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Infectious Disease

Swiss Chard with Disease

In keeping good plant health, one must consider the nutrients the plant receives as well as the predators and disease the plants may experience. In our garden we have to address all of these. With lack of proper nutrition comes disease and with disease comes predators. The health of the plant must also be considered. Has it experienced shock? Was it over watered or under watered? Was it properly drained? Did it receive too much sun or not enough sun?

Many factors can contribute to the overall health of a plant. As we discovered it is not just enough to plant a seed, provide some light and water. Starting with one plant and getting to know the needs and overall challenges that come with that one plant is a good way to begin if you are just starting out. The Organic Journey is a patient one that takes an understanding of the cycle of nature. Just as we may resolve one pest or disease issue, here comes another. The cycle of the nature process may not be over yet and may give rise to another issue or predator.

Recently our Swiss Chard sprout, planted in one of our Soil Blocks, became sick and dropped its leaves. We are not sure what caused it yet. However, the mini garage as we call it, is indeed a garage that we think likes moisture too much. We believe that it was some type of yellow mold. When we removed the plant and went to select the next round of transplants we saw signs of the yellow mold all around where Swiss Chard had been in the clay tray with the other seedlings. Removing the disease plant allowed us to see how the disease was attempting to spread.

Because we were able to identify the mold, we could quickly address the disease and remove it by washing the Soil Blocks with a bleach and water solution. The good thing about these Soil Blocks, more specially Soil Pellets, is that they had a medium holding the soil together. We were able to easily remove the mold from the outside. It looked as if this medium kept the soil from getting infected.

We have found that the best way to address an issue whether its weeds or a predator is to:

  • Identify the issue
    • When you see a plant in trouble, ask why and investigate
    • Document the issue and enlist or consult other gardening experts
    • Conduct research regarding the issue
  •  Resolve the issue before it gets started
    • Research and Identify Organic Remedies
  • Follow through for 2 – 4 weeks after the issue has seemed to be resolved to ensure the issue has been resolved. This may vary depending on the issue you are addressing.
  • Reevaluate
    • Was the issue resolved
    • Did the plant survive
    • Did another disease or pest come in after you resolved that issue
    • What did you learn

What have been some of the challenges that you have faced in your garden? We will face them together; tell us all about it. Did you know that plants could get disease? What did you think are the best ways to address disease when identified? What can observing disease in plants teach you about the nature of disease? What can disease in plants teach us about disease in our bodies? As always you are the best part of what we do. Stay healthy!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Air Flow


As we shared with all of you, we moved some diseased plants and plants that never sprouted outside near our back porch to segregate them from the other healthier plants. So far this coupled with the fresh air we have been allowing to circulate in the garage (aka mini green house) has seemed to help. Not to mention the fresh air the struggling plants get now that they are outside near the back porch. Plants need a flow of fresh air also. This is how some plants pollinate. It is also contributes to plant health and discourages disease. Since we have moved the struggling plants about 4 of the plants have made surprising come backs. 

It is so interesting to continue to watch a plant and to continue to nourish it. Just when you think the plant is done and you are ready to give up on it, it makes a surprising come back. We were recently asked about our Oregano plant by someone, you guessed it, who loves Oregano. Oregano was one of those plants that was really struggling. It sprouted and looked just fine. But, its leaves were very small and the sprouts were no taller than an eighth of an inch. Since we have been clearing the transplants out of the garage. Moving the diseased and struggling plants completely out of the garage and increased the air flow in the garage, plants like Oregano have seen positive results. 

The Three Benefits of Air Flow

  • it is how some plants pollinate
  • promotes plant health
  • discourages disease
Swiss Chard, Cilantro, Dill & Eggplant

We are really focusing on plant health and the health conditions of the environment we put our plants in. For those plants that struggle and experience disease we remove the plants from the healthy plants environment quick and isolate them. We are also trying to create an environment in which the plants can thrive such as discouraging predators that feed off struggling plants. And bringing in all sorts of plants and plant products (such as Neem Oil) that plant predators just do not like. We want to give our plants a fighting chance since in many ways we are also learning. So far, the biggest lesson is to nip any issues or trouble in the bud. When you first see a plant in trouble immediately identify and address the issue. It could take weeks if not months for an Organic Remedy to take effect. You may also have to try some other things that work better for you. In the mean time your plants may struggle or not survive.

What lessons have you learned? What are some of your favorite plants that you would like to know about? Ok, maybe we should have said food instead of plant. What is the difference between Organic Remedies and Chemical Pesticides? What difference does it make to you which one is used on your foods? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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When you purchase a packet of seeds, typically you will see a color coded map with a key to help you identify your growing zone. The USDA divides the United States into 11 separate planting zones. Each growing zone is 10 degrees (fahrenheit) warmer or cooler than the adjacent growing zone during an average winter. Near the color coded map there should also be a key with months in it. These months tell you the months in which it is best to begin planting or sowing seeds based on your growing zone.

While these maps do not tell you what is ideal to grow in your zone, it is important to know which plants will succeed in your growing zone and which will not. Where the map does come in handy is informing you of when to grow a particular plant. Some plants will grow into late fall just fine while other plants will not make it into the late fall months. Some plants can be started in doors before the traditional planting season and some cannot simply because they do not grow in containers well or they do not transplant well. Typically, plants cannot be started until the inside location (greenhouse) you have them in can remain above frost temperatures when temperatures dip.

Be careful to keep an eye out for cool summer nights when the last frost is already thought to have past. April is the big month to start sowing seeds in Norfolk, VA where we are (growing zone). Nonetheless, I have gotten more than my fair share of calls warning me about an ensuing frosty night. If you would like to learn more about protecting plants from frost, read our article “What do bed Sheets have to do with it?” dated May 2, 2020. To learn more about reading seed packets and the valuable information you can find on them read our article “Sow” dated May 12, 2020.

It amazes us how far we have come in such a short time in our journey. We have learned a lot together and in many ways our journey is just beginning. Our pest problems seem to be disappearing and the garden seems to be getting the start it needs. What has been the best part of the journey so far? How has your health changed? They say you need at least 30 days of consistency to see a change. What would you like to see in this journey? We have been getting a lot of comments, questions and positive feedback from everyone. And we would like you all to see what each other is saying, so feel at ease to leave your comments and questions here so the whole community can benefit. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep growing.

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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Neem Oil

When our Cabbage & Brussel Sprouts leaves were being eaten up, we went in search for an Organic Remedy. Most organic gardeners and farmers will tell you the best remedy is plant health. Those plants that come under attack are typically not in good health. Although the vole might be putting them under stress. We found that the plants coming under attack were perfectly healthy plants but young and tender. Some of them were going through the transplant process and experiencing some stress and shock. All things we think the plants could bounce back from without problem. So, we have decided to give our plantings a little Organic help to promote growth and health while we get our garden off the ground.

Our search produced a recommendation to use Neem Oil. We found a product that left us with a little more questions than answers because it did not fully disclose all of its ingredients. We discovered that Neem Oil is often mixed with dish detergent and water. The emulsifier in the dish detergent helps break down the oil and give it a little structure. Naturally the oil will loosen up if heated but that is not a good application method for your plants. Once the detergent, water and neem oil mixture is made it must be used otherwise it will break down and become unusable. Well we want to know what we are putting on our food so, we found 100% cold pressed neem oil. We will add our own water. If you decided to use detergent, we recommend Castile soap, which is a natural (and can be organic) soap with no chemicals. You can find this soap at your local store or order it online. We found our Neem Oil online for about $5 per 8 ounces plus shipping. We decided to buy in bulk so we got 32 ounces for that price (per 8 ounces).

Although we think it is still to early to tell, the results thus far have been very positive. We have seen a noticeable difference in the amount of flies. They have decreased in number and have become more clandestine. Just because they get clandestine does not mean they are gone. Remember to keep up your Organic Remedy Regimen for at least 2 – 4 weeks. It is recommended to keep treating plants 2 weeks after desired results are achieved. Click here to learn more about Neem Oil from the Smiling Gardener. We did not buy our Neem Oil from this supplier, but found them to have a great deal of knowledge regarding Neem Oil as it relates to gardening and farming.

This Organic Remedy should allow our plants time to get over any shock or stress. We also dug new ground and are always learning what works best. So, there are a lot of factors to consider. We wanted a product whose ingredients we knew. Also, we are always looking for a good deal. We don’t mind mixing up our own Neem Oil solution in order to get these things. We believe you should know what is on and in your food. So, we decided to go with a small business owner supplier who provided unfiltered and cold pressed Neem Oil.

We have high hopes for our garden once these seedlings have an opportunity to flourish. They are on average very healthy and strong. The introduction of Soil Blocks and other methods that discourage disease have significantly improved our sowing success, it is on track to be 100% of seeds sown sprout into healthy plants. The transplanting process has been improved. And we are in the process of helping them catch root quicker. Discouraging voles and other mole like animals should also keep the plants from being uprooted once successfully transplanted. What we believe is a vole could have also been preventing our plantings from developing healthy root systems as well as taking root sooner and completing the transplant process. We will be observing if these pest remedies shorten the transplant process.

We believe the Neem Oil will help keep pests at bay and give these plants a chance to recover from any stress or shock. When reading packages they often make EPA, USDA and other certifications. Do you know what these standards are and are these standards acceptable to you? Do you think manufacturers should release all ingredients despite their desire to protect trade secrets? How can you help influence EPA & USDA standards that are more transparent and acceptable to your own personal standards? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.

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What’s Sprouting?

Seedling Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook

Since April sprung, we have been sowing some seeds directly in the ground. We started out in doors in the mini greenhouse, so it is pretty exciting to see the plants grow directly from the ground and not in a pot. We are learning a lot about spacing when it comes to sowing seeds and may have a few crowing issues. Crowing can discourage growth. One plant will typically dominate and grow while the other plants will not survive and have enough resources to grow in a crowded environment. Yet, we sow on and observe learning from our experiences.

So far we have identified Carrot, Chamomile & Dill have sprouted from being sown directly in the ground. Roots like Carrots, Radish and Beets will be very interesting for us to grow, observe and harvest since they are underground and a little more difficult to observe. Herbs can grow quit large when not hindered by pots and other containers. So, we are hoping to see the herbs in a whole different light now that we have them outside in the ground with plenty of space for their roots. There are a lot of plants that just did not do well in our garage, which we also refer to as our mini greenhouse. The garage presented many challenges such as being, what we believe, mold loving. The mini greenhouse also had a lack of good air flow and limited sun light. The Soil Blocks allowed us to sow a lot more seedlings with a lot less space once they were out of their pots. We attempted to rid the plants of any mold in their environment by cleaning the pots individually with a bleach and water solution. However, we think some unseen mold still remained leaving disease lingering among the plants. So we moved all the old seedlings out and brought in the Soil Blocks along with some fresh air. We think it is helping. But, as with anything we need to give it time to see results. I can see from the newly sown or re sown sprouts that the sprouts themselves are a lot bigger, healthier and stronger looking.

How can you help your seedlings grow in their tender state when you cannot see them yet? How can you identify when your plants is beginning to get in trouble? What ways can you nip disease and pest problems in the bud assuring a fruitful harvest? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!

If these articles have been helpful to you and yours, give a donation to Shidonna Raven Garden and Cook Ezine today.