Search The Rusted Garden Journal: Just Enter a Key Word or Phrase

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cold Climate Tomatoes: A Second Wave

I grew several Russian heirlooms over the years. Loved the idea of Russian heirlooms. They didn't love the hot Maryland weather. They started out great, when it was cool, but literally burned out come mid July.

I've decided to plant tomatoes differently this year. I am planting in waves. I have the standard May plantings, the first wave. I planted one on April 4th in a hot-house cage, the early wave. I just planted 4 - 8 inch plants last week, the second wave. I am going to start a 3rd wave.

The third wave will be made up of the tomatoes below. I am selecting fast growing cold weather resistant varieties. I will build plastic wrap hot-houses as needed. My goal is to produce tomatoes through October.

Most of the May tomatoes burn out in August. If it's not the heat, it's diseases. If it's not diseases they are just over grown and picked. Why not have a third wave? I'll be growing extras for interested locals. I just ordered the seeds below. I will also take my hot-house cage idea and start it in March, next year, using the same seeds below.

Glacier #4518 (30 seeds) $2.65
While this variety may not be able to withstand a glacier, it does set fruit well even in cold weather. In fact, it becomes loaded early in the season with very flavorful, 2 to 3 oz. red tomatoes. The taste is sweet yet rich, a combination found more commonly in larger and later-maturing tomatoes. Potato-leaved foliage helps support the large harvest of these very tasty tomatoes. Determinate. 58 days.

Oregon Spring V #2712 (30 seeds) $2.65
A cold-tolerant tomato developed by Oregon State University for short season gardeners. Compact plants produce concentrated sets of medium to large fruit that is nearly seedless. Fruit is juicy and tender with full tomato flavor. Determinate. 58 days.
Polar Baby #2536 (30 seeds) $2.55
Very small plants bear large harvests of 2-inch red salad tomatoes. These tomatoes are sweet and very well flavored, especially for a variety that produces so early. This is a cold weather tomato that was developed in Alaska. Determinate. 60 days.
Siletz #2831 (30 seeds) $2.65
Deep red, full-flavored slicing tomatoes are 10 to 12 ozs. and very nice for an early variety. Developed by Dr. James Baggett of Oregon State University, these plants yield well even in cool weather. Good acid taste and excellent interior fruit quality in an early tomato. Determinate. 52 days.
Silvery Fir Tree #2742 (30 seeds) $2.60
This very unusual dwarf plant has delicate, lacy leaves that have a silvery sheen. Not only does this plant add great ornamental interest to your garden, it also bears very flavorful 4 to 6 oz. red tomatoes that mature quite early. Russian heirloom. Determinate. 58 days.
Sub Arctic Maxi #2733 (30 seeds) $2.55
One of a series of extra early tomatoes bred for extremely cold climates. Dwarf vines produce concentrated clusters of 2-1/2 oz. fruit with good flavor. Excellent for Northern gardeners or anyone seeking early tomatoes. Determinate. 62 days.

Update on Aspirin Tomato Experiment

Well, the nuts and bolts is, the salicylic acid (SA) in aspirin promotes a defense response in tomatoes. The idea is the aspirin bath protects the plants by setting off an alarm of disease presence. SA is naturally found in tomatoes and increases when disease sets in. We are fooling the tomatoes. I am putting 1 - 81 mg aspirin into a gallon of water. The response of the tomato is to strengthen it's defenses to make the leaves less hospitable to diseases. The disease I am trying to prevent is early blight.

So far, the three experimental tomatoes have been damaged by either or a combination of mosaic virus, insect damage or maybe even nematodes. Therefore, I can't fairly judge the aspirin on those plants. A long shot - the aspirin caused the leaf distortions. I doubt it though.

I will be sprinkling/soaking all my tomato plants with the above aspirin formula today and 1x weekly through July. The aspirin prevention will be done in addition to pruning 18 to 24 inches of leaves off the bottom of the tomatoes,  mulching the tomatoes to prevent splashing, and pruning to maintain air circulation.

Original Blog Entry on Aspirin and Tomatoes

Spray for Diseases Today and Prune for Air Circulation

Well June has been terrible for tomatoes and vegetables. Lots of stories of plants rotting and bugs. This was the hottest June on record.

Today we may have showers but after today we have 5 days, at least, of no rain. The humidity already arrived but July will bring more. It's time to spray another round. I put a round out earlier. I will continue with sulfur spray tonight on all my plants. The test run worked fine. No burned leaves.

If you haven't pruned your tomatoes, time to make sure you remove suckers and lower branches. Air circulation is so important at this time.

Every week or two for July is the goal for managing diseases. That is keep up the sprays, pruning, and removal of damaged goods.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What is Tomato Disease Resistance?

So yeah, my distorted leaves, mosaic virus? I want to believe my distorted tomatoes are from insect damage at the growing tips. Realistically, probably a virus. And the insect damage is how the virus was spread. I will figure it out by years end. I'll be doing a bunch of pictures to help show the issue. The bottom line, I want to get rid of it. One way to battle disease is by growing disease resistant plants. T is for tobacco mosaic virus. Next year, I will be growing varieties that are resistant to T.

Here is a list of what the letters stand for:

Disease resistance in tomatoes indicated by initials include:

V - Verticillium wilt
F - Fusarium wilt (F1, race 1; F2, race 2)
N - nematode
T - tobacco mosaic virus
A - Alternaria alternata (crown wilt disease)
L - Septoria leaf spot
St - Stemphylium or gray leaf spot
TSWV - Tomato spotted wilt virus

Here is a  link to a full table of tomato plant varieties and their disease resistance: http://vegetablemdonline

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to Make a 5 Gallon Self Watering Container: In Pictures

There is never never enough room in a garden. If you are like me, you can't turn a tomato plant down. You can't say no to tucking a plant in the garden. Your wife is threatening you- "if you dig up one more inch of lawn." You know, in your head, how big the plant will get but you still plant it because it is small enough to fit.

Container gardening is a great way to grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and many other plants. The trick is watering them. If they dry out once, the plant is pretty much spent. After many experiments this is what I came up with as a way to grow tomatoes on my deck. Total cost, with plants and soil, is about $20. It's not 100% self watering but it is an extended watering container.

How to Make a 5 Gallon Self Watering Container

Purchase 2 - 5 gallon buckets at Home Depot or Lowes. They are about $5 each. You will need a small bag of pebbles, some moisture control soil and a plant. Drill holes as shown below. I suggest using that pattern. Your tomato plant's roots will grow through them and reach the reservoir.

The bucket with holes in the bottom is to the left. That is where the plant and soil will go. In the 2nd bucket, fill the bottom to about 4 inches with the pebbles. 4 inches is about the gap left when you place one bucket inside another. You want the soil bucket to rest on the pebbles. If you look closely you will see holes just above the pebbles in the 2nd bucket. Those holes are your overflow holes. You don't want the bottom of your soil bucket to be soggy and sit in water. Drill about 4 or 5 holes around the pebble bucket. The holes should be just above the pebble line.

Place the soil into the soil bucket. It is the bucket without pebbles and has the holes in the bottom.

Plant the tomato in the soil. I am filling the pebble bucket with water and Miracle Grow. Fill it to the top of the pebbles, just below the run-off holes.

Drop the soil and plant bucket into the pebble bucket and water it.

On a hot day a single 5 gallon bucket will dry out in a day or a day and half depending on how large the plant has grown or is growing.

Using this method you really can get 3 - 4 days between watering (depends on plant size). Each time you water, soak the bucket. You want to make sure you see water come out of  the run-off holes. The key is to keep the pebble reservoir filled.

This year I have one bucket of this design. In the bucket are 3 yes 3 Florida Basket Tomatoes. They are compact determinate tomatoes. The are producing a ton of fruit. I'll get a picture up next week some time.

Plant Pics

This is a guest post by Ashlyn Merdon

I am a horticulturist and I have been studying plants and flowers since my early days as a child. Whenever the spring season would come around I would pull on my shoes and go looking for plants to study in my own garden, around town and in the local parks and botanical gardens. Flowers and plants have always been fascinating to me and I like to study hybrid flowers and keep a record of new or interesting specimens that I find.

As a child it was harder to document these new and interesting budding flowers because I did not have a camera. I pretended to make a camera with my hands and then I made a clicking noise with my tongue to pretend like I was taking an actual picture. I am now very thankful that my daughter purchased a digital camera for me because I can take pictures of everything.

I keep albums on Flickr of all of the beautiful flowers that bloom in the spring and summer and I use the wireless satellite internet to keep them organized and neat. I love to have this photo album handy because it makes planning next years garden so much easier when I have recorded images of what each years garden produces by day, week and month. This photo sharing resource makes it much easier to organize.

Deadheading Flowers: How to Keep Your Plants Flowering

The process of deadheading can be time consuming but it is well worth the effort. A plant has basically three stages.

Seed Setting

We spend a lot of time ensuring our plants grow well in our gardens. Many hours are spent finding the right plant for our garden schemes. Our reward is the bloom of flowers. We get to enjoy the beauty of their shape, the brilliance of their colors and the sweetness of their fragrance. Deadheading will allow you to enjoy the flowering stage of your plants for an extended period of time. I think that is worth the extra time it takes to deadhead a flowering plant.

It is important to know what type of flowering plants you have in your garden. Do you have annuals, perennials or did you plant bulbs? The type of flower your planted or inherited will give you some idea about how effective deadheading will be for that plant.

Annuals: Most annuals will greatly benefit from deadheading
Perennials: Many perennials will benefit from deadheading but some won't
Bulbs: They will not benefit

What is the benefit? Well it is really our benefit. They will continue to flower for a longer period of time. You won't harm a plant by deadheading it. If in doubt, deadhead and see how the experiment goes. Sometimes we inherit flowers that were planted by the previous owners of our homes. See what happens if you deadhead them.

Strictly speaking, you deadhead by removing the spent flower. If you leave the head, the plant begins to produce seeds. If the plant believes it has enough seed heads it will slow or stop flower production. Deadheading interrupts this process. If you remove the spent flower heads the plant will respond by producing more flowers. Many flowering plants 'panic' when deadheaded and produce even more flowers. The goal of the plant is to reproduce. The goal of the gardener is to enjoy the flowers.

There are four basic ways to deadhead.

Pinch or cut the flower off the plant right where the flower meets the stem (Petunia)
Pinch or cut the stem of the flower off all the way down to the base of the plant (Daisies)
Shear the plant back when dealing with small flowers (Moonbeam Coreopsis)
Pinch or cut the flower back to the first set of leaves (Marigolds)

They all involve removing the flower. If the plant has a long stem, cut it back to the base of the plant. If it has a short stocky stem cut it back to the first set of leaves. Plants that get hundreds of little flowers like 'Moonbean Coreopsis' are best sheared back an inch or two (like a hair cut). Plants like petunias that are sort of bushy can just have the flower head pinched off. The reason you cut back flowers on stems differntly is so you don't have the eye-sore of the stem with no flower sitting there.

Some plants may not easily fall into one of the above categories. Mums for instance have a ton of flowers and you could snip each flower off if you don't want to cut back foliage. I find this too time consuming and shear the whole plant back just enough to remove all the blooms when most of the flowers are spent.

Deadheading = More Flowers

Also keep in mind deadheading works for garden vegetable plants. Pea and bean plants are good examples of deadheading. Instead of removing the flower, you are removing the seed pod. By harvesting pea pods and beans, you will get more production out of your vegetable plants. If you left the pods on the plants they would mature and brown. The seeds would be set and the plant will stop producing.

Free Plants for the Locals

I have packed my garden full of plants. I have about 100 plants left. I've given some away. I have given them out at work. Yet, I still have many. They are on my driveway by the garage. I will discarding them Wed at 12 pm to the trash bin or compost bin. You are welcome to come by and take them anytime. I don't need to be there.

Decorating Your Home and Garden: Websites

Gardening becomes a life style. My blog is called The Rusted Garden because of the objects around the garden that are rusting. Decorating your garden and the exterior of your home reflect part of you. Items I leave out to accidentally  rust and objects from yard sales fill my garden. Catalogs and on-line sites are a great way to find items that add to your garden and home. One web-site I found is mailboxandbeyond.

They offer all kinds of mailboxes, address plaques, personalized home and garden decor. They offer a very large variety of Whitehall Products. They have mailboxes, garden hose holders, door mats, sundials, bird feeders, birdbaths and hooks &  hangers. Many of which can be personalized to your wish. Creating a unique and relaxing environment is part of gardening.

They specialize in personalized address signs and house address plaques. They offer a low price guarantee and no shipping on many items. You can get plaques made for the garden that state when the garden was established. I am considering getting a plaque made for my entry gate that will welcome people to The Rusted Garden. Est. 1999 the year we moved in to raise our family.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tilapia and Squash: Getting the Vegetables to the Table

The garden is producing warm crops. Today I looked through it and picked a few things. I made a fish dish and used left over pasta. One of the best things about gardening is creating a meal based on what is freshly available. I mean right off the plants. That fresh!

The ingredients from the garden: two button squash, a zucchini, a few small onions, two jalapenos, purple basil, sweet basil and cilantro.

The ingredients from the store: about 6-8 oz of tilapia and left over pasta.

I pretty much cook without recipes. If you want to try something like this, season it how you wish and just don't over cook it. It will turn out just fine.

I measured 1 1/2 cups of pasta, diced the jalapenos and onions together. The zucchini and squash were sliced as seen above and the basil and cilantro were chopped up. The salad dressing is just vinegar and oil. I only used one of the button squash for this meal.

The four tilapia fillets were cooked in oil, garlic powder and Montreal Steak seasoning. You can just use salt and pepper or whatever seasoning you like. I put some oil in a non-stick pan and seasoned the pan. Once, hot I dropped the fillets on. I cooked them on medium high #7 heat. They take about 3-4 minutes on each side. Stop cooking when they are white through the fillet.  The fish should be cooked and removed from the pan. Place them in a bowl and set them to the side. 

You should continue to use the same pan. I prefer using the same pan to pass on the flavors. I like cooking in layers and separating the food to prevent over cooking and the over mixing of flavors.

I turned the temperature down to about #4 or medium low heat and added some oil and salt. I used coarse salt. The goal is to sweat the jalapenos and onions on lower heat.  You don't want the onions to turn brown, just become translucent. This takes about 6 to 8 minutes. Adding salt pulls the liquids out of the vegetables and gets the flavors going.

Add the squash and zucchini right to the onions and jalapenos and give it some salt and oil. They should be cooked on higher heat like the fish which was cooked on #7. I have an electric stove.  You only want to cook it about 4 to 6 minutes to warm the vegetables through and slightly slightly soften them. You don't want super soft vegetables. The fish should be broken up into large pieces as shown in the bowl. Don't over mash the fish. Break it up.

Heat the pasta in the microwave with some butter or substitute for about 45 seconds. Add the pasta to the pan along with the herbs. You are adding the herbs last so they don't get over cooked. Adding them last maintains the herbs color and fresh picked flavor. Mix the ingredients together on the same heat for 3 or 4 minutes.

Plate it. I decided not to add the fish into the whole mix. I made this recipe up as I went along and based it on what was available in the garden and in the house. I kept the fish to the side because I felt the flavor would get lost if it was tossed into the pasta and vegetables as I originally planned. 

That's pretty much it.  It is a pale looking dish. Round yellow plates were the wrong plate. I should have used our square burnt orange plates. The dish would have popped with color.  Ah well! but it tasted great. 

My wife gave it a 7 1/2. I thought it was a 9. But she said a 10 is really hard to reach. Let's see how she feels when nothing is waiting for her when she comes home next time.

Mystery Flower: Hummingbird Flower

I grow perennial plants and will be taking a lot of pictures of the flowers. Right now the name escapes me. If anyone knows the name of the flower, please let me know. Hummingbirds are attracted to red flowers. This one has one of the most brilliant red colors I have seen in bulb plants. It does come back every year. I want to add a lot to my flower beds in the back yard.

Burglar Alarms, Safety and Home Security

We just returned from the weekend. Our home was safe and the garden continues to grow. My first concern when returning is always - was the house damaged or broken into. We have had our cars broken into and my mother had a GPS system stolen while we were in the house. No I don't live with my mom, they were just visiting. We do a lot to keep the critters out of the garden, the same should be done to make sure the family and house is safe and doesn't get burglarized. A great place to start and see what is available is at burglar alarms from home security team. They are an ADT authorized company and offer a wide range of packages.

Noise is the best deterrent for both unwanted garden and human critters. Thieves, like garden rodents are opportunistic. They don't want to work hard for the reward of stealing your property. Dealing with a security system is hard work for a criminal and therefore the best deterrent.

Many of the packages from the home security team include installation. Many of us are capable of do-it-yourself projects. Here is some information on home installation. The biggest issue, like gardening, is planning. It is important to take the time to identify all entry points you want to secure and how you will manage the security system.  Here are additional tips and things you can do with a security system. Smoke detectors can be incorporated into the system. Back-up systems can be put in place for power outages or even cut phone lines. The security keypads can be set up like intercoms to the security monitoring center. You can get instant access to them without having to use a phone. If you have need, video cameras can also be part of your design. The bottom line is any type of security system can be developed for your home. The key is to not make it easy for a criminal.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sulfur Spray: 2nd Wave of Plants

The sulfur spray didn't burn my plants. 1 1/2 tablespoons of wettable sulfur per gallon. I sprayed my cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and squash. I know for a fact I will get powdery mildew. So, hopefully the preventive spray will help with early blight and mildew protection.

I will be a doing a weekly spray through July. I pruned a majority of my tomato plants to about an 18 inch gap between first leaves and soil.

My cucumbers and squash plants are doing very well. Watering is the biggest issue. They need to be watered well and then some. I found water is the biggest issue for the vine crops and squash.

I will be planting a 2nd wave of cucumbers, squash, and other selected plants in styro-foam cups.  It's a way to save space a time. I can grow them in the cup as the other vegetables mature and get served. My cabbages will be all out soon. I will be able to transplat new plants to the garden immediately this way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tomato Distored Leaves: Insects and Glyphosate/Glyophosphate

My distorted tomatoes sat near two locations, I sprayed grass and weed killer. I thought I was safe with no drift in the wind. Glyphosate is the ingredient that can harm your tomatoes (all plants). One of the symptoms of light encounter with glyphosate is the thick distorted leaves at the growing tips of the tomatoes. That is what I have. The other culprit is insects. The tomatoes in my garden that have been harmed have all been near spray points. I am not sure if it was 100% glyphosate damage or insects or both. Because the plants are growing very very well even with distortions, I don't think it is a virus.

The 7 plants away from spray points show no signs of the distortion. They all came from the same group of tomatoes I grew from seedlings.

Note to self. Minor drift of glyphosphate or my hand actually spreading the chemicals is a greater risk then I thought. I may test this theory on some left over plants.

Below is information written by Steven Gower. Note the sentence I bolded and put in italics.

Glyphosate injury on tomato

Steven Gower, MSU Diagnostic Services

July 9, 2008
Several tomato samples have been submitted to the lab over the past 10 days with symptoms consistent with glyphosate injury. In most of these cases, the injury resulted from glyphosate spray drift likely from neighboring corn and soybean fields. Occasionally, the injury resulted from glyphosate contamination in the tank used to apply pesticides to the tomatoes.

Specific symptoms of glyphosate injury will vary depending on several factors including exposure dose, tomato growth stage, growing conditions after exposure, etc. Glyphosate is translocated inside the plant to the newest meristematic regions; therefore the newest growth will be most injured.

Tomatoes injured with glyphosate will have distorted new growth with cupped, fringed and small leaflets. Often, the newest leaves will contain a proliferation of buds and small leaflets. Many of the leaflet bases will contain a yellow to white discoloration – a diagnostic clue of glyphosate injury on tomato.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sulfur Spray: Tomato Friend or Agent Orange

I finally sprayed my wettable sulfur. I am using 1 1/2 tablespoons per gallon to spray tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squashes.

I either am helping them or will have a defoliated garden in a few days.

My tomatoes are growing extremely well but have this leather leaf distortion going on. It's not a curl I wonder if its from drenching them in aspirin, if its stress, related to the high volume of bugs the last 3 weeks or a virus. I think they are growing to well for a virus. The leaves are still growing well, just distorted.

I have a new batch of tomatoes that are almost 8 inches tall. I want to plant some late in the season. I guess time will tell.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pictures: Pruning Tomato Suckers

Now is the time to start removing tomato suckers. They aren't really suckers, they are actually other growing tips that will produce vine growth. You cut them to maintain a single vine that grows vertically up the stake. You typically prune "suckers" from indeterminate tomatoes. They are the tomatoes that grow all year long. Determinate tomatoes grow to a set height and set fruit and then die. You want determinates to grow with only minimal pruning.

Below is an indeterminate tomato. Notice my fingers point and two suckers. They are located between the main stem and leaf branch. They need to be removed.

Notice, below,  my fingers no longer point to the suckers. They were cut off. What is left is the main stem and tomato branch. You want the indeterminate tomato to grow as one vine. It's fine to leave 1 or 2 suckers on to grow if you choose. It just requires more staking and managing. You don't want the tomato to get so bushy and full of growth that it becomes more susceptible to diseases.

This is what the tomato now looks like. The suckers are removed.

Always Look the Door

Guest post from my friend Ben Ryans.

This may seem very obvious, but the best way I can make my home safer is by always locking the door, in addition to a ADT videohome security system that is already in place. If you do not already, I highly recommend having a family meeting with family members to discuss this one simple rule: always lock the door.

It was two summers ago, when I noticed how often the door was left unlocked in my home. I do live in a residential community that is known for its low crime rates. However, I still felt very unsafe when I discovered that the door was left unlocked. When it was left unlocked one too many times, I decided that I needed to step up and have a meeting with my family for many reasons.

I still remember that family meeting vividly in my mind. The kids wondered why I was so overly cautious. But, I explained to them that a criminal could walk into our home at any time they felt like it with the doors left unlocked. I also explained that many kidnappings occur because doors are left unlocked.

Ever since that family meeting, my kids respect me so much more for ensuring their safety. My advice is always remember to lock the doors to make your home safer.

How to Grow Beans: A Very Dry Warm Weather Crop.

How to Grow Green Beans and Other Beans

By Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C


Green beans (and most beans) like well drained fertile soil. The key to growing healthy bean plants is well drained soil. Wet soggy soil can lead to disease and seed rotting. They also prefer warm soil. Cold soil also promotes seed rotting. They like the heat.

I question saying any vegetable prefers fertile soil. Isn't that a given? The more fertile the better for most plants. But for beans, if you only have good or average soil, they will do fine. They use a bacteria to fix nitrogen from the air to their roots. This process occurs in most legumes or beans. They can get nutrients even if you don't have fertile soil.

It is also recommended that you rotate your bean plantings, if not yearly, every three years. My experience leans toward every three years. I haven't had issue from planting in the same spot for several consecutive years. The bottom line for healthy bean plants is pretty good warm soil that isn't too soggy.


I have read two different themes around fertilizing. One is to use compost and 1-1-1 type amendments and nothing more because they fix their own nitrogen. The other theme I have read is using a basic 10-10-10 fertilizer prior to planting.

My solution is a small handful of 10-10-10 fertilizer lightly raked into the planting area when you plant the seeds. I also give them a drink of water soluble fertilizer at around 30 days of growth. I haven't had any issues or problems. If I have compost, I work it into my beds prior to planting anything. The key is to just plant them and give them a little something but don't over use a 10-10-10 fertilizer. A light sprinkle and rake is all they need around fertilizing.


A good soaking is needed when the seeds are first planted. Once the first leaves come through, a weekly watering is all they need when the day temperatures are in the 70' and low 80's. Water from the ground and thoroughly soak the garden bed. When the temperatures hit the high 80' and 90's, you will need to water them 2 times a week and maybe a third time if there hasn't been any rain. They are drought tolerant. Make sure you water them from the bottom and not top. Watering from the top, wetting leaves and splashing soil around can lead to diseases.

Planting Beans

There are basically two types of beans. There are bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans grow about knee high and stop. Bush beans do not need support. Pole beans can grow anywhere from 4 feet to 12 feet or longer. Many continue to grow. They need support to manage the vine they produce.

Bush Beans

Plant bush bean seeds to 1 inch in depth and 2 inches apart. When the plants are 3-4 inches tall you should thin them to stand 4 inches apart. Plant bush beans in rows. Spacing between rows should be 1 1/2 to 2 feet. Most packages say 2 feet or a bit more but I haven't had a problem with rows that are 1 1/2 feet apart. Wider rows will give you more air circulation if disease is a problem in your area.
Pole Beans

Pole beans grow like vines. You will need some sort of support for them to grow up. You can plant them along a fence. You can create a wired mesh support that they can grow up. You can use 6 -8 foot poles stake 1 per plant. You can create a stick tripod (tepee) for them to grow up. Anything will work.

If you plant a row for climbing a fence or trellis, they should be planted 4 inches apart minimum and 1 inch deep. Some people suggest 10 inches depending on how vigorous the vine is.

If you are going to plant them to grow up a tripod of sticks (tepee) you should plant them in hills. You can from the tripod around the hill. The poles should be at least 6 feet high. Plant about 6 beans to a hill, 1 inch deep and thin to 3 or 4 strongest plants. Hills should be spaced 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart.

Harvesting Beans

The key to harvesting beans is to harvest them frequently for the pods. If you are cooking the bean and not cooking the seeds, you want to harvest the beans before the seeds get large. You don't want the plant to direct it's energy to seed production. You want it to produce pods. The more you harvest the pods, the more pods will be produced.

If you are growing beans for the seeds, you want the pod to develop seeds. You can see the seeds swell in the pod. Pick them before the shell of the pod dries out if you are going to cook and eat the beans fresh. If you are growing the beans for dried seeds let them dry on the plant. The pods will dry out and hold the dried beans for you. Pick them when fully dried. The pod will crumble when dry.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tending Squash and Zucchini: Pests

Here is one plot of yellow squash, zucchini and heirloom squash Delicata growing up the fence. These  vegetables tend to great in the beginning. They look healthy. However, soon the beetles come and they come every year. You don't have to dust the entire plant. The beetles tend to go right to the stem. Dust the stem and around the stem. Be carefully not to dust the flowers. You want the bees to pollinate.

Also take the time to cut any leaves touching the ground. This helps with air circulation. Give birds easier access to the ground. And it stops beetles from accessing your plant without going to the dusted stem. To be safe I drop a little dust on the cut.

Click the Photo to Enlarge

Squash and Zucchini
Gary Pilarchik 2010

A Picture of Bolting Lettuce

Cool season crops get planted very early. Lettuce is a cool season crop. Once the temperature gets into the high 80's, lettuce begins to bolt. I figured a picture will best explain bolting. During this time the lettuce tends to get bitter. When you break a leaf, you will notice a white fluid seeping out. In short, lettuce changes when it bolts and it is less appealing. It is preparing to flower and make seeds. I like the bitterness mixed in with other non bitter greens.

Below is red leaf lettuce that has bolted. You will notice 3 large spikes forming. Eventually it will flower and create seed.

Click the Photos to Enlarge

Bolting Red Leaf Lettuce
Gary Pilachik 2010

Lettuce can be planted again in mid August. Fall is the second cool season for greens. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

Micro Tom and Florida Basket Tomatoes

Click the Photos to Enlarge

Some cabbages, onions and greens from my garden.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

There are 5 Micro Toms in long container and 3 Florida Hanging 
Baskets in the 5 gallon container.
Gary Pilarchik 2010


Progress of My Tomatoes as of June 11th

Click the Photos to Enlarge

My Concord grapevine. I think it is in it's 4th year.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

Here are the tomatoes I grew from seed. Today is Friday June 11th. 

In order left to right. 1st Prize, Aussie Heirloom, 
and Aunt Gertie's  Gold Heirloom
Gary Pilarchik 2010

 In the middle plant is a Black Cherry.  Far left is Delicious Heirloom 
and far right is the Whopper. Both 1- 2 pound tomatoes.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

The one to the left in the back is the tomato I planted April 4th 
in the hot-house cage I made. It has some good size fruit on it.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

Perennial Plants and a Rusted Object

Butter Fly Bush in the lower left corner and Asiatic Lilies. 
In the back is my Fig tree.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

One of the rusted objects in the Rusted Garden. It spins in the wind. 
It still functions as a rabbit deterrent.
Gary Pilarchik 2010

Kitchen Remodeling

This is a guest post by Antonia Morales

I recently used kitchen remodeling Sears to make my kitchen more modern. The kitchen that came with the house was from the 60’s, so it needed a little more work to make it appealing. I first went through different home magazines to see what other people did to make their kitchens more modern. I also looked in local home improvement stores and looked at some of the catalogs that they had to get a few more ideas. I looked around different stores to look at some of the more modern appliances that they had on display. I made a list of what I wanted to do and things I needed before I went shopping.

I went to the store and purchased new floor tiles that resembled hardwood, gold paint for the walls, and granite countertops. Luckily the kitchen already had stainless steel appliances in it so that saved money as well as time. If the kitchen does not come with the color appliances that you want, then you can always change a few things to make it work.

This took close to two months for me to complete, but the kitchen came out great. It opened the house up more and made the kitchen fit in more with the rest of the house. It even added value to the house from what our realtor told us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Upside Down Tomatoes: A Few More Won't Hurt

Well I just wrote about more tomato seedlings coming. I think it is time to build another bucket.

The pictures wouldn't copy over: Here is the direct link to the article, With Pictures, I wrote: How to Build an Upside Down Tomato Container

How to Grow Upside Down Tomatoes
by Gary Pilarchik LCSW-C

What Type of Tomato Do I Plant?

It is important to choose the right tomato plant. There a two types of tomatoes. A determinate tomato and and indeterminate tomato. The determinate type of tomato grows to set height, fruits and dies. The tomatoes all mature essentially at the same time. This type of tomato matures in about 60-75 days after planting. An indeterminate tomato grows until the first frost. This plant will continue to grow and set fruit all Summer long and into the Fall. This type of tomato also matures in about 60-75 days but the difference is it continues to fruit and grow all season long.

Determinate Tomatoes

The benefit of this type of tomato is that it won't get to large. It is a pretty good bet for an upside down tomato container as well as patio containers. The size of the plant is more manageable. The drawback is that the plant sets fruit all at once and then dies.

Indeterminate Tomatoes

The benefit of this type of tomato is that you can harvest fruit from it all Summer long. The drawback is that it can get huge and outgrow its container. The biggest problems you will have with upside down tomatoes is maintaining the moisture level of the plant and managing the weight of the mature plant.

What Variety of Tomato Do I Grow?

It doesn't matter if you grow hybrids, heirlooms, or the standard variety of tomatoes. What matters most is the size of the tomato. If this is your first venture into upside down container gardening I recommend growing a cherry type of tomato or a tomato that grows to 6 ounces or less. I have had the best success with smaller tomatoes. I have attempted to grow 12 ounce fruits and the weight of the plant broke the handle that was holding the container on the beam. That is why I know reinforce the handle. The 12 ounce plants also dried out more quickly. Watering and plant weight are your nemeses.
nem·e·sis (nm-ss)

n. pl. nem·e·ses (-sz)

1. A source of harm or ruin: Uncritical trust is my nemesis.
2. Retributive justice in its execution or outcome: To follow the proposed course of action is to invite nemesis.
3. An opponent that cannot be beaten or overcome.
4. One that inflicts retribution or vengeance.
5. Nemesis Greek Mythology The goddess of retributive justice or vengeance.


Watering and Plant Weight Problems

Watering Problems

The most critical factor in growing an upside down tomato is moisture or watering. I have had fruit crack because of moisture problems and I have had plants develop blossom end root because of moisture problems. Two different problems both related to watering and moisture control. Cracking occurs when watering is inconsistent. The plant dries out and then the soil is soaked. That is the basic scenario that gets repeated and it is the culprit to the problems. The cycle of drying and drenching, causes the plant to quickly suck down water and the fruit cracks. Blossom end rot occurs due to a calcium deficiency. The constant drying of the roots causes problems with the way the plant absorbs nutrients. Blossom end rot is the browning of the bottom of your tomatoes.

Solutions to Watering

The first solution is using a large 5 gallon container. The smaller bags or containers on the market are setting you up for failure in my opinion. The second solution is using moisture control garden soil. I recommend Miracle Grow moisture control garden soil. Not only does it help with moisture but it feeds your plant. You can also use garden soil and add a good amount of peat moss into the mix.

Weight Problems

It is pretty simple, the bigger the plant grows and the larger the tomatoes, additional weight is added to your container over time. Bigger plants and larger fruit often require a lot more watering. Water, large plants and large tomatoes can actually break the handle on the 5 gallon bucket.

Solutions to Weight

The solutions are up to you. No matter what I say, if you are like me, you will want to grow the 1 pound tomato in your upside down container. Here are the basic solutions. Grow determinate tomatoes. Grow smaller sized indeterminate tomatoes from cherry size to about 6 ounce fruits. If you want to grow bigger tomatoes, you will have to secure the container for the heavy weight.

Getting Started: The Supplies

Upside Down Tomatoes: Supplies

You now have an idea of what goes into selecting a tomato plant for an upside down container. You will need to select a sunny location with six or more hours of sunlight. You will need a place to hang the container. You will need to purchase plants, garden soil, containers, hooks, fertilizer and rope. You will need a cutting tool to cut plastic. All these items can be purchased at a large home improvement store.

A tomato plant

Two cubic feet of moisture control garden soil (fills two plus containers)
A five gallon paint bucket with lid (one per tomato plant)
Sphagnum peat moss if you want to make your own moisture control blend of soil
A hook to hang the container if it is going under a deck or other structure ( a very secure hook)
A post of some sort if you are hanging your container elsewhere
A box of water soluble fertilizer (one box will feed many upside down tomatoes for the entire season)
Six feet of 3/16 inch rope or strong nylon equivalent (if you are going to grow large weighted tomatoes)
A two inch blade that can cut a plastic paint bucket (I use a basic two inch kitchen paring knife)
The picture includes three bags of miracle grow garden soil ($3.97 per 1 cubic foot bag) and a bail of sphagnum peat moss ($9.97 for a bail). Rope to create a strong handle. A knife with a short blade for cutting and a five gallon paint bucket. There are enough supplies to make four upside down tomato containers.

Step One: Cut a Hole in the Bottom of the Container

The 5 gallon container can be purchased at any home improvement store. They can be found in the paint section. This container cost $2.97 and the lid that goes with it cost $1.97. The knife I use is a stainless steel kitchen knife.
I grow my tomatoes seedlings/transplants in 8.5 oz Styro-Foam cups. You want to make the hole in the center of the container just a little smaller then the top of a 8.5 oz cup.
When you cut the hole make sure your hand is away from the direction you are pulling the blade of the knife.

Upside Down Tomatoes: The Hole

You want the hole to be about that size. If it is to large, the soil will fall out. If it is to small, you run the risk of the edge of the hole cutting into the stem of the tomato when the wind blows.

Upside Down Tomatoes: Check the Hole

If you drop the cup into the hole it should look something like this. You don't need to cut the perfect hole. Just something close to the pictures.

Step Two: Reinforce the Handle

Even if you aren't going to grow large varieties of tomatoes, you may one day. It is a good idea to reinforce the handle using 3/16 rope. The rope I use cost $4.97 and it is 50 feet. Plenty of rope. Cut a 3 1/2 foot piece of rope or the size you need for your hanger.

Upside Down Tomatoes: Building the Container

Use the point of your knife and poke a hole beneath each end of the handle that is already attached to the container. The rope gets threaded through the holes and you now have a secure way to hang your container. It will hold wet soil, a heavy plant and large tomatoes.

Step Three: Make the Soil and Fill the Bucket

Before you fill the container you will need to turn it over and cover the hole you just cut. I used a cabbage leaf while making this one. You can use a piece of paper.
If you bought moisture control garden soil, just fill the bucket almost to the top and your done. You want to leave about 2 inches of space from the top of the bucket.
If you bought peat moss and basic garden soil, fill the bucket with 2/3 garden soil and 1/3 peat moss. Mix them thoroughly together. Also leave 2 inches of space from the top of the bucket.

Upside Down Tomatoes: Filling the Container

Step Four: Plant the Tomato

Place the lid on your container and flip the bucket. Pull out your cabbage leaf or piece of paper and dig down as far as you can go with your fingers. The reason you left 2 inches or so of space in your bucket is to give yourself some space to plant the tomato to a good depth. You want the tomato plant to be firmly in the container. You should get at least a good 5 inches of root and stem into the container.

Upside Down Tomatoes: Plant the Tomato

Drop the tomato into the hole. Remove any leaves that would be inside the bucket. You only want stem in the container. Tomatoes are vines. Roots will grow out off any part of the stem that is buried. Once the tomato is in the hole, drop more garden soil into the hole. Fill the entire container until the soil around the stem of the tomato is well packed with dirt.

Step Five: Hang Your Upside Down Tomato

I use an old club house to hang my containers. I hang two upside down tomatoes on each beam. You can keep the lid on the container or you can remove it. This year I am not using a lid. I want the rain to get in. You can use a lid and poke several holes into the lid to let the rain in.

Upside Down Tomatoes: Planted and Hanging

Step Six: Tending to Your Upside Down Tomato

You will have to water your tomato daily once it gets large. Do not let it dry out. Sometimes, at peak size and on hot days, you will have to water you tomatoes two times a day. You should fertilize each plant every two weeks with a gallon of water soluble fertilizer.
I am leaving the lid off my container this year and will be installing a soda bottle slow drip water system. That should help greatly with managing moisture and it will be the subject of an upcoming Knol.

Tomato Tendancies: Pruning, Spraying and Staggered Planting

So much for trying to spray early. I got some done. Gardens seem so manageable in the beginning. And then they grow. The weather hasn't really been helping with spraying. A lot of rain and rain will wash off the preventative sprays. It looks like heat and humidity this weekend. I have to get the tomatoes sprayed now.

I have another wave of tomato seedlings maturing. I am tempted to dig a 6x2 raised bed for tomatoes but don't think I can get clearance from the greater power.  This year I am attempting to plant tomatoes at different times through, lets say July. A working experiment. My hope is to extend tomatoes through September to first hard frost. Plus I think, I might be able to manage diseases with staggered plantings. I have always put them in the ground toward the end of May.

Tomato plants should be big enough to remove bottom branches. One of the keys to disease prevention is creating a gap between the soil and upper leaves. If you have been mulching with grass, it should be yellowed and dried out by Saturday. Another layer will be going in my garden. The window is closing for disease prevention.

The curled leaf problem seems to have resolved. I think it was plant stress. The plant that had some curled leaves isn't producing them any more and the earlier curled shoots, though warped a bit, are as large as the other leaves.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Did You Know About Public Domain Gardening Books on Line?

Books become public domain after X amount of years. Google has made it so all public domain books are on electronic file. What does that mean? Gardening doesnt change much over the years. What worked 100 years ago works today. You can find all kinds of usefull information by going to Public Domain Books. You can use Google or do a search of the web for other sources.

I have found 100's of book and magazine articles on vegetable gardening. It's very cool to see all the old ads and pictures too. Next rainy day or winter's day, search public domain.

Google link to Google Public Domain Vegetable Gardening

You can go to Google and select Books. Put in the title you want to search and click search. Down the left column are options. From the options select Public Domain.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Riverhill Flea Market June 13

I'll be at the Riverhill Flea Market on Sunday June 13th 10 am to 1pm. I'll have a second wave of heirloom tomatoes and lots of peppers. Sweet Bell, Banana, Bajio, Jalapeno, Cayenne, Pablano, Anheim Chili, Habanero and 2 other kinds I can't recall. Herbs including a lot basil and cilantro. Well grown Cosmos and Zinnias will be there too.

I have over grown tomatoes left that wont make it till Sunday. They are free if anyone wants to send me an email. I will be taking some to work, the rest will have to go in the trash. Send me an email if you want some at pilarch2@verizon.net

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Apple Tree Webbed and Lots of Insects

Aside from the humidity, there are tons of insects out. I don't know if others are having trouble with bugs but they are all over. My apple try has been webbed. Three nests filled with little black specks of some critter. They've all been cut out and trashed. I also pruned back weighted apple branches and hope to get more air circulating beneath it. Sort of emergency cuts. I suppose I have to spray the tree.

I added more hot peppers to containers. Four banana peppers and four bajio black peppers went in to the ground. I've been trying for three years to get bajios from seeds to the ground. Finally. But the bugs are just terrible. I don't remember a June like this. Im sure my transplant will be consumed tonight.

Replaced 18 Gallon Peas with 2 Sweet Bell Peppers

The peas did quite will in the containers. I am using 18 gallon containers as from my Knol article. I cleaned out 1 container of peas and weeds and planted 2 green bell peppers in the container.

I added peat moss to the soil but did not add fertilizer. You can easily over fertilize peppers. You end up with to many leaves and less peppers.

Completed My Upside Down Tomatoes

I learned last year, as I already new but am stubborn, that water is always an issue and so is weight with upside down tomato gardens. As much as I was tempted to put in a indeterminate cherry or a heavy plant, I didn't.

I replaced (mixed actually with peat moss and fresh soil)  the dirt in the containers and gave them a healthy sprinkle of 10-10-10 fertilizer.

I completed 2 - 5 gallon buckets using Florida Hanging Basket determinate cherries.

I completed 2 -5 gallon buckets using Big Dwarf determinate tomatoes (4 ounces I think)

I complete 2 - 2 1/2 gallon buckets with Big Dwarves also.

The Big Dwarf variety is suppose to grow about 2 feet and set fruit. I am searching for a variety that works in 5 gallon and smaller buckets.

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Garden Knols are About to Hit 100,000 Page Views

I've been writing Garden Knol Articles for about 18 months. I do it as my hobby. It is a fun reward to see them hit 100k in page views (which should be this weekend). The next marker is 250,000. It's very easy to do. If you have a hobby or a specialty, I'd recommend writing an article. Google Knols are Google's match to Wikipedia.

It's a very easy system to navigate to get yourself publish on the web.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tomato Troubles Already! Argh.

(Added) I don't think it's a virus. Insects or stress maybe. I am going to dust my plants and replace the tomatoes that are damaged. My hot-house tomato that has been in the ground since April 4th and isolated from everything else has 1 growing tip with curled leaves. There are about 9 other tips that are perfectly fine. Since it is a determinate tomato, I am just letting it grow with very light pruning.  I only have about 60 plants left. Why worry.  Plenty of replacement plants that are all fine.

It seems 3 of my tomatoes have a strange leaf curl disease. I'll post a picture after the storms. Two plants are mine, I grew. One plant is from Riverhill Nursery. Two plants are next to each other and the other is in a separate plot. The leaves on the bottom are perfectly normal and growing normally the new growth from the top is, what's the technical word, messed up.

The new growth is green but the leaves are curled and distorted and smaller. This happen to 3 tomatoes last year on a different plot. Very bizarre. I planted all 3 plants the the same. No other ingredients besides 10 10 10 fertilizer. I read epsom salt can cause problems but haven't used it yet.  The two tomatoes next to each other had the aspirin planted with them. However, the third aspirin plants is healthy and growing quite nicely. Any tomato detectives out there?

Article on Leaf Curl Virus

I don't know if this is it. But time to collect data and ideas.

Great Link to Tomato Diseases

The Tobacco Etch Virus looks similar to leaf pattern.

Well here is a detailed article on Tomato Etch Virus. The transmitting agent are aphids. I had masses of aphids on my perennials. I've been smashing and dusting them. This may not be it disease wise but aphids are amok in my garden. Time to dust.

Details of the Tomato Etch Virus

Going to dust them now and yank them tomorrow. Argh!

Lesson Learned:  Aphids can carry virus. Dust.

Solarizing the Vegetable Garden

Below is a link to solarizing garden soil. I think this one is very informative. The bottom line from several articles is you need at least 4 weeks of summer sun to solarize. Most articles agree 6 weeks is optimal and some say 8 weeks. The soil should be tilled and ammended as you wish and the big key is watering it. The soil should be thoroughly soaked to 12 inches. The plastic should be 1mm to 5mm thick. Some say 2mm and they all say not over 5mm.

Solarization will kill nematodes, eggs, insects, fungus and disease. You should lay the plastic 1 foot beyond the parameter of the garden space and secure the edges with rocks and dirt. The idea is to keep the heat in.

I think this could also be used to bring you soil out of winter and into spring earlier by heating it up. A few weeks of solarizing may not kill everything but it would warm you soil up sooner and deeper then normal.

Well lunch is over back to work.


Start Your Tomato Seedlings Now: Later is Better or Different Anyway.

Early blight is on my mind. One strategy I was reading about is using determinate type or early set tomatoes throughout the growing season. I am going to adopt this strategy. Early blight typically creeps in-in July. If I am lucky again, minimal damage. If I am unlucky lots of tomotoes are wiped out by mid August. I still get tomatoes and all that but my plants are gone.  Even If I don't get blight the August heat sometimes wears the plants down and they just die off.

Starting seedlings now or more realistically towards the end of June will give me young plants to put in the ground. Ill probably go with a later July planting of determinate tomatoes. My theory is they will have all of August to mature, miss the blight, have late August and mid Septemeber to set fruit. Frost will eventually kill them but blight time may have passed. All you need is a 60 day tomato. Tomato seed packs will say 55 days to 85 days maturity. That typically means once planted as a transplant. I'll see if I can time it right.  Another experiment.

Planting another round of cucumbers and squash in cups is also a good way to replace your bushes that burn out. The seedling will emerge quickly and can be ready to replace worn out plants in no time. I haven't done this really. I usually pack away all my seed starting stuff about now. This year, I am going to try-out this strategy.

Tomato and Vegetable Test Plants for Sprays and Applications

I was just writing about test plants. I never used them in the past. I have been for a while now. No harm has come to the test plants but it's a good precautionary measure to take. I have 3 test tomatoes for sprays. It is possible a spray or application you use will harm a plant. You don't want to be the pest in your own garden. Test plants are a good idea.

I use wettable sulfur and I'm in the process of making an exact formula vs. my eyeball technique. Sulfur will burn your plants if the concentration is too high. Different leaves can take different strength of sulfur. The grape leaf is different then the tomato leaf that is different then the bean leaf. You need to be wise to your applications.

I don't have a huge garden but have a test plant row this year. Last year I had 1 test plant. I mostly only spray tomatoes, grapes, and cukes. If you cant grow test plants then create a routine of spraying the bottom 3 branches of tomatoes or similiar. In a week if all the bottow branches are fine, continue the spray. The bottom leaves are probably going to be removed anyway.

Test spraying should occur before the spraying time is needed. Test spraying while an outbreak is occuring would delay your spraying by several days to a week.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Solarize Your Mulch for Your Tomato Barrier

I forgot to mention that hardwood mulch can come from anywhere there is hardwood. That means it could just could carry something that what be bad for the garden. The mulch from Home Depot is in a mostly clear bag. Look for mulch that is in at least a bag with 50% clear plastic. Set it in the full sun for a full 24 hour period. It must be 100% full sun in a southern location. If you have partly shady days that won't work. You have to wait for full sun. Timing is everything. This means it sits a full day in the sun and you use it the next day.

I don't have the technical numbers but the mulch must get to nearly 200 degrees. When I put my hand in at 6 pm today it was very hot and it actually steamed when I took it out of the bag. The mulch sat all day Monday and Tuesday in the full sun. If you want to be safe go for 2 days. Not much will survive the heat in the bag. That includes insects and eggs. At least those things that could harm the garden. If anyone has some scientific data please add it.

Prevention Time For the Vegetable Garden

It is June. It is hot. Some humidity is around, so I think I will start early with prevention for disease.

Yesterday, I used water soluble copper to spray my grapes that get the same disease every year. The leaves get brown spots and the fruit follows suit. I mixed 1 ounce of copper per gallon and sprayed the plant. I removed the leaves that are showing signs. Success will be if I get finished unblemished fruit. They are in a place where the spray doesn't reach my other vegetables. I am not spraying the concord grape at this time.

I have my aspirin experiment going on with 3 tomatoes. I will put 2 aspirin (81 mg tablets) in a 2 gallon water can and water down the tomatoes. The aspirin is suppose to boost the immune response. I will also water the rest of the tomatoes with it. It can't hurt.

Today I am going to lay paper down around the base of the tomatoes and cover it with hard wood mulch. The mulch will get covered with grass clipping this weekend. I will also set 6 foot bamboo stakes next to the tomatoes and begin training them. The tomatoes are large enough I can remove a few branches. I will probably go a minimum of 1 foot up the plant to 2 feet (over time) to create a gap between the ground and first layer of leaves. Next week I will probably start with the sulfur spray on tomatoes and cucumbers. Early blight and powdery mildew prevention.

Early Blight: Wettable Sulfur: A Great Article with Pictures

Here is a great article with pictures of tomato diseases including early blight. It talks about wettable sulfur as a treatment. The best thing is the pictures and descriptions of the diseases.