03 August 2020

insect battle

This is the beetle that is eating up my amaranth greens, and now leaves on the sunberry too. After further searches, I now think it's the pale-striped flea beetle-
the holes in the leaves are more like flea beetle damage than potato beetle. There's still enough greens I cut the plant back, rinse clean and cook 'em anyway.
Something is still eating all my tomatoes, while they're green- and stripping leaves as well. Due to the frass, I found four very fat tomato hornworms. Got rid of them, but I am not sure if something else (chimpmunk?) was actually eating the fruit.
Sprayed my green bean vines, and they're doing much better now! Lots of tiny purple flowers and I am looking forward to at least one good picking of beans. I also sprayed the side of euonymus shrub near that corner of the garden. It always has a ton of yellowed leaves dropping. I think now this garden bed has done poorly over the years not for lack of sun, but because there's a constant infestation of aphids or spider mites or whatever on that euonymus that always spreads into the garden plot.

01 August 2020

some other things

I have not given much attention to the "yard plants" this season. Putting all the effort watering and weeding and pest control on the vegetable/herb garden, the other plants just have to survive on their own. I haven't watered the coleus I planted out front (they are small and poorly, whereas the mums are doing just fine in the heat) or the salvia around trees on the lawn, or even walked through the shady side yard much. 

Last week I did take a few photos, to note: Mayapple was still around, even in the heat
Bleeding hearts were about done for, but they'll be back next spring
Summersweet has grown tall enough to almost obscure the rear neighbor's little white fence- and it has way more blooms forming than last year!
My inkberry looks poorly now, while the bayberry is doing better.

Out front around the mailbox, the borage got all wilted and icky from bugs- I smashed quite a few japanese beetles- they didn't make their way to the garden in the backyard thank goodness. Pulled up that borage and scattered some flower seed (which I also got from the friend who gave me lamb's ears and joe pye and catmint). Watered for a while, now we're having scattered thunderstorms again. Lots of borage and celosia seedlings have come up in that spot, but not the new flowers yet.

I tidied up the sedum that grows over the old cherry stump, clipping off the dead flower heads which give it a brown crown in summer. That's nicer now. Need to figure out the lawn, sigh. The seed mix I used under the crabapple tree did fine, the nice bright green grass I planted by the driveway failed in the summer heat. Now it's all clover, wiry-stemmed weed and crabgrass taking over again (yeah, I didn't get rid of that so well as I had thought, yet).

31 July 2020

with pictures

Baby cantaloupes!
Joe pye weed- the standard one- turned out to be more attractive than I expected.
Still really happy with the lamb's ears under my gladiolas (which are nearly done flowering now).
But the catmint I got from friend, died. I had one cutting still alive in a pot of soil and it started growing new leaves and I thought it was time to put it outside to get more sun- but the day was too hot and when I went back outside to water it, it had dried to a crisp. I think it was too soon, didn't have enough good root system yet. 

This is definitely my hollyhock mallow (zebrina) coming up!
Tithonia starting to get taller and flower more. One got devastated by pests and I pulled it out. Have been cleaning wilted lower leaves and deadheading old blooms every other day or so, it seems to help.
Here's my cardinal climber! It looks kinda silly going up these metal racks which were for shelves in the greenhouse I didn't use, I just propped them by the fence in case the cardinal plant needed something to cling to. Which it sure did.
I'm hoping the hummingbird will come for its flowers. Last week one day when I got in the car, I saw the hummingbird at the black-and-blue salvia, hovering from one flower to the next for several minutes. And this week I saw it once in the garden, it stopped at the tithonia and then paused at the hydrangea (I didn't know hummingbirds would feed from hydrangea). It's like magic, seeing that tiny bird that hangs in the air with a thrum.

My newest set of chinese cabbage sprouted
Final news: I busted my pinkie toe. Stubbed it hard on something in the garden and it hurt a lot. Noticed later it's bloody and the nail split down the middle, vertical completely from edge to the cuticle. Spent most of yesterday sitting with my foot up and ice on it. It's not torn off or swollen, so I am just going to wait and see how it heals. I read that it takes up to eighteen months for a nail to grow back! Meanwhile I am keeping a bandaid on so it doesn't snag on something and actually tear off, and it's still a little sore today so I'm not doing as much outside work for the time being . . .

28 July 2020

garden report

No photos today, but some brief notes. Bugs have got ahead of me in the garden again, since I wasn't out there much last week. I have to put in a few hours before ten or eleven if I want to get something productive done, as by nine it starts to get unbearably hot. Insects have killed my nasturtiums and are making inroads on other plants. I doused many in soapy water again and it's helped some. Pulled all the old snap pea plants- they're past saving for seed as all look diseased. Cut sickly foliage off the bean plants and sprayed them again. If the soapy water doesn't help enough I'll do neem oil before a rainstorm today. Newer foliage still looks fresh.

I was looking forward to amaranth greens again, but the potato beetles like it just as much as I do- they are completely riddled with holes and on two plants the leaves have started to drop off. I've been squishing the beetles as I find them but didn't realize there's larvae as well- short fat pale grey caterpillars on leaf undersides. Never seen them before. Picked two dozen off the plants this morning. Cleaned up sickly leaves off the glaze collards, swiss chard, zucchini, cuke and tomato plants. Not very many so I'm still ahead of it there.

Took a large harvest of chinese cabbage (aka tokyo bekana) cutting the plants nearly down to the ground and dousing the remaining crowns with soapy water. They were very much riddled with bug holes. Not just slugs, something else too I think. Had a nice meal the day before- portabella mushrooms sliced and cooked with leeks and onions, then simmered in a bit of soy sauce with zucchini sautéed in farm butter on the side, and chinese cabbage cooked in soy sauce and apple cider vinegar, all on a bed of rice. I used apple cider vinegar in place of rice wine vinegar, it just takes a dash. I also used ginger mint in place of fresh ginger root (my ginger plant has long since died and I don't have another yet). So that dinner had four garden ingredients: leeks, chinese cabbage, ginger mint and the zucchini. It was a lovely zucchini. There's another one growing! There's a baby cantaloupe on the vine out there, too. Today I cut more chinese cabbage, pretty much using all the rest of it (going to make the same dish but with salmon and couscous today). I think I only got two harvests out of that lot of chinese cabbage. I started more seed of it today, but really I should have done a new sowing as soon as the young plants went into the ground. Aim for that this time.

25 July 2020

garden food

I was pleased with this meal last week- the potatoes are from a box and the peas from a bag of frozen,
but the minced green onion garnish, cooked amaranth greens, turnips and dill with the peas are all home-grown. People weren't kidding- amaranth 'calaloo' has great taste! Tossed it with a bit of butter and salt, that's all. Much better flavor than collards or even leaf beet chard, very close flavor to spinach. And it loves the heat. It's growing like crazy in my garden though I've cut it back twice already. Great plant.

new eats

Picked my first cucumber. It was better-tasting than previous years (no bitterness) and fat, too!
Zucchini, going to eat this one tonight.
And a large tomato. I brought it in to finish ripen on the windowsill.
Something has been eating my tomatoes. I kept thinking I saw more cherokee purples on the vine, but then when they ripened, only a few are left. Then I found a large tomato with a spot of decay on one side- or a bite, because the next day the hole was larger. Third day I went out to pick and bring it inside, and even more of it was missing, from the same side! Is it the squirrel? usually they carry the whole thing off, or take a bite and then go on to another fruit, but whatever creature nibbled my tomato came back every day to eat a little more of it. Maybe the chipmunk.

I don't have a photo of this, but started picking the sunberries. Only two or three at a time- the clusters don't all ripen at once. I offered some to each of my family. My kids liked them all right, my husband didn't. They're not very sweet, the flavor is mild and they're kind of mealy in texture. I think I will have to pick and freeze a lot in succession, get enough to try a small pie. If we're not too fond of that, this might be a plant to skip in the garden next year.

23 July 2020

paradise fish status

I'm nervous to either take a gill sample or make potassium permanganate dip for Laddie. I reconsidered all his symptoms- pale, mostly clamped fins, lethargic, no appetite, hanging at the surface, sometimes flashing off the filter uplift tube, seeming to gasp for breath. Now I think could be gill flukes?

I looked through my box of fish meds and last night dosed the tank with general cure (praziquantel and metronidazole). I have enough to do one complete round of two doses fortyeight hours apart- and then will have to buy more to repeat in however many weeks this parasite reproduces- or use prazipro to continue treatment (still have a bottle of that, but not sure how much is in it).

I think maybe I'm on the right track- Laddie looks much better this morning. He's alert, looking at me expectantly through the glass, went after flake, even competing with the guppies and minnows for food. He's moving about the tank at normal levels, inspecting stuff with interest, not hanging at the surface, and fins are not so clamped. I'm glad to see him better but have to figure out when to repeat treatment and what to use (get more general cure or just go with prazipro).

22 July 2020

collard seed

Harvested from my blue collard plant. I only gathered a fraction of the dry seed pod. These look nice, dry and mature
there's more that seemed to only have one mature seed, or looked musty.
I broke open and sorted the seed separately. Inside of the split-open pods there's little pockets left where the seeds had formed. The seeds grow in two rows down the length of each pod.
This handful is from the nice, mature pods
and this from the smaller and dingy-looking ones.
After sifting out the chaff and smaller, deformed or immature seed (there were plenty in each set of pods), I put them in separate seed packets in the fridge, marked accordingly. Curious to see if I get healthier plants from the nicer seed pods, but I'll have to remember to plant some from each group and label the seedlings to tell them apart.