Vermont Vegetable and Berry News - June 1, 2005
Compiled by Vern Grubinger
University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967 ext.13


(S. Royalton) I've stopped being bitter and have turned to drink. I've decided that in order to avoid having two weeks worth of work to do in a week that I have to stick to my transplanting schedule. Nothing is happy, nothing is growing, even the spinach. Everything is about a week behind and starting to yellow. My green-sprouted spuds are 6 inches high, last year they were about a foot and a half. On the plus side, I've cleaned areas of the barn that hadn't been clean for years, and have repaired stuff that was

(Starksboro) I keep reminding myself that wet, cool, disappointing weather in May is normal. However, that does nothing for our cash flow which is suffering at this critical juncture due to very slow bedding plant sales. We're nicely caught up on the field work, which means we're ready to sprint when the weather straightens out. Lost some king blossoms on the strawberries in the 5/13 frost. I haven't seen any cucumber beetles yet.

(Guilford) Forties and rain seems to have our strawberries at a standstill.

(Castleton) Almost all our crops are under row cover and doing OK. Even on a cloudy day it is amazing how much warmer the soil is under the covers even with a lack of sun. We have full size lettuce and spinach in the field, radishes, beet greens and starting to get bunching onions, from sets. Baby lettuce mix is doing well. Where I put lettuce on black plastic under row cover it is at least 3 days ahead of bare ground under cover. Some of the greenhouse tomatoes may have a virus, the leaves are distorted.

(W. Rutland) First corn is up, after 3 weeks in the ground, cabbage looks decent, beans ainít up, beets look fair, squashes are going slowly. I have a new idea, how about a really big boiler to heat some fields for early crops.

(Marshfield) Iím trying to decide whether to put peppers and tender flowers out now even though the soil is still quite cold, or to hold them in the greenhouse where they are getting root bound in the trays. Iíll probably set them out under row cover. One good thing about this poor weather is weíre getting lots of carpentry projects completed.

(Stamford) Transplants are beginning to be set out. All of the peppers and eggplants are done. New varieties this year include "Apple Green" eggplant and "Jaloro" a yellow jalapeno. Summer squash and tomatoes are next on the list. Sunflowers are up. Should have the pole beans planted this week too. Night time lows have been favorable. Need more sunshine.

(Killington) I should be selling Asian greens but I am two weeks behind in planting.  They will be ready June 10th. It's not because of the weather, but "off farm work". Flea beetle is out there. A lot of broccoli is planted and it is doing great. Moles are a problem.  Sugar snaps are 4 inches high. Due to the wet weather, we started string beans in the greenhouse; they're up and doing well. This has worked for us before. I'm only supplying our own farm stand. I planted 200 feet in the ground on 5/30. The carrots and beets are up. The tomatoes in the greenhouse are slow due to the lack of sun. Onions and garlic are doing well. Beef, pork, and eggs carry us through the winter and spring. Diversity is good business.

(Little Compton RI) We just barely survived our second Noríeaster in two weeks. Some gusts over 52 miles an hour snapped bolts on our rollup sides! Thank goodness peppers and eggplant went back in the greenhouses to wait out the storm. We have discovered that row cover actually helps keep the black mulch plastic in place. Our first beans are just breaking ground and we are getting some cold tolerant vegetables in but, boy, what a year. We have a farmers market June 11th. It will be greenhouse tomatoes and potted herbs and thatís it! I don't want to even talk about the ornamental greenhouse production. We have had some very good years; we might have to just write this one off.

(translated and condensed by Rebecca Nixon, Old Athens Farm. If you can read French, see: for weekly reports)

When humidity in the greenhouse gets above 70% it is too humid and the plant transpiration is reduced; if humidity is low and the soil is too dry the plant starts to shut down to protect itself. The plant must transpire in order to make new roots. It must be making new roots now in order to handle the summer heat. About 90% of the water taken in goes to transpiration, so you need to water 1 liter of water per plant per 1000 joules of light. Sunny weather now can be 2000-3000 joules. Remember to take into consideration the drainage of your soil. This water must come when the plant is transpiring. About 70% of the dayís light comes between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., so most of the water must come then and it can not come all at once. More frequency is better for the irrigation.

The below-average light for this time of year will make plants suffer later due to weak blossoms and poor vigor. It is very important to keep plants vigorous (making good vegetative growth) otherwise when the sun comes out those plants are not going to know what to do. You can promote vegetative growth and hang onto your vigor by keeping the day and night temp close, 4 degrees F apart. If you run low night temperatures you must bring the temperature up early to avoid condensation. Heat the greenhouse, and then vent the humid air. Don't use the sun to raise the temperature in your greenhouse; use some fuel. Watch out for grey mold!
(adapted from Long Island fruit and vegetable update)

Humid greenhouses provide favorable conditions for seedling diseases; some are caused by pathogens that can survive in the field so check transplants before setting them out. Potential problems include several different bacterial infections of tomato. Peppers are also susceptible to bacterial spot. Symptoms include dark brown spots typically with yellow halos. Bacterial diseases are very difficult to control in the field when they start in the greenhouse, thus it is often best to discard trays with seriously affected plants. If the disease is just getting started you can try to protect healthy tissue before setting out plants. Streptomycin is labeled for controlling spot on pepper and tomato seedlings from appearance of first true leaves until transplanting. Copper fungicides may also provide some suppression. Gray mold (Botrytis) can also be found on pepper and tomato transplants when conditions have been humid. Affected tissue is black and has gray fungal growth. Manage by removing dead plant tissue and by reducing humidity. Water plants early in day; apply water to base of plants so as not to wet the leaves; donít crowd plants together; increase air circulation by opening vents.

(adapted from 2005 Cornell small fruit pest management guide)

Damage to fruit by birds is a serious problem in many areas. Visual scare devices such as whirlers, streamers, reflectors, and plastic hawk and owl models are seldom practical if used alone. They should be supplemented with sound devices such as exploders, alarms, or recorded devices. For sound devices to be effective, their location and the frequency of sounds should be changed daily. They also should be in place before the fruit ripens. Some towns have passed ordinances regulating the use of sound devices. The most effective sound device is Bird-Gard with species-specific bird distress calls programmed the device. One unit with 4 speakers is effective on 10 acres. Several types of netting, such as plastic, nylon, cotton, and polyethylene, are marketed for protecting fruits. A light-weight acrylic netting that can be draped directly over plants is available. It does not require support and it does not interfere with sunlight, pollination, or growth. Most netting is expensive, but it be reused for many years. Some growers are finding success repelling bird with newer formulations of methyl anthranilate (Fruit Shield or Goose Chase). Methyl anthranilate is an aromatic acid ester that occurs naturally in grapes, the synthetic version is a food-grade compound that is used to impart grape flavor. Apparently, this is offensive to birds, and they will not eat vegetation treated with it.


Researchers at UVM are conducting a needs assessment and enterprise evaluation to improve our understanding of horticultural farms in Vermont.  Help is needed to gather benchmark information on fruits, vegetables, flowers and specialty food. They are looking for farmers who are certified organic producers, who are transitioning to organic, as well as those who prefer non-organic practices. If you are interested in helping with this study, please contact Kathleen Liang, Associate Professor, UVM Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, 103 Morrill Hall, Burlington, Vermont 05405. (802) 656-0754 or E-mail


A recent SARE farmer-grower grant resulted in step by step instructions for converting an old gasoline Allis Chalmer's "G" cultivating tractor into a smooth running, non-polluting, energy efficient, whirring and humming electric miracle worker with even more power than the original gasoline version!  The author claims that the skill level required to complete this conversion is very low, and the payback in gas saved, the "coolness" factor to you customers, and time saved in tune-ups makes it completely worth it. Visit

Mention on pesticides is for information purposes only, no endorsement is intended nor is discrimination against products not mentioned.