15 September 2013


Guess what this post is announcing?

More death on the balcony garden. I threw out the Mums, the last Mint plant, and my kids' sick plants. Also dumped out the bag of Potatoes, that plant was looking awful. I got a tiny harvest of nice-looking but very miniscule potatoes, just enough to fill the palm of one hand. Not sure what I'll do with them. I recently cut down the swiss chard to eat it, cut down the Basil plants to dry their leaves, and today the Green Onions and Chives to put in enchilada recipe, so there is quite a bit of space opened up now.

Sprayed garlic/dishsoap concoction on the Petunias and other plants that have aphids. There was also what appears to be whiteflies. The next day I inspected the Petunias and most of the bugs had stopped crawling, but it looked all nasty covered with their still bodies. So I took the entire planter into the bathtub, tipped it on its side and rinsed water forcefully through the foliage, which knocked off most of the bugs and spent flowers as well. Looks better; not sure if it actually is better. I've trimmed more bad foliage out of the Nasturtiums (the remaining leaves look surprisingly healthy), cleaned all the Dogwood leaves by hand, and cut down most of the Echinacea (swarming with tiny caterpillars). Done more sleuthing online and finally figured out what has been ailing my beautiful little Mimosa tree. It appears to have fusarium wilt. Fits the symptoms perfectly, afflicts a wide variety of plants and does not affect Ferns.

Not treatable. The solution is to remove and destroy the diseased plants. It comes through a soilborn fungus and I'm afraid my poor-quality potting soil might be to blame, or the leaves I collected from a friend's yard to use for mulch. I've scoured more pots with bleach, swept all corners of collected dust and litter, thrown out bags of old potting soil and leaves. It is looking very clean now, and rather barren.

And all this just when I am able to enjoy sitting outside on the balcony again. In the summer it's too hot, too noisy from the A/C units running in all the buildings around me, too bothersome with bugs. But now that it's a bit cooler and quieter, my plants are succumbing to more ills. I almost feel like I'm being a hypochondriac on their behalf.

11 September 2013

more death

Yeah, the toll goes on. Whatever this disease is that's killing off my balcony plants, it is still spreading. I thought it was aphids, but now am wondering if it's some kind of air-borne virus. Definitely the Petunias are smothered in aphids; but many of the other plants have pale, mottled scraped-looking leaves and no actual bugs on them when I look close.

Affected plants now include: Petunias (the worst), Echinacea, Nasturtium, Potato, Celery, Mint, Swiss Chard, Miniature Rose, Dogwood sapling in a pot, Mums and my daughter's plant (I forget its identity). Even the Sage, Rosemary and my Mimosa tree, which I thought impervious to harm, are starting to show signs of ill. Quite a few of those are my favorites. I am very unhappy and discouraged by this.

I should just throw them all out before everything dies, but can't quite bring myself to do so. There are still pretty pink flowers on the Petunias, and I even have one Nasturtium bloom...

The good news is a few plant groups seem untouched: the Hibiscus, Green Onion, Chives, Ginger, all the Ferns, and the Basil plants. Oh, and that odd Resurrection Plant, which is still closing and unfolding again according to water supply! It even has green color, so I do think it's alive, wacky thing. The Basil is showing signs of being affected by cooler nights; soon it will end its season. I had hung some to dry in my kitchen but the humidity is too high and the herb leaves simply aren't drying out. I might have to try drying them in the oven again...

My Ferns seem to be doing quite well, most of them are growing new bright green uncurling shoots.

The indoor plants are, for the most part, in good condition- including the young cuttings of Petunia and Stevia which I've brought inside to occupy a windowsill. So I will someday soon here write a happy post about all those.
Oh, and I've actually eaten potatoes! Out of my potato bag! Lovely little delicious red things. I am sitting on eager hands waiting for the plant to flower so I can upend the bag and get the rest out. They were tiny things, and I want to let them mature a bit more. Also cut the entirety of the Swiss Chard plant down the other day and put it into a lasagna. There wasn't enough chard so I bulked up the recipe with store-bought spinach, but it was quite good and I think the kids liked it better that way anyhow. So I am still eating a bit of my diminishing garden!