Beets And Swiss Chard - Knowledgebase Question

Fayetteville, NY
Avatar for rmahar
Question by rmahar
June 18, 2000
What would cause the tops to my beets, and swiss chard to turn brown shrivel and die? No apparent pests can be seen..

Answer from NGA
June 18, 2000
Beets and chard are related, so they are likely suffering from the same problem, whatever that may be. There is a possibility of a disease problem, such as the fungal leaf spot. This would be controlled by careful garden sanitation as well as crop rotation on at least a three year schedule, along with taking care to keep the soil well supplied with organic matter and compost. It could also be a blight spread by aphids, in which case you will need to be looking for disease resistant varieties in the future. There is also a possibility of a boron deficiency, which can be treated with a teaspoon of borax mixed in a gallon of water then applied at a rate of about a gallon per 20 sq.ft. every other week until the leaves look better. (Do not exceed 4 teaspoons.)

In general, too, you may want to look at overall cultural conditions. The healthiest and best-tasting greens are those that grow quickly. Important contributions to rapid growth are a
steady moisture supply and fertile soil. To prepare the bed
work plenty of organic matter into the 6"-8" of soil. Use
leaves, compost, etc., spreading it 3"-4" thick on top of the
soil and working it in by digging or rototilling.

Greens will grow best in fertile soil. In addition to the
organic matter, you can use a 5-10-10 fertilizer, spreading it
equally around the bed. (Use 2 pounds per 100 square feet
of bed.)

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