Saturday, June 9, 2018

Something Old and Something New


It's been a busy couple of weeks, both in and out of the garden, mainly because I've been trying to get all of the veg and annuals in the ground as well as keep on top of the weeding.  The garden practically exploded with growth once the weather warmed up in early May - during which time I was away, of course! - so I've been doing a big ol' game of catch-up every since.  I feel as if I'm behind, but in fact, I actually think that I'm way ahead of where I normally am at this time of year as I've been devoting several hours to the garden every single day.

Unfortunately, that also means that I've been neglecting my blog writing and reading, which I'll apologize for - I'm setting aside some time to catch up on that today.

It's been a while so let's start off with a little bit of gorgeousness, shall we:

Bright Lights® Pink Osteospermum

This guy just started to bloom last week and I'm smitten.  I received several new introductions from Proven Winners this year including this African daisy - I can't get over the pale pink/purple ombre colouration on the petals.  This is only the first bloom but I'm expecting great things as it's supposed to be more heat tolerant than other African daisies - I'll keep you posted on how it does.  I'm growing a variety of annuals in pots this year - a first! - but that's a topic for another post.

I'm all about the realities of gardening, not just the glamour shots, so lets take a look at how the weeding is going.  It's been a tough job this year, especially in the newly mulched garden expansion on the west side of the property.  Even though I used cardboard & mulch to squash the grass/weeds, bits of grass and persistent weeds still tend to poke through in the first year or two.  So long as I keep on top of it (which is the key!), they are relatively easy to remove and each year it will get progressively easier.

Top of photo:  What I'm dealing with in the worst sections.
Bottom of photo:  Weeded but needs a mulch top-up.

Tougher to eradicate is the buckthorn, wild grape and wild honeysuckle seedlings that seem to be popping up all over the place.  The area at the side of the house is particularly bad and needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later:

A variable buffet of weeds and invasives:
Buckthorn, wild grape, Queen Anne's lace, goldenrod, bindweed
and wild honeysuckle (likely tatarian)

The edges that I created last year in the west border are now only faintly perceptible.  I usually find that when I create a new bed/edge, it takes at least a couple of seasons to get the edge to "stick" as I remove excess soil that tends to fill the "valley", deal with uneven spots and remove rocks that don't allow the edger to get all the way down.  I'm now in the process of re-edging to get that nice, crisp separation between the bed and grass.

The 'Before' shot

The veg garden is humming along - everything has been planted, albeit much more slowly than I anticipated.  Well, everything except the beans - I still have 2 beds to finish up on but then we are golden.  The weather has cooled down significantly over the past week - great news for the gardener as my hours in the garden have been much more comfortable but some of the transplants are sulking, especially the tomatoes & eggplant.

I'm using straw this year under the tomatoes in an effort to prevent or at least delay
the inevitable early/late blight that seems to show up every year.

When I wonder where all my time has been going, all I have to do is look at how awesome the veg area looks this year.  As I've said before, the more I do it, the easier it gets with fewer weeds/grassy bits each and every year.

There have been a couple of pest issues in the veg garden this spring (surprised?  I thought not.)  First, let's talk about Something Old - my "friend" leek moth.  Not on the leeks (I'm actually not growing any this year), not on the onions, but on the garlic.

I have never seen this much damage in the garlic bed before

While the onion beds are netted - you can see them in the rear of the tomato/eggplant photo - the garlic is not.  Up until now, that's not been an issue - the garlic has sustained a bit of damage in the past, primarily to the scapes, but it's been minimal.  This year, the moth larva are going crazy on the garlic even before the scapes emerge.

A load of frass and 2 larva hiding in the leaves

I'm trying to find them in the leaves and hand squish them, but it's a struggle.  I guess this means that garlic will be added to the list of beds that have to be netted each year.

And now for the "Something New".  Every year I seem to get a surprising new pest in the garden and 2018 is no exception.  I've noticed asparagus beetles and their larva on the ferns.  Not happy.

Asparagus Beetle Larva

I've tried squishing them and picking them off but there are just SO many of them.  I keep at it though - my plan is to go out there and try to do 15 minutes of picking/squishing each and every day.  At the very least, that should make a dent in them.  There is a bit of good news amongst the ferns - I've seen several lacewings out and about.  Hurray for the good guys!

Netting will deal with the leek moths, but I'm uncertain how to handle the asparagus beetles.  I'm wondering if I've contributed to this problem by using the dried out ferns to cover the asparagus beds over the past winter.  This year, all the ferns will be chipped and composted once they die down in the fall and I'll be using fresh straw to cover the beds for the winter.  Not sure if there is anything else I can do to prevent their overwintering - I think some research is in order and, of course, if anyone has any suggestions on dealing with these critters, I'd love to hear them.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

18 comments:

  1. The osteospermum is so pretty, such a delicate colour. I bet it's stunning when it's covered in these gorgeous flowers. It's so early in the season to be reading about pests, you had such a good asparagus harvest and then to be hit with these nasty critters, I do hope they won't affect next year's crop. And moths in the garlic too, I often think it would be easier to just erect netting over the entire veg plot and keep everything totally covered.

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    1. I've grown African daisies before but this is definitely a favourite - I simply love the colouration!

      I have my fingers crossed that I find a way to control the beetles or, at the very least, limit their impact. There are two kinds of asparagus beetles - common and spotted - and unfortunately I've seen both. They can weaken the plants, making them more succepitble to disease and reducing the crowns vigour. Not sure if I'll ever be rid of them, but hopefully I'm able to find a way minimize their impact.

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  2. Just love the Pink Osteospermum … such a wonderful colour.

    All the best Jan

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    1. I am definitely in love with it - now let's see if I can take care of it all summer!

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  3. I’m a fan of osteispernum and that is a pretty one. It’s getting so we will have to cover everything that we grow as more and more pests seem to be popping up.

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    1. So I'm not the only one then? Good thing I purchased the extra large roll of netting the last time!

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  4. I dislike all the bad bugs and weather we have to deal with as gardeners. It does sound like you do defeat most of them with your covers. I love the pink flower also. Nancy

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    1. The netting is a life-saver - or, more accurately, a veg-saver :). Don't know what I would do without it.

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  5. You've been super busy, but it sounds like it's paying off! I'm amazed at how fast things are progressing in the garden this year. There's precious little time to savor anything. I'm trying to remedy that by sitting and observing at the end of the day, if only for a few minutes. Sounds like you have a good handle on the pests, too. That's good. :)

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    1. It's crazy, isn't it? I'm reassured that I'm not the only one that feels as if the fast-forward button was pressed on the growing season this year.

      You know, I think I'll take a page out of your book and do the same, only in the morning (you know, after the kids leave for school!). You always have such good ideas :)

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  6. Even with the mild winters that we have here it seems like things just poke along until all of a sudden in May the garden just takes off. Fortunately that's for the irrigated part of the garden, the rest of it where the weeds dominate slows down because the rain stops.

    I don't know how you feel about using insecticides, but if Spinosad is available where where you are it would really help to cut down on your squish sessions in the asparagus patch. It's an organic pesticide that targets chewing insects so it doesn't affect bees and other beneficial insects, including those wonderful lacewings. I use it occasionally when sowbugs and/or earwigs or leafminers get out of hand.

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    1. It would have been so nice to have a gradual transition to spring. Instead I was twiddling my thumbs in April, waiting impatiently to get into the garden during the frigid weather, only to then be overwhelmed as everything grew at breakneck speed, seemingly attempting to make up for lost time.

      Spinosad is one of the dozens of pesticides that are banned in Ontario but I did read somewhere that beneficial nematodes may help, so I'm thinking of giving those a go. That and a lot more squishing.

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  7. Great to see how things are progressing in your Canadian garden. That Osteospermum does indeed look very pretty. Glad to have come across you via Donna gardens eye view.

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  8. I planted an Osteospermum for the first time in April. I've avoided them in the past because I've heard they poop out in hot, humid weather. I guess time will tell. This one was also from Proven Winners - 'Orange Symphony'.

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    1. We'll have to compare notes! I've planted mine in a pot which will be that much more of a challenging environment for it but so far it's doing great.

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  9. Your eggplants and tomatoes look fabulous. But those larva, whoa. It's terrible how much they've affected your garlic.

    All my time in the garden is spent weeding at this point. I try to give all the beds a good weeding in June. Usually the vegetables are able to shade them out the rest of the summer.

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    1. I have been weeding, and weeding, and weeding - my scourge is bindweed which grows so quickly - you pull it and it's usually back in about a week or so, depending on how much of the root you get. You can NEVER get it all out (the roots are fragile, so they break easily, and can reach several meters long), so the best you can hope for it to weaken it until it gives up. Apparently it takes a few years (!) of constant pulling - ugh!

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