Watermelon Died

chickencoupeJuly 6, 2011

Watermelon Plant Dying

Look at the base of the main plant (there are three here)! Note: I moved the dirt away a bit from that wilting base section. It looks as if the dirt itself was toxic to the plant (?)

his looks like v. or f. wilt? Apparently it is dying from the ground up.

I flipped it up so you could see the original "curl" I was speaking of .. what? .. 2 days ago?

Another picture

I pulled the smalled one out to see the roots. Looks good to me, but I don't know what I'm looking at.

The soil is moist about 2 inches down. Not wet or soggy, just sufficient as should be. Thoughts on what's wrong? It's in direct sun all day but that has not been a problem in the past.

Can I save it? Poor thing. LOL Anyway, I just wanted to post a serious problem so others could see what is happening though I haven't any idea what it is.


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ChickenCoupe! I'm so sorry! I wish I had more experience so I could tell you how to fix it.

:( Taira

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:48PM
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It's Okay.. Taira.. Win some, lose some lol Getting ready to post my Squash. They look good. :)

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 10:52PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

It looks like a disease, but I don't have much experience with watermelon diseases because my watermelons don't get them other than a little bit of foliar disease in a rainy year (not that we have many rainy years).

Did you try comparing your photos to the TAMU Cucurbit problem solver? You might find an answer there. If that doesn't provide you the answer you're seeking, google Cornell's Vegetable MD Online and see what you find there.


Here is a link that might be useful: TAMU's Cucurbit Problem Solver

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:25AM
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Thanks. Never heard of it. So, I'll be sure to check it out and compare. I guess the main thing I'm concerned about is if it's contagious and contaminated the soil. *sigh

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:37AM
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Welp, I flipped through all the various pictures. I'm screwed. Most everything I've planted in the ground have contained viruses, one or both wilt types and are accompanied by far too many pathogen-carrying bugs and also weeds nearby. Odds are, my beautiful squash (posted elsewhere) is suffering from bacterial wilt and will not survive. I'm not saying I cannot grow anything, but it'll be so pitiful it's not worth it. I guess I'll look into building raised beds and standing on the street corner begging for money so I can afford to have soil shipped in from somewhere else. LOL

I'll have OSU sample my stupid soil. I didn't see anywhere on their sight that they test for diseases. I'll give them a call tomorrow and find out.

Good news: I did find out the cause of some edge spotting on my cucumber plants. Lack of potassium. That's good - until the bacteria or virus gets them.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 2:33AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Well, the first thing you have to do is get over worrying about contaminated soil. It is impossible to have perfectly sterile soil that does not contain microbes, both good and bad, and you wouldn't want perfectly sterile soil because nothing would grow in it. For better or worse, your soil is an ecosystem and it is full of all sorts of microbes, both good and bad, and there are billions of microbes in just a small amount of soil, and it is necessary for them to be there. They all work together, often in ways we don't understand. I never worry about contaminated plants or soil because you're going to have them no matter what you do.

If you focus on soil building and on developing healthy soil, you'll have a good balance of microbes of all kinds and the good microbes help take care of the bad microbes.

We have two basic ecosystems on our land....a heavily wooded section of about 10 acres and the remaining acres are native prairie that used to be farmland and then later on ranchland. Of course, the forest soil is 1000 times better than the prairie soil. So, ever since the first year we moved here, I've been trying to turn my prairie soil (in areas where I plant veggies and flowers) into forest soil. I have done it somewhat successfully by removing the native grasses and forbs and the non-native invasive bermuda grass that must have been planted for cattle forage, and by piling stuff on top of the soil. Every year I pile tons and tons of grass clippings, chopped and shredded leaves, compost, etc. right on top of the ground. In the fall I like to pile it on 8 to 12" deep. As it decomposes, it turns into compost and humus and they enrich the soil. In the early years, I rototilled them into the ground before planting, but more and more now I'm trying to break myself of cultivating the soil excessively because it destroys its structure. (It is a hard habit to break!)

You don't have to spend tons of money on organic amendments for improving your soil. You just have to be creative in looking for them. Always watch your local Craig's List and Freecycle sites for freebies or cheapies. You'd be surprised at how much stuff people give away. If you're in a rural to semi-rural area, it can pay off to run an ad in a small local paper offering to come clean out horse barns or cattle barns in return for being allowed to haul home the mix of manure/bedding. Often you may meet ranchers who tell you they clean out their own barns with tractors that have front-end loaders and pile up the manure in piles somewhere and, if you're lucky, they'll tell you to come get all you want. (You do have to compost it very well first, and I always make sure they don't feed their animals with hay sprayed with herbicides because if some of those persistent herbicides are in the manure, they can kill your garden and nothing will grow there for up to 3 or 4 years.)

Since moving here, we have been extremely blessed to have made many friends who are ranchers and they have kindly shared both manure and old (last year's unused) hay with us. Currently, we're working our way through a pile of 197 bales of last year's prairie hay that weren't used for the feeding of cattle during the winter. Rather than burn it (as some local ranchers do), our friends told us we could have all we wanted to load up and haul home. This hay will serve as mulch for some time to come, and then after it decomposes, it is compost that enriches the soil. My main method of enriching the soil nowadays is to pile on the mulch all season long. As it decomposes, it feeds and enriches the soil and improves its texture. I should emphasize that you shouldn't use hay treated with persistent herbicides that can take years to break down. Adding hay (or compost or manure) containing those herbicides can kill your garden and make it impossible to grow much of anything in that soil for several years.

If you put the word out, you'll be surprised how many people offer you animal manure, stable bedding, old spoiled hay (spoiled for the purpose of feeding animals, but great for mulch or compost piles). Lots of people bag up leaves in the fall and, if you have a pickup truck, you can pick up tons of them curbside in the fall. Some cities or counties make their own mulch from bagged leaves and tree trimmings and give it away or sell it to residents for a nominal charge. Some of the tree-trimming companies will unload shredded tree trimmings on your property because it saves them from having to pay a disposal fee, though for legal reasons (fear of ridiculous lawsuits), some of them won't do it any more.

Until you fix the soil, nothing in the garden will go as well as you'd like. Fixing the soil is an ongoing process too. It isn't something you do one time and forget about because all organic matter in soil decomposes and disappears as it is used up. However, you'll see your soil gets better and better every year. I have a love/hate relationship with my highly-improved clay soil. Some years I look at it in spring and just love how rich and crumbly it is, how teeming with life it is, how it has that humusy smell you smell when you walk through a woodland and I'm so proud of how much it has improved since we moved here. Other years, I look and it and think to myself that it ought to be a lot better than it is considering we've been improving it! Like everything else in an ecosystem, the condition of the soil does ebb and flow. Extremely hot and dry years suck the life right out of it and I have to work doubly hard in winter to put a lot of organic matter back into it. Nothing in gardening is extremely easy, but it starts with the soil and if you fix the soil, everything else is manageable. You'll always have viruses and bacteria. Some of them live in the soil (even healthy soil), some are in the water, some are airborne. Many are transported by insects. You'll never, ever, ever be able to garden in the absence of bacteria, fungi or viruses, so your goal has to be to create soil healthy enough that it will help the plants overcome infections from them.

I think my extreme focus on soil-building is the reason I generally get good yields even in a bad year, and I lose relatively few plants to disease. If your soil is healthy, your plants will be relatively healthy and will be able to overcome many more problems than you think. I once let a tomato that died suddenly (it looked like bacterial wilt) sit there 'completely dead' in its container for a couple of months, and just continued watering it along with the other container-grown tomatoes. It had died pretty early in the year while carrying a heavy load of fruit, probably in late May or early June. By late July or early August, new growth came up from the ground and before I knew it, I had a fall tomato plant full of fruit. So, I hardly ever pull a plant, even one so diseased that it appears dead, because sometimes they surprise you and come back. Of course, you have to know what you're dealing with. I rarely have plants get southern blight, but when I do, I immediately yank them out and then I add a lot of compost immediately to the area where that plant was growing, hoping the compost will take care of any remaining bad bateria there in the soil where the southern blight appeared. I also won't put a plant with southern blight on my compost pile because the bacteria that cause it are so persistent. Instead, I carry it off to an eroded area I'm trying to repair by permanently composting on top of the eroded area. Eventually the erosion will be fixed and new native plants will sprout in that formerly bare, highly eroded area. I've used that technique to fix a lot of badly eroded areas here, and that's where diseased plants go for composting. Since I cannot turn my compost pile in the summer (because of the snakes that like to lurk in and around it), I cannot be sure it is composting hot instead of cold until fall, so bacteria may not get heated up enough to be killed in that pile.

Since you can never grow plants in a manner where they won't have fungal, bacteria and viral issues, don't focus on those. Focus on your soil and those other issues will largely become non-issues in the sense that even though they'll be around, your healthy soil will help your plants overcome them.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 11:15AM
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