to us.

    And on top of it, we’re having mildew problems on the leaves because it’s so cold and wet! Argh. Heather, my mom is treating the mildew with milk (recipe here and here).

    If it were my garden alone, I would probably cover the entire garden with a thick plastic tarp, and then hand-pollinate the zucchinis. Dunno what else to do! Next time I’m at the farmer’s market I’ll ask the farmers what they do, since they still have zucchini.

    Anyone else have tips on how to save our squash in the north??!

  • Angelina, Ha – you’re always a part of the Growing Challenge! Glad your kale is doing well. At least that’s one thing that thrives in this weather!

    Belinda and Emily, Great tips!!

  • I have my first leaves on my apple tree. This is extremely exciting as I grafted it myself. I did five, at least four look like they are not yet dead, and one (the one that’s missing a tag to tell me what it is) is definately alive.

    It’s just turned spring here, my snow peas are being rapidly eaten, lots of lettuce, broccolini, rocket etc. Had the first cherry toms of the season this week. many more flowering, I need to get some bigger tomatoes in too. I have a few beds with picking greens – lettuces, asian greens etc, and they are just appearing and look great.

    Glad to see what everyone else is doing!


  • Melinda: I looked on Google, and yes, they are indeed wooly apple aphids! I’m so glad you could identify them, and I’m curious to see what I can do about them…

  • monica

    Well, I didn’t have any pie plates, but I had a ton of paper plates that seem to be working just fine: thanks for the tip! We will replant the beans this weekend when it is supposed to cool off.

    Now I know where all of our rain has been going! We anxiously watch the forecasts to see if we are getting any rain and if the weather man says ‘rain-all-day,’ what he really means is a ‘cloudy, stormy afternoon & slight shower in the evening.’

    I think the squash did poorly this year because of the lack of bee activity. Previous years, we would see bees going to the flowers to do their thing, but not this year! If anything they are far more interested in the pond water. A bee keeper at the fair told me that we have water carrier bees–they don’t even bother with the flowers in the pond, much less the garden not ten feet away. Go figure!

    Good luck to everybody with their Fall/Winter gardens! Gosh I am so hungry for a salad!

  • Hannah, Congratulations – that is definitely something to be proud about!!! Ah, spring… : )
    Samantha, I’m coming back with an answer soon!

    Monica, Glad it’s working! I agree, it’s the rain keeping the bees away.

  • monica

    Just checking in: lots of GREAT news about the inside garden!

    There are tiny peppers on the plants!
    We also have blossoms on the peas!
    The carrots are small, but tasty!
    I have my speech and distribution of sweet potato cuttings on Monday.
    Our chicken coop is approved (The first plans were too large for our lot, so we are going with an ark with 3-4 hens)

    Life is FINALLY starting to turn around. I hope the trend continues with the new president.

    I cannot express my sincere thanks for the encouragement of your site.

  • Monica, Goodness I’m long overdue for a Growing Challenge post!! Thanks for the reminder. And for the great news! As you’ll see when I do post about our garden, I could use some happy garden news. ; )

    I’m so glad you’re going to have the chicken coop!!

    And you are so welcome for the encouragement. You all encourage me as I encourage you – we’re all in this together!! : )

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