Saturday, August 23, 2008

Hope Comes With the Sun

Morning brings better news from the garden.

The sickly, wilted pumpkin vine has perked up. Some leaves look unrecoverable but all in all it is not dead. Now I think more than ever it is just suffering from the interminable rains of the week. 7" is a lot! The garden drained well but the soil is wet and may take a couple of days to get back to normal. I think the sand in the soil mix will help it not become gummy.

I found a lovely new pet in the pumpkin patch - an orange assassin bug! I'm caring for him like a new kitten. He will eat aphids, hornbugs, earworms, leafhoppers, beetles and squash borers. I wanted to take a picture but Lee Harvey is very shy and runs to the back of the stem when he sees me. There were two very similar looking orange bugs in the Urban Harvest book - one is the assassin bug and the other is the juvenile leaf-footed bug. Had to examine Lee Harvey closely to see that he has the characteristic white spots and low foot joints rather than the black bumps and squashed back legs of the leaf-footed bug.

There was some kind of small black caterpiller on one of the tiny onion stems. I tried to get him off so I could examine and possibly identify him but I accidentally squashed the thing as I tried to pull it off. I haven't seen any beneficial caterpillers listed so that was probably a good thing except he might have been food for something better.

My plum tree is toast, or at least I have to give up the notion of ever having plums again. It is healthy, all right, but it is next to a fence, which gives the squirrels access and apparently that is going to be hopeless. I'll put the owl in the tree and see if that does any good next spring but it doesn't look promising.

The mushroom compost I used around the peach tree turns out to be a bad idea. It's sterile and salty, according to what I've read. It's the used up soil from growing mushrooms. The rain this week hopefully washed out the salts.

The leaves on the squash plants are very dark green - that's a good sign! The other squash plant is kind of a medium green so I suppose the difference in color is one is a yellow squash plant and the other a zucchini - no idea which is which until one kind of veggie or the other appears.

The big pumpkin plant has some female buds! You can tell which are which because the female ones have teeny little pumpkins between the bud and the stem. The male ones are just buds. None of the pumpkin buds have flowered yet but the squash buds have. A friend told me that pumpkin plants may come back year after year. That would be interesting but I need to look it up to be sure it isn't leeching out all of the soil nutrients if it does so. Might be better to replant in a different part of the garden each year. Besides, it gets so big it might do better in it's own part of the yard.

What I've read about the kind of compost pile I keep is not good. Too much grass which loses its nitrogen by not being covered by leaves immediately. Well, those are two different seasons around here, aren't they! The kitchen scraps attract Norway rats (don't I know!). It shouldn't be anywhere near the garden because the rats (please, no!) will eat the vegetables on the vines. It should be turned or tossed twice a week. Twice a week?! I'm having enough trouble getting the energy to turn it four times a year. Which is why the Urban Garden book says it is a bad idea. Nuts. I'll see how it goes before getting rid of it.

The grass is about 6" tall from all the rain. On to mowing. What a waste of energy, water, time and money. You can't eat it, I have no sheep to graze on it, it has to be mowed, and when it gets sick or dry you spend a lot of money and time curing it so the neighbors can admire it. Whatever.

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