Vegetables and Fruit forum: I need help solving a sickness that has infected my garden!

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Jan 7, 2018 11:49 PM CST
My vegetable garden has some kind of infection that causes the leaves of a mature plant to roll inward and dry up. It spreads from plant to plant. It has killed my garden for the past 3 years and I have no idea what to do. Any suggestions?
Name: Sue Taylor
Northumberland, UK
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Jan 8, 2018 12:29 AM CST
What kinds of plants is it affecting? Do you have any photos of the damage?
Name: Adam Pope
Seattle WA (Zone 8b)
Jan 8, 2018 2:32 AM CST
Sue is right. pictures and what plants its effecting is a big factor. this could be anything from common stress because of environmental cause or of a virus that has many names.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Jan 8, 2018 8:49 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @Margarette -- it would probably also be helpful to know where you are located. Smiling
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Jan 8, 2018 10:05 PM CST
Unfortunately I don't have any photos as this has been a problem each year for the past 3 years during growing season. But I have planted this year. The plants that have been affected: tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, beans, squash and potatoes. I live in Southern California in Orange County.
Name: Sam
Massachusetts (Zone 5b)
Jan 9, 2018 7:24 AM CST
Hi Margarette, Not much to go on, and I have never gardened in Southern California, but I do know that often the soil there is often very alkaline and that the municipal water is also very alkaline. Most plants require at least some acidity. Too alkaline and your plants won't be able to absorb nutrients from the soil which would cause the symptoms that you describe.

If I were in your situation, I would probably build raised beds and use sheet mulching - sometimes called lasagna gardening - and compost in place, building a new soil entirely. I would also figure out a way to harvest and store at least some rain water.

You can buy a cheap soil ph meter at a big box hardware store or amazon for around $10. They aren't as accurate as an actual soil test, but they are accurate enough to identify a serious issue and you will know right away for what you have already planted. If you test the soil, and that is the issue you could do an emergency soil amendment with something like Holly-tone I suppose, or maybe some of the other members have a better idea.

An actual soil test would be useful, because you could also have a high salt content in your soil - another problem with SoCal soil.

Jan 9, 2018 11:22 AM CST
Unfortunately I don't have any photos as this has been a problem each year for the past 3 years during growing season. But I have planted this year. The plants that have been affected: tomatoes, cucumber, pumpkin, beans, squash and potatoes. I live in Southern California in Orange County.
Name: Sue
SF Bay Area, CA (Zone 9b)
Container Gardener Canning and food preservation Dog Lover
Jan 9, 2018 9:13 PM CST
@Margarette When you say you have planted this year, when are you talking about? It's too early for you to have those vegetables growing right now, even in southern CA.

If everything is affected every year, my guess is that it's the soil - did you spread a ton of manure on it that wasn't composted? Or water - are you watering it enough?

Or, are you watering it during the day when the sun is out? That will burn leaves - if you put water on them during the hot sun, they'll fry.

But, there are just way too many variables for us to do a guessing game that will do you any good.

So, give us all the data you can. What soil is in your garden. Are you fertilizing and with what and when. When do you water - what time of day and how often. When do you plant - what time of year. What is the weather like. How much sun does your garden get. Did you spray with anything, whether labeled organic or not.

I have faith that the people here can help you figure out what's wrong and how to fix it. We just need more data.

[Last edited by Zuni - Jan 9, 2018 9:15 PM (+)]
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Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Orchids Region: California Plant Identifier
Jan 9, 2018 10:10 PM CST
location is important. Some areas are pure sand, some are mixed sand / clay, some are clay. I worked landscape for years and have seen all of the above...especially in the foothill areas like Rancho Santa Margarita.

Feb 15, 2018 6:49 AM CST
sounds like several problems.

1) overwatering,
2) poor drainage,
3) neutral Ph,
4) Iron/phosphorus lockout

Confirm with the following,

1) Water your plants as per normal, take a soil core sample 3-4 days later and see if there's a muddy mess at the bottom. That's poor drainage and will lead to overwatering. Fix; perlite and don't be stingy haha. Top dressing organic material like spent coffee grounds will attract worms and they will start building drainage tunnels for you.

2) we kill our plants with kindness, plants need much less water then what we give them, over watering leds to a miasma of problems. Fix: vermiculite, worm castings mixed into soil will hold water longer requiring less watering. Mulching will also prevent the top soil from drying out.

3) ph will affect a plants ability to take up micro nutrients specifically iron and calcium will will led to locking out magnesium and phosphorus, adding more fertilizer will not solve the issue. Fix: get a ph test and bring it to 6, most plants prefer a slightly acidic environment. This will also help #4

Lastly, incorporate a well balance of microbes and fungi into your soil. Via compost and worm casting and some sort fungal inoculate. For price I like TNCMycoMax or FoxFarm Kangaroots. If disease is an issue there is a cannibis inoculate that has over 60 mycorrhizae specifically designed for disease fighting, it's called soil balance, it's pricey but it saved my peppers from white powdery mildew last year. And if insect are the issue try a foliage feeding of insect frass.

Good luck

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