Friday, June 19, 2009


Lettuce, Radish, Fenugreek and Beets


Finally the peas are flowering

Bunching onion, Icicle Radishes, Lettuce-this week's harvest

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ants, Aphids and The Ladybug

I dont know how aphids always find their way to my plants. The new leaves on beans were all dotted with black spots which were aphids happily sucking the sap. Well this time they are black in color. My tomato leaves have red and green aphids and the coriander leaves have only green aphids (clever camouflage).

Black aphids on spinach blossoms

Aphids are plump creatures, sizes ranging between poppy and mustard seeds. Obviously with all the sap sucking, they will grow bigger(size of a small mosquito) and have wings. These winged aphids will try to play tag with you, leaf hopping but you ultimately can crush them. These aphids seem to be infesting both potted plants and those that are on the ground.

My best way to "crush" these plump pests is literally to crush them between my fingers. So I run the leaf (with aphids feasting on the back of the leaves) between my thumb and index finger, and crush the juice out these pests. Sweet revenge. Your finger may turn green, red or black depending on the color of the aphids. Just wash your hand and job well done. Sometimes I make a soap solution with dish washing liquid and spray away.

Now this time the issue was more with ants adding to the problem, ants emerging from different points on my plot. Then I saw ants on the leaves infested with the black aphids. Now I didn't know for sure if these black spot-like things were aphids, ant eggs or ant droppings. Until I read this post. So what was shrivelling the new leaves on my bean plants was definitely aphids fiercely guarded by ants. What a symbiosis. So I decided to deal with the ants first after reading ( and laughing) this. This post is really informative, instills confidence that you are back in the battle again and you can win.

So I made a stinky garlic-chili powder spray (1 cup hot, not boiling, water + 2 crushed garlic cloves + 1 Tbl spoon cayenne powder. Let this solution steep for 2-3 days. Ready to spray). The ants I think didnt seem to like the heat of the chili powder but came back after a few days. And the rain seemed to dilute and wash away this spray. So the whole aphid-ant marriage was going strong again. Until I spotted a ladybug yesterday on an aphid infested spinach flower. (Yeah the spinach bolted inspite of the cooler weather here in CT).

Look who is having a party? Beautiful Ladybug

I found the other spinach flowers, the new bean leaves were clean and green again with all the aphids gone just like magic. Thanks to the beautiful ladybug, the aphids are gone for now. Hail the ladybug. . But the ants are still there and I think the aphids will be back again. Dont worry, the ladybugs are here. And the witch is here too, busy brewing more soap and stinky garlic-pepper potions for you my dear aphids and ants.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lettuce Harvest

This week lettuce was ready for picking. There are 2 ways to harvest lettuce-pick the entire plant from the soil or pick few leaves. I opted for the second method. So I picked mostly the outer leaves. This way you can get 2 or 3 harvest out of a single lettuce plant. Fresh picked lettuce is so much more rewarding than store-bought ones.

This lettuce was from Burpees seed packet-Gourmet Lettuce Blend.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day happens on the 15th of every month and was started by Carol of May Dreams Garden. This is my first Bloom Day on my blog. Check out her blog for all the blooms in the bloggers' gardens.

I am starting off with some pretty golden-hued tomato blooms.

The annuals and some perennial plants in my garden are in bloom now.

Beautiful violet daisy-like blooms of Brachycome

Blue flowers of Lobellia Hybrid

Fuschias-My favourite blooms. I love the way the petals look like delicately draped cloth.

Violas in bloom but some are already forming seeds. I hope some of these self-seed for next year.

Viola Seeds

Sweet smelling Alyssum.

The red and pink of my garden-Dianthus and Salvia. Hopes of attracting some beautiful butterflies.

Veronica "Royal Candles. I love the blue candle-like blooms. This a summer blooming perennial which does not mind a little shade.

Perennial Iberis-This plant is a real survivor. I had planted this last year and it did well. But during winter, while clearing the snow it got uprooted and I didnt notice that until all the snow had melted in early spring. I replanted it with little hope and it didnt show any signs of life until a few weeks ago. And behold, there are blooms now. Kudos to the power of nature, thanks Iberis.

And finally the proud stately Columbines. Last of the blooms, I think they maybe a spring blooming perennial.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Black Gold

Compost is called black gold in some books. I dont make my own compost (though I would love to make some. Any suggestions welcome, I live in a condo).  I buy Long Island Organic Compost from my local nursery. It feels like chocolate cake crumbs and smells equally heavenly, like rain drenched earth. I applied a 'side dressing' to all my vegetable plantings today. Side dressing is exactly what is means, apply to the base of the plant as if you were mulching it. The compost will gradually leak into the soil and feed the roots of the plants. Side dressing of compost is specially recommended when the plant is flowering, fruiting.  

Lettuce grows well and fast if fed with compost regularly. Lettuce taking a long time to grow is said to taste bitter but compost can hasten its growth. These are gourmet lettuce mixture from Burpees seeds.

Lush green spinach

Rows from top to bottom: Beets(row1), Fenugreek and lettuce(row 2), Fenugreek(row 3), Icicle Radish(row 4).


Row of dill between two rows of spinach

Working the Land

I have a vegetable patch which is a 10 x 10 raised bed.  I hand tilled the plot in early April with a garden fork and worked in compost, plant food and peat moss. In the process fished out lots of stones from the bed. The soil in my plot becomes hard and cracks, so its not the best.  I have planted peas, spinach, onions, radish, carrot, kohlrabi, lettuce, beans, tomato, eggplant and peppers.  So this is my learning and let me share its rewards with you through this blog.  Here, I will update all the gardening as it happens and record my garden journal.