Thursday, April 30, 2009
So I’m wondering, what pests or garden diseases make you go “Caddyshack?” What pests are on your 10 Most Wanted List? Here’s mine (caution gross pics up ahead…. so if you can’t take it close one eye or squint!):
#10 Leaf Miner
These guys love my spinach. At the rate they were going last year I thought they were gonna give Popeye a run for his money. I used Safer and Neem to manage these.
#9 Powdery Mildew
This common plant disease is not usually a fatal problem, but it was enough to practically take my peonies down to the ground last summer – thankfully AFTER they bloomed (and this year they came back up so I think they are OK). I pulled out the Safer Fungicide to combat this one.
#8 Japanese Beetles
My poor roses…. I’ve only got 3 rose bushes, but they always seem to have problems and Japanese Beetles was one of them. Thankfully they weren’t a huge problem and hand picking seemed to control them just fine. As a side note, when I was child these were a huge problem in my Dad’s garden. He hated them so much that he used to put kerosene in a mason jar, hand pick the beetles, and then put them in the kerosene to watch them go caput! And, all this from one of the most docile guys you could EVER want to meet.
#7 Rose Slug
I often have mistaken rose slug damage for that of the Japanese beeetle. A rose slug is the larvae from a saw fly. It takes the ninja approach and chomps on the underside of the leaves until they are skeletonized. They are very small, green, and difficult to see. Safer or Neem won’t kill them, but BT and Spinosa works well.
#6 Common Slug or Snail
All I can say is YUCK!! Little dishes of beer really worked for me, but disposing of them almost made me lose my breakfast each morning.
#5 Tomato Fruit Worm
The tomato fruit worm can be more of a problem then the dreaded Tomato Horn Worm. I had them last year and mistook the damage for birds. But, thankfully I caught it very early and used Spinosa (BT should work too), which took care of it.
#4 Cabbage Leaf Loopers
I only plant about 6 broccoli plants so at first I hand picked the loopers off. But, then when the nightly routine of picking and squishing leaf loopers became more than a hassle than it was worth, we sprayed with Spinosa which really worked well. Again you could use BT for this, but Spinosa lasts longer and you don’t have to spray as much.
#3 Squash Vine Borer
I only had a few weeks of squash and zucchini before the evil vine borers killed all my plants. I was the only person around with a garden who was accepting summer squash as gifts. I tried slitting the stems open and pulling the borers out --- I know ewww…. I even buried the stems in the ground in hopes that it would reroot, but nothing could save them. I’ve heard that injecting the stems with BT or Spinosa works or even the spraying the stems before the larvae imbeds itself in there. I’ve got a few things up my sleeve I’m going to try this year.
#2 Lily Beetle
Such a deceptive little bug…. So colorful and beautiful to look at, but incredibly destructive. The larvae is disgusting. It look likes little piles of poop on the stems. These beetles have come from the north and have invaded just about all parts of New England. So much so that sales of Asiatic Lilies have plummeted in the Boston area. The lily beetle is very selective in their feeding so they won’t touch anything but Asiatic Lilies. Nothing much works to eliminate them, but Spinosa controls them somewhat. I have some beautiful Asiatic lilies planted in my front perennial bed, but I’m actually going to pull them up in a few weeks and replace them with Day Liles. I know it seems like a shame, but trust me it’s a smart choice. To read up on these beetles, check this out: http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/lilyleafbeetle.html
And…. The Number One Most Wanted is……
#1 The Chipmunk
Why you say??? Such a cute little fella… Well we had only 3 measly strawberries out of 12 plants last year – ‘nuff said! I hope he’s happy!
Monday, April 27, 2009
Although I suffer from indoor allergies, I'm not allergic to pollen – at least I didn’t think so, but as I’m quickly finding out when you hit 40 you begin to acquire many things (one being something that only my colorist knows!).
New England was hit with an early heat wave and it felt like we shot right past spring and was teleported into mid-July –a perfect opportunity for me to do some digging in the dirt. Ellie’s dad spent the weekend grumbling as he fought with the moss growing in our lawn (and, early on it looked like the moss was gonna win). (That's Ellie's Dad last summer on his favorite piece of equipment).
His weekend started out with some head scratching, dethatching, aerating, and words I won’t repeat. By Sunday morning it progressed into a serious consultation with a neighbor (not THAT neighbor), but one whose lawn seems to have been blessed by the Gods. Anyway, almost $400 later, which included the rental of an overseeder (I didn’t even know what that was until he brought it home on his truck), numerous bags of lime, fertilizer, and seed I’m happy to report that our lawn is now moss free!
Ok... this pic has nothing to with the lawn, but the phlox this time of year is much lovelier to look at than grass.
While all of this lawn wrangling was going on Ellie and I hid in the garden beds and stayed out of his way. Still mostly avoiding the vegetable beds and the snap peas (which I’m now hardening off so at least I’m making some progress), I assessed the front perennial bed and cleaned the back flower bed that is near our deck.Below are a few shots of the front perennial bed. The previous owner of the house built it in front of our circular driveway. Apparently at one time it was gorgeous, but was neglected for many years before we bought the house. It’s what got me interested in gardening. I love to rescue things… people, animals, plants…you name it. And, this garden was in serious need of being rescued. Never mind that I had absolutely no gardening experience, I wanted to bring this cottage patch back to life. Anyway, the past few years have been a learning experience which I’ll talk about in upcoming blogs. But, suffice it to say that every year it gets a little better.
This photo was taken from inside our bedroom looking down on the garden (sorry about the screen lines, but I didn't want to go through the trouble of removing the screen).
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Taking pictures of spring blooms...
...And watching the peony shoots (yes I actually watched them... afterall it's better than yardwork).
Then I finally caved in. Maybe it was my neighbor's glare as she saw me in the driveway snaping pictures, crouched down watching peony shoots... Or maybe it was the fading daylight... But I some how ended up with a rake in my hand as I turned to see my neighbor smiling from ear to ear.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
But some stealthy little ninja mammal (still unknown) knew EXACTLY when they were PERFECTLY ripe and dined on them before we could pick them! (Which drove Ellie's Dad crazy -- like in Caddyshack crazy.)
Being that it was my first vegetable garden I didn't know the "rules". Having no rules meant I could plant veggies wherever and however I wanted to.
So, that being the case I planted them along the fence in our backyard (sorry for the poor quality pics--it was an old camera).
And, in a small patch of very rocky and sandy soil near the deck.
With no rules I didn't have to worry about making the bed (well I never worry about that anyway). So instead of a raised bed I just mixed in some compost and horse manure with our existing soil and stuck the seedlings in the ground. With this approach the only casualty of the summer was the yellow squash and zucchini due to vine borers (HATE THEM). I was probably the only person with a vegetable garden who was asking people to give her squash.
So, a year later, and with a lot of lessons learned, I now know the "rules." The "rulebook" says I should have some sort of designated beds this year (raised, wide, or otherwise) so I can do some sort of proper crop rotation. This means more work and more planning (or is that more procrastination). I hate rules! But, if I don't get moving on these beds my seedlings will take over the basement. Ignorance is definitely bliss...