Friday, May 22, 2009

Where the allium grows

Allium flower where we have a trio of young lavender plants, but we won't see any flowers until well into the summer. This is the first time that we've ever set allium bulbs into the ground and I must say that they make the most coolest-looking blooms. Any allium lovers out there? I've seen photos on other garden blogs but I think because the shape reminded me so much of obnoxious dandelions, these were more of a curiosity than anything else.

I held off on updating with our first harvest of the year as I believe the snow peas could use a couple more days in the sun. The garden has been growing in the direction that I had hoped for, and it has given me such a good feeling to be working outside more every day. Although the slugs and snails were trying my patience, daily "gastropod foraging" with chopsticks and a container of cheap champagne won me the first round. Then, after a brief period of heavy rain, they were out again and I hit 'em with killer slug bait. Nasty stuff, and nastier to see the lethal results, but natural methods simply weren't enough to win the war.

Tiny peaches   Peach tree 5.2009

On the peach leaf curl problem, we removed all of the diseased leaves and went with using Syllit. We were told that if 80% of the leaves were affected, the chances of saving our peach were slim. Fortunately only 50% of the tree was affected and for now, it seems to be doing better. No serious aphid problem even if the ants still like to hang around despite the sticky fly tape barricades! We have a few tiny peaches and they are actually looking bigger and healthier each day.

Borage   Wild fennel

This year my green thumb truly made a mark in the herbs department. The borage that I had written about earlier is looking great, and the shiso/perilla plants are giving me more leaves than I can use. The real showstopper is the wild fennel that somehow weathered a tough winter. Not only was it the first plant to start showing green in early spring, but it also reseeded and propagated itself in a 4-foot radius from the original source. And that's without any intervention from me. While I was mowing the lawn today I noticed hundreds of baby fennel seedlings sticking out of the ground. If only the garden pests would chomp on them instead of everything else.

Butterfuly on allium

Average daytime temperature: 25°C / 77°F

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Doing battle in the garden: you win some, you lose some

Peach tree at springtime

Early last month we could never have known that the promising-looking peach pictured above would eventually have something wrong with it, but a reply from a specialist confirmed the bad news. The photo below was taken yesterday at 5½ weeks later and our peach tree is ailing from bolla del pesco, or peach leaf curl as it's known in english gardening circles. The ag specialist says there is hope of saving the tree but chances of a harvest are zero. The advice that he gave was to use a fungicide called Syllit and while I despise resorting to those sort of things, if it means nursing our only peach tree back to a healthy state then Syllit it is.

How ironic for being ready to engage in battle with the aphids (which we won by the way!), yet being wholly unprepared for a fungus. The only question I have about peach leaf curl is if you should remove the sick leaves or not? I have read that you will only further weaken the tree if you remove sick leaves, while the advice on this site here says just the opposite.

Peach leaf curl
Referenced links:

Average daytime temperature: 21°C / 70°F

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lazy like a lizard

Lucertola - side view

The lizard, not me. And while this lucertola, the common italian lizard, is definitely heavy with reptile eggs, I hope she finds a safe place to hide them and herself before Maddie figures out that it only takes one leap across the tulip bed to catch Mrs. Lucertola. I wouldn't want to be witness to that massacre.

The garden has been taking shape with the proud addition of zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, watermelon, hot peppers and squash seedlings into the ground. Protective hail netting has been set in place. So far, so good. I've also been battling the slugs (read: killing) before they even get to be more than 3/4-inch in length. This early intervention has made it psychologically easier because there is nothing more disgusting than having to deal with, and dispose of, adult-size slugs. The ants and aphids have been put into their place as we have reduced their efforts and numbers with boric acid solutions, sticky fly tape around the fruit tree trunks and pyrethrum spray to nab the survivors. We felt comfortable in using the latter because it is a natural insecticide. Now all that's left to worry about are the thievin' birds.

Lucertola - top view

Average daytime temperature: 20°C / 68°F