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plants with wilted and crunchy top leaves

Posted by kimaz08 zone 9, AZ (My Page) on
Tue, May 13, 08 at 17:12

My husband and I are doing our first ever square foot garden. We built it as a raised bed and it is about waist high. We mixed a little less than 1/3 perlite (per recommendation of nursery person instead of vermiculite), 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost mix. The less than 1/3 of perlite was filled with a few bags of potting soil with miracle grow.

Our conatiner is 8 feet by 4 feet and we have planted transplants so far. We have 3 types of tomato, 2 cantaloupe plants, 1 watermelon, 4 cucumbers, 1 yellow crookneck squash, 1 zucchini (all ready to vine vertically when they are long enough). We also have 3 hot and 3 sweet pepper plants, 2 strawberry plants, 4 Italian parsley and 4 sweet basil.

Our container is located on our back patio (but raised so it is not on direct concrete for heat) and gets the most direct sun late afternoon. I water every morning, around lunch time (where sun is more intense on it) and evening after sundown. Usually do a full two child size cup's worth every watering. Sometimes a bit more.

We planted just over a week ago and the plants are doing great in terms of having new growth. We are seeing lots of new leaves overall and new sprouting. Some of the plants are wavering between good growth and looking limp (the cucumbers come to mind on this especially). But, the uppermost leaves on almost all the plants are getting wilted and some are even looking burnt and turning so dry they are crisp. I've also noticed a few plants with small holes in the leaves but find no evidence of bugs or other pests and it seems isolated to one per plant - and not even every plant at that. It seems that is mostly occurring in the pepper plants.

So, do I need more shading? (we just added a partial sun screen shade last night but it is overcast so not sure if it is making a difference) Do we need to water more than the three times a day - or less? Are there some sort of pests I need to look for that might be causing the holes and the crisping leaves that are good hiders or not obvious to the untrained eye?

Thanks for any help! We also wanted to seed plant some short carrots, leaf lettuce and chive onions but haven't gotten there yet. Also, are there any companion flowers I should plant to discourage pests from visiting? I still have about 12 empty squares to either seed or plant additional transplants or flowers. Thanks again!

Kim, near Casa Grande area


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: plants with wilted and crunchy top leaves

I'm fairly new to my own gardening adventure. When I was a kid, my dad did a fair bunch of gardening, but my own has only been going on for about six months. I did have one potted mint get quite toasted and the reasons were: insufficient water combined with 4 hours of an afternoon sun blast. I can't believe i almost killed a mint!

I haven't gotten my copy of square foot gardening, but my impulse from my internet research is that the water recommendations are not sufficient for a desert garden approaching summer.

when did you transplant the plants? the plants i transplanted in April wilted for a week in the sunny time. before shading them.

I totally recommend shading them, and consider doubling or tripling the water they are getting to compensate the increased heat. Also, if possible, use a watering can in the morning which will allow you to get the leaves wet too.

after shading my garden, everything took a noticeable turn for the better. the squash and cantaloupe perked up within a couple days.

I don't know my pests, but i do think I have a few grasshoppers munching on my eggplant and beans. I found out because we saw a few fly out of the backyard sunday afternoon. otherwise, there's no evidence but the holes.

It's kinda annoying that Pinal county doesn't have as extensive a list of information as maricopa. i'm going to send you some links which are meant for maricopa, but you may be able to apply some if no one here from casa grande/pinal speaks up. Personally, I'd stray away from most seeds right now aside from flowers.

Gardening Calendar of gardening events

A Vegetable Planting Table

A Flower planting table

some more good links:

Master Gardener for Arizona Manual

U of A gardening publications for Maricopa. Surely some crossover?

Pinal County Newsletter

I hope some of this helps.


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