Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This is not a noble rot.

Recently I spoke about all the rain and things will be rotting due to mold.

Well, when I meant mold, I didn't mean the powdery mildew kind, I mean the BOTRYTIS kind.  The gray, fuzzy, what you typically see in boxes of badly refrigerated or just old strawberries in the store.  I recognized it in my garden because after taking a wine course, we learned about this mold, except it's called noble rot in viticulture due to its presence needed to make certain sweet wines.

Except I don't make wine with my strawberries, and really it's kind of nasty tasting on strawberries if you haven't had the unfortunate circumstance to eat a moldy strawberry (the light brown rotty part you see on strawberries is also part of the Botrytis cycle) .

My sister in law mentioned using baking sodium (aka sodium bicarbonate) and proceeded to give a scientific explanation as to why this works (she's much more detail oriented than me.  Why can't I be more that way?!)

I have used the baking soda spray solution in the past for powdery mildew on my houseplants, a small and easy undertaking, and I was a little worried about spraying the vast swath of my strawberries with a baking soda solution because I really want something with really good efficacy to take care of this problem and I was a little worried that any residual film that might be left behind could harm the foliage of the strawberries and if sodium build up might be a problem in the soil if I have to spray quite a few times.

Wanting to find a middle ground so I don't over do anything, I went a researching (which I should have done ANYWAYS prior to my first post) to see the efficacy of baking soda on botrytis and whatever helps stop/prevent it other than good practices in general.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Service site had some great information here.

Essentially, while baking soda is helpful, they say that it's most helpful with a surfacant such as soap or a light horticultural oil and that it's true that sodium build up can be a problem and that it could potentially damage leaves if suggested levels are exceeded.  It seems that ammonium and potassium bicarbonates can be more effective than sodium bicarbonate (but who has that in their cupboard?) though it does depend on the situation.

My sister in law mentioned that pH had to do with harming the fungicide and this was mentioned too on the website, as was the thought that it affected the fungus's cell walls, which makes sense, because you're probably pickling/mummifying them.

This makes me wonder too if the diatomaceous earth could have any ability at all to help stop some fungus spreading because it dehydrates so much, that perhaps the spores are unable to survive? Though those things are pretty tough because once you add water, presto! viable again is usually the case for spores.

A Cornell link mentions the use of neem oil and though  I know my neem oil does say fungicide on it, I had to look carefully to see if it mentioned botrytis, and it did, so now I feel more confident in having that in my arsenal too.

I had mentioned looking for a copper-sulfur spray, which is usually the recommended (though unreliable, what isn't though?) method to control fungus, but as I am reluctant to spend money I think I will now go back and forth doing an initial neem oil spraying, then baking soda solution, and so on and so forth until I feel safe. All the while keeping a good eye out for gray fuzziness and discarding those properly, NOT in the compost bin where they are prone to survive.  I could potentially place them in a white plastic bag and let them sit in the sun for 2 weeks to kill spore, but I am feel too strawberry insecure now.

In a way it feels bizarre spraying more liquid on already too wet things, even though I know it should help it, because what's one more drop in the bucket it seems?!

(about botrytis/fungus control, some organic, some not, some about strawberries, some not):


Anna M. said...

HicinSoc, for some reason I feel like I've seen potassium bicarb listed on my baking powder... however I could be wrong and I don't know how having sodium bicarb would react with ammonia... (imagining persephone blowing off her eye brows)
Interestingly, wiki (great s(ource of all knowledge...don't know why I can't cite it for work though) says potassium bicarb when useed on crops can be toxic to plants in concentration greater than 0.5% (also help raise the pH or make more alkaline)... don't know if this applies when mixed with ammonia cause if there's a reaction, you're not putting on potassium bicarb anymore.

My strawberries are suffering from the rainy spring too... I've go psychadelic reds and oranges on my leaves... in theory a fungus too. Now because a little laziness and some amazement at the cool colors, I still haven't done anything yet. Although it would be nice if my fruit were as red as the leaves but alas.

Good luck

persephone said...

Hey Anna, blown off eyebrows are not so good for me as I barely have any at all. Nervous habit or genetic I don't know? Ugh, best with your strawberries. I have everbearers so I hope that the future strawberries will be somewhat unaffected if I keep up a good spraying schedule. Have fun with your hallucinogenic leaves though :P