25 Apr 2012 No Comments
Tami is a first time gardener and doing quite well. Her plants are thriving, tucked away in beds that would rival the Grand Hotel. No longer lonely, her cucumber are now joined by watermelon.
Today she learned about pinching tomatoes. Pinching tomatoes? But doesn’t that ruin the fruit?
Nah, we’re talking pinching the suckers from her tomato plants. You know, those sprouts that shoot up between branches?
You want those pumpkins out. And like the term sounds, you simply pinch and pull. Easy!
Her peppers are divine. I lost my first batch due to a sprinkler malfunction. And if I wasn’t out gallivanting on a girl’s weekend, I may have noticed. But I was so I didn’t. Se pasa. Anyhoo, hers are beautiful, as is her nearby squash.
We learned another valuable lesson today. When you buy your blueberry plants from the big box store, beware of the “weeds included” aspect. While they don’t label it as such, we discovered it indeed happens. With no experience growing blueberries, Tami had no idea this monstrous growth coming out of her blueberry plant wasn’t a blueberry plant. She was just excited to see her plant take off so well! (We gardeners do get excited.)
But upon closer inspection, you can tell this is no blueberry plant. I’m no expert, but this looks like a weed to me.
Which she promptly plucked and disposed. Another issue she had to deal with was aphids and ants. Now at first glance, I thought maybe the ants were eating the aphids. I mean, I don’t know what ants eat, so it seemed logical. But upon further research (that’s what I do when I don’t have the answer) I learned that ants don’t eat the aphids. They eat what the aphids are secreting!
Yes. That was my first reaction, too. But nature is what it is and when aphids attack a plant to suck the life blood from its veins, they secrete a sweet waste product known as honeydew. Are you still with me? We’re getting deep in “it” now. Well, we all know that ants like sweet stuff, right? Seems they LOVE the honeydew waste of aphids. They like it so much, they’ll protect the aphids against predators just to keep their stockpile producing! Yep, they’ll lash out and attack a poor little old lady bug for no reason–other than she’s after the same stuff they want. Doesn’t seem fair.
Survival of the fittest, I guess. Now how to rid your plant of these pests? Well, you can plant mint around your plants to prevent the ants from bombarding in assault. Or you can try diatomaceous earth. It makes a great barrier in and around your plants that ants aren’t interested in crossing. Talcum powder or chalk dust works, too. CAUTION: when using diatomaceous earth, be very careful not to inhale. These tiny crystals, or shards, are lethal to insects that have exoskeletons (ants, fleas and the like) because they “cut” their insides to shreds whereby the insect bleeds to death. As for humans, it can irritate mucous membranes not to mention can be drying to hands and feet. So be forewarned.
As for ridding your garden of aphids? Since it may be too late to call out the lady bugs, you can use your diatomaceous earth, a prepared garlic and oil spray, insecticidal soap or do like I do and simply “wipe” them from the leaves. If the damage is severe, I’d cut the entire leaf off.
On a lighter note, how about those beans?
Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.