ace1719
Full Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

So, I began a new garden this year. I realized the apartment I was living in had a flat roof, and my landlord was okay with me building a garden on it, so I did it! Our building is taller than the surrounding buildings, and there are no tall trees nearby, so my plants get a tonne of sunlight. The only downside is that it gets quite windy. Many of my plants are growing very, very well, but some plants are not doing so hot, and others failed completely. I was wondering whether some of you could give me your thoughts on the failures. If it's something that I can fix, I'd rather not make the same mistake again. I water my garden once or twice per day. Every day.

I went over The Good in my last post, but here's where I need your help.

The Bad
Spinach: my spinach were growing nicely as of a couple weeks ago, but last week, the leaves began to turn brown. There are two culprits that I could think of; the soil is too shallow or it's getting too much light. I planted the spinach in only 6 inches of soil. I figured that would be too shallow for fully grown spinach, but I was planning on harvesting them earlier than that, but I thought I'd still have some more time. Since there is nothing blocking the sun, my garden gets a lot of light. That may also be a problem. On a separate note, I planted eight pots of spinach, and in one of them, the spinach grew very yellow, right from the beginning. The other seven pots didn't have this problem. Does anyone have any idea about this?
Spinach
Spinach
Swiss chard: I'm having a very similar problem with my swiss chard as I am with spinach, but the swiss chard is in a larger pot. I'm wondering if the cause may be the same. The only thing is that I'm growing lettuce in the same type of pot as the swiss chard in the same part of the roof, but my lettuce is nice and big and looks great.
Swiss chard
Swiss chard
Swiss chard
Swiss chard
Squash: for the most part, my squash plant is doing spectacularly, but I noticed some of the outer leaves browning. It's in a nice deep raised bed, so could this be because it's getting too much light?
Squash leaves
Squash leaves
Beets: I've got a similar problem with my beets. They were fine until last week, but now the leaves are turning brown. They're in a nice deep container, about 12" of soil. Too much sun?
Beet leaves
Beet leaves
Carrots: My carrots WERE doing great. That is, until they were randomly beheaded and uprooted. There was a squirrel that frequented my garden, but I took down the vines on the side of the building, and it seems to have fixed that problem. Squirrels leave distinctive digging marks in the soil, but I didn't see that with the carrots (or elsewhere), and I wonder if it's a bird. We get seagulls, pigeons and sparrows. Does anyone else have any experience with birds going after their carrots?

Turnip and Kohlrabi: I'm having an identical problem with both, so I'll put them together. They are beginning to develop holes in their leaves. The holes aren't browning and the leaf looks good otherwise. I haven't seen any insects around them. Any thoughts?

The Ugly
Ok, this is where it gets bad.
Rhubarb: after week two, my rhubarb stopped growing. I dug up the root, and when I did, it was squish and just very unhealthy in general. I bought some more rhubarb from the local nursary.

Berries (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, tayberry (loganberry/raspberry cross)): I had the strawberry and raspberry from a previous garden, but I bought the blackberry and tayberry from a farm in the fall, and planted them immediately. Come spring, they don't re-awaken. My raspberry eventually did, but it only has a few leaves, and hasn't grown much in the past two weeks. I eventually dug up the blackberry and tayberry, and the farmer was nice enough to give me other ones. When I dug them up, I saw no evidence of root growth. The strawberries (neither plant survived) and raspberry were fine the previous season! To make the matter even more puzzling, the gooseberry I purchased from the same farm is doing magnificently. Are there any ideas about this puzzler?

User avatar
kayjay
Green Thumb
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:14 pm
Location: Southern Ontario

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

Hi from Oshawa. Really impressive garden!

I don't know about any of your issues, except maybe the spinach didn't like the weather. Mine grew nicely last year, but this year, it was late to germinate because of that cold spell we had in late April, and then it bolted in the heat.

Best of luck sorting out the issues.
KayJay
Toronto 'burbs, zone 5b

My Garden, 2020

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

quote: "Squash: for the most part, my squash plant is doing spectacularly, but I noticed some of the outer leaves browning. It's in a nice deep raised bed, so could this be because it's getting too much light?"

Not likely. Squash do well in full sunshine. My thoughts are that most of your problems have to do with restrictive root space.
Most of our garden plants when grown in garden soil will have a root system that goes from 3 to 8 feet deep and spreads as wide as the foliage. Hard to do that in a pot.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27667
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

I couldn't see with spinach or chard, but that photo of beet leaves definitely show signs of leaf miners. If they went after beet, they would have gone after chard, too.

Berries -- are you growing them all in containers outside? I've never been successful overwintering strawberries in any kind of containers outside. They freeze solid during the winter since they don't have the insulation and heat of the ground.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

ace1719
Full Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

jal_ut wrote: Not likely. Squash do well in full sunshine. My thoughts are that most of your problems have to do with restrictive root space.
Most of our garden plants when grown in garden soil will have a root system that goes from 3 to 8 feet deep and spreads as wide as the foliage. Hard to do that in a pot.
Thanks for the tip! All my cucubits are in raised beds. The squash, cucumbers and zucchini are in about 2.5' of soil, and the melons are in about 3'. Is there anything that can be done?

ace1719
Full Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

applestar wrote:I couldn't see with spinach or chard, but that photo of beet leaves definitely show signs of leaf miners. If they went after beet, they would have gone after chard, too.

Berries -- are you growing them all in containers outside? I've never been successful overwintering strawberries in any kind of containers outside. They freeze solid during the winter since they don't have the insulation and heat of the ground.
Thanks! I'll look for miners on my beets, chard and spinach. I thought wind and my elevation would insulate me from pests, and to a certain extent, it has, but I guess not completely.

As for the berries, I'm growing them in wooden bushel baskets outside. Last winter was pretty mild, but we had a cold stretch in the spring. I'll bring my strawberries in over the winter. Getting my other berries down from the roof is going to be very tricky. Is it worth bringing them in? What about other perennials like rhubarb, asparagus and flowers? My rhubarb and asparagus are in beds, so bringing them in would be impossible. Is there a solution that would allow me to leave them on the roof?

Thanks for your comment. I hadn't heard this before, but it makes a lot of sense!

ace1719
Full Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

applestar wrote: Berries -- are you growing them all in containers outside? I've never been successful overwintering strawberries in any kind of containers outside. They freeze solid during the winter since they don't have the insulation and heat of the ground.
After researching this, it seems that people have had similar problems. It seems we've found the culprit! I guess my gooseberry was particularly hardy?

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 27667
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

OK, one down! :wink: -- You may be able to store them or cover them further after they go dormant. Similar to what the bonsai Gardener's do for their outdoor trees in pots. Something that would insulate them -- one possibility I can think of is to use wooden pallets or crates around them, stuff with leaves then cover with a tarp or something. You'll need to research further since these are just glimmer of an idea. What you don't want to do is being them INSIDE at normal house temps. Something in the mid-20's °F minimum but not more than 40's or so. They need their winter dormancy.

Turnips and kohlrabi -- did you look for tiny ivory colored barrel-shaped eggs and tiny green caterpillars? Maybe cabbage whites found you on your rooftop.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

User avatar
KitchenGardener
Senior Member
Posts: 278
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:30 am
Location: Northern California; Hardiness Zone 10a, Climate zone: 17

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

Yep, I see classic leaf miner damage. If you pick off a beet leaf that has not been too ravaged, you will find the icky worm/caterpillar still in the leaf (they eat and eat until they are so big they leave the leaf so you are unlikely to find the pest in a leaf with a lot of damage). Then if you take the leaf and hold it up to light, you will be able to see the critter still there, eating away. :evil:

The only way to eliminate them is to cover your beets and chard so the egg laying flies can't land. Apparently, the insects overwinter in the soil, so once there, covering the crops will be the only way to prevent the damage. Up until now, I've been too lazy to cover my crops, so I limit what I grow. But I've decided that beet greens are too delicious to forego, so I may break down and buy some row covers.

ace1719
Full Member
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:00 pm
Location: Toronto, ON

Re: The good, the bad, and the ugly (2)

KitchenGardener wrote:Yep, I see classic leaf miner damage. If you pick off a beet leaf that has not been too ravaged, you will find the icky worm/caterpillar still in the leaf (they eat and eat until they are so big they leave the leaf so you are unlikely to find the pest in a leaf with a lot of damage). Then if you take the leaf and hold it up to light, you will be able to see the critter still there, eating away. :evil:

The only way to eliminate them is to cover your beets and chard so the egg laying flies can't land. Apparently, the insects overwinter in the soil, so once there, covering the crops will be the only way to prevent the damage. Up until now, I've been too lazy to cover my crops, so I limit what I grow. But I've decided that beet greens are too delicious to forego, so I may break down and buy some row covers.
I looked at some of the leaves, and lo and behold, there were miner eggs on the underside of the leaf. I picked all the infected leaves, and any leaves with eggs, and disposed of them in the garbage. I also found eggs on the spinach and chard. That makes it three mysteries solved!

I think the rhubarb was just bad luck, or perhaps a bad root. The carrots are a pest problem, and the turnips and kohlrabi still look healthy, so I'm not too worried. I have plenty of other brassica near them, but my kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage look fine.

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”