Friday, August 23, 2013

August! What are you doing to me here?!

Welcome back to a slightly compressed edition of Lost In the Farmer’s Market where we unravel the tangled mess of hype, terminology and concepts in the field of Horticulture and Permaculture. Today we have a short topic that is related to this crazy weather and the plant list for the Saturday farmer’s market but before we get into that, a warning. The weather has been acting odd folks popup thunderstorms have dumped all sorts of precipitation and the lightning activity while beautiful is still dangerous. I know it’s summer and I know you all want to soak up the cool breezes of those summer storms as well as that nice ionized air but remember, it’s not worth the risk of being struck be it by lightning bolt, fallen branch or tree. Please stay safe and be wary of flooded roads as local flash floods are always a risk in weather like this.

All the rain is a good thing, the grass is growing, irrigation is optional broadcast sown seed is doing alright but little do you know there is a killer on the loose. Yes, that’s right I said a killer, it could be anywhere, but its favorite victims all have some things in common. For all you know it could be out in your backyard right now, waiting to strike. This killer you see likes the rain; the moisture the weather right now is fine for such an evil creature!  The killer to which I refer has a common name of Root rot, the sneaky blight of succulents and cacti during wet weather.

Root rot is one of a number of pathogens that attack the roots of a target plant first cutting off the planet’s ability to draw up nutrients and water from the soil as well as expire through the root system. For plants it’s like getting a hybrid of Pneumonia and Ebola. Symptoms frequently include a sudden and prolonged lack of growth, yellowing at the base of a succulent or cacti or in plants with leaves sudden heavy leaf yellowing and drop. The yellowing near the base if not caught early is often followed by a gradual darkening of the affected areas as they expand from the bottom of the plant upward. Eventually the plant is so softened at the base it may fall over. In other cases the rot progresses far enough to make a plant cave in on itself into a pile of brown sludge with green caps.  Needless to say Root Rot is pretty disgusting on all fronts.

Now the biology of why it is so bad is because plants breathe as much with their roots as they do with the parts you see above the ground. When root rot turns the root system into sludge the plant is basically asphyxiating and dehydrating at the same time. Worse yet pots and soil that have had a root rot outbreak are considered contaminated and must be dumped. Plastic pots can be sterilized with bleach solution (1:10) while clay pots if cleaned thoroughly and allowed to completely dry (up to one month) can be reused.  

Plants that are caught in the early stages of root rot can be saved simply by refraining from watering them and allowing the soil to completely dry out before you water again. If such a plant is in a position here rainfall is the source of the excess moisture moving the pot to a less wet location could solve the problem.

Moderate root rot problems can be alleviated by using a small razor or sharp pocket knife to cut away the affected portions then following the aforementioned procedure for an early case of root rot.

Anything worse than the first two situation is an extreme case and one should be prepared to take cuttings from firm green flesh only and discard the parent plant as it is likely too far along to help. A good but gross looking reference for when it’s too late can be found below.

There are anti-fungal products on the market and a few things for bacterial rot, but their price limits the validity of using them except on rare specimen plants.

On to happier topics, as you all might know I am still at the Fayetteville City/Farmer’s market every weekend and this weekend is no exception. The market is at 325 Franklin Street at the Fayetteville Transportation Museum. The market’s hours are from 9:00 AM through 1:00 PM. As with very weekend I’ll have copies of Southward Skies and the following cool plants for your gardening delight!

House Plants:
3x Aloe barbadensis – Medicinal Aloe
2x Peperomia verticilliata – Rotary Peperomia
5x Aloe barbadensis – Medicinal Aloe
5x Aloe ??? – Silver Ridge Aloe
6x Rhipsalis salicornoides – Dancing Bones/Drunkards Dream Cactus

4x Sweet Banana Peppers
5x Habenaro Peppers (Hot!)
2x Tumbling Tom Cherry Tomatoes (yellow fruit)
2x Beefsteak Tomato (Slicing tomato, On sale!)
1x Japanese Long Eggplant
4x Cayenne Pepper
4x Yellow Banana Pepper
1x Sweet Ghost Pepper

5x Egyptian Onion (Allium prolificum, good stuff!)
1x Italian Parsley (garnishes your dishes and clears out bad breath!)
1x Greek Oregano
1x Common Sage
2x Horehound  (Marribum vulgare, natural cold remedy!)

Available Soon:
Cabbage Collards
Cabbage, Green
Red Giant Mustard
Dino Kale

Remember folks the Laura’s Plant Swap is on Sunday! And I’ll be there brining some odd stuff that is for that event only so if you’re not signed up do it, do it now!  The signup is on sustainable neighbors so go check it out!

With all that said watch the T-storms and as always keep ‘em growing!

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