Any gardeners?

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Fran, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    I am posting some photo's of my green pepper plants. They have these nasty black spots at every bifarction.
    The plants is healthy looking with blooms except for this nasty black stuff. It almost looks to be in the stem.[​IMG]
  2. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

  3. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Fran, I grew both bell and banana peppers last summer and both of them had a purplish/black color at the "joint". All my plants were healthy. I really think this is normal. Now if you had black spots on the leaves........

  4. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Thanks Witz and LDM, seems it's nothing to worry about. LOL.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Yep. That was my reaction when I first saw the pictures. I was looking and looking, magnifying the images - then I saw it in the leaf joins.

    Definitely natural pigmentation. If you have a really close look under magnifying glass, look at the quality of the plant tissue. It should look smooth, almost shinily healthy and plump with natural moisture in the stem, with a hint of brown and purple on the edges of the coloured areas. Look at all the similar places on the plant, look lower and then higher on the plant and see if the colouration is deeper or paler, higher or lower. Chances are there is a link between depth of colour and distance from the ground.

    If the plant is looking unhealthy above the coloured area, for example of it seems to be dying off above the black area, then you could have a fungal problem. But I'm certain that is not the case here.

    Other pests to watch for (and which I thought of when I saw your post over on the morning thread) was aphids (on the tips especially), scale and mealy bug. All three of these plant pests look very different (mealy bug tends to get in exactly those areas of your plant that have the black markings - coincidence) but are often cultivated by ants for the honeydew. This honeydew has a high sugar content and can greatly increase the risk of fungal attack on the plant.

    But I saw no sign of any of these in your plants - they look great!

    Capsicum plants (aka peppers) tend to be rich in Vitamin C and also those purple plant pigments, anthocyanins. Very good for you, especially really fresh. So even a plant which itself doesn't have the deeper colour, can show it up somewhere else on the plant.

    It looks like you have very healthy plants. Keep the watering up in the cool of the day, don't overwater but also don't let them dry out. This is crucial as you wait for plants to fruit. As the fruit grows, the water demand can increase. Make sure the leaves are firm and not limp, they are your barometer for watering. If the plants get too wet at the wrong time, you can get the same sort of blossom rot that tomatoes will give you, if they get too wet at the wrong time of fruiting.

    You're going well!

  6. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Thanks Marguerite. It does seem the plants are healthy. Whew. I'll keep an eye out for "critters".
    We had an ornamental tree on the shady side of the house that is now producing apricots. Isn't that funny?
    Had no idea it was an apricot tree, not that I would have known but this is the first year it is producing fruit. I love apricots
    so it's a pleasant surprise.
  7. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    What other things are in your garden Fran? I just planted my tomatoes today, about a week late but they look healthy and strong so hopefully they will grow.

  8. Marcie Mac

    Marcie Mac Just Plain Ole Tired

    If you plant any mint, be careful where you stick it - I have a 5 x 2 planter box on the front porch where I put some in and it spread everwhere taking over the planter - ended up being one solid mint root. Am so glad it didn't plant it in the garden. Will pick up a couple to tomato plants for my Topsey Turvey thing - wish I could have a back yard garden, but the dogs just will not let anything be if its in fresh overturned soil

  9. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Nancy, I planted veggies that I would eat in a salad. Tomatoes, spinach, onions, cucumbers, zucchini and green peppers. I try not to go overboard but it's so easy to plant tomatoes then
    wonder what to do with them when they are all ripe. I refuse to can veggies. Too many hot summer days peeling tomatoes as a kid. Anyhow, I tried 3 different type of tomato plant this year. We will see what happens. I must say I love to pick the first ripe tomato and take a bite right there in the garden. Add a little salt and eat it like an apple. The smell and taste just bring back pleasant memories of summer.

    Marcie, I have been stung by the mint monster when we were in Texas. I keep it in a separate pot on a concrete patio now so it doesn't take over. Mint and Bamboo tend to run amok.
    Last night I had crackers with a smear of brie, slice of strawberry and leaf of mint. Very refreshing. Then I put a leaf on the side of some lemon sorbet and added some blueberries. I keep trying to use seasonal fruit and add some things from the garden.
    I have a rosemary plant that is enormous. I could supply the whole neighborhood and still have some. It came with the house though. I can't take credit for it.
    So that's it for my gardening skills. I never really did do vegetable gardening until the last few years. Something about planting seeds or small plants, nurturing them and watching them grow. You get to enjoy the end result. Must be a mothering instinct. : ) Besides a difficult child plant won't be a lifelong worry.
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    About mint (and other members of the mint family) - I chuckle when I see those lifestyle shows on TV where they plant out a tub of herbs, and include mint plants in there as well. Mint doesn't share well. You never put more than one type of mint in a pot, or mint with any other plant.

    The best place for mint is in its own pot (or tub), preferably with a deep self-watering well. A book I read once had the great advice to put mint tubs under a dripping tap.

    Plants that will behave tis way (ie members of the mint family) have square cross-section stems and always behave this way. So common mint; peppermint; apple-mint; pennyroyal; lemon balm (aka Melissa officinalis or bee balm) will all behave the same way, to a lesser or greater extent. So if you want all of those, give each one a separate pot with a generous saucer, and keep that saucer full of water.

    Keep your eyes peeled for chocolate mint. Love it! I was told it's for perfume only, but I've cooked with it, I put a sprig in with shelled peas when steaming them. Fabulous flavour!

  11. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Fran I planted several different varieties of tomatoes this year from what I usually plant. I'm hoping for more success then in years past. I too love to pick it right off the vine and eat it while still warm from the sunlight.

    I was bitten by the mint monster last year too and had a heck of a time getting out all the roots. I was thinking of cilantra this year but wanted to read more before I did that.

  12. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Marguerite, you are way above of my league in gardening. You sound like a master gardener.
    I am just a novice hobby gardener. I have never had any but regular mint. I just don't use it that often.
    I'm trying to keep it simple so it's not going to become a chore that I get tired of later in the year. It should be satisfying? right?

    Nancy, I read that you need to strip the lower branches so the nutrients go to the branches that produce tomatoes. I have been pinching them also, when they seem to be getting
    to tall and leggy. I didn't know that until 2 yrs ago. You probably know this stuff but I thought I'd share just in case you missed this in school like I did. : )
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Nancy, here we call cilantro, coriander. It's a bad sport of a plant, it bolts to seed really fast especially in summer and makes yo feel a failure of a gardener. You need to consider the plants to be semi-disposable, especially in summer. If you let it set seed, then let the seedlings grow where they are, you should have a steady supply of coriander (cilantro) for summer. But you need to use it regularly. Any herb - use it or lose it, because eventually when just left, they get straggly then flower, and once ANY herb flowers (well, most of them) they set seed and die back for winter, even if it's not winter yet.

    So pinch back any shoots beginning to develop flower heads, until the end of the season. You need to be increasingly vigilant as summer progresses. Basil is a good plant to teach you how to manage pinching back the flower heads. Every time you pinch back a flower bud, that shoot becomes two shoots. It doubles exponentially, so after just a week you can have 16 more shoots.

    Use for mint - if you find you're pinching it back faster than you're using it, hang it up to dry, then crumble the dried leaves into some mixed herbs. Sprinkle this mix onto a leg of lamb before roasting, or onto a Greek salad. Or mix it into meatballs and serve them with tzaziki, a Greek yogurt/cucumber/garlic dip. Otherwise - add fresh mint to peas before cooking, or add it to drinks (chop it and add it to water in ice cube trays, then toss a minty cube into your sangria) or make a mint/cinnamon syrup to keep in your fridge and use as a base for some great drinks as you head into the colder weather.

    My best friend had a reputation around town as being a really bad gardener. "Don't ever give her a plant - she kills artificial flowers!"

    I gave her a LARGE self-watering tub of herbs which I planted up for her myself. The secret to potted herbs, is make the pot a large one. Small pots dry out too fast and the best of gardeners tends to kill them. I also made sure to not include any mint plants in the big tub - I put in rosemary, basil, parsley and oregano. Every time I visited, I would nip off the flower heads and show her how to do it. Over time and with me showing her, she learned. She has become quite a good gardener, still fairly clueless but her deck is now covered with some beautiful plants.

    At the moment I am no master gardener. My vegetable bed is full of weeds and the vegetables I planted have all died off for lack of care. I need to get out there and weed, big-time, then re-plant.

  14. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marge, hère in the US we call the leaf cilantro. We use the seeds in cooking and that's what we call coriander.

  15. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Interesting fact about Cilantro. To most people it has a minty/lemony flavor. The ability to taste that flavor is genetic. To some of us, cilantro tastes like floor cleaner or bug spray.

    That latter is interesting as early gardening manuals recommended planting cilantro at the borders of gardens to repel bugs.

    I'm one of the ones where cilantro tastes ghastly. Not only that, one tiny smidgen flavors an entire dish. Stinks when you really love Mexican and Asian food.
  16. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Thanks for the info Fran, I did not know that and maybe that's why I haven't had a lot of luck even though I have been planting them for years. I will definitely try pinching back the lower branches.

    Also thanks for the info on cilantro Marg. I love the rice with cilantro in chipotle but maybe I won't try it this year.

  17. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Going North, I had no idea. I always wondered why everyone loved cilantro and I think it tastes like lysol or dirty socks. Well, you learn something new everyday.
  18. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Fran, so there you are. Now you know. I don't know what the pattern of heredity is on cilantro, or what portion of mankind is affected. In fact, husband and I used to joke about one condition of our relationship being that both of us loathed cilantro and loved garlic.

    Plus, right now cilantro is very "in" and its in damned near anything you can order at a restaurant, which makes me nuts. For example; I love Asian food. I can tell you that real Asian cuisine doesn't use anywhere near as much cilantro as do popular chain restaurants.

    I just substitute flat leaved parcely for the stuff, though you have to be careful with that as the leaves do resemble the dreaded herb.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You should be able to ask, at a restaurant, for them to leave out the cilantro.

    Also if yo like using coriander seed but hate the plant's taste, then grow it just for the seed. Again, to get a good harvest, keep pinching back the flower heads until your plant is bushy enough, then you can get a much better yield of seed. let it dry well then grind it. I find if I'm grinding a lot of different seed types (for my own curry powder perhaps, or other spice mix) then I have to grind each seed type separately. So I'll grind just the fenugreek. Then just the coriander seed. Then just the cumin seed... and so on. I also toast them first, in a dry small frypan. The combination of toasting the dry seed, then grinding them, makes the kitchen smell wonderful. I find it good therapy. That, and making my own mixed herb blends and also my own pot pourri (from home-grown flowers where possible).

    I also make my own herbal tea, from plants harvested fresh from the garden. I like a mix of lemon balm, peppermint and chamomile. Or you could add a single leaf of rose geranium to the pot - wonderfully fragrant. But never use the same pot for conventional black tea, as for herbal tea.