Gardening in the Blind


Rue
June 17, 2010, 6:53 am
Filed under: Herbs, Pest control

Rue

Rue has been around a long time.  It is one of the most popular herbs mentioned in literature.  Derived from the old English word hreow meaning to be sorry for, rue has been symbolic of repentance.  It had such a reputation as a disinfectant that in Elizabethan England it was strewn on the floors of the courts before prisoners were taken in so the justices would not catch “gaol fever.”  At Sturbridge Village the herbalist stated that the book he just completed had over 89 remedies using rue.

This all sounds great, but there is one more thing that is not mentioned here.  The oil of rue is on the surface of the leaves.  Some people are very sensitive and can get what only can be described as poison ivy rash.  The difference is that it needs the sun to create the rash on your skin.  The longer you are in the sun after placing the rue oil (which is known to be a great bug repellant as well) the worse your rash will be.

Deron's rue rash

I would like to say this is why husbands should listen to wives and what they have to say.  If they don’t they might end up with a nasty rash after walking in the beds and compacting the soil which they should know better – weeding or not weeding.  So, Deron learned the hard way.  Thank goodness it was after we had worked all day so the rash wasn’t really that bad…Ok, I admit, a little guilt set in, but he will think twice about where he walks next time!  It has been over a week and it is still there.  On both calves.  The picture is taken on day 2.

So I took to doing a little more research on this herb.  It seems it also can cause you to have a miscarriage,  it exceeds any known bug repellant on the market.  It can cause the rash – but I have never gotten it.  I don’t test it either.  But with all this, it is a darn pretty plant that people use to eat in salads…



Potato Harvest
July 23, 2009, 8:12 am
Filed under: Cantainer Gardening, outdoor gardening, Pest control, Uncategorized
The first two potatoes I found

The first two potatoes I found

Not everything turns out great.  I had to harvest a container of potatoes – the one that was wilting.  I found the potato beetle attacking it and I was afraid it would spread to the rest of the containers.  So, I put a tarp out on the ground and I dumped the container out.  As I sifted through the soil, killing the beetle larva as I found them, I pulled out a few potatoes.  Now when I say a few, I mean a handful out of the soil.  It was too early to harvest really, but I didn’t want to put chemicals on it in order for it to survive.  I can’t tell you the type of potatoes these are – it was one that a friend gave me.  But it looks cute!  I got a whole 5 potatoes.  I rinsed them off carefully and placed them in a brown bag.  Being exposed to light might make them green which would mean toxic and inedible where the green as occurred.  Although this was not very heavy on the potatoes, I am sure that my other pots will be hopefully.

In the picture is the first two potatoes that I gathered out of the container before I dumped it out to harvest.  I was alert to the fact that it looks like something had been eating them.  The rest of the harvest didn’t have this.  In hindsight, I think it was the plastic drainage placed in the bottom of the container that caused it.  But that is how I found the beetle, so I guess it was a good thing!



Trip to Sturbridge Village
July 9, 2009, 8:14 am
Filed under: Herbs, local eating, Pest control, Uncategorized

The other weekend we went to Sturbridge Village for a quick lecture in the gardens about pest control.  It was fun to see yet some more parts of Sturbridge Village that we had not seen before.  It was even better to here about the pests that were haunting them.  I felt good to know it was not just me this year. 

During the lecture a few things were discussed that I have now implemented into my garden.  I am now soaking anything from the onion family in water outside for a few hours and then spreading the soaked onions throughout my garden and watering with the onion water.  It is a great deterrent for the pests.  Just think, my onions are one of the healthiest in the garden.  That is because onions have little pest issues.  Most don’t like the smell of them.  This method has been used since the early 1800’s.  The second item that I have implemented in the garden a little bit is slicing a rutabaga into about an 1″ thick and propping it on a rock on one side.  I place it around where slugs are feasting before dusk and by morning, many are below it.  It is quite amazing.  I am fortunate though that for the most part the toads are controlling them, so they are not really that big of an issue lately.  Last year I used Beer and also used cooper both worked well as well.

Horseradish growing

Horseradish growing

So for inspiration, I went for a walk through the huge herbal garden that they have.  I wanted to see what the horseradish looked like so I would know if any of mine was growing.  I needed to keep in mind that I planted my horseradish late in the season so it would probably be smaller.  Boy, mine is only a single blade growing.  But I know know that I do indeed have the horseradish growing.  I will harvest some in the spring.

Curly Tansy

Curly Tansy

Next is an old friend I have talked a lot about when it comes to ant problems.  It is Tansy.  But in this case it is curly tansy.  It looks beautiful, almost fern like.  Much better then mine considering my husband mowed over the plants.  They are growing back finally.  That is always a plus!  I have to admit, after he mowed it the ants took residence right at the base of where it use to be.  As it grew again, they moved out, but not that far away.  It would be great as a complete border around the beds, but one or two is just the immediate area of the plant.

Rue

Rue

The last one I will show you is something that inspired me to purchase when I was at a farmer’s market.  It is Rue.  It too is suppose to be good for ant prevention, but I didn’t plant it anywhere I was having ant problems.  I just loved the delicate leaves and the bright yellow flowers.  It is a sub species of an evergreen with a strong smell.  It was quite a delicacy at one point however due to the bitterness it has done to the wayside.  But beware.  I learned the hard way that if you touch the plant during a hot day your skin blisters.  It is not fun.  I blistered on my ankle and one hand on one of the few sunny days we have had this summer.  I guess it is beauty with a bite!



Potato Woes
July 7, 2009, 10:39 am
Filed under: Cantainer Gardening, outdoor gardening, Pest control
My wilting potato plant in the front

My wilting potato plant in the front

I am not 100% sure what has happened with my potato plant.  It is one of the types that was given to me to plant from one of my friends.  I noticed it just the other day while out inspecting in the rain.  It was wilted in the middle of the day like it needed more water.  I thought maybe it needed a little more sun to dry out from the rain.  So, pulling it out a bit I thought that this might work.  I was willing to try.  Maybe too much water was the fact instead of not enough.  But that too did not work. 

I was faced with having to try to figure it out on the Internet.  My conclusion: I think it is bacterial wilt.  Although there isn’t really a non chemical solution, I am going to try to spray NEEM on it tonight.  Hopefully I will see some results.  I am keeping my figures crossed!  It would not be the first time that I misdiagnosed a problem.  I guess that is why I call it gardening in the blind.  This year is a bit of a sink or swim time for me.

A light lavender potato flower

A light lavender potato flower

But on another note, my Yukon Gold potatoes in the smart pots are flowering.  The interesting and strange item I have noticed is that one pot’s flowers are a lovely lavender, the other white.  This is the same potatoes as well.  I am taking notes to see if I see any difference in production at the end of the season.



Green pests, white pests and others
June 26, 2009, 1:54 pm
Filed under: outdoor gardening, Pest control

There was a break today from the rain in the morning.  Unfortunately I spent some of the time running some errands in the car.  I have not been able to spray any plants with my garlic oil, peppermint oil or NEEM due to the rain we have been getting.  So I sported a lovely gloved look with long sleeves and went out to hunt the pests.

Green cabbage pests on the front cabbage.

Green cabbage pests on the front cabbage.

First up was the green things crawling on my cabbage heads out front.  These are not friends of anything.  They have chewed random holes through the leaves all over and would eventually kill the cabbage.  I have individually pulled them off the plant.  Most of the time they were squished by a mere touch.  I call them cabbageworms.  It is hard to believe that these creatures will grow up to be a white butterfly about 2″ long with black spots on the front wings.

This beatle was on my tomatillos

This beatle was on my tomatillos

Moving to the trash can to get rid of the worms, I notice my next problem on my tomatillos.  I think this was kind of a transition to one of the other plants nearby as the tomatillos did not show any signs something eating it.  I think this is a cucumber beatle but I am not 100%.  I relocated it to the furtherest point of my gardens but still on my property.  The eggplant nearby is not doing well and is being eaten up quickly by something.

Mating bugs slightly out of focus (sorry)

Mating bugs slightly out of focus (sorry)

The last pest I wanted to share with you happened when I went to finally take a picture of the potato flower to show you.  I was admiring them when I notice anyother couple of bugs mating on my potato plant.  I quickly disposed of them.  I can’t wait until it stops raining so much so I can spray some NEEM and Garlic oil on the plants again.  When I was able to do this, I found a big difference in the pest population.  But until then, I will be out in the rain with dirty gloves trying to save my plants removing one insect at a time.  I just hope I don’t remove good ones because gosh knows I really really need them!



Raining and Gloomy Except Today!
June 17, 2009, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Indoor Gardening, outdoor gardening, Pest control

Today is beautiful.  I think anything would be beautiful as long as the sun was out and rain was not about.  I looked up the weather report to see if we were going to get a patch of sunny days so that my plants would grow, but was disappointed when I saw on the 10-day forecast that besides today, it is rain all the way through. 

On the flip side, some of my peas are ready to harvest.  If I manage to get home this week at a reasonable time (It has yet to happen.  I was watering the potted plants and window boxes last night at 9:30.) I want to try to get a picture of the large toad that is living behind my peas next to my house as I try to gently pick the peas without disturbing him. 

It just dawned on me, why am I insisting on calling the typically “ugly” animals I find in my yard men but the cute rabbit or the beautiful dragonfly must be female?  Maybe there is something more to it?  I don’t know.  I will work harder to not be gender specific when I am talking about my helpful friends (although I don’t promise miracles.  It is very hard to break my habits!).

I free-cycled (see website under green for more info) a lot of items this past weekend including cuttings of my oregano.  When one of the two ladies came to pick them up, I gave her a tour of my garden.  It was then that I realized when I opened my door to the backyard that it was kind of impressive.  It was very green and lush.  It made me feel good to think that all of it was here because of me.  Well except the weeds, I will let mother nature take credit for that!  I have since given tours to my neighbor, her friend and her friend’s friend.  I guess for once I am indeed a bit popular.  At least in my own small block in Auburn.

My potatoes are huge.  I need to hill them when I get home tonight.  I am afraid that I am going to run out of container for them.  I just decided that when they are full, that is it.  All I can do.  I will try to take pictures to update within the next couple of days, but be forewarned the weather outside is gloomy for a few days.



Aphids, White flies and Maggots Oh my
June 8, 2009, 9:17 am
Filed under: outdoor gardening, Pest control, Tomatoes, Uncategorized

Well this weekend was very disheartening.  I found that I not only had Aphids but the white flies were being really destructive with some of my tomato and hot pepper plants.  I went and purchased some more tomato plants and disposed of the infested ones.  Then I went to investigate why some of my cabbage was wilting.  I pulled one up to find a large handful of maggots attacking on the root/stems.  I discarded them with the soil around them and planted some more.  It was really sad to see that all my hard work was going down the toilet.  So I went on line for information.  I located and purchased some NEEM oil which is OMRI approved.  I also got some garlic oil to alternate with the NEEM to conquer the pests.  I will have to spray everything again next weekend and the weekend after in hopes to protect the plants I have left. 

My Garlic growing

My Garlic growing

On the other hand, my garlic is doing fantastic.  Talk about an easy thing to grow.  The hardest part is having to decide where they should go in the fall as that is when you plant them.  I have sixteen heads of garlic currently growing.  I really think that I need to double it for next year.  Garlic is a good keeper and I look forward to being able to have some for some time to come.  Between the onions, shallots and garlic these have been quite a pleasure to grow.  Much better then any of my pest invested plants!

Potatoes starting to grow

Potatoes starting to grow

 This is my first time planting potatoes.  So far I have enjoyed them.  It is kind of fun to see them grow and to hill them up.  I am amazed at just how much they are growing.  They went from nothing in them to sprouting up quickly!