In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
July, 2007
Regional Report

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Tying melons to a trellis with old pantyhose provides support and protection from insects.

Beans and Melons: Troubleshooting Problems

Among my favorite midsummer crops are beans and melons, so I keep a close eye on how these crops are doing to get the best possible yields. There are some common problems that can plague them, and sometimes we can save the crop, sometimes all we can do is prevent a reoccurrence in future plantings. Here are some symptoms and solutions:

Beans
Problem: Healthy plants drop their blossoms or stop setting them. Plants may be strained from a previously heavy harvest, or some overmature pods may still remain on the plant, thus inhibiting the setting of new fruit. Too much nitrogen fertilizer can also contribute, as can hot weather over 85 degrees and low soil moisture.
Solution: Make sure to harvest all pods as they mature to the degree you prefer, and wait for new pods to set. Incorporate a balanced fertilizer and sidedress with a low-nitrogen fertilizer. Plant early in the season to avoid hot weather during the blossoming period, and water deeply and more frequently.

Problem: Large brown spots on leaves and water-soaked spots on pods are evidence of bacterial blight spread on wet foliage.
Solution: Pull up and destroy affected plants. Avoid handling wet foliage.

Problem: Leaves with small red or black blisters that turn yellow, dry up, and drop are evidence of rust disease.
Solution: Plant resistant varieties. Destroy (don't compost) diseased plants after harvest. Use new stakes for climbing varieties. Avoid handling foliage when plants are wet.

Problem: Shriveled bean pods are likely caused by insufficient irrigation.
Solution: Beans should never dry out.

Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Muskmelon, Watermelon
Problem: When vines wilt and leaves have small specks that turn yellow and brown, squash bugs are the likely culprit.
Solution: Handpick the adults and their egg clusters. Plant resistant varieties. Rotate crops. Apply wood ashes or a spray of ashes mixed in water. Squash bugs hate pink petunias, radishes, orange nasturtiums, and marigolds, so plant them around melon plants to deter the bugs.

Problem: Melons taste bitter when they ripen in cold, wet weather.
Solution: Time your planting so melons mature in warm weather.


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