Monday, March 30, 2009

The Bridgit Jones of Gardens

If only gardens could be perfect. Flowers would bloom all the time giving the garden and abundance of great colours. All vegetables would be perenial, grow in any amount of shade or light and fruit generously. There would be no wilting, no spotting, no blistering, no moulding and no bad bugs, just those of the beneficial kind. It would be a veritable Eden in everyone's backyard, front yard, balcony or rooftop paradise. But alas this land only exists in my mind. At least it did the other night when I had a dream about this magical land of very large tomatoes and multicoloured pumpkins. Perhaps it was the late night cider drinking and cheese eating that caused such a vivid dream, who knows. However I know what has brought on this craving for a perfect hassle free garden, it is three things.

1. Wilt. The poor tomatoes are all wilting. I think it is a bacterial wilt and have done all I can to stop it. I am not willing at present to pull out the last remaining plants just in case I can ripen the fruit in time. It is a sort of race, as the wilt wanders up the stem the fruits get bigger and bigger. If the wilt reaches them they are toast, but if they can just get sizeable and colour up them presto they will one day make it to my salad. Once it gets beyond help I will pull them, ditch the soil, scour the pot and the balcony area. I did this once when pulling the last lot of tomatoes. Maybe it will help. How did it get into my garden in the first place though?

2. Aphids. I am trying to grow purple sprouting broccoli from seed, the first time I have done such a thing. Tomatoes from seed are one thing but Mr Broccoli is fickle. He sprouted, albeit a little slowly and I put him out in individual pots. Then the aphids hit. I only noticed it this morning when looking at the two I have safely inside versus the two outside. The ones outside were looking awfully knobbly, were they growing oddly? Nope, it was aphids. Being such little seedlings I wouldn't spray them, even with organic low dose stuff, so I squished every aphid by hand, well all the aphids I could see. I'll do the same tonight and tomorrow and so on until the little pests are gone, or until a mob of ladybirds takes up residence on the balcony. I thought they were just a spring problem, but no, autumn too brings the little green menace back. At least the intense summer heat killed off the spider mites.

3. Seeds that just wont germinate. The seed packet said they were in date, well in date, by a couple of years. I planted out a couple of siberian tomato seeds, hoping to grow them in our warm window this winter. I also sowed a couple of padron pepper seeds, for inside purposes and just out of curiosity. A week went by, usually they would popping out of the soil by now. Nothing, two weeks, nothing, it is three weeks now and I've all but given up. They just didn't sprout. I put about 4 of each in the punnets and in the past my hit rates have been high, very high. But out of the 8 or 9 seeds, NOTHING! Other seeds are germinating in the balcony garden, but I only have one other set from this seller, some bush beans. They were only planted last week so I'll give it time. I also tried again with the tomatoes, round two, let's see if anything happens this time!

So I guess this post was a bit of a veiled whinge. Perfect gardens would be so nice. No pests to worry about and no heartache when things go wilt and die. Then again there would be no challenges, no irregularities of the good kind and no mystery. Perfect gardens would be, well, boring! So maybe the balcony garden, with all its idiosyncracies is fine just the way it is. My Bridgit Jones Garden.


Melinda said...

Hi Prue. Thank you for your post. I just can't kill these spider mites, I think the heat wave possibilities have passed me by so I'm hoping the pest oil will at least reduce the population somewhat. Good luck on your seeds sprouting!

Anonymous said...

Hi Prue~~ Aphids are so annoying. I believe you're right. As tempting as it is, if everything were perfect we'd be bored to death. :)

Lisa said...

Hi Prue - Lisa here - two things

1) Seeds that just wont germinate - have you ever tried soaking them first? My gardening books are all over it but it sounds weird.

2) Oh no! I also have yucky mould on my tomato plants, but I was hoping to re-use the soil - do I really have to ditch it? Our entire back garden is pretty much sand, what if i spread the soil very thinly over it, and it gets lots of sun???

Michelle said...

Oh, don't get me started on my aphid rant, they never seem to go away! Right now I have black ones on the favas and gray ones on the brassicas....

All the different ailments that afflict my poor plants make me feel totally inept at times!

prue said...

Melinda - pest oil and fingers crossed!

Grace - although a few perfect flowers and vegies wouldn't go astray ... hehehe

Hi Ms Lisa!!!! Soaking seeds, beans I would but others I never have. I just think it was a dud seed seller, 3 out of 3 seed packets did not germinate. oh well, live and learn. Mould should be ok, I guess. Are they in pots??? Lots of compost and topsoil for the garden, or raised veggies beds would to the trick! Will see it in a couple of weeks yayayayayayay.

Michelle - heheh you are so totally not inept! Aphids are just a curse we have to deal with, though my squishing seems to have done the trick for now (and it felt quite refreshing!)

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Most mentioned about wilting caused by some soil borne bacteria. Some also mentioned about marigolds having roots which somehow counteract these bacteria. I havent tried tomato and marigold as companions. But seeing other veggies thriving beside marigolds encourage me to think highly of marigolds as saviour.

On alphids, I tend to believe there is a serious missing link in the food chain. No insects around to eat alphids.

Gardening is never boring... so much to know and learn.

Have a nice day,
~ bangchik