Category Archives: Pests & Problems

How To Properly (And Organically) Attack Powdery Mildew

powderymildew2Now that it was warming up and the bugs were starting to drift off, I thought my garden would be drama free for the rest of the summer. Unfortunately, I was in for a surprise: powdery mildew! I have a few squash plants growing in my garden: zucchini, pumpkin and butternut squash but a few weeks ago I started to notice white powdery spots on the leaves of my zucchini which quickly started to multiply and spread to my pumpkin and butternut plants. Oh no! Luckily, it wasn’t as serious as I thought it was and I found an incredibly simple solution. Continue reading


What Do You Do When Your Cilantro Bolts? Get Coriander!

corianderI’m a big fan of making Mexican food, specifically fresh guacamole, so when I was planning out my garden for this year I was sure to make space for cilantro, an herb that is frequently used in Mexican and other Latino dishes. This was my first experience growing cilantro so I was unaware that bolting–when a plant uses all of its energy to make seeds rather than continue growing, this usually happens when the weather is warm–was a common problem with the herb. Apparently, cilantro, like humans, prefers to remain at room temperature (somewhere between 68 degrees and 74 degrees). Once cilantro feels the temperature rising, it bolts, and seeing as how New York has hot, muggy summers, my cilantro was destined to bolt early. Luckily, the seeds/fruit that cilantro produces after it bolts is another common herb: coriander, so all is not lost when your cilantro bolts.

After the jump, find out how to collect coriander seeds and tips on growing cilantro.
Continue reading

Not Even Martha Stewart Is Safe From Tomato Blight

tomatoblight You may have heard something about the Northeast’s latest bout of late blight or “tomato blight.” We in the Northeast have been cursed with some real dreadful weather as of late. Thunderstorms, humidity and a seemingly never ending stretch of gray clouds have made this summer downright lame. Farmers were worried that if it didn’t start to warm up soon (you know, like how it is normally supposed to be in, uh, JULY?) that late blight might infect tomatoes across the Northeast region, ruining possibly hundreds of crops, driving up regional tomato prices and seriously hurting local farmers. Well now, it seems, the tomato blight has even gotten to lifestyle expert Martha Stewart who posted a picture of her infected tomato crop on her Twitter.

Sigh. If not even Martha, with her army of gardeners, could save her tomatoes, what does that mean for us mere urban gardening plebes? Luckily, I planted my tomatoes a little late by some people’s standards (I just planted the seedlings in May and they should be ripe by September) so hopefully the blight will be killed off by then. (Late blight is killed off by summer heat; however, this weather is starting to make me think my crop may be in danger as well.) I hope that things improve soon because not only do I hate to see local farmers and gardeners hurt by late blight but I also don’t want to have to scrap my annual tomato canning mania this Fall.

NOTE: If you’re tomatoes have been infected by late blight, pull up the entire plant (yes, the entire plant), bag it immediately and throw it away. Do not compost plants infected by late blight or any disease! This disease can also effect potatoes so be sure that you keep an eye on your spuds as well and dispose of them in the same way.

(Pic via MarthaStewart)

The Great Bug Battle: Fly Paper

flypaper2small This year I have had some serious bug problems. While I have already talked about my aphid problem (which has gone down considerably in the past few weeks) my biggest problem is flies.

The flies are small and slow and i don’t really think they are doing any damage to my plants, they are just annoying. It is hard to relax in your garden with your morning cup of coffee when there are little flies circling around you constantly. After swatting at my millionth fly before 10 a.m. I decided it was time to get rid of these troublesome flies. I headed down to the hardware store/garden center (Crest Hardware on Metropolitan Avenue and Lorimer Street if you are ever in Brooklyn) and looked for the best bug bombs I could find. Most of the fly catchers were designed for indoor use or looked too toxic for me to want to put anywhere near plants that would eventually end up in my belly. The bigger contraptions were way out of my budget until I saw a small pack of 4 fly paper rolls for on $1.29. Perfect! But would they work?
Continue reading

When Aphids Attack

3566108953_a35a945481_o I recently planted a Nasturtium plant in my garden but soon found it covered in tiny black bugs along the underside of the flower and the flower peduncle (the part that connects the flower to the stem). Horrors, I was dealing with aphids. I knew I wanted to keep my aphid-battles organic because I was planning on eating my Nasturtium flowers–they make lovely additions to salads and I also wanted to try making Hwajeon, a Korean sweet pancake that uses edible flowers. I went to my gardening books to try to find a solution. I read in one book that Cilantro is good at deterring aphids when planted next to targeted plants. Hurray! I actually had some Cilantro overflowing in another pot that I could easily move to next to my Nasturtiums. Unfortunately, the Cilantro companion-planning did not go over that well. Within a week there were still aphids on my Nasturtium. I had to find another mode of attack.
Continue reading