Garden Crop Rotation – Vegetable Crop Families

Vegetable Crop Families

Over the next week or so I will be posting 3 articles on the importance of crop rotation.  In this first of the three I want to talk about Vegetable Crop Families.

Garden crops can be broken into Vegetable Crop Families.  A “family” in this case refers to a group of plants that share common traits and botanical lineage.  Basically the plants are “related”.  Plants in the same vegetable crop families have similar characteristics, use many of the same nutrients, and are susceptible to many of the same diseases and pests.

The purpose of this post is to give you a list of all the major important vegetable crop families and their members.  I will also try to include a little about each of the vegetable crop families and some common problems, etc. associated with each family.  You can use this post as a guide as you begin your crop rotation plan.

Family Name:  Fabaceae (Also Leguminosae)

Common Name:  Legumes

Members:

  • Peas
  • Fava Beans
  • Runner Beans
  • Green Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Peanuts

Vegetable Crop Families 1

The Fabaceae family are a pretty care free lot.  Given good soil and proper water they should be pretty easy for you to grow.  There are a few soil borne viral or bacterial diseases that will effect this family and a few common pests.  But unless you have really bad luck this family should be easy to grow.  All of the members of the Fabaceae family have the added benefit of enriching your soil with added nitrogen.  A bacteria that grows in the root system of these plants actually “fixes” nitrogen from the air, supplying your peas or beans with all the nitrogen they need and adding nitrogen to your soil as well.

Family Name:  Solanaceae

Common Name:  Nightshade

Members:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Eggplants

Vegetable Crop Families 2

The Solanaceae family is one of the most popular and important families in home gardening.  Nearly all of the plants in this family originated in the tropical climates of central and south America.  That means they like moist fertile soil.  They also have many pests and diseases in common.  This makes crop rotation extra important for this family.  In fact, if for no other reason, the Solanaceae families need for rotation means you have to get a crop rotation system going in your garden!

Family Name:  Brassicaceae

Common Name:  Cole or Brassica

Members:

  • Cabbages
  • Chinese Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Turnips
  • Kohlrabi
  • Rutabagas
  • Radishes
  • Cresses

Vegetable Crop Families 3

The Brassicaceae family is one of the families where the “family resemblance” is really apparent.  Look closely at each member of this family and you will see what I mean.  In fact if you really want to see how similar they are, take a look at them as 10 day old seedlings.  Before the true leave start to form these guys all look the same.  This family has many diseases in common, but even more pests!  Rotation of these crops around your garden is essential!

Family Name:  Apiaceae (Also sometimes called Umbelliferae)

Common Name: None

Members:

  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Fennel
  • Also some herbs like parsley & caraway

Vegetable Crop Families 4

The Apiacea family for me at least is fairly easy to deal with in the rotation.  I mostly only grow Carrots & Celery from this family and neither really takes up a ton of space.  So it is fairly easy to bounce these around in different areas of the garden.

Family Name:  Chenopodiaceae (Also Amaranthaceae)

Common Name:  Amaranth

Members:

  • Beets
  • Swiss Chard
  • Spinach (Including New Zealand Spinach)

Vegetable Crop Families 5

This family is not a really big group, but is also one where you can really see the family resemblance.  The leaves of this family, especially when young look very much alike.  These plants have some pests in common, but are not heavily effected my and plant diseases.  Rotation of this family should be very simple as they can all be grown close together in the same bed!

Family Name: Amarylidaceae

Common Name:  Allium

Members:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks
  • Garlic (Technically garlic isn’t part of this family, but you treat is as if it is)

Vegetable Crop Families 6

It’s funny to think that Onions and Aspargus are cousins.  That’s a pairing that doesn’t match up in my mind.  Although Garlic is technically an herb, I put it in this family as I treat it and rotate it around my garden with my onions.

Family Name:  Asteraceae (Also Compositae)

Common Name:  None

Members:

  • Chicory
  • Lettuce
  • Endives
  • Salsify
  • Sunflower
  • Dandelion
  • Artichokes (Globe & Jerusalem)
  • Cardoons
  • Mache (also know as corn salad or Lamb’s Lettuce)

Vegetable Crop Families 7

There is some pretty big variation in this family.  Hard to picture an lettuce plant and an Artichoke being related, but they are!!  This family is fairly easy to work into any rotation and really don’t have a lot of problems growing in good fertile soil.

Family Name:  Cucurbitaceae

Common Name: Gourd or Squash

Members:

  • Pumpkins
  • Cucumbers
  • Squash (Winter)
  • Squash (Summer)
  • Melons

Vegetable Crop Families 8

One of my favorite families to grow!  This family has a lot of common pests and diseases and rotation is a must!

Family Name:  Miscellaneous others

Members:

  • Sweet or Pop Corn – Poaceae
  • Okra – Malvaceae
  • Rhubarb –

Vegetable Crop Families 9

These 3 garden goodies are all the only members of their respective families that we regularly cultivate in our gardens.  That does not mean you don’t have to rotate.  Rhubarb, being a perennial stays put for a lot of years, but the other two should be rotated around your garden as part of your normal rotation process.

Well I hope this post helps!  This should give you some ideas of what is related to what and help you to start building a crop rotation plan using Vegetable Crop Families.

For more info on crop rotation you can check out the following posts: (links will go live when the post is finished)

Why should I rotate my Garden Crops

My 4 year Crop Rotation plan

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From the Farm Hop – June 24, 2016

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It’s time for another round of From The Farm where we love to see your ideas on how to garden, homestead, or any DIY tips and tricks. Last Week’s Top 3 Favorites, as chosen by YOU:



 

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Warmly,Your From the Farm Blog Hop Co-Hosts: The Homesteading Hippy | The Homestead Lady | Once Upon A Time in A Bed of Wildflowers | Stony Acres

 

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It’s June, what can I still plant in my garden?

This post originally appeared as a guest post on The Survival Mom!

What can i plant in June?

Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there. But don’t give up on your garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies you can get planted now (in mid to late June) and get a nice harvest before the summer ends. Let’s talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can wait on and plant in about 5 or 6 weeks (Around August 1st for most of us).

Summer or Warm Season Veggies:

Tomatoes – No summer garden is complete without a few tomato plants and you can still get some in. Hurry on this one! Most nurseries will still have a few tomato plants hanging around but they wont last much longer (don’t try to plant tomatoes by seed this time of year) This late in the year you want to be thinking about smaller quicker maturing varieties. Try some type of cherry tomato (varieties to look for include sun sugar, and sweet 100), they are relatively fast growers and should still give you a good harvest in September and early October. You can also try some of the tomatoes that produce small to medium sized fruit (think varieties like early girl, possibly Celebrity, or many of the Roma tomatoes). Try to find tomatoes that grow on determinate vines (vs Indeterminate) as these will spent less time growing vines and more time growing fruit. The 6 weeks you have lost in growing time means you won’t have a huge harvest this year, but if you get them in soon you should still have plenty for fresh eating!

Summer Squashes – Zucchini and yellow crook neck squash are actually quite fast growing. Look for varieties that have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days and you should still have lots of time to grow more zucchini that you can eat! You could also look for a patty pan squash with a short maturity date.

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Green beans – Most bush type green beans have a maturity date of around 60 to 70 days so there is plenty of summer left for beans. In fact I don’t make my last planting of green beans until mid July and still have a great harvest!

Melons – if you would still like to plant a melon you have a little bit of time left. But choose the small “ice box” types as those take much less time to mature. You can also get cantaloupe planted now. Again don’t expect a huge harvest this year, but you will still have a few melons that will be ready before the frost comes.

Potatoes – If you can find the seed still around at your local nurseries there is time to grow a nice crop of potatoes. In fact you could continue to plant potatoes until mid July in most areas of the country and still get a nice harvest of small roasting potatoes. This time of the year I would stay away from the big “baking” potatoes, like russets. As you are running short of time to get them to maturity.

IMG_9396

Cucumbers – Cucumbers are a good late season planter. Again you may not get the huge yields you are used to but by planting seeds now you can still have a fairly respectable crop.

Onions – If you can still find a package of onion sets at your local nursery they will do okay this time of year. You won’t get a lot of large onions but you will have plenty of smaller onions and green onions. Don’t try growing onions from seed or starts this late in the year.

Herbs – Many herbs will still do well if planted this time of year. But it would be best of you could find starts, instead of trying to plants seeds.

Cool Weather Veggies

You can still have an awesome harvest of cool weather veggies by planning now to get them planted in late summer and early fall. Nearly anything you would normally plant in the spring time you can also plant in the fall.

Cole Crops – Broccoli, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. If you grow your own seedlings mid June is a good time to start a fall crop of all these yummy cool season veggies. If you plant any of the Cole crops indoors now, they will be ready for planting out in the garden in about 6 to 8 weeks. That means you will be planting them around mid August and they will mature in October when the weather has cooled back to those temperatures that Cole crops love so much! You may find many of these veggies are even tastier in the fall because a night or two of frost helps to sweeten the flavor.

Lettuce – You can start replanting lettuce about 6 to 8 weeks before your first frost (for us that’s August 1 – 15). Fall planted lettuce can last unprotected in your garden until early December depending on where you live.

Fall Lettuce

Spinach – Most people see spinach as a spring only crop, but it does very well in the fall! Again look at planting about 6 weeks before your first frost and you will be able to start harvesting in late October. Then cover those plants with a cold frame or hoop house and they will over winter for an extra early spring crop.

Root Crops – Carrots, turnips, beets and radishes all do well in the fall and you can start replanting them around 6 weeks before your last frost.

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So as you can see, all is not lost, get out there this weekend and gets some seeds and plants in your garden and you can still have an awesome harvest this year!

Would you like to learn more about starting your own seeds or gardening year round? Please consider taking one or both of my on line video courses. They are both on sale to thank The Survival Mom for allowing me to guest post on her site!!

Seed Starting Simplified – Only $20.00 for 3 hours of instruction!

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Year Round Gardening – $30.00 gets you more than 5 hours of classes!

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How To Grow Green Beans

How To Grow Green Beans

Learning How to Grow Green Beans is a super important garden skill.  Green beans (some times called runner beans or String Beans) are one of the highlights of a summer garden. Beans are high in fiber, low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C. But beyond the nutritional benefits of home grown beans is their superior taste!!

The beans you buy in a store (weather fresh, frozen or canned) are breed for once reason, and that reason is to allow them to be processed easily! Commercial plant breeders are not really fussed with taste, they just want them to ship and process easily!!

Not so with garden grown beans. These are one of the tasty high points of the summer garden for me!! Although you usually hear them called “green” beans, the colors definitely don’t have to be limited to green! There are several shades of purple available out there along with several different colors of yellow (often called wax beans). Varieties include slender French style beans, string-less varieties, even yard long beans! So the sky is the limit with this fantastic summer time crop!

Let’s take a look at what types of green beans there are out there and how to grow green beans!

Varieties

There are two primary types of green beans: pole or bush. Let’s talk about each.

Bush Beans

Bush beans are compact plants that grow between 1 to 2 feet tall. The main advantage of bush beans is how quickly they produce. Many varieties will start producing in as little as 60 days. This is great because you can plant very late in the year and still get a harvest! Many years I plant bush beans as late as July 15th (that’s only about 75 days before our first frost) and still get a super good harvest. The average bush bean variety will produce 10 t 14 days sooner than a pole bean.

How to Grow Green Beans #2

Another advantage of bush beans is the huge variety of colors and sizes they come in! There are easily 50 different types of bush beans in colors ranging green to yellow to purple! It is very easy to tuck a few bush beans into an out of the way (but sunny) corner of your garden. Some years we have bean scattered all over the place.

The biggest disadvantage of bush beans is how much you can harvest from them. Expect to get only 60% of the harvest in the same space from bush beans than what you would expect from a pole variety. The harvest from bush beans also doesn’t last nearly as long either. Only about 3 weeks per plant.

Pole Beans

Pole beans get their name from the fact that they need a “pole” to grow on. Pole beans grow vines that can be as long as 8 to 10 feet and those vines need support. The traditional method is to use tall wooden poles that the beans will climb up, hence the name pole bean. But really any form of trellis will work well for growing pole beans.

How to Grow Green Beans #3

The main advantage of pole beans is the increased harvest per plant. As I stated earlier the ration is around 60% for bush beans. So a spot that grows 10 pounds of pole beans, would grow around 6 pounds of bush beans. Also for those of you with back problems, you will love not having to bend over to pick pole beans.

I also think that having trellises of pole beans adds an huge amount of visual interest to a garden. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love to see a pretty trellis covered in vines, flowers and beans. Bean trellises turn another wise bland garden, into a fun, interesting feature of your yard.

Planting Beans

The best soil for beans is fertile well drained soil with a PH of between 6 and 7, but don’t let your soil conditions stop you, beans are pretty hardy and will do well in most soil types. But if you can I would suggest amending the soil before hand with some organic material, like a good rich compost.

Beans are a warm season crop and cannot tolerate frost. So it is important to hold off on planting until all worries of frost are gone. Beans also need a soil temperature of at least 60 degrees to germinate but would prefer 70. You can test this buy purchasing a simple and inexpensive Soil Themometer . Covering your bed with plastic for a week or two before planting can quickly bring the soil temperature up as well.

How to Grow Green Beans #8

Both bush and pole beans do best if seeds are directly sown in the soil. You can start your seeds indoors and transplant out, but in all but the coldest climates this is over kill. Beans do just fine being planted directly in the soil and allowed to germinate outdoors.

Sun is a must for beans. Choose a sunny spot that gets at least 8 hours of sun, but they will do much better if you choose a spot with 10 to 12 hours of sun in the summer time.

Plant seeds 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and roughly 2 inches a part, once the seeds are germinated it may be necessary to thin bush beans to about 4 inches apart and pole beans to about 6 inches.

Beans are the perfect crop to succession plant! Planting a small amount of beans every 2 weeks until mid summer (About 60 to 75 days before your first fall frost) will ensure a continuous supply of fresh beans all summer long!!

Beans are also a great crop to consider inter-planting with other crops. Try radishes, carrots or even lettuce to help utilize the extra space.

Care while Growing

Beans are fairly easy for most of us to care for. Once the plants are up a few inches, it is a good idea to thin if needed. Usually around 4 inches between plants is sufficient, I have found a few places that recommend 6 inches for pole beans, but I have found four inches to be plenty.

Beans are fairly drought tolerant, but they will produce much better if they are kept moist while the plants are flowering and the beans are growing. So plan on giving them some water. Some times you will notice that your beans are a bit “stringy”, meaning that when you eat them they have long fibrous “strings” running through the bean. Most modern varieties of beans are fairly string-less so if you notice stringiness that means the plants may be suffering from heat stress. Try increasing the amount of water you are giving them, and consider mulching around the base of the plants to help keep them cool.

How to Grow Green Beans #4

Always try to water in the morning, this is especially the case if you are using overhead watering (sprinklers). Moisture on the leaves can promote disease issues, so if you water during the day the leaves will dry out faster.

Many soil borne diseases can be transmitted when the soil “splashes” on to the leaves. This can be prevented (or at least minimized) by mulching around the plant. That will keep splashing to a minimum and will also help keep the soil cool and help the soil to not dry out as quickly. Drip irrigation along with mulching almost eliminates soil splash, so if you can use a drip system.

Beans have a fairly shallow root system, so you need to be very careful when you are cultivating the soil around the plants. I would suggest pulling weeds by hand versus using a hoe around bean plants.

Beans really don’t need much in the way of fertilizer. If you are taking care of your garden soil each year by adding compost and other organic mater you really shouldn’t need to add fertilizer.

In fact beans have the amazing ability to pull nitrogen from the air and “fix” it in their root system. Because of this I never pull up the roots of my bean plants. At the end of the season I simply cut the plants off at ground level leaving the roots in the ground. In most gardens you will find the soil richer and improved after planting beans. What ever crop I plant the year following a bean crop does extra well because of the added nitrogen in the soil.

Harvesting

You know your harvest is on the way once you see flowers setting on your bean plants. Shortly after you see flowers you will start to see tiny little beans growing. Keep a close eye on them, they will grow quicker than you might think!

Pick beans while they are still young and tender. You should pick them before seeds start forming inside the pod, while they are still slender and tender.

How to Grow Green Beans #5

Pick often! The more you pick the more beans the plants will produce. Avoid letting any of your beans get too large and start developing seeds inside the pod. This seed development signals the plants to focus on growing the seeds, so they will stop producing additional flowers and more beans. I would suggest that you pick your beans daily, that way none of the beans get away from you and slow down your production.

Most bush beans will have a harvest period of around 3 weeks from the first beans to the last bean picked. Pole beans on the other hand if managed correctly will produce for as long as 8 weeks! So keep after that harvesting, the more beans you harvest (and the sooner) the more you will ultimately have!

Most of the official University sites tell us that you can expect 75 pounds of beans per 100 feet of plants from Bush beans and 125 pounds per 100 feet for pole beans. I’ve always found those types of numbers a little worthless because I don’t have 100 feet to plant!!! But I have found that a 4 x 8 foot bed of bush beans will give you around 20 pounds of beans, the same bed planted with pole beans will give around 30 pounds.

How to Grow Green Beans #6

Fresh picked beans will last about 2 weeks in the fridge, that gives you a little time to eat them up or to build up enough supply to do some canning or freezing.

Preserving

Our favorite method of preserving beans is freezing. It is much quicker and a lot less work to do it that way!!

Here’s a link to our post on freezing green beans

How to Grow Green Beans #7

Canning is also a very popular method for preserving beans. But it is a lot more work and you MUST use a pressure canner to preserve them. Here are a few resources for canning green beans:

http://www.gracegardenandhomestead.com/how-to-can-green-beans/

http://www.growforagecookferment.com/lacto-fermented-dilly-beans/

http://commonsensehome.com/dilly-beans/

http://www.simplycanning.com/green-bean.html

http://thesurvivalmom.com/try-today-can-green-beans-pressure-canner/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/how-to-can-green-beans-the-illustrated-guide/

Beans can also be dried in a food dryer or freeze dryer. Here are a few links to posts from fellow bloggers on drying green beans:

http://www.simplycanning.com/dehydrating-green-beans.html

https://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2013/11/late-season-kitchen-activity/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/dehydrating-green-beans/

http://foodstorageandsurvival.com/using-and-cooking-with-dehydrated-green-beans/

 

Transplanting Raspberry Starts – Video Tip

Transplanting Raspberry Starts

Raspberries are one of the easiest garden fruit plants to move.  Transplanting Raspberry starts is pretty simple and if done in the early to mid spring is successful more than 75% of the time.  Because of the way raspberries grow they put up a lot of suckers all over the garden.  These suckers are simple to transplant where ever you would like in your garden.

This weeks gardening tip shows you how!!

 

Happy Gardening!!

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Growing Tomato Heaven – Our newest video course is here!!

It’s here!!! My latest online video course is finished!!! Whew!

Growing Tomato Heaven

Guys, I am super excited about this one!  Tomatoes are my favorite garden veggie and I had a BLAST filming this course!

Here’s the promo video!!

I’m running a launch special for all of my Stoney Acres Readers.  Here’s how it goes:

First 30 Students

The first 30 people that buy the course get the course for only $10.00

Next 30 Students

If that coupon is gone then the next 30 students use this one and get the course for just $12.00

Slow Pokes

When that coupon is gone you can still get the special price of only $15.00

Here’s a little more about the course:

There is nothing better than home grown, garden fresh tomatoes!! Close your eyes and picture the taste of the best tomato you have ever eaten.  The fresh warm juice dripping off your chin!!  Best of all you grew it yourself in your own backyard!!

Growing a great corp of tomatoes in your garden is easier than you think.  This course is designed to give you the skills you need to be successful your first time or your 50th time planting tomatoes in your garden!  Both the beginner and the expert will benefit from this in-depth look at tomato gardening!

This 90 minute course is a comprehensive look at how to grow your best crop of tomatoes ever.  Expert gardener Rick Stone takes you step by step through the basics of tomato gardening.  Starting out with a great tomato start, planting it just right, giving it the support and care it needs through the growing season will lead you to a tasty tomato heaven!

Weather you are growing many plants in a large garden for canning and preserving or just a few plants in containers on your balcony, Rick Stone will give you the practical knowledge you need.  Bushels of tasty garden goodness wait you at the end of this easy to follow course!

Topics covered:

  • Heirloom vs Hybrid Tomatoes
  • How to choose the best tomato starts to plant
  • When and how to plant your tomatoes
  • A great little garden hack that will get you planting 6 weeks early
  • Simple tricks to extent your harvest in the fall
  • Watering, fertilizing and caring for your growing plants
  • Using stakes or cages to support your plants
  • When to harvest for the best taste
  • Ideas for preserving your harvest

Like all Udemy courses, this one comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.  If for any reason you are not happy with the course, simply return it for a full refund.  BUT we are sure you are going to LOVE this course!

Welcome to Tomato Heaven!!

 

A “Miner” Problem – Dealing with Leaf Miners in your garden

Dealing with leaf miners

Have you ever noticed the leaves on your spinach and Swiss chard turning yellow and wilting, combined with dark spots and paper thin spots on your leaves?  Years ago when we first started growing spinach and Swiss chard consistently this issue started showing up.  The first couple of years it really wasn’t a big problem so I kind of just ignored it, that was a BIG mistake.  It turns out the problem is one that is actually quite common in our area, Leaf Miners!!  Dealing with leaf miners in your garden can be a big challenge!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Back in 2011 when I attended my Utah State University Master Gardener class we had an entire evening where the subject was Entomology (the study of insects).  This was perfect timing for me and I got my answer right in class.  Dealing with leaf miners is something many gardeners have to do.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

A leaf miner is actually the larval form of an adult bug that looks a lot like a small house fly.  If you look closely in the photo above you will see some small flies, these are the adult form of the insect.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

It is called a leaf “miner” because it actually burrows between the layers of the leaf and feeds inside the leaf, leavings a empty pocket behind.  Leaf miners are one of the top 10 pest insects of vegetables in our state.  Our variety of leaf miner is actually kind of boring.  They hollow out the entire leaf leaving two paper thin layers.  In some areas leaf miners are a little more interesting digging long fun tunnels in the leaves.  Google “photos of leaf miners” some time and you can see the interesting patterns some dig!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

You identify a leaf miner infestation by the large blotches in the leaves of spinach, beets, Swiss chard and other related plants.  The leaves will eventually dry up and die. Dealing with leaf miners is most difficult in plants you harvest solely for the leaves.  The problem is a little less major in plants like beets where you can eat the root as well.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

This is the aftermath of one leaf miner in this spinach leaf, I’ve separated the two halves of the leaf in this picture so you can see what they do.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

You can also find the actual larva inside the leaves.  Just pull off a leaf and feel around for a small lump.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Here’s a shot of one I caught in the act!!

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Early identification can fix most problems.  Look at the underside of the leaves for small white eggs.

Dealing with Leaf Miners

Simply crush them to keep them from hatching.

Usually leaf miners only have a couple of generations per year and are more common in the spring.  But the conditions in my cold frames are ideal for them and they can have a second or third generation in the fall which is my current problem.

Spraying for these insects is not recommended.  That usually makes the problem worse by removing the beneficial insects that prey on the larva.  Usually the local predators can take care of your problem for you if you give them some help by practicing good cultural methods.  The following is a quick list of good cultural methods that will help you when you are dealing with leaf miners in your garden without spraying:

Crop Rotation – moving plating locations from year to year will help.  If the adult flies emerge next year and can’t find the plants it likes, the population will be greatly reduced.  I think this is my biggest problem.  Even though I rotate where my spinach and chard are planted each year the plantings are still quite close together.  The leaf miner is also more prevalent in areas where spinach is over wintered.

Sanitation – keeping the area clear of plant debris is important.  This is especially important with leaf miners.  As they overwinter in the soil.

Crop Destruction – removing the infected leaves is a good control for leaf miners, but be sure to remove them completely and destroy them.  Don’t put them in the compost bin.  I think this is another part of my problem.  Last year I didn’t know what the problem was and I will admit to just pulling some of the problem leaves off as I was harvesting and letting them lay in the bed.  This allows the larva to finish growing and move to the soil to over winter.  This year all the infected leaves are going straight to the chicken coop for a tasty snack for the chicks.  If you don’t have this options be sure to throw all the infected leaves away.

Crushing the Eggs – This can be a long tedious process if you have a big infestation.  Get out early and look for those eggs and crush them or scrape them off with your finger nail.

Uses a barrier – Another effective method for preventing infestations is covering the crop with the lightest weight of a fabric row cover material.  These light weight row covers will keep the pests out (in this case the adult “flies” that lay the eggs), with out blocking the sun for your growing plants.

Tillage – I’m not a big tiller because I don’t like what tilling does to the soil structure but in some cases, like this one, tilling will expose the bugs to the elements over the cold winter and help reduce the population.

 

So here’s my plan of action for dealing with leaf miners:  Each year I’m going to remove all the infected leaves and destroy them and hope the plants can recover and produce for me in early spring.  Each year I’m going to rotate all my spinach and related plants far out of the current growing area.  I’m also going to watch closer in the spring and fall for the tell tale white egg masses on the leaves and destroy them before they hatch.

 

If you would like more information on dealing with leaf miners you can read a great fact sheet published by Colorado State University by clicking on this link.

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05548.html

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