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ID jit
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First round of fungus and strawberries

(What was that stuff about drainage all of you were talking about ???)

Past few days was my first introduction of fungus and strawberries.... fungus won down to 10 heathly plants and 2 sketchy ones which may come back out of 30 that I started rooting 31OCT16. I assume the little flying bugs (6 or 8) are fungus gnats and that the plant getting all brown and smushy at the newly forming crown and the brown smushiness creeping up the foliage stems is fungus damage.

The new plants suffered a couple of mistakes from me being hasty which I am sure didn't help them. The plants are under LED 'day light' bulbs in a 50*f - 60*f basement with little to no ventilation.

Is there anything I can do besides get the healthy plants away from the terminal ones and be sure that the survivors not get too wet?

Thanks much.
Last edited by ID jit on Sat Dec 10, 2016 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
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applestar
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Make sure you haven't planted them too deep. The "crown" of strawberries (the corky central stem) should be only 1/2 way buried. It's generally best to plant each strawberry plant on a mound.

You could try watering with chamomile tea or put a cinnamon stick in the water -- natural anti-fungal, and/or soak some willow bark and willow branch tips (leaves if you have any left) in boiling water and allow to cool overnight -- strengthens plants' immune system and encourages growth.

I use mosquito bits to kill fungus gnat larvae in the soil (Bt israelensis). Adult fungus gnats will fly into and drown themselves in bowl of soapy water -- I find flowery scented baby shampoo works best, followed by some brands of liquid dish detergent.
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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Applestar, thanks for the reply and suggestions.

They were newly rooted runners, so the didn't have proper crowns. Did the same process I have done with a couple of hundred other plants which works out okay for me.

Planting-wise, I buried them just deep enough to support themselves and tried to keep as much of the lump between the roots and foliage above the soil as possible. I was planning on adjusting the depth when I replanted/ re-potted them after they outgrow their cups and the crowns actually form.

Looks like it is going to be ground cinnamon water tonight. No cinnamon or chamomile on hand. I don't even know when the last time I saw a willow was, so that is out of the picture for now. Willow was the original source for aspirin. Would mild aspirin water work?
Dish bowl of dish detergent and water I can do tonight as well. Flowery smelling stuff.... ummmm...... well....... yea, right... About as common as cinnamon sticks and chamomile around here.

“I use mosquito bits to kill fungus gnat larvae in the soil (Bt israelensis)” – I have no clue what “mosquito bits” is. Google once again relieved me of some ignorance!

What the deal with mosquito bits.... dissolve in water and dose the soil or just sprinkle a few granuals per 12 oz cup?

Thanks much – you folks will make a gardener out of me yet, despite my inability to color inside the lines.
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JONA
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

I note here that you talk of watering your plants late in the day. Try to leave late watering out and water early in the day so that the plants are dry by nightfall.
Downy and powder Mildew and the phytophthora that inevitably follows it loves strawberries.
Keeping wilted leaves off the plants and allowing good air movement helps a great deal ....but if the infections are regular then protective spraying may become needed. Sprays do not kill the spores of these funguses. They just stop spore germination so they must be applied ahead of infection to lay down a protective layer.
John

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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

No more tiny flies hovering around and none in the dish detergent water. Remaining plants seem okay. Trimmed off all the foliage that didn't look 100%.

Sort of took a short cut (which I am sure will turn around and put tooth marks in my posterior). After finding the ground cinnamon (which I don't think is actual cinnamon but a closely related plant), I gave the soil around each plant a very light dusting and skipped the diluting and then watering steps.

Part of me knows to follow the instructions from the more experienced, but a bigger part of me had to find out if it would work or change anything. No flying bugs and the plants still look good, so today it is a win, and tomorrow is another day with the jury still out.
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Looks like the cinnamon dusting helped. Reapplied today.

Down to 8 really healthy plants, 2 the look fairly good, and 2 sketchy ones.

(Kind of laughing at myself for trying to root up runners that had seen 2 or 3 frosts on a whim and having no prep work done and no plan. Looking back at it, I should have realized I was buying a one-way ticket on the Fail Train... at least it wasn't a first class ticket this time!)

Still haven't gotten cinnamon sticks and chamomile to do the water thing and ground cinnamon just sort of floats. No bugs buzzing around and none in the little bowl of dish detergent. Not sure if I could see them with my eye sight anyhow.

The mix experiments they are growing in may have been part of the problem. I may have burnt some of them with too much 15-30-15 slow release fertilizer.

Odd thing about the mix experiments. One group, 1 mulchy compost + 1 course perlite + 1 sandy garden soil + tiny fraction of 15-30-15, will almost "set up" into a rigid solid if allowed to dry out. It is very granular, drains very well, has visible air spaces but is hard.
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imafan26
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Cinnamon is a natural fungicide,we use it as a cheap fungicide on orchids it kills root fungi. I use the powder, not the sticks. The sticks are used if you are going to make a spray to spray on, I just dust the cinnamon powder on the roots as a preventive.

Your numbers are high for slow release fertilizer, try something like 8-8-8 or 6-4-6. Less chance of burning. Too much nitrogen will get you vegetative growth at the expense of fruit.

If you are doing this in a basement, then how are you watering. If you are bottom watering or have a hydro system, your mix is probably staying too wet. If it hardens up then your "garden soil" probably has clay in it. clay and sand or even perlite = cement.

Try a mix of 1/2 part coarse multi source blended compost, 1 part peat moss, 2 parts perlite. Set lights 8 inches from top of tray. Use daylight flourescent not LED bulbs. Unless you get grow lights regular LED bulbs do not have the full spectrum of light. Use a fan to provide air circulation and help dry out the excess soil moisture. Drain the bottom tray 10 minutes after watering or use a capillary mat or wick instead. To control fungus gnats, it is better not to have water left in trays, but to water, and let the trays drain on a rack, wipe the bottom trays dry. Test the soil daily to see if it needs to be watered.

https://coopext.colostate.edu/4DMG/Plants/guidline.htm
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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Imafan26,
Thanks much.

Circulation / ventilation is my big issue, and I know the lights are not completely adequate . Actually considering turning the dehumidifier on again.

Watering: The few times I have had to water, I have been top watering and letting the plants sit in the tray of the drained water for about 15 minutes, transferring the plants into the SIPS I have built to drip out completely and returning them to a 'dry' tray under the lights.

Have been top watering with cinnamon water and am on the verge of over-watering with that. (Wanted to be sure to get some cinnamon down into the soil a bit.) The cinnamon dustings and cinnamon water seemed to have taken care of the fungus.

The plants two biggest issue to survival are me and my mix experiments. I rooted them up on a whim with no plan and no prep work, so I am not surprised at the result. Kind of feel badly for the plants, but am learning a lot.

Am still looking for uber unobtainium as far as the mix goes. Still trying to find a way around peat/coir so I don't have to regenerate 70 – 75 gallons every year and recycle the same amount yearly.

This has gotten me moving toward more sand and perlite and less mulchy stuff / compost / humus in the mix. Available nutrient is irrelevant if the plants are just fungus food. (I know I am trying to pull off an expert level or impossible thing at a novice level of experience – not in my nature not to try though.)

Thanks again.
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applestar
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Two or three alternatives I had been noodling around ...past and present... and have mostly given up as not likely practical for me, but maybe others have better chance of implementing --

(1) what the older horticultural writers call leaf "mould" -- reading the descriptions in British texts, simply a broken down pile of *only* (white) oak leaves. This used to be the 3rd major ingredient ---also considered (sugar) maple leaves as likely alternative. In either case, not practical in my particular neck of the (non existent) woods.
(2) go watch and read the oyster mushroom inoculated chipped wood pile projects (videos and articles) at fungi perfecti. ---intriguing, but again not practical for me.
(3) my most recent crazy idea -- what about shredded luffah sponges, especially the scrap pieces not suitable for projects? ---probably also not entirely feasible due to lack of sufficient ideal growing space for volume required. Only way to make it happen is to build one or more 4 to 5 ft (better with 5 ft) chain link or other sturdy fence along the full length of the sunny front lawn ---not likely to happen since DH considers front lawn HIS domain. Also possible growing them will require more input than I'm willing to provide ---different story for those with free alternative high nitrogen supply like livestock, etc.
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

applestar,
Thanks for the suggestions.

I keep running into leaf mould / mold. seems like it is just dried out leaves which take some time to develop. White oak makes sense because they have far less tannin in them (acorns are edible but not very palatable without leaching etc. White oaks are rare in New England. Wonderful wood to work with and it makes great barrels, etc.) I think any leaves will (would work for my purposes.

Wood chips I could probably have delivered and will look into that.

Your luffah sponge idea made me chuckle. Never would have thought of them. Have been contemplating running some synthetic sponges through a food processor to make absorbent, course fluff as a reusable stand in for peat/coir. I have used sythetic orange/tan sponges in aquarium filters many times with no issues, so I am guessing they would be okay around plants.

Everything I have read indicates that trying to reuse container mix is a bad plan. What I did not see anyone trying to revitalize it with fresh compost and humus. The drainage components are not going to go bad and the is a larger portion of the mix. I think the trick is going to be to flush the built up salts and silt and get more absorbent organic matter (with bio colony) and some humus for plant and bio colony food back into it.

Right now, the idea of even screen washing / flushing the mix and even possibly solarizing it to knock of the anaerobic stuff before remixing in the food components is sounding better than a complete regeneration and subsequent redistribution of the spent mix.

I'll own being a little bit crazy, some obstinance, some listening without hearing, and a willingness to fail big, but I think I am closing in on something that just may work for me, the resources I have to work with and the amount of effort I am willing to put into the project.
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imafan26
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Compost just keeps breaking down, that is why you have to keep adding more, the ground sinks and the carbon gets consumed.
Leaf mould is pretty much composted leaves and it will also break down over time
Reusing soil is a bad idea unless you have some way to sterilize it. We use a soil sterilizer. It is actually a steam sterilizer but it really is not balanced. There are always residues in it, not to mention parts of roots and twigs if you don't screen it out well. There is also usually residual fertilizer. If too much water is added for the steaming, and then the soil is put in a sealed bin, you can smell the fungi growing. We mix some of the new mix with the old to balance it out and we don't really like to steam sterilize dirt, it really stinks. The garden uses a small one similar to this one
https://www.charleysgreenhouse.com/index ... earnmore=1

I you want a better draining mix that won't breakdown as fast and maximize air space, use cinders or rocks instead of perlite. We use black cinders or lava rock because it is easy to get here and it is used for aquaponics along with hydroton. After about 18 months in aquaponics it gets silty with the roots and fish waste and needs to be replaced or washed to use it again. However, I do grow citrus, and succulents in pure cinder in pots. It requires more water and rocks have no nutrients so they have to be fertilized, but I have not had any issues with root rot or root fungus with those plants. The citrus have been in the same container for years. The oldest is almost twenty years old and has been in the same pot for 17 years. The cinders are medium cinder, not crushed. Today it is hard to find medium grade black cinder (3/4 inch) , but it can be gotten in bulk from quarries. Red cinder is still easy to find in bags in most garden centers here that are not crushed. Red cinder is not preferred because of the iron content. If you can find an aggregate supplier, maybe you can find a rock that would be useful. We have also used #3 rock (basalt) that is usually used for cement mix for orchids. It is very heavy but it works.

I
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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

I'm in over my head with a project I jumped into with out thinking too much. Good thing is high berry production isn't the actual end goal.

Local are is sort of sub-urban-sprawl bedroom community stuff.

Have checked with the local suppliers of gravel, etc. Clean fine grit at 1/8 or so just isn't really available in bulk. Chicken grit and fine aquarium stuff are just more than I want to spend considering the quantities I need. (+25 gallons / +3.3 cu. feet.). There are some granite quarries around, but they only deal in slabs, etc.

Cinder isn't available anywhere around here that I can find.

Have gone through all the sand blasting media I can find coming up with nothing that will work.

All the garden shops are closed currently.

The few agricultural places around understand what I am looking for, but don't really have much except chicken grit.

Kind of looks like it is going to be sifted builder's perlite and mulchy compost. First bad of builders sand I washed threw window screen lost nearly half its volume. Did learn that play sand just clogs thing up.

Even washing some bags of pine bark mulch and reducing the partical size in a food processor is seeming like a viable option, but that has the same draw back for me as peat/coir.

Will keep banging my head against the wall until I find a solution or come to terms with settling for options I would prefer to avoid.
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

If you have quarries around, are you the sort of person that would go ask if you could shovel up some of the fragments? Do they even allow that sort of thing?

Around here, I know of a couple of major gravel/cement/concrete depot type sites -- you know, as you drive by, you can see huge hills of grey and tan colored stuff, with silos and conveyers and mac dump trucks and mixer trucks rumbling around. They advertise on craigslist from time to time that they have driveway gravel and riding (horse) arena underlayment by the truckloads. They also sell mixed crushed concrete and mortared brick for the same purpose -- I'm thinking these must be what happens to them after structures are demolished.

Not sure if these are sort of materials you want to grow foodstuff in -- OK I was giving it some thought about what I would do if I had the wherewithal, and I imagined that what I would do is pile them up at a distance from the food area to weather and do several seasons of phyto/myco remediation -- growing/reaping/and disposing plants and fungi that scavenge toxins and heavy metals. Yeah, I'm a nutcase. nutz:
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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

Have already contacted the local quarries and the like.... pea stone I can get - too big and round; crush and run I can get - too many fines mixed in the rough rock that is too big: processed gravel which has the same problem; stone dust with is just powder,

This is SE MA, between Boston and Cape Cod... Everyone is paranoid about being sued and/or liabilities or being first or yelling the loudest to prove they are not responsible for their own actions.

You are not a nut case. You are thinking along the periphery - you throw away 100 to 1000 ideas to come up with 1 idea that is new or fits a weird set of criteria.

There is a solution besides buying way too many bags of chicken grit or aquarium gravel. I just need to find it in the local area because I do not have time to travel far.
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ID jit
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Re: First round of fungus and strawberries

The cinnamon dustings really did a good job on the fungus.... down to 8 plants, but they are healthy!
I don't believe we can resist the things which make no sense - I believe.

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