This week I spent a couple of hours at a community garden in Smyrna, and it was mostly doing very well. It was great to see so many little gardens, and to meet more people who are focused on growing good food!
However, the garden was definitely having a pest problem. I have never seen so many beetles-per-square-inch before; these are kudzu bugs, and they were all over the pole beans:
So far, there is no good, established control method for these beetles, since they are new to the United States. Scuttlebutt has it that some entomologists at UGA are looking into the effectiveness of a parasitic wasp, but that's really all I've heard so far. It is likely, though, that if next year gardeners grow their beans under row covers, they will be able to avoid (or at least delay) such dramatic infestation.
The garden's tomato plants also had a problem, and I'm pretty sure it is Septoria leaf spot. The good news is that most of the garden beds already have produced a lot of tomatoes for the gardeners, so they have enjoyed a good harvest up to now.
The garden/farm where I volunteer on Saturdays has the same disease problem, and I'm guessing that it's only a matter of time before the leaf spot hits my garden, too. Disease has been a huge problem for gardens all over the area this year. Gardeners who are not all that concerned about using organic methods have been keeping the manufacturer of Daconyl (a fungicide) in business this year, and the rest of us are muddling through as best we can.
I pulled out the last of my Cherokee Purple plants yesterday, but I have several other tomato plants still producing, so I'm not totally heartbroken. Joe says that the Tomato Man's Amish tomatoes taste better, which means we still have what Joe thinks of as a "highly desirable" variety providing tomatoes for us.
Later today I'll get to visit another community garden, this one out in the north-east corner of the county, and I will be talking some about getting ready for planting fall veggies and about pest and disease problems.
On the evening of July 31, I'm scheduled to talk at the county Extension office about getting ready for the fall veggie garden. Anyone who wants to come should call the office to sign up (770-528-4070; or email firstname.lastname@example.org).