The struggle is real!

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Dione, Oct 21, 2017.

  1. Dione

    Dione Active Member Premium Member

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    Food gardening at this time of year in the tropics/sub-tropics is a sheer act of will.

    So far I've had so much rain I'm considering building an ark.

    My heirloom tomatoes have collapsed. Not from disease like blight BUT I think from root rot from being so wet over a long period of time. I've trimmed off all the limp branches and fruit and, fingers crossed they'll reshoot one it dries out a bit. Even cherry tomatoes who are as tough as old boots are having the same issues.

    I have an infestation of cutworms. Through trial and error and many many seedlings lost of all classes of fruit and veggies I've come up with a soultion. I don't start seeds in the ground. Punnets only. When they get large enough I strip off the seed leaves and wrap the stem from hard onto the root ball right up high on the stem with foil. I don't tape it in place but gently crush it and it will "give" as the stem of the plant thickens as it grows.
    I mix a decent amount of DE in the soil of the hole. Plant the seedling and then, ontop of the ground I make a cardboard ground collar. A square of cardboard 10cms square with a hole drilled in the center and cut from the edge to the center and but this around the stem of the plant at ground level to stop the cutworms from climbing up the foil collar.
    This has worked really really well with tomatoes, beans, eggplant,capsicums, chili, squash and pumpkins and watermelons so far.

    I have two feral chickens who, some how, some way always get out and destroy my garden.
    The snake bean patch seems to be their favorite.
    It's the same offenders every single time and they have trimmed wings and tail feathers.
    *HUGE SIGH*
    It might be time for chicken and sweet corn soup.

    All that and I have cats thinking my garden beds are their toilet and crows picking out my seedlings.

    Thank goodness for my two NFT hydroponic systems under veggie netting or I wouldn't have any
    salad greens at all at the moment.

    Sorry...just a bit of a vent and just as well I always germinate extras to replace acts of God, chicken, cutworm and crow.
     
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  2. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    You forgot the fruit fly, caterpillars, aphids

    It can certainly be hard work and disheartening seeing your produce being eaten my everything else but you. We have possums that like to help themselves.

    But the rewards are great when you do get to eat your own produce. I grew a lot of tomatoes over winter to try and avoid the fruit fly and frozen them. Idea was to preserve them. Yesterday I made 7lts of passata with them. Have to say very satisfying.

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    When we had our chooks I had built a large snake and rodent proof pen and coup. No way would I let them near my veggies.

    We have raised veggie beds so are coping with the rain.

    Just think when the sun does come out again everything is going to grow nuts.
     
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  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi Dione, here's a few tips that might make your rainy days in the garden more tolerable.

    For the chooks take the greens & good dry scratching to them so they have no need to escape.

    If those worms you talk of were climbing the stems of the seedlings, they were not cut worms which only live underground & cut the leaf or plant off below soil level.
    They have a little hole in the soil a bit like a small spider hole beside the plant.
    Cut worms otherwise known as curl grubs are olive coloured with a greener stripe along the side.
    They can be killed with a mild dilution of Condy's crystals in water & watered on using a watering can. I think it is about 1tablespoon to 9lt water. You should check that first.
    Condy's is Potassium Permanganate, available in some supermarkets or at chemist shops or at many rural stock feed stores where it is sold as a sterilizing agent.
    Whatever is eating your seedlings, what you are doing will work.

    People also use yoghurt containers & the like with the bottoms cut out to use as collars.
    In the old days they used waxed cups with the bottoms cut out or just holes cut in the bottoms.
    They also helped protect the plant from frost for those first crucial weeks.

    With your overly wet tomatoes, you can mound up soil as high as it will hold up & lay tomato branches across the top then cover with wet mulch & a light weight & those branches will strike roots.
    The old roots may dry right off but the plant will take up again from the new mound.

    Cant help with the cat problem.
    Netting right over most of the beds might help too.
    It stops birds but not possums.
    My tomatoes grow in bath tub beds & I have netted them due to the number of birds that think I grow specially for them! Nets don't stop the native rats helping themselves either, unfortunately.
    But the fact that I built light overhead frames to hold the nets meant I could throw plastic over to protect those bath tub beds from the worst of the rain.
    Now I have a glut of tomatoes. Where are those darned birds when there is a glut??? :)
     
  4. Dione

    Dione Active Member Premium Member

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    Thank you for your imput Letsgo. I always appreciate your wisdom on the threads.
     
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  5. Skippyherron

    Skippyherron Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    What a battleground you have at your place with all the critters!

    I hope you can win the war soon.

     
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  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes it gets harder to food garden from late spring and then through summer in the subtropics/tropics.

    My tomatoes are dying from root rot also and I've probably had the worst tomato season in 10 years over the past 6 months - even the cherry toms are ordinary. I'm ditching tomatoes through summer and concentrating on chillies :)

    I'm also keen to try some good heat tolerant plants like certain gourds and beans. I've seen a few Egyptian spinach seedlings popping up so that's good and the climbing spinach is loving this weather a (just a pity I'm not overly keen on eating it - too slimy for me) the poultry love it though and the purple berries are a great natural colouring for foods.

    I still have to plant some corn out so I better do that soon... Lots to do!
     
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  7. Dione

    Dione Active Member Premium Member

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    I grow quite a few so called Sub-tropical / hot climate food plants and all I can say is that the reviews are prob. written by someone living in the southern states.

    I've had some success and some failures BUT it's all learning even if it's the hard way.

    I've found butternut pumpkins are no good here at this time of the year. They do grow gang busters BUT the skins of the young pumpkins are very thin and they get stung by fruit flies. Kent is a better option with no fruit fly damage seen on any fruit so far.

    I'm growing Achocha / Bolivian slipper cucmbers as these were suppose to be tropical specialist plants that are "suppose" to replace cucmbers and green capsicums in the garden. They are growing BUT the jewelled stink beetles, fruit fly and mango flower beetles love them and the fruit goes brown, shrivels and dies before it can grow big enough to eat or set seed.

    I'm growing snake beans and they LOVE the weather. It's a shame they're tough even when picked really young and they have a strong, almost mouth drying/puckering flavor that really isn't pleasant. Maybe I brought the wrong variety but if you grow these with the expectation you're going to get something similar in taste and texture to a lucious bush bean then you're going to be disapointed.

    I'm growing red malbar spinach which is growing gang busters as well.....pity the leaves, while netural in flavor are pretty "different" texture wise.

    Muscadine grapes are doing well and setting sprays of flower buds.

    Sugar baby watermelons, ginger and bananas, lemon, mandarin, pomegranate, sugar cane and pidgeon pea are liking the wet weather.

    Loofa are doing well.

    So to recap, things I'm going to save for the dry season are - achocha cucmber, tromboncino, tomatoes (of all varieties), butternut pumpkins, dumpling squash.

    I'm going to try a few different snake bean varieties to see if I can find one that I like otherwise I'm going to have to save bean growing for the dry season.

    Okra grows really, really well but it's a pity I have yet to find a way of cooking it that makes it eatable. YUCK.
     
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  8. Skippyherron

    Skippyherron Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the tip Dione on the type of Pumpkins.
    I've just planted an Achocha vine and i'm hoping i dont' have any pests - but maybe I will because you've had those critters.
    Thanks for the tip on what you grow in our Sub Tropical area.
     
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  9. Robyn67

    Robyn67 Active Member Premium Member

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    You really have a lot to manage in the summer up there. Lovely mix you've got too, I'm quite jealous (for my lacklustre ability to grow and my cold climate)
     
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  10. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Great effort with the toms. I had no idea they could do so well in the cooler weather. Will have to try this to avoid the fruit fly season. Guess that would go the same with the other thin-skinned veggies.
     
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  11. OskarDoLittle

    OskarDoLittle Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hey Dione, how did things finish up over summer?
    I'm intrigued by the snake bean flavour thing...I've not grown them but was thinking about it because I love SE Asian cuisine, and they're used a lot. So I'm intrigued that they have a flavour so different to regular beans. We cooked with okra at a cooking class in India last year. Have to admit I found them it yummy (but they were deep fried in chickpea batter - so not the healthiest option!) and I've not tried making it since.
     
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