I liberally sprinkled the area where the ants seemed to be coming and going with both cayenne pepper and cinnamon which are supposed to be natural ant deterrents. Papa Pea also dusted all the plants with a mixture of diatomaceous earth and Surround (kaolin) which are both natural bug inhibitors. Now I'm noticing only a few ants, but the pepper plants continue to succumb.
Although some plants still look okay . . .
. . . and have tiny pea-size peppers forming on the, most are not looking good at all.
They start out looking a little "off" . . .
. . . and get worse . . .
. . . until it's all over.
The only thing I can think of that might be causing the problem is that something bad is left in the soil of this particular raised bed. Last year it held broccoli which was attacked by downy mildew. My bad for not remembering this and letting the bed lie dormant (or planting a cover crop on it) this year. The peppers don't show signs of downy mildew though as far as I can tell. I know for sure that next season this bed will be a designated composting area in the hopes we can burn out anything that might still be in the soil.
The other thing I need to do is pull up one of the affected plants to see if I can notice anything unusual on the root system.
Let it be a challenge, eh? Oooof.
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To end this post on a good note . . .
My good ol' geriatric strawberry bed has been giving us luscious berries for a few days now. Each year, I have to splurge and make one of these wicked good Strawberry Shortcakes. There's a piece for any of you who can make it over tonight for dessert!