September 21, 2012

Death by Dog Urine?

I think one of my Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato Squash plants is dying a slow death by dog urine. I have two of them located on a trellis in the front yard garden, and I suspect that my neighbor's dogs are regularly peeing on the plant closest to the driveway. For one thing, I've actually seen one of the dogs raise its leg in a salute to my trellis. Secondly, when our own dog (who doesn't usually have access to this part of the garden) walks by the corner post of the trellis he wants to stop and pee on it--a sure sign that something's been marked by another dog.

Here's what the plant looks like:

Dog urine overdose?

The one right next to it looks fine and has produced one beautiful looking squash (the other buds were attacked by aphids). The low production could definitely point to a lack of enough fertilizer at planting time and throughout early growth, but why would one plant look fine and be producing fruit, while the one a couple of feet away looks like this? Too much direct nitrogen and/or urea in the form of dog pee is the only explanation I can come up with.

Pale leaves

Thoughts? Does this look like fertilizer burn to you? Or does this look like some other nutrient deficiency I'm not considering (unlikely, since the plant next to it that is not taking a direct hit looks much better.) Any ideas on how to deter dogs other than building a small fence? Of course, I will talk with my neighbor, but that won't help prevent other dogs that happen wander into my garden from depositing a bit of their stuff on the plants. I suppose that's one of the inherent risks of front yard gardening, but yuck!

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