Monday, 8 August 2011

Summer scourges

As ever life is a battle here in the plague garden. The enemies this year are familiar foes, with a few newbies thrown in to keep life interesting.

Last couple of years have seen leaf miner damage on chard, spinach and beets; this year the victim was my new sorrel plantings. Here's what it looks like when the situation gets out of hand:

I finally pulled all the diseased leaves off and sprayed with neem oil and it seems to help, though I do find that neem seems to burn the leaves. Apparently the trick is to spray in the evening. when the good bugs have gone to bed and the leaves have time to absorb the neem and avoid sunburn. Perhaps I need to adjust the dosage.

Codling moths have been at my apples again this year - slackness with tree banding on my part; now I gather I'm supposed to pick and destroy infected fruit - it's edible but doesn't store well once it's been tunnelled. None for the compost, since that would just give them a nice warm place to overwinter. Apparently they have 2-3 generations per year. Here's what the entry channel looks like from outside and in:

Two damp springs in a row have escalated the scab on my poor yellow transparent apple tree. Quite a few more apples affected this year, but such a heavy crop it may not matter. Bordeaux Mix dormant spray is said to help as a preventive measure; I'm also told to use compost tea as a foliar spray to generally boost the tree's immunity, but the tree's very large and I'm just getting up to speed with the tea production this year. And pruning is supposed to help as well, but the tree is so big and lush it's hard to know where to begin, although I've worked at it - summer pruning of water shoots and shaped for easier picking.

The zucchini I bought as seedlings from two different nurseries are both developing blossom end rot. Depending on who I ask, I get the answer that it's either due to lack of calcium, lack of water, or lack of pollination. I've put finely crushed eggshells on them now and hope that will help with the calcium; being in pots they are most likely thirsty too so am trying to be more diligent there.

I don't think there's any question who's been eating the healthy zucchini either:

This year's slug battles have been very hard on a couple of bean plants; this one is making a plucky comeback now the overshadowing pea trellis is gone, and is even producing beans now, though is still embattled.

and these beets which were nibbled down to the stem - probably by birds - are growing new leaves!

But. It's not all bad. My plum tree yielded a fair crop of small, tart plums before it was decapitated (leaning heavily on the fence) - as did the neighbour's - two batches of jam and one of chutney so far. And I made some Rote Gr├╝tze with plums and other fruits (cherries, blackberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries) from this year and from the freezer, and canned that to have on my yogurt through the winter. And my zucchini is coming - not too fast

and there are some footsoldiers working hard to keep the ecosystem in balance:

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