Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gardening S.O.S. - Part 2 - the autopsy

I decided to go out to the garden today and uproot the dead zucchini and watermelon plants to see if anything looked suspicious. Knowing nothing about plants, everything looks suspicious to me, so I'm not sure what I hoped to gain from this. I will take the photos and spend this afternoon with my Organic Gardening Book with the hopes that something will jump out at me.

I thought I'd post the pictures here in case any of you gardening pro's see anything that looks obvious. You can click on any of the photos to see them larger.

I managed to dig up three dead plants - the fourth one was barely visible so there was really nothing to dig up. They all looked exactly the same.

They all had a severely bent and sort of cut/split stem right at the soil level. I'm not sure if this happened before or after they died.

Then they had some very limp gross brown leaves around the bottom with a couple of yellowy-green limp leaves too. I didn't see any evidence of insects on them.

So anyone want to play Dr. G, Plant Examiner with me? Does this look like anything to you?


Sue said...

Oh, dear! If there is a split in the stem at ground level, there was probably one worm in each plant that caused the death. I have problems with those, but usually after I've had a bit of a harvest from the summer ones. I don't grow watermelons or pumpkins because they die before anything ripens. It will be in your book. I think they are called squash vine borers.

Darla said...

I hate it when this happens!!

Dani said...

I have to look up the squash borer that Sue is talking about. In the past I've found plants cut down like that. GGGRRR!!

Cheryl said...

Maybe a cutworm? You can try a cutworm collar and see if it helps. Couldn't hurt.

Daphne said...

Vine borers are the bane of my existence, but I don't usually see them on young plants. They take about three weeks to hatch once the eggs are laid. Once they do they bore into the plant and tunnel in the stem. Symptoms start with the plant wilting even after they have been well watered. If you see this then look for spots of frass that the vine borers larvae leave behind as they tunnel into the plant. I have a photo of it on my site:
scroll down toward the bottom for the photo. That being said. If you have vine borers then just split the stem along the length. You will find the nasty worms. If not then it is something else. If it is, my condolences. It is one of my most hated enemies in the garden.

Engineeredgarden said...

I agree with Daphne, it would take a few weeks for a svb larvae to emerge, then do the damage. Nix my previous idea on the over-watering. I wrote that before some thought was put into the fact that they died within 3 days of transplant. I think it's time to examine all of the possible causes, then research each one thoroughly. That's how I troubleshoot electrical control problems at work. Here are some questions, that you should ask yourself.

1. Is the dog urinating on them?

2. Are you using any pump sprayers around them that previously had weed killer in them?

3. Is too much fertilizer being used?

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