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Something is damaging the leaves of my chard plants. There are blotches that appear as if the green surface has been scraped or eaten away, and there are sort of squiggly tunnel-like markings. Is this caused by an insect? Should I remove the plants and not plant chard in the same spot next time?
What you are describing sounds like leaf miner damage. Compare what you are observing to the particularly clear photos from this British gardening site called Vertical Veg which suggest that you can sow later in the year (August and September) for a fall harvest if leaf miners are troublesome. See also this Washington State University Extension document about leaf miners (which also affect spinach and beets). Here is an excerpt:
"For garden plants, infected leaves can be picked off and disposed of in the garbage; they should not be composted. You can squeeze the leaf to kill the larva before disposing of it. If you are diligent with this effort, you can wipe out the next generation of leaf miners or at least limit its size.
"The most important control method is crop rotation. Because leaf miner larvae overwinter in the soil, do not plant susceptible crops in areas where leaf miners were found last year."
You don't need to remove the plants entirely--just cut off the damaged leaves--but you should plant your chard (and spinach and beets) in a different part of the vegetable garden next time.
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While vegetable gardeners are inundated with zucchinis and other summer produce it can be hard to imagine the winter garden. But July is the time to plant seeds for fall and winter crops of cabbage, Asian greens, collard greens, spinach and lettuce. Transplants should go in the ground in mid August. Perennial and biennial flowers can also be started from seed right now. For an excellent list of what plants to sow throughout the year check out The Maritime Northwest Garden Guide produced by Seattle Tilth. It is available for $12.50, including tax and shipping. Call 633-0451 or go online to order a copy.
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December 12 2014 11:33:49